This brief note considers calls for a Grand Prize to incentivise research into a vaccine for COVID-19. These calls respond to perceived failures of the patent system. We argue that such a prize is probably unnecessary and that the challenge for innovation policy posed by threats like COVID-19 lies elsewhere. In particular, we suggest that the more expansive reward-style approach embraced by Britain in the 18th and 19th Centuries is a more useful starting point for thinking about how to move towards a proactive innovation system.

Link to SSRN