The outbreak of COVID-19 and its extraordinary spread triggered a cascade of disruptions. The economic fallout is following the collapse of the sanitary system. These shocks are not just harming everyone’s fundamental rights of health, security and happiness. They are also transforming behaviours and business models. The current crisis revealed the fragility of our system. However, the challenges associated with the virus diffusion put in motion new forms of public-private partnerships to quickly deliver effective solutions. Lighting speed collaborations between research centers, companies and public authorities are working to build ventilators, deliver a vaccine, but also to allocate capital and share essential data and information.

Experiences that would have otherwise be arranged in years, materialized in record time, triggered by a common purpose and the sense of urgency COVID-19 generated. By proving these new mechanisms successful, the COVID-19 crisis offers three policy-relevant lessons.

First, the complexity and interconnectedness of our societies is an ally to track and use the best available capabilities. Cutting-edge technologies abate the physical distances: simplified procedures and knowledge transfers should be promoted to allow synergies to happen. Second, the COVID-19 crisis spotlighted the importance of the collective interest in fuelling the actions of the private sector. The public actor can proactively guide the “social competition” between market agents and is able to reshape the concept of economic value by giving it meaning and purpose. Third, civil society is the sentinel of an inclusive and sustainable system: it highlights vulnerabilities mobilising action and capital. The fight against future risks will call for coordinated efforts capable of reaching those in difficulty and people play a vital role to act locally.

These lessons should not get lost: unlocking the potential of new, improved and simplified partnerships has never been more urgent to create a science-based environment, increase resilience and boost a sustainable post COVID-19 recovery.