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Padmashree is a leading expert on technology, development and the global political economy. She is currently a Visiting Professor at the South African Research Chair in Industrial Development (SARChI ID), University of Johannesburg, a Professorial Fellow at the United Nations University-MERIT, and the Chair Person of the Technical Advisory Group of the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (CTAP).

Her thought leadership pertains to technology governance, development, and the global political economy. Her sectors of work, where she conducts empirical analyses and works closely with academia, international agencies and the policy community to suggest reforms, are: the digital economy (artificial intelligence, big Data and internet of things), pharmaceuticals and life sciences, and energy.

She bring over two decades of experience on these topics having worked with a range of international organizations, national governments and regional agencies, assessing and predicting the emergence of new market segments and trends, current and future competition patterns, and new models of cooperation and regulation in the international economy. She currently also advises the African Development Bank on Industrialization Perspectives for the region, and is a Strategic Advisor to the German government on accelerating vaccine manufacturing in Africa. In the past, she has held several important positions in international organisations, most recently serving as Head of Policy of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

At Berkman, her research particularly focuses on the ways in which the digital technologies empower and facilitate change at the individual and collective levels. She works on the design and implementation of national digital development strategies; data sovereignty, AI for development, among others.  She was formerly a Director of the Center's GAiA Program, where she worked extensively on issues of access to medicines, particularly through local production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines in different regions worldwide. 

Academic Career

Padmashree’s past research has focused extensively on competition and change in the global economy, evaluating how international and national policies and strategies (technology, intellectual property, trade and competition) impact economic performance in several industrial sectors, and what factors matter to shape growth and performance. Her focus, in particular, has been on how future markets will develop and what companies and governments need to do to prepare for a better tomorrow, especially to promote technological change and industrial growth while taking into account institutional and other (macroeconomic, structural or trade related) factors. Coming from an inter-disciplinary background with economics, law, trade and technology perspectives, a number of her previous research projects look at these processes in a comparative regional perspective (developing-developed, or African-Asian-Latin American). She has over 60 publications  including five books and her work has appeared in the Harvard International Review, the Harvard Public Health Review. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Competition and Change.

Teaching and More

She is committed to promoting a more diverse discourse, including the use of new frameworks on methodologies, to understand issues related to technology and social responsibility in the global economy. She also teaches core courses on institutional economics, development economics, the political economy of development, science, technology and society in various institutions.


May 20, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccines and the Case for a New Global Health Diplomacy

Padmashree Gehl Sampath outlines the benefits of global collaboration in the manufacture of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the disconnect between availability and access for…


The Conversation

South African case study sheds light on how vaccine manufacturing can be developed

Padmashree Gehl Sampath and her co-author provide an overview of a case study on financing and manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine

Apr 11, 2021
Bill of Health

How Do We Arrive at Fair Pricing for COVID-19 Therapies?

Padmashree Gehl Sampath on COVID-19 treatments

Jun 16, 2020
Harvard International Review

COVID-19: The Need for a New Global Compact

Padmashree Gehl Sampath on the need for a global response to tackle the impact of COVID-9.

May 25, 2020

Industry 4.0 can be a Game Changer for Businesses in Low-Income Countries

National digital development strategies need to recognise the potential and enable the change

May 12, 2020

How the Coronavirus Challenges our Model of Economic Growth

Despite heart-wrenching images in the media of people standing together and political calls for solidarity, the pandemic has laid bare the problems with globalisation and…

Mar 17, 2020
Harvard Law Today

Innovation, Justice and Globalization

From patent law to the challenges facing the digital commons, leading academics and policymakers from around the world discussed intellectual property issues at Harvard Law School…

Oct 17, 2019

Competition in the Digital Age

Padmashree Gehl Sampath says African countries need to begin thinking about comprehensive policymaking

Oct 9, 2019
The Hindu

Creating a fair digital payments market

Local firms in India will be at a disadvantage if big tech companies are given plum roles, says Padmashree Gehl Sampath

Jul 16, 2019
Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute

Do Patents Lead to Market Concentration and Excess Profits?

A first empirical assessment showing that concentration of patents does result in market concentration in certain sectors

Apr 30, 2019
Digital Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School

Can Data Become Part of a Development Strategy?

Data should become an enabler of new models of cooperative growth

Apr 2, 2019

How to make Industry 4.0 work for Europe

On the consequences of ‘new manufacturing’ for European industrial policymaking

Apr 1, 2019
BKC Medium

Reclaiming the Data Commons

A critical perspective on this emerging notion of the data commons

Mar 6, 2019
Global Development and Environment Institute

Industrial Policy 4.0

Promoting transformation in the digital economy

This paper makes a case for comprehensive digital industrial policies that are differentiated and rooted in the broader reality of development and globalization in the fourth…

Dec 7, 2018


May 26, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

[Virtual] COVID-19 and Inequality in the Global South

Economic and healthcare fallouts for low-income countries

A discussion on the economic and healthcare fallouts for low-income countries

Feb 21, 2019 @ 12:00 PM

Patents and Market Concentration

Measuring the Impact on Global Access to Medicines

Market concentration in technology industries has become a subject of interest to scholars and policy analysts. This talk presents some of the first empirical results on how the…