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Research beacons ‘COVID Catalysts’ campaign launches

30 Sep 2020

A suite of lectures identifying how the coronavirus pandemic has acted as a catalyst to drive change across key topics, from addressing inequalities to developments on climate change, went live today (Wednesday, 30 September)

Covid catalysts

Experts from across our five research beacons have explored key areas where the COVID-19 crisis has presented an opportunity to accelerate innovation or social change in a suite of micro-lectures about thinking and doing things differently. 
COVID-19 has put some of the major challenges facing the planet into sharper focus and acted as a catalyst for change in society.  The collection of flash lectures draws upon key themes - health, economic recovery, inequality, growth of the green sector, and innovation – and covers topics such as new simple at-home tests for cervical cancer, re-evaluating the role of key workers in society, carbon removal technologies for cleaner energy generation, the sustainability of plastics, and using plant-based and synthetic resources to develop a new and bio-based manufacturing sector as an alternative to fossil fuels. 
Looking back at key learnings from the last six months and what the future might hold, from a global, national and regional perspective, a new publication which summarises the lectures has also been released today. The publication encapsulates the expert opinion of scientists and researchers from across our advanced materials, cancer, energy, global inequalities and industrial biotechnology research beacons. The five research beacons shine a light on Manchester's pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships which are helping to tackle some of the biggest global challenges facing the planet. 
Professor David Hulme of the Global Development Institute says: “COVID-19 has brought many issues into a very sharp focus. It's a health crisis, and at the same time, it's an economic crisis. But it may also be an opportunity to start to rethink some of the ways in which the world is governed and think about the strategies that countries and organisations have been pursuing.” 

In the context of ‘green growth’, combating climate change is top of the agenda. Professor Alice Larkin of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and Head of the School of Engineering says: “There are two important lessons that we've learnt so far from the COVID-19 pandemic. Firstly, that our priorities can be different. And secondly, that change can happen quickly.  
“These observations can also be harnessed to tackle the climate emergency because with everything going on in the world right now, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that we're in one.” 

More information and watch the recorded lectures: