• Becky Upton

Covid-19: Business Lessons You Can Learn from the World of Science

Updated: Mar 18

As a scientist, businesswoman and coach, I am always on the lookout for ways in which I can apply learns from one world to the other, and vice versa.

In the lockdown period and the fight against COVID 19, I’ve observed the scientific community coming together like never before; being agile, dynamic and collaborative, and really leading the way. The “usual” leaders; our politicians and MPs, have looked to the scientific and medical community to guide them through.

But what can we learn as a business community from these behaviours?


The core of science is innovation. Scientists have been able to test multiple approaches to tackling COVID-19, from genetic engineering to clinically evaluating existing drugs in order to buy time as they work to develop a successful vaccine. If there’s a positive we can take from the current crisis, it’s that it has stimulated a great amount of innovation - and this doesn’t stop at the scientific world. Businesses have suffered tremendous losses, but those that have chosen to adapt and innovate will be the ones who reap the benefits in the long-term.


There has never been a greater need for speed and agility in life sciences than right now as we race to develop a vaccine. As such, Scientists are reimagining the way research is conducted and pushing beyond the usual boundaries. You should be able to answer the question, “how fast can I change course in response to new information that contradicts my prior beliefs?” If something isn’t working, even if it’s late in the game, we should respond by adapting as quickly as possible. Think about what your customer needs right now – and more importantly, how you can then meet those needs.

Collaboration Globally

Global collaboration has been absolutely crucial to the speedy informed decisions scientists have been making. Fail fast and fail often has been key, but not just that – share that failure.

Whilst countries land borders have closed, this has not stopped collaborative science continuing - via zoom, via open publications and even tweets!

Interdisciplinary collaboration

One type of scientist or healthcare professional is not going to crack this problem. It is taking a multi-disciplinary approach, from biochemists to geneticists, to haematologists and ICU staff. We can create endless opportunities that may not have been discovered by simply collaborating with experts from different fields.

Collaborative but competitive

The COVID 19 situation has broken down barriers between the scientific community like never before. Yes, there is still competition and a race to generate a vaccine that works, but the realisation is that there has to be openness and collaboration across the board in order to meet this collective goal.

Moving forward

Now that we have been thrust into a new reality, there is a lot we can learn from the scientific world and apply to our business lives. To survive, we need to move swiftly and innovatively, plan for the unexpected, keep testing, and work with others. And whilst the current focus is on responding to the pandemic and coping with the immediate effects, the lessons we learn collectively from this crisis are equally, if not more important.

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