UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Local production of COVID-19 vaccines: A collective capabilities approach

27 October 2021, 5:00 pm–6:30 pm

A poster advertising Padmashree Gehl Sampath's seminar on 'Local production of Covid-19 vaccines''.

Join us to hear Prof. Padmashree Gehl Sampath talk about her ongoing research on the 'Local production of COVID-19 vaccines: a collective capabilities approach'. This talk will be chaired by IIPP’s Antonio Andreoni with a discussion from Els Toreele (IIPP). Followed by questions from the audience.

This event is free.

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Several large initiatives and projects are currently underway to promote the local production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines in LMICs as a means to boost regional security and promote innovation. But the capacity to produce, while being a part and parcel of the overall capacity to innovate, is often not sufficient to promote linkages and build long term capabilities that can sustain competitive pharmaceutical sectors. No doubt, the knowledge base of firms grows on the basis of routine learning-by-doing where the individual capabilities of engineers and scientists are largely tacit. But a firm cannot indefinitely rely on its own internal capabilities developed at a particular time without the periodic injection of new ideas, whether developed through internal R&D or acquired from external sources. The latter remains key for capabilities that enable innovation and transformation, and in a nutshell, remains the key distinguishing element for countries that started out with some local production and went on to build successful pharmaceutical sectors.

This seminar will discuss Prof. Padmashree's ongoing work on assessing the barriers and opportunities to move from production and tacit-know-how sharing for COVID-19 vaccines to overall capabilities building in the pharmaceutical sector through a case study of South Africa's mRNA hub that is currently being conceptualised. Building on a framework for analysis that is nested within evolutionary economics and the capability theory of the firm (that espouses how firms perform functions in accordance with their existing technical capabilities), this research looks at how production performance over time - in a dynamic sense - remains a collective undertaking, and relies on the development of collaborative linkages and collective competencies in the sector. 

Background material linked to this seminar

Local Production of COVID 19 Vaccines: A Strategy for Action by Padmashree Gehl Sampath and Jon Pearman 

Read more about the IIPP seminar series 2021-2022

About the Speaker

Prof. Padmashree Gehl Sampath

Senior Advisor, Global Access in Action Program and Fellow at Berkman Klein Center, Harvard University

Image of Padmashree Gehl Sampath
Prof. Padmashree Gehl Sampath is currently a Senior Advisor of the Global Access in Action Program, and Fellow, Berkman Klein Center, Harvard University, and Visiting Professor at the South African Research Chair in Industrial Development (SARChI ID), University of Johannesburg. Her thought leadership pertains to: Technology governance (technology learning, partnerships, technology transfer, intellectual property rights regimes, trade policy and changing technological frontiers) and its impact on enterprise development and change in various sectors of the global economy; Development (globalization, development policies and strategies, and the role of the state in promoting balanced growth and business environments); and the Global Political Economy (international relationships, new alliances, new challenges especially related to technology, capabilities building, inequality, environment, and employment). Her sectors of work, where she conducts empirical analyses and works closely with companies and governments to suggest reforms, are predominantly pharmaceuticals and life sciences, the digital economy (Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and IoT) and energy.

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