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[Deutsche Welle] The Scientific Innovation Sparked by the Pandemic

Deutsche Welle recently produced an interview featuring insight from Doug Hannah, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Innovation, discussing ways the pandemic has spurred scientific innovation outside of formal institutions.

Doug Hannah

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March 31, 2022

Deutsche Welle recently produced an interview featuring insight from Doug Hannah, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Innovation, discussing ways the pandemic has spurred scientific innovation outside of formal institutions.

Doug discussed several inventions created during the Covid-19 pandemic that were built to improve public health and provide people around the world with low-cost aid. Such inventions included DIY (Do It Yourself) filtration systems that could be built for just $80 using materials from a local hardware store, UV disinfectant chambers for reusing and sterilizing personal protective equipment, low-cost oxygen concentrators, and many more.

Doug and his team also researched the social innovations brought to the forefront during the pandemic. One specific example included groups coming together to organize complex supply chains that found and redistributed professional-grade N-95 masks to local hospitals. Hannah claimed that the process of helping people through schools and hospitals with these innovations was ultimately slowed down or brought to a halt by strict rules and regulations, but that those rules and regulations have a role to play in ensuring the quality of all materials are up to par.

One main conclusion Doug was able to take away from all the research he and his team compiled revolved around how impressive it was to invent and execute these helpful strategies and devices during such a troubling time.

“There was a tremendous amount of ingenuity just getting everyone to work together under really difficult conditions.”

Doug Hannah is an assistant professor of Strategy & Innovation at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University, where he studies strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He did his doctoral work at the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, in the Management Science and Engineering Department at Stanford University, and subsequently worked at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. He studies strategy and entrepreneurship in technology-based industries like solar, medical devices, and social media. These settings are challenging because they require constant innovation as well as collaboration, but require firms to interact within the context of substantial competitive and technological uncertainty. As a result, it's often unclear where opportunities lie and what must be done to capture them. He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College and an M.S. Prior to his academic life, he co-founded an environmental advocacy group, the Big Green Bus, worked as an analyst at the Cadmus Group in Boston and as a Fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and enjoyed a stint on a wonderful farm in Lesotho.