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EFP Brief No. 263: The Future of Aging in Upper Austria

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

The foresight study aimed at exploring what technological solutions and social innovations for ambient assisted living (AAL) can offer widest coverage in a demographically-challenged rural area such as the Mühlviertler Alm (Upper Austria). To increase the acceptance of the identified findings among the local population and the success of the implementation of the AAL solutions in a potential follow-up project (e.g. as a model test region), strong emphasis was put on the integration of potential users and other stakeholders throughout the whole study.

Active and Assisted Living (AAL): Intelligent Technologies for the Elderly

The social foresight was part of the project
“WEGE2025: Our ways to an age-appropriate region 2025 – Living independently in the Mühlviertel” as part of the Austrian national funding programme “ICT of the Future: benefit – Demographic change as a chance” (project no. 846222).

For the last decades life expectancy has been increasing continuously throughout Europe due to improvements in life conditions and healthcare. Meanwhile, the share of elderly people (aged 65 and over) among the total population has reached an average of 18.5% across the EU-28 and 18.3% in Austria (EUROSTAT 2015). For 2050, it is expected that these numbers will double. This demographic change often goes along with changing family structures (e.g. reduced family sizes with fewer potential family carers for the older people at hand) and limited numbers of available local care facilities. Consequently, new and innovative solutions are necessary to ensure an independent living of the elderly in their own home for as long as possible.

Intelligent technical solutions have a huge potential to meet the upcoming healthcare challenges of aging societies and become an important pillar in the personal healthcare and care of elderly people in the years to come. Active and Assisted Living (AAL), an emerging multi-disciplinary field, specifically aims at providing technical aids and technology-assisted services to the elderly as well as care givers by exploiting information and communication technologies (ICT). However, the overall success and acceptance of AAL systems in practice will crucially depend on how well the new technological solutions can address the needs of the elderly and maintain or improve their quality of life. Therefore, it is vital to know the specific needs of the elderly in their respective living environments and how innovative solutions can be tailored to both the needs and the living environment.

AAL in a rural region

So far, AAL solutions have mainly been developed for users with a focus on specific indications, independent of their place of residence and hardly ever for an entire region. In particular, for rural areas there are hardly any visions on how to improve the attractiveness of the region for an independent life for senior citizens and their needs in their third and fourth phases of life. Rural areas and the people that are growing old there have to cope particularly with the rural depopulation of young people and are confronted with a general decrease in public utility infrastructure.

Mühlviertler Alm

The Mühlviertler Alm is an association of ten municipal communities situated in the north-east of Upper Austria. Agriculture is the predominant economic sector. Each community consists of between ten and 20 villages, each of which consists of a densely populated village centre as well as numerous individual, scattered farmsteads far from the village centres. Consequently, the region is characterised by long supply routes and require high mobility in the daily life of the residents.

The Mühlviertler Alm is currently undergoing a process of demographic change. An increasing number of elderly people is opposed to a decreasing share of younger people. The highest pressure is expected in the coming decades when the baby-boom generation retires. At the moment, about 18.000 people live in the region Mühlviertler Alm. Some 4.000 of them are already older than 60 years. Until 2030, it is expected that this number will rise by 50%.

Active and independent aging is an important topic in the region. Since 2010, the communities have been actively facing the demographic change with local projects. They consider the demographic change a chance for a new social interaction.

Aiming to Become Model of the Future

The project WEGE2025 analysed what AAL solutions can offer the widest coverage in a rural area such as the Mühlviertler Alm. The major question was therefore what AAL technologies and social innovations can be implemented for a maximum of end-users and will also be applied by secondary users, such as managed care organisations.

As a result of the project, the region Mühlviertler Alm is expected to become a model for the future development of a test region for active and assisted living solutions.

Exploring the Potential for AAL in a Rural Region

A major focus of the project was on the methods used for the exploration of AAL test regions. While ongoing test region projects in Austrian are mainly technologically driven, the WEGE2025 project pursued an interactive stakeholder approach. Within a comprehensive future-oriented stakeholder process, both project partners, AIT and Verband Mühlviertler Alm, together with some 100 stakeholders (end users, medical staff, and providers of services in the general interest and other stakeholders) from the region worked together to explore future needs for an attractive life during old age and to assess by means of scenarios, a roadmap and a vision of the future the potential for implementation of the suggested solutions in real life. The interactive approach included personal interviews and large group settings (workshops) with stakeholders and was preceded by a qualitative background research.

This project provided the unique opportunity to include a whole region in the preparation for a test region and to make allowance for the needs and views of their residents on active and independent living and aging. This approach should increase the success and the participation rate in the follow-up test region.

Exploring the Framework Conditions of the Region

A series of qualitative interviews with 15 residents of the Mühlviertler Alm working either professionally or as volunteers in healthcare and care for the elderly were made to explore the framework conditions and major needs of the region. The interviewees highlighted the following key challenges of the region Mühlviertler Alm:

  • Peripheral geographic location
  • Demographic change
  • Lack of awareness of the aging
  • Increasing number of people suffering from dementia
  • Increasing professional activity by all family member (resulting in a lack of family member carers)
  • Increasing need for new forms of neighbourly help
  • Lack of social activities for people with physical impairment
  • Decrease in the public transport
  • Lack of comprehensive provision of medical care (e.g. medical specialists)
  • Lack of available places in institutional care and support facilities
  • Lack of a network of providers of care and nursing institutions
  • Lack of a central contact point for information (e.g. regarding healthcare and other care)

With respect to the potential implementation of AAL solutions in the region, the interviewees expressed reservations as regards technologies in general and pointed out the lack of suitable infrastructure (e.g. poor mobile phone coverage, lack of access to high-speed broadband services).

Future-Oriented Stakeholder Process

To identify the needs of the elderly in the region and to define the requirements for AAL solutions, a foresight exercise was implemented. In four workshops, potential end-users, representatives of companies, for services of general interest, and research organisations discussed together what it needs to be able to lead an independent and age-appropriate life in a rural region such as the Mühlviertler Alm.

Stakeholder Workshop I – Visioning

In this workshop the participants worked on the megatrends of the future and developed a common vision 2050 of the Mühlviertler Alm. Megatrends are influential, global developments with long-term effects, which can change the future and should therefore be considered in strategy and policy development processes. Among the megatrends discussed in the project were climate change, demographic change (aging), social and cultural inequalities, urbanization, digital culture and knowledge-based economy. Guided by these megatrends, relevant external factors (drivers), which impact the living at Mühlviertler Alm were discussed for five areas: social, technological, economical, environmental and political developments (STEEP factors), and the most important influencing factors were identified. The findings were summarised in seven fields of actions:

  • Autonomy and health
  • Occupation, education and recreation
  • Communication (social, ICT)
  • Accommodation and public space
  • Mobility
  • Infrastructure (traffic, energy and ICT)
  • Environment and resources

For the development of a common vision of the Mühlviertler Alm for 2050, the workshop participants worked in small groups on the fields of action as well as on additional “disaster” fields of action and drew together representative pictures. In follow-up discussions, objectives were derived for each field of action and prioritised. A visual facilitator compiled the most important objectives in a new picture, which now depicted the common vision 2050 for the Mühlviertler Alm.

As a preparation for the second workshop, small groups developed three different types of scenarios: a) business as usual, b) sustainability, and c) disaster. To anchor the scenarios in daily routine activities the groups built their scenarios around a selection of different personas:

  • 35-year old top manager and mother of a handicapped child
  • 87-year old, wealthy widow
  • 53-year old, nursing male relative
  • 24-year old, female student in Cambridge

The project team subsequently added to the scenarios the trends and drivers that had been previously identified by the workshop participants.

Stakeholder Workshop II – Scenarios and Roadmap

Some volunteers among the workshop participants worked out the central turning points of each of the scenarios and presented them by means of improvisation theatre to the plenary audience.

Based on the visual and emotional impressions that the theatre play created in the audience, further objectives were derived and discussed within the frame of four key topics: health awareness, services of general interest & coordination office, diversity & inclusion and change process (politics & infrastructure).

As a result, for each key topic up to three main objectives were selected. The necessary actions for their implementation were defined and the most relevant actors singled out. These sets of measures were placed along a timeline and compiled to a roadmap according to the estimated time of implementation.

Stakeholder Workshops III & IV – Services & Action Plan

During an evening event the roadmap was presented to and discussed with regional service providers and other economic operators in order to add practical ideas for AAL solutions in the following areas: social interaction, information & education, occupation, mobility, health & wellness, hobbies, care at home, supply of everyday consumer goods & support with household tasks, and safety & privacy. Ultimately, four key topics could be identified as the core topics of Mühlviertler Alm:

  • Mobility
  • Social inclusion
  • Health incl. telemedicine
  • Comfort & living

In the fourth stakeholder workshop these topics were taken up and defined more specifically concerning objectives and contents in action plans. By means of “collaborative mapping” all relevant services and actors of the region that could be relevant for a follow-up project were gathered and visualized on a map.

Approaching the Needs of the Elderly

Mobility

Remaining mobile even in old age is of uttermost importance in rural areas that are characterised by long-distance ways for daily routines. Mobility is often also a prerequisite for social inclusion of old and impaired people and participation in social life. There is a need for a wide variety of individual transport for elderly and impaired people. Transport services need to be flexible in terms of booking services and availability, e.g. with short waiting times. Building up a network of transport service providers is therefore essential. Information on the availability of barrier-free busses, their timetables and existing boarding aids and wheelchair accessibility on vehicles as well as shared taxis for quick and flexible trips (e.g. to physicians or for leisure time activities) could be provided via mobile apps and ICT-supported lift-sharing exchange. All offers could also be collected on a simple internet platform for mobility offers.

Social Inclusion: Information Platform & Coordination Office

The local communities want to have access to and be able to exchange information in the best possible way. For issues concerning care and nursing, a coordination office (e.g. for multi-professional services) would ensure an optimal information transfer to the public, when needed. The office should be located centrally and could also serve as a hub for telemedicine services. A web-based platform could constitute another source of information for the population. It can serve as a market place for supply and demand of various sorts, e.g. meetings for senior citizens, midday meals organised as social events, or other cultural, sportive leisure time activities. Such an events calendar ideally embeds functions for registration for the events as well as for mediation of shared lifts in private cars or shared taxis and buses that offer also transportation of wheel-chairs, etc. It can also provide information and booking facilities for mobile care and nursing services, experts and delivery of goods. A crucial prerequisite for the acceptance of such a platform is the simple operation and intuitive handling of the platform by the users.

