Innovation in crisis: The role of ‘exaptive relations’ for medical device development in response to COVID-19

Steffan James, Zheng Liu, Victoria Stephens, Gareth White

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    The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in huge disruption to the healthcare sector. In response to this, there have been collaborative efforts between many different public and private organizations to foster medical innovations. The effect of crisis upon innovation, particularly medical innovation, remains a debatable subject. In addition, the role of inter-personal relations is becoming more widely acknowledged as a critical feature of innovation. Drawing upon exaptation literature, the study aims to understand the nature of the micro-relations within medical innovations that are undertaken in response to COVID-19. The findings of this paper contribute to the limited literature that examines the performance of medical innovation in response to crisis. In addition to confirming the importance of exaptive pools, exaptive events, and exaptive forums in fostering serendipitous developments, the study makes a contribution to theory by identifying a further form of serendipitous encounter that is ‘exaptive relations’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number121863
    Number of pages9
    JournalTechnological Forecasting & Social Change
    Early online date13 Jul 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


    • Innovation
    • Exaptation
    • COVID-19
    • Medical innovation


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