How does the Nantes Metropolitan area’s innovation ecosystem respond in times of crisis? What alternatives does it proposed? Can we observe similar dynamics in Europe? What kind of new balance relationships are emerging between citizens, public authorities and businesses? Feedback from Europe and Nantes on innovation in turbulent times through two tangible and inspiring experiments.
The challenge of the MakAir project was the rapid development of a simple-to-build ventilator for the treatment of the most seriously affected COVID patients, in compliance with the rules guaranteeing patient safety and European regulations on medical devices. As part of the initiative of the Makers For Life collective, MakAir is an open-source project and therefore available to all. In three months, MakAir’s confined teams created, tested and certified an artificial respirator.
The Nantes Entraide initiative originated at the beginning of the confinement when associations very quickly raised awareness and alerted the public authorities in Nantes to the needs of certain population groups, particularly in terms of food supply. This warning was echoed by the desire of many citizens, businesses, shops, … to serve the community. The Nantes Entraide platform is in the end the response to more than 2000 requests, the distribution of food parcels, the production and distribution of 15,000 masks in low-income neighbourhoods and unprecedented mobilisation of citizens.
It is often thought that crises block innovation and are a brake on cooperation. What the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is that, on the contrary, a crisis situation can lead to encounters that would otherwise never have taken place and lead to innovative projects.