Health incl. telemedicine

Establishing structures which ensure the care and medical surveillance / monitoring of health data and alarm functions for threatening deviations is also important for the region. Such structures would particularly help people with chronic diseases to live longer in their own homes. To benefit of telemedicine services it will be important to develop a system that integrates already existing measuring devices such as blood pressure monitors, blood glucose meters or warning devices in case of falls. Simple operation of such telemedicine devices is again the key to widespread use. Tying in with the idea of a coordination office the residents of the region also wish for immediate help in emergency situations. A competent medical phone service with decision-making competency that is available around-the-clock and linked to a medical care network could be based in the coordination office and compensate for physicians off duty.

Comfort & Living

Autonomous living with comprehensive care in one’s own home is of major importance in the region. Medical care should be available across the region and flexible enough to cater for the needs of the residents. There is also need for social networks of neighbourly help, including support for household tasks and help in the garden. Supply of everyday goods should be ensured by means of service providers that could be contacted via mobile app. In addition, homes should be “smart” and provide a system of automatic components, such as door openers, automatic night lights, fall alarms, as well as assistance systems for automatic notification of attendants in emergency situations. IT professionals and other service providers should be available in the region to ensure installation, maintenance and repair work when needed.

Authors: Manuela Kienegger    manuela.kienegger@ait.ac.at
Sponsors: FFG – Austrian Research Promotion Agency
Type: Social Foresight as part of an exploratory study for a test region for ambient assisted living
Organizer: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Verband Mühlviertler Alm
Duration: 2015 Budget: € 126,000 Time Horizon: 2025 (2050) Date of Brief: August 2016

 

Download EFP Brief No. 263: The Future of Aging in Upper Austria

Sources and References

This foresight brief is based on the final report of the Project WEGE2025.

Kienegger, M. et al. (2016). WEGE2025 – Unsere Wege in eine altersgerechte Region 2025 – Selbstbestimmt leben im Mühlviertel. Endbericht zum Projekt Nr. 846222 im Auftrag der FFG. AIT-IS-Report, Vol. 119

EUROSTAT (2015). Population age structure by major age groups, 2004 and 2014 (% of the total population). [Accessed 28/07/2016]

EFP Brief No. 262: Transdisciplinary Foresight – Co-Creating Research Agendas Using Multi-Actor Engagement

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

This brief provides methodological insights and lessons learned from experiences with a forward looking multi-actor engagement method that supplies policy advice for framework conditions of research and development (R&D): CIVISTI – Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation. This qualitative demand-side method cross-links knowledge of lay persons, experts and stakeholders. A national case study on the future of food illustrates the process with exemplary results.

Combining Knowledge

Results of futures studies are often controversial, divergent or even contradictory, and thus become contested (Grunwald 2014). As technological change is rapid, expert anticipation beyond short-term prediction is highly arbitrary. There is a need for broadening the (political) debate on socio-technological development since many actors within the current debate focus on expressing the promise of multiple added values – economic and social – of technological progress. Such a socio-technical imaginary may prescribe a future that seems attainable to the ones involved in the visioning process (Jasanoff/Kim 2009). However, other possible futures may then become less likely and shaping them could become more difficult. Here, engaging citizens as well as involving experts and stakeholders may serve for combining different types of knowledge to build desirable, socially robust futures.

Within this setting, it may be alleviating to ask how the future should look like, instead of merely developing deterministic models to predict how the future will be. Such desirable prospects may then serve as stimulant for the contemporary discourse on governing innovations actively and responsibly in terms of responding to societal needs and challenges.

Forward looking multi-actor engagement

In this brief we will present and discuss a forward looking multi-actor engagement method that allows for integrating different kinds of knowledge of multiple actor groups into Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) programme development.

CIVISTI – Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation

The transdisciplinary, qualitative foresight method CIVISTI is a demand-side approach that identifies societal demands for future developments. Applying the method creates a space where different actors can become mutually responsive to each other. Hereby, it supports what Warnke and Heimeriks (2008) describe as a continuous policy learning process that is not predetermined but open to foster the development of a system which may cope with future uncertainties. “The CIVISTI method is based upon the idea that the process of defining relevant and forward-looking research and innovation agendas could, in many respects, be improved by including consultations with citizens in their development. The method uses citizens’ concerns about societal development as a stepping stone for developing priorities in research programmes” (Engage 2020 2015).

Generally, the method relies on three recursive steps: (1) citizens develop visions of desirable futures, (2) experts elaborate recommendations on the basis of the visions, and (3) these results are then presented again to the citizens for validation before they are presented to addressees (Gudowsky 2012). The method was developed during an FP7 project (2008–2011), tested in seven countries and aimed at creating recommendations for European R&D policy, namely Horizon 2020 (civisti.org). Afterwards, several adaptations to international, national and regional level as well as to different topics took place (e.g. Gudowsky/Sotoudeh 2015a, b). The design and organization of the creative vision building and assessment in the CIVISTI method allows for the integration of citizens’ tacit knowledge alongside experts’ and stakeholders’ knowledge into framing R&D agendas.

Case Study: Future Foods

The participatory foresight study “Future Foods for Men and Women” engaged citizens, experts and stakeholders to discuss the future of the (Austrian) food system (2013-2016). The study uncovered emerging issues and future challenges, including matters of food safety, production, processing, distribution and consumption, before elaborating scenarios which depict the main findings of the transdisciplinary process. Aimed at proactively shaping the long-term research program of the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), results are also relevant to decision-makers in innovation and food policy as well as research and development experts and engineers (www.ages.at/futurefoods/).

In 2014 Citizens in four different regions in Austria developed visions of the food system with a view to a desirable future in 30 to 40 years. Information material was developed by the AGES communication team to inspire citizens to think about future food safety. Five creative workshops with 20 to 25 participants each took place in Vienna (twice), Linz, Graz and Innsbruck. Participants were chosen according to standardized criteria (age, education, occupation, sex, city/country residence) to achieve a composition of maximum heterogeneity. Based on values, hopes and fears incorporated in their visions, multidisciplinary teams of experts and stakeholders related to AGES formulated tangible recommendations for research programs. Visions and recommendations were then merged in scenarios to facilitate the communication of results to citizens and decision makers at a later stage. Scenarios were presented for validation and prioritization to ensure legitimacy of results. A final policy workshop engaged policy makers to ensure that results were applicable to current program building (see table 1).

Table1

Resource Conservation and Partial Self-Sufficiency

There are several intermediate results (e.g. visons, recommendations, scenarios), which can only be presented as excerpts. The analysis of visions showed that some similar topics were discussed in several forums. The topic of education and awareness has played an essential role not only in visions in all forums, but also in experts’ recommendations which are based on the visions.

Exemplary citizens’ vision

Vision title: “Production of food is not only based on economic profits”

Different areas of actions:

  1. Trade and production: new values for farming and production like sustainability, regional criteria, low overproduction, good distribution of the resources in all areas
  2. Consumer: personal responsibility, knowledge and social values are important
  3. Employees: max. 30 hours of work per week, more holidays
  4. Environment: resource-oriented, seasonal products

What are the benefits and advantages associated with the vision?

  • Food for more (all) people
  • Protection of environment and climate through organic farming
  • Local production will increase
  • Healthy food for the people

Themes and values to be considered that have been identified in this vision are: Regional cultivation, a critical look at global structures, new employment models, resolution of urban structures.

Exemplary experts’ recommendation

Experts’ recommendation that addressed this vision is named as “Paradigm Shift”:

The society learns to reduce consumption and do without over-sited grocery stores, etc.

We learn to use agricultural know-how and to take processing and preservation into account (away from greenhouse, agriculture that is too extensive). Challenges and issues to be addressed:

  • Paradigm shift for all operators (consumer, producer)
  • Solidarity as a prerequisite
  • Timeframes of the recommendations depend on environmental factors and natural disasters
Scenarios

Citizens’ visions and experts’ recommendations were used to build comprehensive scenarios for the years 2035 to 2050.

Scenario 1

This scenario describes “A paradigm shift by means of using the knowledge of resource conservation in agriculture.” The scenario is based on the following framework conditions:

  • Wide dissemination of agricultural know-how, knowledge of resource conservation, storage facilities and food preservation.
  • Partial self-sufficiency of cities with sufficient green areas by promoting “urban gardening”.
  • Redesign of urban areas suitable for agricultural use and governing of voluntary work.
  • Consumer awareness on protection of the environment through reduction of overconsumption of resources.

In this scenario two main situations compared with existing conditions are distinguished: Voluntary society (Scenario 1a) and strengthening governance of markets (Scenario 1b).

Scenario 2

This scenario is focussed on “consumers’ free choices supported by precise information on products in the free market. This scenario assumes the following framework conditions:

  • Global production
  • Advanced digitisation of product information
  • A focus on individual consumer’s self-determination

The impact of the scenarios’ framework conditions on the lives of two protagonists was illustrated in approximately 30 sub-scenarios. Citizens validated this set sub-scenarios as well as the scenarios itself. Based on this validation experts developed recommendations for research and policy (forthcoming).

Establishing Networks with Addressees as a Success Factor

A particular strength of the project was the close connection of the process to a large body of expertise, namely AGES. This guaranteed access to a group of experts and stakeholders who are directly involved in education, research and health security as well as policy, thus allowing for defining recommendations. As a result, experts were motivated to engage in interdisciplinary discussions, which in turn facilitated the interdisciplinary working phase and the expert/stakeholder workshop.

In order for the process to be able to connect different forms of knowledge, an essential criterion is for experts to have experience in transdisciplinary work and respect citizens’ visions as a basis for the process. Another strength are the main addressees of results, i.e. AGES itself, who closely collaborated within the process. Con-sequently, results are more likely to be considered and therefore have an impact on e.g. the long-term research agenda. This is especially important since a lack of close connection to relevant addressees can represent a major challenge to such a participatory process.

The key success factor is the design of creative and well-functioning communication at each phase. This case study held five citizen consultations in four different cities, which opened the possibility for optimization of the process and allowed for comparison of results based on the same information material and method. The method delivers new knowledge and cross-links different existing forms of knowledge, but should also be understood as a comprehensive communication method; as a result there is the need for sufficient resources, i.e. training of moderators, preparation of information material, time for assessing visions and recommendations. If these resources and competencies are not available, it may be more useful to work with small focus groups.

Outlook

The presented method is further developed and applied within the project CIMULACT – Citizen and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon 2020 (www.cimulact.eu), which aims at shaping EU as well as national science, technology and innovation policies through agenda setting based on societal needs by engaging more than 1000 citizens, several stakeholder groups as well as policy makers in 30 European countries.

Authors: Niklas Gudowsky  niklas.gudowsky@oeaw.ac.at    Mahshid Sotoudeh    msotoud@oeaw.ac.at
Sponsors: FFG – Austrian Research Promotion Agency
Type: Methodological discussion
Organizer: Institute of Technology Assessment, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria; www.oeaw.ac.at/ita
Duration: 03/2013 – 02/2016
Budget: € 250.000-300.000
Date of Brief: June 2016

Download EFP Brief No. 262: Transdisciplinary Foresight – Co-Creating Research Agendas Using Multi-Actor Engagement

Sources and References

Grunwald, A., 2014: Modes of orientation provided by futures studies: making sense of diversity and divergence. In: European Journal of Futures Research (2014), 15:30, DOI 10.1007/s40309-013-0030-5

Jasanoff, S.; Kim, S., 2009: Containing the Atom: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Nuclear Power in the United States and South Korea. Minerva 47, (2009) pp. 119-146

Engage 2020 (2015) Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation (CIVISTI) in: Engage2020 – Tools and instruments for a better societal engagement in “Horizon 2020”, D3.2 Public Engagement Methods and Tools, p.32-37; http://engage2020.eu/media/D3-2-Public-Engagement-Methods-and-Tools-3.pdf, last accessed 21.02.2016

Gudowsky, N., Peissl, W., Sotoudeh, M., Bechtold, U., (2012) Forward-looking activities: incorporating citizens’ visions, Poiesis & Praxis, 9, pp. 101-123.

Gudowsky, Niklas; Sotoudeh, Mahshid (2015a) Citizens’ Visions on Active Assisted Living. In: Hayn, Dieter; Schreier, Günter; Ammenwerth, Elske; Hörbst, Alexander (Hrsg.), eHealth2015 – Health Informatics Meets eHealth; Amsterdam: IOS Press, S. 43-49.

Gudowsky, N.; Bechtold, U.; Capari, L.; Sotoudeh, M. (2015) Participatory Foresight – Experiences with a Qualitative Demand Side Approach. In: Technology Centre ASCR, (Hrsg.), The Next Horizon of Technology Assessment. Proceedings from the PACITA 2015 Conference in Berlin; Prague, S. 139-143 & S. 426.

Gudowsky, Niklas; Sotoudeh, Mahshid; Drott, Felice (2015b) Future foods – a transdisciplinary prospect of the (Austrian) food system. In: Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture (Zagreb), (Hrsg.), Proceedings of the 10th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, S. 1-8.

Warnke, P., Heimeriks, G. (2008). Technology Foresight as Innovation Policy Instrument: Learning from Science and Technology Studies. In: Cagnin, C., Keenan, M., Johnston, R., Scapolo, F. and Barre, R. (Eds.): Future-Oriented Technology Analysis. Strategic Intelligence for an Innovative Economy. London: Springer, pp. 71−87

EFP Brief No. 261: Personalised Health Systems Foresight – the Success Scenario Method

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

“Personal Health Systems Foresight” was launched as part of the 7th EU Framework Programme to explore options for integrating Personal Health Systems (PHS) into the health care system and to investigate framework conditions required for the Europe-wide introduction of PHS. Furthermore, the project wanted to initiate a mobilisation of the innovation landscape, increase networking, and develop strategies to promote PHS across Europe.

Personalised Health Systems:  Chances of a Holistic Approach

Rising costs, an ageing population and a shortage of health care professionals are only three of the numerous challenges Europe’s health system has to face. Personal Health Systems (PHS) promise more individual, effective and efficient health care as they assist in the provision of continuous, quality controlled and personalised health services. PHS are technical aids which gather, monitor and communicate physiological and other health-related data via stationary, portable, wearable or implantable sensor devices. Individual treatments or nutritional advice can then be provided virtually anywhere. Furthermore, PHS technologies can provide new business opportunities and can mobilize novel cross-disciplinary and -sectoral innovation partnerships.

There are already various technically advanced solutions available in the fields of e-health, mobile health and ambient assisted living. Several initiatives have been launched across Europe to increase the integration

of new technologies into the health care system. However, most of these projects are limited to small-scale applications and do not situate PHS within the wider health and social care service systems as they were mostly driven by a technology push. The EU project “Personal Health Systems Foresight” wants to fill this gap by looking at the integration of PHS into the health care system from a more holistic view.

 

Structure of the PHS Foresight

As a first step of the project the team conducted a set of analyses in order to get an overview of the PHS area. These include a bibliometric and a case study analysis to gain information about the present state of the topic, a patent analysis in the field of PHS, and a social network analysis to visualize R&D collaboration networks and central actors in the area of PHS on the European level. Additionally, the project partner developed an online platform in order to generate and cluster visions on related innovations and societal challenges.

On the basis of the results from the analyses and the online consultation process, two stakeholder workshops were organized in order to explore the pathways for desirable future developments. The applied method was the “success scenario” technique, which is described in the following by the example of the second scenario workshop for the PHS foresight, held in Manchester in February 2014.

The Success Scenario Method as Core Element of the Foresight Process

The “success scenario” method can be regarded as a mixed form of conventional scenarios and roadmapping. The latter is often a process that extends upon several workshops and produces highly detailed information relevant to one specific goal. In comparison the success scenario approach usually speeds things up by creating a less structured pathway. It identifies a plausible and desirable course of development, the steps required to receive it and the indicators of progress in the right direction.

A product of the process is the scenario text, which can be used to share the vision and mobilise other actors, but the scenario process itself also has a number of functions including:

  • Providing a platform to create mutual understanding and sharing of knowledge,
  • forming a stretch target to think beyond the boundaries of “business as usual”,
  • developing indicators to move the scenario beyond vague aspirations and produce clarity as to what precisely should be discussed and how goals can be achieved, and
  • developing action points and setting priorities.

In this sense the second stakeholder workshop as a core element within the PHS foresight (figure 1) developed elements of a vision for PHS in the year 2030 through a series of steps, in which major dimensions of change, indicators that might be used to assess progress towards desirable outcomes, and actions and strategies to facilitate PHS development in desirable directions were considered. The attainable future could thereby vary across different European countries.

Figure 1: Methodologies applied in the PHS Foresight

261_bild1

The workshop was structured as follows:

  • Introduction of participants, overview of project and the PHS area, explanation of the workshop
  • Presentation of PHS scenarios (from previous workshop)
  • Discussion of success scenario method
  • Specification of indicators of success
  • Discussion of how far success might be realised in terms of these indicators
  • Identification of challenges to be overcome to achieve progress along these lines
  • Possible issues affected by these developments
  • Key actions required to achieve progress
Indicators, Issues and Strategic Actions for the Implementation of PHS

After an introduction of the participants and a first overview of the project and the PHS area, the PHS scenarios from previous workshop were presented. The participants built 4 break-out groups (BOGs):
a) chronic conditions, b) active independent living, c) acute conditions, and d) healthy lifestyles. These groups discussed what might constitute the success scenario and what specific outcome indicators could be appropriate to illustrate it. The indications from the BOG discussions were further analyzed and refined by the participants, this time in plenary. The resulting list of indicators is presented in table 1.

Table 1: Final set of outcome indicators for the PHS success scenario

  1. Reduction in the number of visits to health centres/hospitals required by people suffering early stage chronic diseases through use of PHS
  2. Share of health and social care professionals educated into competence concerning applications of PHS in practice
  3. Percentage of budget spent on chronic diseases saved by PHS use
  4. Reduction in hospital mortalities of frail/elderly admitted for emergency care (75%)
  5. Share of patients with long term conditions monitored by physical and ambient sensors (100%)
  6. Share of citizens with detailed electronic health records that can be accessed by health care professions in a common format across the EU (100%)
  7. Share of people suffering acute episodes whose EHRs can be accessed by emergency care providers without new explicit consent required (100%)
  8. Share of adults active in a patients’ group supporting active independent living and ways of reducing problems associated with conditions
  9. Share of people with PHS that interact with surroundings and personal information to provide advice in everyday situations on food and other choices
  10. Share of people with control over own health data, determining who uses and how
  11. Share of people using tools for individualised, personalised health advice where the advice is evidence-based
  12. Number of such tools that are scientifically proven as reliably advantageous
  13. Importance of new evidence and modelling for testing and validating such PHS tools for the uptake of these tools
  14. Share of spending in PHS funded by private consumption/enterprises in complementary fashion
  15. Share of population with PHR systems that are integrated with EHR systems

Note: The percentages in parentheses after several items are the views of that group as to the extent to which this indicator is liable to have developed by 2030.

For the next step in the workshop, the participants worked in five BOGs, each focusing on particular areas where transformations may be required for the realisation of the success scenario for PHS. These areas of transformation were defined as:

  1. Technologies, platforms, infrastructures, technical standards, and research and development
  2. Data, privacy and public awareness, attitudes and behaviour
  3. Skills, new occupations, changing new occupational roles and specialisms, training
  4. Health and social policy, goals and philosophy, funding and financing
  5. Public-private roles & relationships, changing organisational forms, new business models

The five BOGs then identified issues related to the implementation of PHS in the health care system and finally considered strategic actions relevant to different stakeholders, in the light of these issues.

Strategic actions in relation to interoperability, standardisation and regulation include for instance harmonisation of healthcare systems regulations, interoperability of IT systems, development of common dictionaries and use cases, standards development, legislation for data security and data access.

Actions in relation to developing a PHS innovation eco-system include the coordination and collaboration among a variety of actors in the research, and business communities engaging also societal actors by applying user-centred innovation approaches.

Creating a PHS market with wide accessibility and affordability requires the establishment of market and competition mechanisms and regulations, procurement, development of plans for stage-gated deployment of reimbursement models. Establishment of value chains from priority setting, selection of technologies, to manufacturing and implementation is important and the production of user-friendly and cheap products and services is relevant.

Strategies towards raising social awareness and increasing PHS skills involve actions like educational programmes to introduce PHS systems to professionals and informal carers but also schools, setting up PHS help and advice lines, or incentives to educational institutions to develop PHS strategies and programmes.

PHS research should target to demonstrate PHS benefits and certify PHS products and services. Demonstration of benefits could be done through creation of modelling labs for PHS applications, or building a catalogue of what is available, what is being developed and what needs to be developed through a gap analysis and towards the jointly defined PHS vision. Longitudinal health studies, health economics and cost-effectiveness studies could be deployed along with health technology assessment.

Finally, PHS research should also deal with big data analysis issues while being oriented towards developing customised, user friendly and certified applications easily accessible online and offline. The target groups should be patients, as well as informal carers in the first instance; at later stages the whole of society should be addressed, as there is a need to shift from a reactive to proactive healthcare approach promoting healthy living. The role of EU institutions could be important in supporting PHS research, as well as in providing platforms for disseminating results helping to draw the lessons from both success stories and failures.

