How do different crises impact the pattern of innovation and why does it matter? The RelinC project joined a growing literature to better appreciate how the innovation activi-ties of enterprises might adapt to improve resilience during crisis. Applied to the COVID19 pandemic in Norway, the RelinC project exploited a wide range of unique data sources:
• To assess the capability of the Norwegian economy to respond to a crisis in real time.
• To analyze how the innovation capacity of Norwegian firms adapts during crisis individually and collectively (in terms of ‘patterns of innovation’).
The project carried out a set of intermediate activities to achieve this end. It reviewed the relevant (post-Schumpeterian economics) literature; it refined a standard taxonomy of firm-level innovation activity from this literature to better understand how economic crisis affect different types of innovative firms; and it explored and further developed real-time empirical strategies that might be useful to monitor and analyze a pandemic crisis and its consequences.
The project’s contribution is primarily empirical. It explored and demonstrated the po-tential of a range of empirical strategies in light of the clear need for better “lenses” to monitor and analyze the unexpected side-effects of unexpected crises like that of the COVID19 pandemic. Combining different (low and high-frequency, standard and explora-tory) types of data, it sought to better understand how the innovative responses of differ-ent firms react during a crisis.
The project managed to bring together several communities (the research community, the statistical community, the business community, and the public policy community) around a current and important issue. It called attention to the importance of the basic relationship (innovation during crisis) for society, and it brought forward the need for new ways to gauge this relationship in real time.
The project built on and reinforced innovation in the public sector in quite direct ways. Statistics Norway improved indicators and analysis during the pandemic while participating in the project. It also provided a real-time lens to provide feedback on the effects of the public sector compensation schemes that were introduced during the crisis.
The importance of the work and its design have been recognized. The fact that this was picked up by a renowned economics journalist in Norway indicates the significance of the underlying work. Internationally there are other indications that the project’s work is at the forefront. The project presented complementary work alongside similar work of the international organization, WIPO.
The project aims at understanding the role of firm-level innovation in promoting economic resilience to pandemic crises. The project bases upon the scientific literature on evolutionary economics and innovation studies, using concepts like adaptation and selection for understanding, in real time, the consequences of a pandemic crisis on a national economy. Empirically, the country under study will be Norway: by analysing a wide array of historical data, a clear picture of the innovation patterns of Norwegian firms will be described. To this purpose, a taxonomy of firms, built from firm-level and employee-level data, will be used to categorize Norwegian firms according to their research, development and innovation patterns. The project will then dig into real-time information on crisis-related bankruptcies and on policy measures aimed at struggling enterprises, in order to understand which parts of the innovation landacape of Norway, as represented by the firm-level innovation categories outlined above, seem to be most resilient to the crises. A main assumption of the project is that different innovation patterns could lead to crisis resilience. Finally, an update of a comprehensive firm survey on R&D and innovation will allow to investigate how the innovation landscape itself is going to change during and following the pandemic crisis.