Economic Development Collaborative Celebrates Small Business Development Center Director’s Co-Authorship of Landmark COVID-19 Innovation Study
Groundbreaking research explores the scale, nature and determinants of how small businesses innovate amidst disruption
CAMARILLO, Calif. – The Economic Development Collaborative (EDC) is thrilled to announce that EDC Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Director, Dr. Ray Bowman, has co-authored a groundbreaking study titled “Who innovates during a crisis? Evidence from small businesses during COVID-19.” The study, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Economics, provides unique empirical evidence of how small businesses innovated during the initial uncertainty and rapid changes of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research team, sponsored by the California Network of Small Business Development Centers, surveyed over 22,000 small businesses during the first few months of the pandemic. Kyung Min Lee, John S. Earle, Lokesh Dani and Dr. Bowman’s findings showcase the power of innovation as a crucial survival skill for businesses during times of disruption.
Key findings from the study include:
- An unprecedented 70% of firms reported engaging in various types of innovation during the pandemic. This is in stark contrast to innovation rates of 25-38% observed during normal times over a three-year period.
- Younger firms, especially startups and those less than five years old, were found to be more agile innovators, embracing new product development. On the other hand, larger firms, measured by number of employees, were more likely to innovate processes compared to solo entrepreneurs.
- Firms with intermediate levels of prior capabilities relevant to the pandemic (such as e-commerce and telework) were most likely to build on those capabilities. Firms with no relevant experience or already fully built out were less likely to expand those practices.
“This experience has reinforced my belief that necessity drives innovation,” stated Dr. Bowman. “To help business owners be innovative and resilient during disruption, it is essential that government officials, policymakers and development services promote innovation support programs, digital capabilities, incentives to utilize unused resources and crisis adaptation strategies both before and during times of uncertainty.”
In partnership with Dr. Bowman, EDC looks forward to incorporating these remarkable findings into its comprehensive range of advisory and business support services, further empowering small businesses to confidently navigate the unexpected.
To learn more, read the summary prepared by Dr. Ray Bowman that outlines the study results and implications at https://edcollaborative.com/publications/. To access the full study, visit https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00191-023-00824-8.
For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact the EDC’s Communications & Marketing Manager, Tracie Schneider, at Tracie@edcollaborative.com.
About Economic Development Collaborative
A private nonprofit, the Economic Development Collaborative was founded in 1996 with funding from the County of Ventura, the 10 cities in the county and key private-sector companies to provide a pathway to business growth, economic prosperity and high quality of life for all.
Today, in partnership with the Small Business Development Center, the EDC is a regional asset for economic vitality in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties, giving businesses, community partners and civic leaders the resources they need to succeed. By leveraging public and private funds, the EDC has become a key player in delivering business consulting, funding and strategic initiatives that support the region.