Towards a More Individual and  Efficient European Health Care System

In summary there was a general consensus among workshop participants that PHS can contribute to improved health outcomes as well as increasing the efficiency of health services. The process of implementing PHS will involve numerous stakeholders in order to build what participants described as a PHS „innovation eco-system”. It will be important to recognise the interests of different stakeholders in order to avoid a decline in health outcomes, to maintain and extend the equity and social inclusion elements of health systems, to stimulate the development of innovative and effective health interventions and medical technologies, to maintain professional competences and social status, to reward entrepreneurial behaviour, and to use and protect personal data.

Meeting these challenges will require experimentation, dialogue, and monitoring of change. Major aspects of change range from the creation of new business models and partnerships between different kinds of organisations, through stimulating the acquisition of new skills and the emergence of new professions in health and health-related workforces. It will also be important to put regulatory frameworks into place that can allow for informed acceptance of evidence-based solutions.

In all of these aspects of change, public attitudes will need to be taken into account, since citizens are crucial stakeholders in these processes. Further development of visions of the desirable futures that can be achieved, and awareness of the problems that may be encountered and the ways in which these may be addressed, will be necessary in the future. The PHS foresight and the results from the success scenario workshop can be regarded as one step in the direction of adopting a holistic and combined approach in understanding PHS and establishing and sharing visions of the desirable futures that can be achieved through the implementation of PHS into the European health care system.

Authors: Susanne Giesecke (susanne.giesecke@ait.ac.at), Doris Schartinger (doris.schartinger@ait.ac.at), André Uhl (andre.uhl@ait.ac.at), Totti Konnola (totti.konnola@if-institute.org), Laura Pombo Juárez (laura.pombo@impetusolutions.com), Ian Miles (ian.miles@mbs.ac.uk), Ozcan Saritas (ozcan.saritas@mbs.ac.uk), Effie Amanatidou (effie.amanatidou@mbs.ac.uk), Günter Schreier (guenter.schreier@ait.ac.at)
Sponsors: European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 2007-2013)
Type: European Foresight Project
Organizer: Austrian Institute of Technology AIT, Susanne Giesecke, susanne.giesecke@ait.ac.at
Duration: 2012 – 2014
Budget: 450,000 €
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: March 2016

Download EFP Brief No. 261: Personalised Health Systems Foresight – the Success Scenario Method

Sources and References

This brief is based on the following report, in which the findings are discussed in more detail:

Amanatidou, E., Miles, I., Saritas, O., Schartinger, D., Giesecke, S., & Pombo-Juarez, L. 2014. Personal Health Systems: A Success Scenario. Personal Health Systems Foresight.

References

Schartinger, D., Miles, I., Saritas, O., Amanatidou, E., Giesecke, S., Heller-Schuh, B. Pompo-Juarez, L., & Schreier, G. 2015. Personal Health Systems Technologies: Critical Issues in Service Innovation and Diffusion. Technology Innovation Management Review, 5(2): 46–57. http://timreview.ca/article/873

Schartinger, D., Miles, I., Saritas, O., Amanatidou, E., Giesecke, S., Heller-Schuh, B. Pompo-Juarez, L., & Schreier, G. 2015. Personal Health Systems Technologies and Service Systems 2014. Presented at the 24th Annual RESER Conference, September 11–13, 2014, Helsinki, Finland

EFP Brief No. 260: Building Regional Foresight in Antofagasta, Chile

Friday, March 25th, 2016

The foresight programme was part of a broader joint project, which had an overall objective to enhance innovation-driven sustainable economic development of the Antofagasta region. The main purposes of the foresight project were 1) improving the foresight capability in the region, especially for the partner organisations, 2) enhancing collaboration between the industry, government and research organisations and 3) supporting the creation of a strategic research agenda for the region on a topic chosen by the partner organisations.

Pact for Regional Development and Innovation in Antofagasta Region

In March 2008, various public and private actors signed the “Pact for Regional Development and Innovation in Antofagasta Region” answering to the challenge of regional economic development. The main objectives of the agreement are to generate economic growth and equality, generate better jobs, and pave a path towards a sustainable development in the region. Those who signed the pact recognize that this can be achieved only by increasing human capacities in the region, particularly in organizations that support research, development and innovation activities.

Chilean Foreign Ministry selected Finland as one of six countries to be studied in the “Like-Minded Countries Project”, which started in 2005. Especially the transformation of the Finnish economy from a resource-driven economy into knowledge-driven economy was considered a source of inspiration to Chilean national and regional aspiration. Chile considers Finland as a prime global example on how resource-driven economies can develop into knowledge-driven economies when development strategies and policies are correctly selected. Eventually Chile will exhaust its natural resources, as did Finland, in the case of copper. Antofagasta region will need to develop significant alternative industries.

Extreme risk area for ecological changes

In addition to the structural economic shifts, Antofagasta Region is an extreme risk area for ecological changes. Global climate change and contamination from the mining activities have had a high and lasting effect especially in the regional water supplies. Melting glaciers and overuse of groundwater will require a significant redesign of water use and many other aspects that affect the environment. However, responding to the challenges, the region will need to rely on foreign expertise.

A collaborative project called “Innovation Capacity in the Antofagasta Region” was set up in 2011 between Mining Technological and Scientific Research Centre CICITEM in Chile and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland with the aim of transferring international best practices to strengthen the capacity of CICITEM to support economic, social and environmental devel-opment in the region. The main objectives for the pro-ject were:

  • Capacity building in the field of institutional leadership and knowledge management, innovation culture, and innovation capabilities.
  • Create self-sustained innovation capacity at CICITEM.
  • Capability to create strategic vision for the re-gional innovation activities and facilitate joint innovation activities in the mining cluster.

Foresight activities were an integral part of the project. They were aimed to increase the foresight capability of CICITEM and other regional actors by conducting a collaborative foresight exercise between industry and regional stakeholders and demonstrating how fore-sight can promote regional co-operation. The activities included gathering training material, designing fore-sight approaches suitable for the region, holding a foresight training and conducting a foresight pilot called “Water in Antofagasta 2040”.

Enhancing Foresight Capabilities

The foresight activities consisted of two parts. The first was a hands-on training on futures thinking and the methods of foresight. This was done as a three-day workshop in Antofagasta. A learning package with glossary was distributed beforehand to the participants, and a website was set up to facilitate communication and exchange of information. The workshop included brief presentations by VTT experts on key methods such as scenarios, roadmapping and Delphi, as well as exercises, where the participants had a chance to briefly test the methods with key issues of the region. The workshop ended with a group work of planning a foresight project that could be implemented in the region.

Based on the group work results a topic of “Water in Antofagasta 2040” was chosen for a foresight pilot project in a planning meeting between VTT and CICITEM. The topic was chosen based on its importance and relevance for different stakeholders. In addition to planning meetings, the activities of the foresight pilot project included scenario and roadmapping work that consisted of a conference, two stakeholder workshops, a stakeholder survey, interviews with mining companies and a reflection discussion with the CICITEM experts.

VTT experts provided guidance and support for the process, but the main emphasis was on learning by doing for the CICITEM experts. In addition to people from VTT and CICITEM, the process also included researchers from the local universities, representatives from local SMEs, government officials and mining companies.

Four-layer Framework

Although the foresight activities were mainly aimed at increasing the foresight capability in the region, they contributed also to the creation of new knowledge about alternative futures and to the networking between key actors in the regional innovation system. Based on the process and existing foresight literature, we developed a multi-layer framework for analysing these contributions of the process. The layers describe the level in which foresight contributes: landscape, innovation system, organisation and individual. We describe the main findings from the process using the layers as a structure.

1.Landscape layer: connecting to the global context

Although the overall focus of the project was on enhancing the innovation capacity of the Antofagasta region, it was important to understand the developments in the global level: how the region is connected to the rest of Chile and the world, how global developments influence the region and how that might change. The aim was to help the participants to see the region as part of a larger, global system and come up with the pathways to increase the capacities of the region to find its niche in the global market.

2.Innovation system layer: building shared vision

The foresight activities were part of a larger process which aimed to enhance the innovation capacity of the region. Their role was to support the joint strategy formulation and the creation of a shared vision for the region. During the process different perceptions to the proposed foresight project topics were explored through stakeholder analysis. Anticipating the different expectations of stakeholders helped choose a suitably controversial topic that would be interesting and beneficial for all the stakeholder groups, which in turn would aid in committing the stakeholders to the foresight process.

3.Organisational layer: building organisational future-orientation

CICITEM researchers were closely involved in the design and implementation of the foresight activities. This resulted in new ideas about the role of CICITEM and its mission. As the organisation was fairly small and young, the foresight pilot project influenced the social dynamics within the organisation. Not every researcher at CICITEM saw the benefit of the project and some were reluctant to participate. Thus there was a risk of creating an “in” group of persons more heavily involved in the process. What is needed in a situation like this are “bridge builders” between the “foresighters” and the “reluctants”. This is a good example of how a foresight process is connected to the organisational dynamics, even though the focus might be on enhancing the innovation system.

4.Individual layer: learning by doing

The foresight activities aimed to give the skills to do foresight via “learning by doing”. This includes the specific methods, but also experience in scoping, designing, implementing and documenting the foresight process. A CICITEM researcher commented during the final reflection, that he learned how to bring the ideas high up in the sky down to earth and make them actionable. In addition to specific skills and methods, the process enhanced the capability for future-oriented thinking by challenging existing worldviews and mind-sets and understanding others’ viewpoints and perceptions.

Individuals are the Key

We can draw the following implications for policy making:

  1. Design with multiple layers in mind; especially individual

For practitioners designing and conducting foresight the layers provide a checklist on the effect and influence of foresight. In our experience the layers help design foresight exercises that 1) are relevant and interesting to the individuals involved, 2) contribute to the capabilities of the organisation, 3) shape the system to enable the desired future and 4) capture the most recent advances and create new knowledge on the topic. We especially want to emphasise the individual layer, since effects of foresight are often not thought about on the level of individuals participating in the process. However, individuals are the key to creating a change within an organisation and subsequently on the innovation system. This can be a consequence of changing mindsets and worldviews through learning.

  1. Take into account that the nature of foresight effect varies from layer to layer

The layers emphasise different foresight contributions. On the landscape and system layers there is a bigger emphasis on the knowledge produced, whereas the individual and the organisational layer put more emphasis on the capabilities gained during the process. This is because the focus of knowledge is usually on the developments in the operational environment and the users of that knowledge are individual members of an organisation. Therefore the content and effects of the foresight exercise gain more attention on the innovation system and landscape layers, whereas the learning i.e. gaining of capabilities during the process is seen as important especially on the organisational and individual layers.

Foresight, however, contributes to knowledge also on the individual layer and to capabilities on the landscape layer. On the landscape layer the capability of the society as a whole to adapt to changes might be enhanced by foresight. On the individual layer, the knowledge produced is tied to the learning process and may include the translation of alternative futures to own worldviews, reflection on the perspectives of other participants and the interpretation of trends and weak signals to the day-to-day life. The layers thus provide alternative views to the knowledge, capabilities and relations created in a foresight project.

