Harnessing Exaptation and Ecosystem Strategy for Accelerated Innovation: Lessons from the VentilatorChallengeUK

Wei Liu*, Ahmad Beltagui, Peter Williamson, Songhe Ye

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 crisis has underlined the need for accelerated innovation to rapidly help business solve social problems. These problems require access to capabilities and knowledge that no single organization or existing supply chain possesses. Drawing on the experience of the open innovation and rapid-scale-up achieved by the VentilatorChallengeUK to address a shortage of ventilators required by patients seriously ill with COVID-19, this article develops a framework for accelerated innovation and delivery that crosses traditional industry boundaries. It offers a series of important lessons for how open innovation, exaptation, and ecosystem strategies—backed by a set of enabling initiatives—can be used to solve multi-faceted social and business problems at speed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCalifornia Management Review
Early online date18 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).


  • COVID-19
  • ecosystems
  • exaptation
  • open innovation
  • social innovation
  • ventilator


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