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  • There's a less familiar story about covid-19

  • The crisis is boosting innovation...

  • ...with the emergence of brand new ideas...

  • mRNA vaccine, a new technology

  • ...and with the application of existing ones...

  • ...in surprising new ways

  • The crisis has caused an acceleration in adoption of technologies

  • This is pushing the world further into the future...

  • We've had to build more aeroplanes than we ever have before

  • ...often at breakneck speed

  • We've just closed £250m

  • Businesses are being forced to adapt...

  • Hello

  • Thank you, amazing

  • ...or face extinction

  • Another hammer-blow to Britain's retail sector

  • This upsurge in innovation will bring lasting change

  • for good

  • and bad

  • Could you get into your computer?

  • No

  • This is my kids' future

  • So what lessons can be learned

  • as the world looks towards the post-pandemic era?

  • There is an opportunity for innovation

  • to stay at the cutting edge

  • I haven't seen this

  • Is this a new piece?

  • What is this part?

  • It's the front of the fuse

  • Got it

  • This is the headquarters of Zipline

  • …a drone-manufacturing company

  • Is this 3D printed?

  • Yeah

  • Oh this is plastic now, yeah

  • Yeah, totally

  • Since the pandemic

  • the business has really taken off

  • Drone technology has been around for a while

  • but during the pandemic

  • it's starting to realise its considerable potential

  • With social distancing the new normal

  • health systems around the world

  • are now looking at drones

  • as a new and better way to deliver products

  • such as blood, cancer treatments and vaccines

  • Every hospital system and health system on Earth

  • is suddenly trying to reconfigure itself to a new reality

  • to extend the reach of the hospital system

  • directly into the home

  • enabling care closer to where patients live

  • so they have to travel less

  • It's more convenient

  • and the patient takes less risk of getting infected

  • if they need to access general care

  • From mid-June to September 2020…

  • Zipline delivered more than 100,000 medical products

  • as many as over the previous three years

  • We've done a few things...

  • ...a set of wing covers there now

  • When did that change?

  • Weeks ago

  • Perhaps the most significant change

  • ...has come in countries with strict airspace laws

  • In May 2020, an emergency licence was issued in America

  • allowing Zipline to fly long-range delivery drones

  • through controlled airspace for the first time

  • And in December, American regulators issued new rules

  • allowing drones to fly over people, and at night

  • This looser approach is accelerating the shift

  • towards more states receiving medical supplies

  • in a more efficient and productive way

  • So we're seeing hospital systems

  • that previously thought they had ten years

  • to effect this kind of change

  • ...now trying to do this in one year

  • Although drone-filled skies are some way off

  • covid-19 has also accelerated the conversation

  • around the use of drones beyond health care

  • in a variety of new fields

  • So I'll pop this

  • …I'll pop this out

  • Zipline has partnered with retail giant Walmart

  • It's one of a number of companies

  • due to begin trial deliveries of consumer products

  • I think it's been really easy for people to understand the value

  • and there's a pretty intense sense of civic pride

  • around the country leading the way

  • in terms of showing how this new technology can save lives

  • This kind of rapid adoption of emerging technologies...

  • ...has been calledtech-celeration”...

  • ...and it's the type of innovation...

  • ...that has been given the biggest boost...