  1. Use the layers to structure the effects of foresight

A foresight process might have different emphasis on which layer is seen as the most important, but often foresight contributes to all layers, either by design or unintentionally. However, what is more important than the individual layers is the movement of focus across the layers. Looking at the layer “above” and ”below” aids in understanding what the layer consists of and what it is a part of. For example, an innovation system is embedded in the inter-systemic developments of the landscape layer, and consists of different organisations, which in part consist of individuals. The layers demonstrate that there is more to foresight than just the immediate tangible outcomes. A successful foresight process might change the capacity of an organisation or a community to anticipate the future and through that even create a regional transformation.

 

Table 1. Description of layers and the contribution of foresight

Layer Description Foresight effects
Landscape The external developments that affect the innovation systems but are hardly affected by any single measure Anticipating global developments, trends and/or wild cards, and enhancing future-orientation of the society
Innovation system The structure and dynamics of  intertwined innovation sub-systems consisting of organisations Increasing the capacity to reconfigure the innovation system to respond to future developments by exploring alternative futures and supporting networking between stakeholders
Organisation The organisational culture and allocation of resources Creating organisational future-orientation and triggering the creation of organisational responses to the anticipated changes in the operational environment
Individual Individual capacities and capabilities Enhancing future-oriented thinking and increasing capacities and capabilities related to anticipating possible futures

 

 

Authors: Mikko Dufva                  mikko.dufva@vtt.fi

Totti Könnölä                totti.konnola@if-institute.org

Raija Koivisto                 raija.koivisto@vtt.fi

Sponsors: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Type: Regional foresight exercise
Organizer: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Juha Oksanen, juha.oksanen@vtt.fi
Duration: 2011 – 2013
Budget: € 470,000
Time Horizon: 2040
Date of Brief: March 2016

Download EFP Brief 2016: Building Regional Foresight in Antofagasta, Chile

Sources and References

VTT & CICITEM, 2015. Desafios de innovación en la Región de Antofagasta / Innovation capacity in Antofagasta Region.

Dufva, M., Könnölä, T. & Koivisto, R. 2015. Multi-layered foresight: Lessons from regional foresight in Chile. Futures, 73, 100-111.

EFP Brief No. 259: Austrian Materials Foresight

Friday, February 26th, 2016

The Austrian Material Foresight study was carried out in order (a) to underline and strengthen the awareness by the most important stakeholders for materials research and materials production in Austria, (b) to initiate and support innovative actions in structural material developments, and (c) to open new ideas and concepts beyond the already supported topics so that the research site and manufacturing base in Austria receive more foundation.

Challenges in the Austrian Manufacturing Industry

The Austrian manufacturing industry has been faced with off-shoring of production sites, low growth rates in Europe, limited availability of raw materials, and increasing costs of resources, with a simultaneous dumping on the domestic market. All these factors have been accompanied with changes in the value system of the society and with stricter legal regulations in recent years. To avoid these obstacles, a stronger focus on research and innovation is required.

Traditionally the Austrian economic power depends on the production and processing of materials, and a big share of the value chain is influenced by materials technology. Materials belong to the so called “enabler technologies” and lay the basis for innovations in automotive, aviation, machine engineering, ICT, medical technology and many other industries. Especially the steel industry plays a key role in Austria, represented through a highly specialized foreign trade with a focus on machines, production facilities and vehicles.

High-performance Materials  and Products in the Future

The Austrian Ministry for Transport Innovation and Technology initiated the study “Austrian Material Foresight” in order to examine possible strategies to support Austria’s position in the segment of high-performance materials and products in the future. Main objective was to develop future scenarios (horizon 2030) for the high-tech materials sector in Austria involving the expertise of universities, industry and organizations. Following aspects were particularly considered:

  • Identification of key factors and drivers for the progression of the materials industry and materials research in a national, European and global context.
  • Characterization of robust trends in the materials industry and research.
  • Illustration of Austria’s special role in future materials industry and research.
  • Building a basis for the co-creation of future European materials industry.

Future Scenarios as the Core of the Process

The Austrian Society for Metallurgy and Materials (ASMET), the Montanuniversität Leoben, and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH designed and accomplished the project “Materials Foresight” for developing scenarios for the manufacturing bases in Austria. The challenge was to address all four structural materials such as steel, non-ferrous metals, polymers, and ceramic each regarded together with their composites for high-tech technologies along the whole value chain.

 

The methodology for the project (see figure 1) was based on the organizational structure with the core project team, the advisory board, the expert team, the procedure for the whole project and the process applied in the workshops, and the involvement of a broader community via conference and the media.

Figure 1: Organizational structure of  „Austrian Materials Foresight“
259_Bild1

The work was organized in three phases. Figure 2 presents the main tasks in each phase. It shows the development of future scenarios as the core of the process, accompanied by an environmental analysis, by constructive discussions with the advisory board, and the future conference and constitutive work with stakeholders.

  1. The preparation phase contains the collection of future trends and challenges within an environmental analysis. The Austrian situation with terms of implementation, the results of a roadmap of high performance materials, the participation of Austrian institutions in the seventh EU Framework Program, and the current national funding program on intelligent production (FFG Funding Program Production of the Future) were described and key factors were identified. To structure the key factors of the project team works with a STEEP analysis. Based on the results of the preparation phase, the scenario workshops are designed.

 

  1. In the main phase, scenario workshops on steel, nonferrous metals, polymers, ceramics and their composites were conducted together with representatives from the materials industry, materials science, the economic chamber and clusters, and the government. The previously identified key factors with the highest value for influence and uncertainty were chosen for the projection process, where the workshop participants in smaller groups worked out the projection of the selected key factors for 2030. For each materials group, the future products and the research topics were derived from the scenarios. Additionally, measures necessary to achieve the future perspectives were suggested by the participants of the workshops.

 

  1. In the shaping phase, the results of the workshops were analyzed and summarized in order to prepare for the discussion with experts in the first Austrian Future Conference on Materials. More than 300 participants of the conference were informed and attended discussions, which helped to disseminate awareness, results, and new ways of thinking. A press conference aimed to create awareness of the problems and results in the media. In a last meeting with the advisory board and some further experts a plan for the next steps was worked out.

 

Figure 2: Three phases of „Austrian Materials Foresight“

259_Bild2

Key Factor: Energy

The assessment of the key factors as a summary of all four materials fields shows that energy (in availability and hence in price) is the most important factor for the materials industry. The cost effective availability is the second most important factor, which influences research and production of materials technologies. Rank three is a political issue, namely the public support in research. The next important factor is the value development of society. The values of a society have thus a big influence on the materials technologies. The fifth rank goes to economic growth, followed by factors like environmental legislation, qualification, financial market, globalization, and production and manufacturing.

 

The cross-section research topics play an important role in each of the four materials fields (steel, non-ferrous metals, polymers, ceramic). Advanced materials 2.0 means a next generation of materials with new features, also new hybrid materials with new applications. Advanced materials 2.0 presents the biggest share of all cross-section topics, followed by sustainable materials and recycling. The third rank goes to continuous materials improvement followed by innovative flexible manufacturing processes and then energy efficiency in production. Testing for materials and production and modeling and simulation are also important cross-section topics.

 

From Concept to Impact:Strengthening the Materials Community

 

Besides the long-term verified scenario planning, this specific foresight proves that a very well‐developed concept can be a key success factor for the whole process. The excellence in each of the three aspects of the concept, methodology expertise, materials expertise, and network and knowledge about the stakeholders in materials industry, in materials science, as well as in politics and how one can get support from the most influential people is one of the building blocks for the success of this project.

Figure 3: Scheme of project concept

bild3

The three aspects in figure 3 were well represented in the project with the Austrian Society for Metallurgy and Materials (ASMET) with focus on experts and stakeholders networks, the Montanuniversität Leoben with the competence in materials, and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology with methodology experience. However, the cooperation of all three organizations and the willingness to learn from each other made the project successful and strengthened the “materials” community.

 

Furthermore, the project could help to create awareness in this community as well as in the funding agencies and the ministry for what is already funded and supported by the national funding system, and also for what is still missing in the funding programmes. A follow-up project will be dealing in particular with working out and assessing research and project ideas with the potential for disruptive innovation. The addressed community during the foresight is also supporting the impact for disruptive innovation in the future.

 

Authors: Marianne Hörlesberger                      marianne.hoerlesberger@ait.ac.at

Bruno Hribernik                                bruno.hribernik@voestalpine.com

Brigitte Kriszt                                   brigitte.kriszt@unileoben.ac.at

André Uhl         andre.uhl@ait.ac.at

Sponsors: FFG (The Austrian Research Promotion Agency) on behalf of Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology
Type: National Foresight Project
Organizer: ASMET (Austrian Society for Metallurgy and Materials); Bruno Hribernik
Duration: 2013 – 2014
Budget: € 150,000
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: February 2016

Download EFP Brief No. 259: Austrian Materials Foresight

Sources and References

This brief is based on the following article, in which the findings are discussed in more detail:

Hörlesberger, M., Kriszt, B., Hribernik, B. (2015). Foresight for the Enabling Technologies Materials. In: Pretorius, L., Thopil, G., (eds.)  Graduate School of Technology Management, University of Pretoria, Proceedings of the 24th International Association for Management of Technology Conference, 08th – 11th June, Kapstadt, pp. 449-464.

Hribernik, B.; Kriszt, B.; Hörlesberger, M. (2014). Foresight für Hochleistungswerkstoffe zur Stärkung des Wissens- und Produktionsstandortes Österreich. Study on behalf of BMVIT. (http://asmet.org/austrian-materials-foresight/)

References

Cuhls, K. (2012). Zukunftsforschung und Vorausschau. In: FOCUS‐Jahrbuch 2012. European Foresight Platform (efp). ForLearn. http://www.foresightplatform.eu/community/forlearn/.

Geschka, H.; Von Reibnitz, H. U. (1983). Die Szenario‐Technik ‐ ein Instrument der Zukunftsanalyse und der strategischen Planung. In: Töpfer, A. und Afhelt, H. (Hrsg.): Praxis der strategischen Unternehmensplanung; Frankfurt/Main: Matzner; S. 125‐170.

Keenan, M. (2002). Technology Foresight: An Introduction, Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, UK.

Martin, B. (2001). Technology foresight in a rapidly globalizing economy.

Martin, B., R. (2010). The origins of the concept of ‘foresight’ in science and technology: An insider’s perspective. IN Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 77, 1438–1447.

Miles, I.; Keenan, M. (2003). Overview of Methods used in Foresight, in [UNIDO 2003].

