What will the world look like when COVID-19 crisis is over?

Technology is central to our economy and society and will continue to shape our future.

While the world shelters in place from the coronavirus and we all are riveted to the daily news cycle, planning is already starting for what the world will look like when today’s crisis is over.

Will the virus kill Silicon Valley’s seemingly unstoppable engine? How will industries change, and which sectors will emerge from the crisis stronger? While the answers for the macroeconomy remain unclear, patterns for technology are starting to emerge.

Technology companies have taken hits on issues ranging from online privacy to their impact on the cost of housing, but today’s crisis makes clear the centrality of technology to our economy and society. It also brings home the critical importance of the innovation that is happening in Silicon Valley.

在家工作时, most of us are connecting on platforms such as Zoom, 松弛, 和微软的团队, LinkedIn and Google Hangouts. Facebook is keeping us in touch. Instacart, Postmates, DoorDash and UberEats are delivering to our doors. And most of us are watching Netflix and You Tube. What is remarkable is that almost all are Bay Area companies, located within 50 miles of SFO.

The drive to discover COVID-19 vaccines and treatments is also being led from the Bay Area:

Institutions such as Stanford, UCSF and Gladstone Institutes are in the hunt for treatments, vaccines and testing technologies. So is a small army of startups and young companies such as Cepheid and 23andme. Large companies like Gilead Science and Genentech are deep in clinical trials. Alphabet’s Deep Mind artificial intelligence unit is focusing on vaccines, while its Verily Life Science research arm addresses virus detection. Intel is working with Hong Kong’s Lenovo and Shenzhen’s BGI to speed genomic sequencing of the virus through supercomputing. Google and Apple are collaborating on smart-phone technology to enable global contact tracking, reaching one-third of the world’s population.

Here are some take-aways:

  1. Innovation is collaborative and often global: Biotech companies in Silicon Valley, 波士顿, 中国, Europe and elsewhere are attacking the COVID-19 challenge on a broad front, 经常在一起.
  2. Science matters: Federal budget proposals advanced by the Trump Administration routinely gut scientific research. Fortunately, Congress has ignored them and continues to fund science. That support is bedrock for technological advancement and should grow in future budgets.
  3. Governance is important when addressing global challenges: While rooted in national systems, responses must be integrated to be fully effective.

What will the new world look like from a technology standpoint? 在近期:

  • Innovation ecosystems will rise to the challenge as societies and economies reconfigure;
  • While many startups will shrink or fail, valuations will drop and investment terms will tighten, ample venture funding will be available for the right companies;
  • Patient capital will make longer-term bets on “tough-tech”;
  • 网络安全, the industrial internet (IoT), 生物技术, and quantum computing will attract new research and investment;
  • Internet-based management, 分配工作, 远程学习, and telemedicine will become more robust;
  • Robotics and automation will transform manufacturing and services at an accelerated pace;
  • Advances will be built on hybrid cloud computing that leverages big data analytics.
  • Supply chains will shift as the vulnerability of over-reliance on a single country – for example on 中国 for electronic components or medicines – becomes clear. 现在是美国的时候了.S. investment in advanced manufacturing to move forward.

Strong companies have been built in challenging times. As need and necessity drive markets, new technologies and companies will emerge to meet them. 当这一切发生时, innovators and investors will continue to place their bets in Silicon Valley and other technology centers where science, 金融资本, and human capital concentrate.

Sean Randolph is senior director at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute (www.birdsongweddingcottage.com). Stephen Goodman is an adviser to the Institute and MIT Lincoln Lab, and a founder of 波士顿 and Bay Area-based Madrone Advisory. This commentary was published by The Mercury News on May 1, 2020. http://www.mercurynews.com/2020/05/01/opinion-what-will-the-world-look-like-when-covid-19-crisis-is-over/