  • ...around the world by the pandemic

  • A classic example of tech-celeration

  • was what happened in the National Health Service in England

  • where a system to make possible video-calling

  • was effectively built over a weekend

  • and then rolled out to doctors across the country

  • Tech-celeration is pushing companies further and faster

  • into the future

  • Exactly how many years into the future we've been pushed

  • by this crisis varies

  • It depends on the behaviour, it depends on the country

  • but it does seem to be, sort of, of the order of five years

  • So welcome to 2025

  • History shows that innovation often thrives during times of crisis

  • Take the financial crash of 2008…

  • which led to the widespread adoption of cloud computing

  • The cloud had been around since the early 2000s…

  • but it gained a new footing

  • as the economic slowdown took hold

  • Companies were very often reluctant to try cloud computing

  • They thought it wasn't secure

  • And then they gave it a try

  • found it was cheaper, found it was more secure

  • And cloud computing has expanded very rapidly

  • As well as accelerating the adoption of developing technologies

  • crises can also foster the development of entirely new ideas

  • A good example of a crisis that led to lots of invention

  • would be the second world war

  • So you get the first digital computers

  • which are used for code-breaking

  • you get the first jet engines

  • that paves the way for mass air travel

  • you get nuclear technology, which is used for weapons

  • but can also be used to generate energy

  • And you also get the first rockets

  • When it comes to new ideas

  • covid-19 has left its mark in the field of medicine

  • where researchers around the world

  • have pioneered new techniques

  • in the development of vaccines

  • This phenomenal work has been done

  • Multiple teams producing vaccines in months rather than years

  • using entirely new technologies in some cases

  • So these mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine

  • and they seem to work extremely well

  • So that's very impressive example of invention

  • We are collectively telling cafés, pubs, bars and restaurants to close

  • In most industries, the pandemic has boosted innovation

  • by forcing companies to adopt new ways of doing things

  • purely as a matter of survival

  • We have innovated for necessity

  • Even for Michelin-star restaurant owner, David Moore

  • Lockdown forced him to place 90% of his staff on furlough

  • an emergency government scheme

  • that pays the wages of workers

  • For the business, it meant we had no income

  • I had thought that maybe

  • we wouldn't be able to get back to doing what we did before

  • So, to save his business...

  • ...David adopted something once unthinkable...

  • ...in the rarefied world of fine dining...

  • ...a takeaway

  • The restaurant turned this...

  • ...into this...

  • Thank you, amazing

  • ...a heat-at-home Michelin-star ready-meal

  • Now the restaurant's Vegan Box has proven so popular

  • it has been rolled out nationwide

  • I definitely see online

  • as something that's staying with us

  • It's totally invigorated the business

  • Billy that's the samphire

  • As businesses throughout the hospitality industry

  • have been forced to adapt

  • the pandemic has fuelled the rapid growth

  • of the meal-delivery industry

  • Globally, the total revenue of this industry

  • is now expected to reach $182bn by 2024…

  • an increase of more than a third from the projected level in 2020

  • When the pandemic recedes...

  • ...the innovative mindset many businesses...

  • ...have been forced to embrace, looks set to linger

  • For David, the unexpected success of his food-delivery service

  • points to a hybrid model for the future

  • one that will allow his chefs

  • to continue to innovate in the kitchen

  • Home delivery is not gonna finish fine dining

  • Fine dining is here to stay

  • People want to be looked after

  • they want crisp linen

  • they want the waiters looking after them

  • and they want no washing up afterwards

  • But while the pandemic has made innovation

  • …a necessity for some companies

  • it has also restricted opportunities for others

  • Amidst the huge economic downturn

  • companies have been consolidating

  • The third quarter of 2020…

  • was the busiest for mergers and acquisitions in three decades

  • …a trend that is likely to tilt resources

  • for new thinking and new ideas

  • further towards big companies

  • By and large big companies can continue to invest...

  • ...in difficult times

  • They can continue to take market share...

  • ...in a way that small companies can't...

  • ...and so generally this is leading...

  • ...to sort of greater inequality between companies

  • It's a sort of big-gets-bigger phenomenon

  • There are parts of America you can only scout...

  • ...if you come in here

  • Your international Harvester dealer showroom

  • History also suggests...

  • ...that successful companies tend to start life...

  • ...more often in the good times than the bad

  • Of the biggest American firms founded since 1970...

  • ...more than 80% were born during eras of growth

  • During economic downturns life can be much harder for startups...

  • ...which are so often the engines of innovation

  • But back in the booming world of online food delivery...

  • ...some startups have found hungry investors

  • So we just closed £250m

  • We just closed £250m

  • Sisters Gini and Eccie Newton run Karma Kitchen

  • It's a startup that offers flexible kitchen space...

  • ...known as ghost kitchens...

  • ...to cooks and restaurants catering mainly to the delivery market

  • While some ghost kitchens are owned by a single-restaurant chain...

  • ...Karma Kitchen has many different companies...

  • ...hot-stationing under one roof

  • Producing everything from west African donuts...

  • ...to tandoori curries

  • The company was founded two years ago...

  • ...and the pandemic has transformed its fortunes

  • What would have taken us potentially three years to achieve...

  • ...has now taken eight months in terms of market demand

  • The startup has recently opened its second ghost kitchen in London...

  • ...and it has another five sites under construction

  • It plans to build many more ghost kitchens in residential...

  • ...and office hotspots across Europe

  • We want to open 60 kitchen facilities

  • That starts for us with the funding

  • The ambition of fast-growing startups like Karma Kitchen...

  • ...can attract investors

  • But it can also end with the startup selling itself...

  • ...to a larger company with deeper pockets

  • And that brings its own risks

  • You see from research on mergers and acquisitions...

  • ...when an acquisition happens...

  • ...the innovativeness of that small firm typically goes down

  • The question really is whether large conglomerates...

  • ...will be able to fuel these startups...

  • ...in order for them to carry the front in terms of innovation...

  • ...and for that innovation to then be...

  • ...disseminated into the rest of the organisation