Von Reibnitz, H. U. (1992). Szenario Technik: Instrumente für die unternehmerische und persönliche Erfolgsplanung, Wiesbaden: Gabler Verlag.

EFP Brief No. 258: Perspectives on Use of Expertise in Futures Studies

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Numerous foresight activities rely on gathering expert knowledge, using e.g., the Delphi method. A crucial question for the quality of the exercise is who the relevant experts are. The question is particularly difficult when studying so-called wicked problems, which elude exact definition. Inclusive definition of expertise is called for in this brief, particularly because of the social power experts have. This brief tackles the complex issues of characterising expertise and taking full use of it in expert-based futures projects. Transparency of the chosen expertise must often be combined with upholding anonymity.

Facing Complex “Wicked” Problems with Methods Using Expert Knowledge

Numerous foresight methods are based on expert information, such as Delphi studies. In practical applications of these methods, the researchers have to make judgements on who is an appropriate expert.

This is particularly difficult in the case of the so-called wicked problems (Rittel and Webber 1973). Such problems are very complex with many definitions, and each definition seems to carry a presupposition of a solution. The solutions are based on a variety of theories, assumptions and values. Therefore, in many foresight applications an interdisciplinary approach is chosen, and experts are invited from different domains. In this way, both knowledge about different facets of a problem (such as technological, economic, and societal) is represented, and the different theories and concepts behind them are included.

For example, if climate change is seen primarily as a technological problem resulting from fossil energy use, the responses are likely to be expressed in technological or economic terms. If the problem is seen to result fundamentally from global inequalities, the results focus on international agreements and funding mechanisms. If the problem is seen to result from population growth and modern lifestyles, the answers are to be found in the cultural and social spheres. No single framework could encompass the ecological, economic, social, cultural and technological dimensions of climate change.

Obviously in futures research, a temporal aspect further complicates the issue. It is not enough to know what the state of the problem is; we would also need to know how the situation may change.

If we want to know how things are right now, or how they will be in the near future, often it makes sense to ask those who can be defined to be on the top of their field. This approach often means asking middle-aged or older people with long work histories. However, the aims of foresight processes are often about opening new visions, finding new trends or unexpected turn points, considering trends and changes on long time scales, and finding ways to reach futures we define as desirable. Then, narrowly defined expertise may not be an optimal solution.

 

Objective

In this brief I will outline certain definitions for expertise, and discuss their implications for the use of experts in futures studies. The aim is not to provide definite answers, but rather to inspire discussion and make foresight processes more sensitive to alternative forms of expertise.

Defining Expertise

  1. Expertise as cognitive property and a social construction

Expertise can be seen as both cognitive property and a social construction. From a cognitive perspective, expertise refers to knowledge and skills of a domain of activity. It can be acquired through education, experience or any other form of cognitive refinement. However, it is not necessarily linked to the social status of an expert. The social status often follows from formal degrees, higher professions and leading organisational positions. These properties are considered to indicate expertise, but they do not guarantee it, and similarly, a person without a socially acknowledged expert status may possess similar skills to an authorised expert.

Defining the content of expertise, i.e. the appropriate cognitive resources, or skills that matter in a domain of practice, is a social process (Turner 2001). The content of valid expertise changes over time and cultures. For example, medicinal practices that were considered valid in the 16th century Europe are very far removed from those practiced today in the western world, and different from traditional Chinese medicine. The content also depends on the definition of the problem at hand. With wicked problems that elude definition, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine what kinds of expertise should be included in a futures project.

 

  1. Different types of knowledge

Bogner and Menz (2009) distinguish between three different types of knowledge. First, there is technical knowledge, which we typically gain through education. Then, there is process knowledge, which is close to tacit knowledge. It is knowledge that is gained through working in a field, and consists of knowledge regarding the practices and modes of operation within a field, such as patterns of interaction and organisations.

The third type of knowledge Bogner and Menz (2009) call interpretative knowledge and it means a person’s subjective assumptions, views, interpretations, rules, etc. The key idea here is that all we learn through education or practice is interpreted and assimilated through our previous knowledge, values, and experiences. Therefore even identical education and work history could not produce two identical experts.

Such subjectivity has often been considered a problem that detracts from expertise, which is commonly thought to be objective. It is, however, quite impossible to avoid. Selinger and Crease (2002: 245) note that expertise is built upon the person, and the “prejudices, ideologies, hidden agendas, or other forms of cultural embeddedness that person might have” do not disappear during the process of becoming an expert.

More importantly, subjectivity may not even be a problem. It is through subjectivity that many important aspects of expertise emerge into foresight processes, such as ethical consideration, empathy, and sense of responsibility. They all derive from experts’ ability to personally engage with problems and their solutions.

If we accept that expertise itself is affected by the person, and reflects the social environment in which it has been accumulated, it becomes important to search for variety not only in terms of multidisciplinarity but also, for example, in terms of gender, age, and ethnicity.

 

  1. Why does the definition of expertise matter?

Defining someone as an expert gives him/her social power to define problems and suggest their solutions. Experts are therefore important actors in society. Expert knowledge is a vehicle for maintaining or changing the existing patterns of thought and action. While experts do not alone determine the future, they are powerful in defining what is real and possible in a society. In addition, expert knowledge is not entirely transparent, and there is limited possibility to hold experts accountable for their power.

In sustainability discourse, in particular, the widening of the definition of expertise has been called for. There may be a need to look at “counter-expertise” i.e. expertise beyond the establishment (e.g. non-governmental organisations). It is not only a matter of democracy; different backgrounds also produce different expertise.

Because expertise is not dependent in a straightforward way on formal degrees or titles, it can be argued that there is no such thing as a “lay expert”. A person may either have relevant expertise or not, regardless of the status as a layperson. However, it may make sense to describe where the expertise springs from.

Using Exertise in Futures Studies

Why is expertise useful in futures studies? It is not just that experts know a lot. Information might be found through other means. Instead, in futures projects, such as Delphi studies, it is often important to make intuitive and quick estimates about future possibilities, and about the impact of changing drivers on the topic in question. Intuitive judgement has even been considered a central ability of an expert (Dreyfus and Dreyfus 2005). Careful consideration does not replace but improves the expert’s intuition.

  1. The expertise matrix

The wide definition of expertise that was discussed above poses a new challenge to the expert selection. If we assume that various types of expertise need to be included in the panel, there need to be tools for keeping track of the variety. Expert matrix (introduced by Kuusi et al. 2006) is a simple tool for both ensuring the variety and for making it more transparent for the audience of a foresight exercise.

In the matrix, the desired variety is detailed, and during the assembly of the panel, the expertise of the panellists is marked in it. For example, in a research project regarding renewable energy growth, we listed various energy sources and forms on one hand, and various roles within a value chain on the other hand. Then we searched for e.g., an expert being familiar with biogas and energy transfer (Varho et al. forthcoming).

It is also possible to make a longer list of expertise characteristics. In another project, we wanted to have variation in terms of topics affecting the future of transport (such as fuels, engine technology, land use, and behaviour), transport modes, field of education, level of education, background organisation, age, and gender. These were listed in a table, in which each expert was characterised (Varho and Tapio 2013).

It is not necessary to have perfect cover in a matrix. Finding different people for all combinations of our transport project expert table, for example, would have meant thousands of experts. However, we were able to get significant variation, and the table also increased the transparency of the process considerably.

 

  1. Facilitating expert deliberation

As we all, also experts may get too focused on conventional wisdom and current or past situation. As we discuss the future possibilities, there is often a need for people who think “out of the box”. Some people are more able to do this, but it is possible to encourage this type of thinking in the whole panel.

One way to do so is to ask experts to describe both a probable and a preferable future (Amara 1981). This approach does not only accept but embraces the subjectivity of experts. It helps the experts to recognise their preferences (in preferred future) and also to aim for objectivity (in probable future). Even if total objectivity is impossible, it is an ideal that many experts strive for, and they may feel more comfortable when they have these two views to distinguish between.

Different methods for gathering data from experts may encourage the expression of new views. For example, the use of expert interviews allows new ideas and interpretations to be incorporated into the futures project. Usually in e.g. Delphi studies it is the research team that formulates the questions. New or alternative interpretations of the problem at hand may not emerge during questionnaire rounds. In addition, some experts may not feel comfortable giving numerical estimates of the future development. The combined use of numerical, visual, and verbal answers can encourage different types of experts to express their views (Varho and Tapio 2013).

Anonymity of expert panels is usually sought for. It is useful, among other things, for encouraging also those with less obvious (social) expert status to express their views. However, face-to-face meetings such as workshops can be introduced at some point of a project, for more thorough communication and co-learning.

Discussing the Use of Expertise

In this brief I have outlined some perspectives on experts and the use of expertise in futures projects. Some questions arise from these, although definitive conclusions cannot perhaps be drawn.

 

  1. What are experts good for?

Using expert views is often valuable in futures projects. It can be an “economical” approach, as experts are able to give estimates regarding complex systems. When the futures project aims more at estimating how the future unfolds than at creating new visions, conventional expertise is naturally important. But the further we look into the future, the less the existing knowledge may be relevant. Do we really need experts, or more specifically, those we define as experts?

In a recent project (see Tuominen et al. 2014) we asked both transport experts and high-school students to describe the future of Finnish transport. It was interesting to see that the students were able to describe in their essays very diverse futures that, in most part, reflected the alternative future visions of the experts. However, they were not able to give plausible numerical estimates that would have reflected the qualitative visions. It seems that expertise on a subject is valuable – at the very least – because experts are more able to give numerical estimates. Numbers, in turn, are often very useful for distinguishing the future views apart and for comparing them with existing or targeted levels. In addition, transport was a subject that all students have some experience on. A more esoteric subject might not have gained equally valuable answers from them.

 

  1. Are experts “experts” at all?

Given the subjectivity of experts that was discussed in this paper we need to ask if they should be defined as experts, or are they e.g., stakeholders. There may not be a conclusive answer to this question. It is likely, however, that when people are invited into the futures project as experts they aim more at objectivity than when they are defined as stakeholders. In the stakeholder position, they may even feel obligated to defend the interest of those they are invited to represent.

It is possible to include in an expert panel people who would not define themselves as experts. For example, we have included a high-school student in a project that otherwise addressed experienced professionals (Varho and Tapio 2013), because we believed that she would have valuable experiences and viewpoints to share from the perspective of today’s youth. This was considered valid, in particular, because the timeline of the futures project extended several decades into the future.

Collins (2013) has discussed three dimensions of expertise, namely “esotericity”, “accomplishment”, and “exposure to tacit knowledge of a domain”. Being a teenager is hardly expertise according to the first two dimensions, but to some extent it does fulfil the third dimension. Being immersed in a subculture gives a person the ability to see and interpret the world in ways that are not obvious to others.

