Innovation in times of crisis – long-run perspectives


Do we innovate more – or differently – in times of crisis? Researcher Josef Taalbi will in this talk during the Lund Future Week give us long-run perspectives on when and why we invent and innovate. He argues that historical patterns show that infrastructure and policy always are important as fertile ground for innovation.

Is, for example, the Corona pandemic likely to be remembered as a period of necessity inspired innovation? At present, it might be hard to tell, but if we look back, Josef Taalbi and fellow researchers have found that waves of innovation have taken place during periods of investment downturns and structural crises during the 1930s, 1970s, and 2010s.

But why is this? Taalbi explains that when one looks closer, it is apparent that crisis pressure and “necessity” alone cannot explain the pattern. 

”Rather, innovation waves have emerged through a combination of crisis pressure and the existence of ample opportunities for innovation. Historically, waves of innovation have emerged when infrastructure and industry rationalization have acted as a fertile ground for breakthrough innovations when the crisis breaks out,” says Josef Taalbi.

”The historical patterns observed in Sweden put emphasis on the importance of policies and infrastructure supporting industrial transformation, with implications for the assessment of current sustainable transitions. From this perspective, the important question is perhaps not if the Corona pandemic will lead to technological innovation, but to what extent it will lead to political innovation,” Josef Taalbi concludes.

Learn more about this during this public lecture at the Lund City Library (Stadsbiblioteket) on 18 October 16:30–17:30.


All are welcome. Free of charge. Limited number of seats. We recommend that you register beforehand:

Sign up here

The lecture will not be live-streamed online. But it will be recorded, and published online on this website and on Youtube a couple of days afterwards.

About the speaker 

Josef Taalbi is Senior Lecturer in Economic History at Lund University School of Economics and Management. He is the head of the ongoing research project SWINNO 3. Significant New Products and Processes in Sweden 1970 to the present, funded by Vinnova with SEK 20 Million. SWINNO is a database, composed by researchers here in Lund, that collects innovations from the past to the present.


More reading

New project will enhance knowledge about Swedish innovations

Nu ska kunskapen om svenska innovationer fördjupas

Josef Taalbi in the Lund University Research Portal

Innovation in the long run: Perspectives on technological transitions in Sweden 1908-2016

The Future Week

This event is part of Lund University’s Future Week, 18-24 October 2021. View the program (in Swedish) here:

Future Week at Lund University

Corona information

We care about the safety and health of all participants. Therefore the Lund University Future Week follows the Public Health Agency of Sweden’s and the government's decisions and corona recommendations. Events, premises and logistics during the week will take into account official corona recommendations. We encourage everyone who has the slightest symptom of a cold or other illness to stay home.

18 oktober 2021


Lunds stadsbibliotek
Sankt Petri kyrkogata 6
222 21 Lund


Louise Larsson