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Researchers identify impact of COVID-19 on technology innovation

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the landscape for businesses across all industries.

The analysts at Lux Research have identified key trends that will define how the world beyond the pandemic will be different, and highlighted their findings in their report titled ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Tech Innovation’.

The top trends that are shaping the post-COVID-19 future are infection prevention, remote commerce, improving resiliency, greater agility, and macroeconomic impacts.

Each of these trends can have a positive or negative influence on an emerging technology, the researchers state. However, by considering the effects of these trends on technology, it becomes clearer how industries are being transformed.

Lux Research Ph.D. vice president of research and co-author of the report, Michael Holman says, “The methodology focuses on three primary parts: identifying the major trends shaping the future after the pandemic, assessing the impact on technology, and prioritising the actions that need to be taken based on trends and tech impacts.

“While things are changing too rapidly to have 100% certainty, this methodology helps executives take a systematic approach to rebalancing their portfolio.”

Holman says, “Lux predicts that increased agility and resilience will drive long-term positive change for materials innovation. Materials informatics will also see a medium-term positive impact thanks to increased efficiency and agility in R&D.

“We expect a positive effect on plastic waste recycling and synthetic biology, as more people are gravitating to single-use plastics to stay safe, and synbio can allow more agile and flexible production.”

The energy industry will see a number of key changes. Lux predicts that increased resilience and agility will drive further investments in clean energy, spurring on the energy transition.

Bio-based and synthetic fuels, however, will be hard-hit by macroeconomic funding constraints and low oil prices. With increased energy use out of the home thanks in part to remote working conditions, home energy management is predicted to have a positive medium-term impact, led by remote commerce and improved resiliency.

Digital transformation will rapidly accelerate adoption of emerging technologies like telemedicine, due to a dramatic increase in remote commerce and the need for infection prevention, notes Kevin See, Ph.D., vice president of research and co-author of the report.

Wearables will also see a positive near-term lift as they aid in infection prevention and reopening efforts. There will be an upward trend in robotics due to the need for infection prevention and improving resiliency.

COVID-19 will push major manufacturing and logistics operations to assess the potential of robotics moving forward.

The agrifood and health ecosystems will see positive growth in omics, which are a powerful suite of technologies for fighting COVID-19.

In food, ingredient informatics and plant-based proteins will benefit, as they allow for increased resilience and agility in the food value chain, the researchers find.

The future of the mobility industry is more varied. Autonomous vehicles will experience a long-term positive impact due to social distancing preferences but near-term are delayed due to disruption of development and pilots.

Shared mobility is a mixed bag, as ride-hailing is severely negatively affected in the near term, while micromobility solutions provide an alternative that better suits social distancing measures.

The long-term consequences for electric vehicles will be minimal, as adoption will continue to be driven by regulations that for now have not drastically changed.

According to Lux Research, by using this framework, innovation leaders can identify the trajectory of technologies they are either invested in or considering investing in, and the implications for their industry.

Some technology outlooks will see persistent effects from COVID-19, while others will experience a more dynamic shock that changes over time. Understanding the effects of the underlying trends on that trajectory will aid in making better decisions with more confidence, according to Lux.