  1. Is an expertise matrix useful?

An expertise matrix or another equivalent tool is important for finding appropriate experts for a futures project. In addition, participating experts should be described to increase the transparency and internal validity of the project (Kuusi et al. 2015), even when anonymity is maintained.

 

Authors: Vilja Varho        vilja.varho@luke.fi; vilja.varho@fidea.fi
Sponsors: n.a.
Type: Methodological discussion
Organizer: Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) www.luke.fi
Duration: n.a.
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: n.a.
Date of Brief: October 2015

Download EFP Brief No. 258: Perspectives on Use of Expertise

Sources and References

This brief is based on the following article, in which the findings are discussed in more detail:

Varho, V., Huutoniemi, K. 2014. Envisioning solutions – Expert deliberation on environmental futures. In: Huutoniemi, K., Tapio, P. (eds.) Transdisciplinary Sustainability Studies: A Heuristic Approach. Routledge, London & New York. pp. 140-157.

References

 

Amara, R. (1981) ‘The futures field. Searching for definitions and boundaries’, The Futurist, 15(1): 25–29

Bogner, A. and Menz, W. (2009) ‘The theory-generating expert interview: epistemological interest, forms of knowledge, interaction’, in: Bogner, A., Littig, B. and Menz, W. (eds.) Interviewing Experts. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, UK. pp. 43–80.

Dreyfus, H.L. and Dreyfus, S.E. (2005) ‘Expertise in real world contexts’, Organization Studies 26(5): 779–792

Kuusi, O., Kinnunen, J., Ryynänen, O.-P., Myllykangas, M. and Lammintakanen, J. (2006) ‘Suomen Terveydenhuollon tulevaisuudet’, in: Terveydenhuollon tulevaisuus, Eduskunnan kanslian julkaisu 3/2006.

Kuusi, O., Cuhls, K. and Steinmüller, K. (2015) Quality Criteria for Scientific Futures Research. Futura 1/2015: 60-77.

Rittel, H.W.J. and Webber, M.M. (1973) ‘Dilemmas in a general theory of planning’, Policy Sciences, 4(2): 155–69.

Selinger, E.M. and Crease, R.P. (2002) ‘Dreyfus on expertise: The limits of phenomenological analysis’, Continental Philosophy Review 35: 245–279.

Tuominen, A., Tapio, P., Varho, V., Järvi, T. and Banister, D. 2014. Pluralistic backcasting: Integrating multiple visions with policy packages for transport climate policy. Futures, 60: 41-58.

Turner, S. (2001) ‘What is the Problem with Experts?’ Social Studies of Science 31(1): 123–149.

Varho, V. and Tapio, P. (2013) ‘Combining the qualitative and quantitative with the Q2 scenario technique – the case of transport and climate’, Technological Forecasting & Social Change 80(4): 611–630.

Varho, V., Rikkonen, P., Rasi, S. (forthc.) Futures of distributed small-scale renewable energy in Finland – A Delphi study of the opportunities and obstacles up to 2025. Under review in Technological Forecasting & Social Change.

EFP Brief No. 257: Creating Prospective Value Chains for Renewable Road Transport Energy Sources

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

If the Nordic energy and transport sectors are to meet the 2050 energy and climate policy targets, major systemic chang-es are necessary. The transition requires cooperation between public and private actors. The approach outlined in the paper combines elements from the fields of system level changes (transitions), value chain analysis and forward looking policy design. It presents a novel, policy relevant application with a set of practical tools to support development of im-plementation strategies and policy programmes in the fields of energy and transport.

A Major Transition is Necessary

Sustainable energy technologies are driven especially by the climate change challenge, which necessitates paradigm shift also in global energy production and consumption structures. Currently, about 20 % of the Nordic CO2 emissions are due to transport sector. If the Nordic energy and transport systems are to meet the 2050 energy and climate policy goals, a major transition is necessary. Along with new technologies, changes are required also in other societal sectors such as business models and consumer habits. The transition requires cooperation between public and private actors. Political decisions should create potential to enterprises which can provide renewable energy solutions in a way that they attract also consumers and transporters of goods.

In order to be able to make wise political decisions we need foresight actions to get an idea about the future trends and needs, and possible ways of shaping the future. We believe that, for the most part, actors create the future and therefore the state of the transport system is a result of the measures and actions carried out by the producers, operators and users of the system. Therefore we need knowledge and understanding about the actors who are important in the processes. In our understanding actors are outlined in value chains.

A new Approach to Value Chains

The focus in this brief is on developing tools to understand, create and analyse prospective value chains up to the year 2050. With ‘value chain’ we mean a chain of activities needed in order to deliver a specific valuable product and service for the market, incl. activities related to energy sources or feedstock production; energy production; distribution and transportation; retail; consumption; regulation and governance; and research and development. In our case the value chains arise from three alternative, but partly overlapping technology platforms, namely electricity, biofuels and hydrogen.

The motivation for this foresight exercise is to produce knowledge for future decision making and policy support in order to create enabling ground for sustainable energy solutions for the future transport sector. Traditionally value chains are considered in rather short term business opportunity analyses. In our case, we need to outline the value chains in the far future.

The brief is based on the preliminary results of the TOP-NEST project WP4. The task of WP4 is to identify prospective value chains in order to outline roadmap and policy recommendations in the later phases of the project.

Functions of Foresight and Policy-making

The impact of foresight on policy-making has been discussed among foresight experts practitioners (e.g. Georghiou & Keenan 2006, Da Costa et. al. 2008, Weber et.al. 2009, Könnölä e.al. 2009, 2011). One aspect of this discussion is to consider the functions of foresight in policy-making. The functions of foresight can be summarized into three major functions, which are 1) informing, 2) facilitation, and 3) guiding.

The informing function of foresight is generation of insights regarding the dynamics of change, future challenges and policy options, along with new ideas, and transmitting them to policymakers as an input to policy conceptualisation and design.

Facilitation of policy implementation gets it motivation from the changing nature of policy-making. There has been a shift from linear models of policy-making, consisting of successive phases such as formulation, implementation and evaluation phases, into cyclic models, where evaluations are supposed to feed back into the policy formation and implementation phases (Weber et. al 2009; Da Costa et. al 2008). This kind of thinking puts more emphasis on interactions, learning, and decentralised and networked characters of political decision-making and implementation.

The effectiveness of policy depends also on the involvement of a broader range of actors, and therefore also, the role of government shifts from being a central steering entity to that of a moderator of collective decision-making processes. To meet the requirements of the new mode of operation one needs foresight instrument.

Policy guiding refers to the capacities of foresight to support strategy formation or policy definition. In its best foresight exercises may bring to light the inadequacy of the current policy system to address the major challenges that society is facing (Da Costa et al. 2008).

Our approach combines analysis of system level changes (transitions) and value chain analysis with foresight approach. We apply multilevel perspective model (Geels 2005) to define the prerequisites of the transfer of the complex transport system, and value chain analysis in order to concretise the changes needed. With these elements we try to inform, facilitate and guide policy-making.

Multi-level Perspectives of the Energy and Transport Systems

Figure 1 presents the three basic components of the transport system: users, vehicles and transport infrastructure. The use of vehicles involves behavioural and business models, and different types of solutions are available concerning issues such as vehicle ownership (adapted from Auvinen and Tuominen, 2012). The illustration presents also the main elements of the energy system (primary energy sources, production and storage), which are linked to the transport system mainly through energy and transport infrastructures and are crucial for transport operations.

The state of the transport system is a result of the measures and actions carried out by the producers, operators and users of the system. Producers and operators are organisations or companies, which can be categorised according to their main duties, such as: policy formulation, infrastructure construction and maintenance, production and operation of services for the transport system, and production of transport-related services (e.g. vehicle manufacturing and fuels). Individual people, actually the whole population, are the users of the passenger transport system. In freight transport, users are companies and organisations in the fields of industry, transport and commerce (Tuominen et al. 2007). Value chains are composed from these different actors.

257_bild1

Figure 1. Transport and energy systems in multi-level perspective model. The transfer process requires changes in all levels heading to the same direction.

From Future Wheel to Technology Platforms and Prospective Value Chains

The foresight procedure consists of three stages (see Figure 2):

257_bild2

Figure 2. A procedure for prospective value chain analysis.

The starting point of the process (Step 1) is to create an idea of the context were the prospective value chains will operate. For this pourpose, various foresight methods, such as Futures Wheel, and scenario methodology can be used. We formulated four different scenarios for 2050, which are described briefly below (Figure 3).

257_bild3

Figure3. The principle of scenario creation and the four transport scenarios formulated for 2050.

The goal of the second step is to identify the value network actors and analyse their individual interests, and connections between different actors, if possible, in all different scenarios. The analysis covers value chain activities from energy sources and feedstock production to energy production, distribution and transport, retail and consumption. Also regulation, governance and R&D actors are included in the analysis.

All possible actors are listed and their opportunities and advantages, as well as supportive needs are analysed. Opportunities refer to the possibilities to make profit in the value network (How the actor benefits from the value network?), and advantage refers to created value by the actor (What is the added value the actor produces to its customer or in the network?). The analysis of the supportive activities is needed to recognize the connection between different actors. Figure 4 gives an example of the value network illustration.

257_bild4

Figure 4. Value network of a biodiesel example based on tall oil.

The third step includes outlining of the prospective value chains. In this stage, couple of aspects need to be taken into consideration. Different technology platforms will co-exist in the future and different futures create different opportunities and development possibilities for different technology platforms. Therefore, one needs to describe the level of technological development of the given technology platform in the outline of the value chain. In other words, the outline of the value chain works only in selected scenario, and the level of technological development of a single technology platform is different in different scenarios.

Participative Workshops Informing, Facilitating and Guiding Policy-making

Future value chains and future actors within have to be recognised in order to find out prerequisites of the future actions. The proposed approach may act as a checklist for the key issues to be covered in outlining prospective value chains in the road transport context.

The process integrates methods from different theoretical starting points: foresight, multi-level perspective and value chain theories. It also integrates energy and transport systems, and expands the context far to the future. The process is not yet complete but the work will continue in the TOP-NEST project up to the 2014.

To outline future actors is a challenging task. At this stage of the process development we have noticed that the most challenging part is to be able to imagine potential new actors and to create potential new relationships between the actors in a strongly path dependent situation, as is a biodiesel case. We assume that for instance in testing this procedure in hydrogen technology system the challenge may be slightly easier, because path-dependency is not strong.

Another challenge is to get relevant stakeholders to either participate the workshops or give interviews. The workshops or interviews shall include stakeholders at least from the industry, ministries, NGO’s e.g. nature protection organisations, vehicle industry and associations as well as researchers. The issue to be discussed is so large including energy, transport and transition policies, that the discussion would take time. There may also be confidentiality problems concerning new emerging technologies.

