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Afonso Amaral wins the Babbage Industrial Innovation Awards 2022

CMU Portugal Ph.D. student in Engineering and Public Policy, Afonso Amaral, was distinguished with the best paper at the Babbage Industrial Innovation Policy Awards 2022 and received a $10K prize money for his work. Afonso had already won a “highly commendable work” distinction in the last edition but, in 2022 secured the first prize

“Winning this award in such an early phase of my career is motivating. I thought only professors could get these types of awards. It feels excellent to be still doing my Ph.D. and be already recognized at this level!”

The Dual Degree Ph.D. student at Instituto Superior Técnico and Carnegie Mellon’s Engineering and Public Policy Department co-authored the winning paper “National and Sub-National Policy for Domestic Manufacturing Flexibility: A Policy Framework to Incentivize Flexibility Based on Lessons from the COVID-19 Medical Supply Response” along with Nikhil Kalathil, his Ph.D. colleague at CMU.

Nikhil Kalathil and I have similar research interests and share a CMU supervisor, Professor Erica Fuchs. Our collaboration comes almost as a natural thing. We look at similar problems in two different regions: I focus on Europe, and he focuses on the United States. We decided to combine our findings and think about how countries (and states) could make the best use of the full suite of federal and local policies to leverage their domestic industry. In a sense, what we have done is that we have combined several best practices across US states and EU Member-states, and we put them together in a policy framework focusing on investments in manufacturing flexibility”, Afonso Amaral. 

By combining their expertise, the authors introduced a policy framework to support economic dynamism and manufacturing flexibility that uses the full suite of local, regional, and national policy mechanisms. The goal of this framework is to appropriately incentivize both pre-crisis and during-crisis investments in flexibility among firms of all sizes, taking advantage of the specific strengths and weaknesses of firms of different sizes. The study performs a five country case study to unpack the different policies implemented by Germany, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United States of America to help domestic firms increase or pivot their production of medical supplies and equipment during COVID-19.

As a curiosity, the prize money will eventually be applied, according to Afonso, to another common goal: “We are currently writing a book together where we expand this and other ideas on how nations can best leverage their domestic industry. Maybe we can use this money for the publishing process? That would be a good idea!”

More about the 2022 Babbage Awards
News 2021 edition