We believe that the prospective value chain analysis helps us to figure out landscape level constraints, like values and global trends, niche level options, as well as the needs which guide us to change or maintain the existing regime. Value chain analysis gives us views about the future and about the potential paths and constraints to help making wise political decisions.

 

Authors: Nina Wessberg, nina.wessberg@vtt.fi, Anna Leinonen, anna.leinonen@vtt.fi, Anu Tuominen, anu.tuominen@vtt.fi, Annele Eerola, annele.eerola@vtt.fi ,Simon Bolwig, sibo@dtu.dk
Sponsors: NER (TOP-NEST project http://www.topnest.no/ )
Type: Nordic foresight exercise
Organizer: VTT, nina.wessberg@vtt.fi
Duration: 2011-2015
Budget: € 402,000
Time Horizon: 2050
Date of Brief: July 2014

Download EFP Brief No. 257_Prospective Value Chains

Sources and References

Auvinen, H. & Tuominen, A. 2012, Safe and secure transport system 2100. Vision. VTT Technology 5 (2012).

Da Costa, O., Warnke, P., Cagnin, C., Scapolo, F. (2008) The impact of foresight on policy-making: insights from the FORLEARN mutual learning process. Technology analysis & Strategic Management, vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 369-387.

Geels, F.W. 2005, “Processes and patterns in transitions and system innovations: Refining the co

evolutionary multi-level perspective”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 72, no. 6, pp. 681-696.

Georghiou, L., Keenan, M. (2006) Evaluation of national foresight activities: Assessing rationale, process and impact. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, vol. 73, pp. 761-777.

Könnölä, T., Scapolo, F., Desruelle, P., Mu, R. (2011) Foresight tackling societal challenges: Impacts and implications on policy-making. Futures vol. 43. pp. 252-264.

Tuominen, A., Järvi, T., Räsänen, J., Sirkiä, A. and Himanen, V. (2007) Common preferences of different

user segments as basis for intelligent transport system: case study – Finland. IET Intell. Transp. Syst.,

2007, 1, (2), pp. 59–68.

Tuominen, A., Wessberg, N., Leinonen, A., Eerola, A. and Bolwig, S. (2014). Creating prospective value chains for renewable road transport energy sources up to 2050 in Nordic Countries. Transport Research Arena 2014, Paris.

Weber, M., Kubeczko, K., Kaufmann, A., Grunewald, B. (2009) Trade-offs between policy impacts of future-oriented analysis: experiences from the innovation policy foresight and strategy process of the city of Vienna. Technology analysis & Strategic Management, vol. 21, No. 8. pp. 953-969.

Wessberg, N., Leinonen, A., Tuominen, A., Eerola, A. and Bolwig, S. (2013) Creating prospective value chains for renewable road trasport energy sources up to 2050 in Nordic Countries. International Foresight Academic Seminar in Switzerland, Sept 16-18, 2013.

EFP Brief No. 256: F212.org Online Platform. Imagining the Future through Social Media as a Tool for Social Innovation

Friday, December 6th, 2013

F212.org is a virtual think tank of university students interested in sharing ideas on how to face main future challenges. It describes the results of a comparative study about the images of the future found among young students from Haaga Helia University of Applied Science (Finland) Tamkang University (Taiwan); and University of Alicante (Spain).

The Study of Images of the Future

The studies focused on images of the future date back to the second half of the twentieth century and have their origins in the fields of sociology and psychology. After the growing interest in this area which arose during the early 1990s, the study about images of the future –and more specifically about images of the future among young people– has consolidated within the framework of social sciences in general and, particularly, in the context of Sociology during the late 1990s and the first years of the twenty-first century.

According to Polak’s definition, “an image of the future is made of associated memories and expectations. It is a set of long-range goals which stress the infinite possibilities open to a person. Thus, an image of the future can be defined as a mental construction dealing with possible states. It is composed of a mixture of conceptions, beliefs, and desires, as well as observations and knowledge about the present. This affects a person’s choice both consciously and unconsciously and is derived from both reality and from imagination. It ultimately steers one’s decision-making and actions”. Therefore, the reflection about the expected impact of these images on the determination of our present actions and our attitude towards the future allows us to see the need for a systematic approach to study such images.

Nevertheless, the research into such images carried out during last century tended to be relatively sporadic and never had a predominant role in the context of futures research. As far as Sociology in particular is concerned, many works which attempt to identify and explain the concerns most commonly found among this population segment basically seek to answer the following question: how do young people expect their future to be?

However, it is far from easy to find studies where the approach consists in trying to find an answer to the question: what do young people want for their future? Therefore, there is arguably a lack of new approaches which can integrate aspirational parameters and enable a greater involvement of youths in the process of defining alternatives for the future.

For this reason, public and private institutions are now apparently taking a greater interest in identifying and understanding citizens’ expectations and wishes, which has led them to promote actions in line with the new paradigms of Social Innovation and Open Innovation that provide a more active, direct and continuous citizenship in governance, close to the concept of participatory democracy. In fact, this is something which currently seems much more feasible than not so long ago thanks to aspects such as technology development, the spreading of internet access and the increasingly high popularity of social online networks.

Therefore it is perfectly feasible to complement the descriptive approach to a ‘diagnosis of the future’ with images of the future and creative proposals directly defined and developed by young people, giving voice and prominence to them thanks to:

  1. the proliferation of communication channels that allow for immediate and continuous feedback (2.0 platforms, social networks) with the user/citizen; and
  2. the development of ‘participatory’ foresight methodologies in both institutional and private sectors.

The conceptual basis behind this approach leads participants to consider themselves as key actors in the task of defining their own future –through an active participation in the construction of shared images of the future. It could consequently prove much more motivating for young people to interact within these processes if participants are given some space to share and create.

Tool Set for the Future

The project presented here is based on a previous study (Guillo, 2013) which involved a total of 56 university students from the Haaga Helia University of Applied Science (Helsinki, Finland) and the University of Alicante (Alicante, Spain).

Based on the overall results and on the feedback provided not only by participants but also by the students and teachers involved, it was possible to highlight the following 4 points with the aim of achieving an improvement in subsequent studies:

  • Hard-to-understand / answer questionnaires: the students found the process hard to complete (too many categories and questions) and sometimes even confusing.
  • Lack of interaction: the platform suffered from a lack of technological tools, which always make it easier for users to interact with one another.
  • Overlap between groups: the selected categories proved useful to organise the responses to some extent but participants found numerous overlaps between the topics discussed in every category.
  • Hard to analyse: the scenario format gave us (as researchers) very valuable material to analyse. Nevertheless, a more precise way to express expectations, fears and wishes about the future is badly needed to improve interaction.

Taking into account the 4 points mentioned above, a new study was designed which included three significant changes with respect to the previous one, all of them oriented to improve users’ experience within www.f212.org:

Removing the division into categories: the categories from the previous study (economy, culture, politics, ecosystem, security) were abandoned in order to build an easy-to-complete questionnaire. Since the information-collecting tool was going to be an online survey (embedded in the platform), it became essential to provide a short, clear and quick-to-answer questionnaire.

Changing narrative scenarios by keywords: In this case, the change also had to do with the difficulty found by participants when completing the process. Therefore, a decision was made to replace the initial idea of describing a future scenario (150 words) with the choice of keywords to describe their future scenario (10 words). This would additionally allow us not only to process participants’ responses much faster –almost in real time– but also to update the tag clouds inserted in the platform, which could largely improve the level of interaction within the platform too.

Using a clearer language: the feedback received from the previous study led us to modify the instructions given for the completion of the different questionnaires –using a more straightforward language. Various levels of information were offered, including more detailed information (tutorials and FAQs) in case users needed a higher degree of detail.

Thus, the design of our new study started by restructuring the platform in the following sections:

  1. RATINGSFeelings about the future in 2030. Participants were asked the question “are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?” in this section. This allowed them to position themselves in terms of pessimism/optimism, on a scale from 10 (totally optimistic) to 0 (totally pessimistic). Three different dimensions were taking into account: World (global level), Country (national level) and Myself (personal level).

 

  1. FORECASTS – Probable future in 10 words.Participants had to write a maximum of 10 words about the main features which, in their opinion, will characterise the world in 2030.

 

  1. SKILLS – Self-evaluate your references about the future in 2030.The ratings and forecasts given by participants were subjected to self-evaluation through these three questions (to be answered on a scale from 0,  the worst,  to 10, the best):
    • Are you concerned about the future?
    • To what extent are you prepared to face the future?
    • What is your level of knowledge about global change processes?

    Participants were additionally asked to complement their self-evaluations by naming some of the sources (books, webpages, magazines, journals, etc.) that they usually consult and on which their visions of the future are based.

  1. WISHES – Future you want in 10 words.In this section, participants had to write a maximum of 10 words about the main features that, in their opinion, should characterise the world in 2030.

 

  1. IDEAS – Open Discussions.This section was included as a meeting place to share creative ideas on how to face future challenges.A total of 378 university students (between 20 and 32 years old) took part in this study by accessing the open platform.

Images of the Future of Spanish, Taiwanese and Finnish Students

RATINGS – How do you feel about the future in 2030?

A remarkable difference exists in the images of the future found at a national level among the participants from Spain (median 4), Taiwan (6) and Finland (7). In the case of Spain, the differences become even more evident when comparing the three levels considered: global (7), national (4) and personal (7). However, such results should actually “come as no surprise” within the current context of social and economic crisis in Spain, which also shows a high degree of inconsistency as far as images of the future are concerned. Another interesting finding is the widespread high degree of optimism with regard to the personal level (7).

FORECASTS – The probable future in 10 words: Females show more optimism

Seeking to make the platform as interactive as possible, tag clouds were generated with the participants’ responses in this section. These tag clouds – including the 50 words with the highest repetition frequency among respondents- were available online, and a allowed us to draw some general conclusions:

− High consensus on the key factors that define the probable future by 2030. The words which show a higher repetition frequency were technology, globalisation, competitiveness, artificial, connected, energy, ecology and war. These words can be regarded as part of the main speech about the future, presented in the general, mass media as part of a globally shared image of the probable future.

− Females show more optimism than males. A marked difference could be perceived in the degree of optimism shown by females and males among participants from Spain and Taiwan (and also among those from Finland, though to a lesser extent). That is why participants from Spain and Taiwan show a higher repetition frequency in words such as opportunities, hope and ecology.

SKILLS – Self-evaluate your references about the future in 2030_ Homogeneous use of TV as information source

The results in this section show a high level of preparation and knowledge, along with a lack of diversity in the sources considered (mainly TV and general-information newspapers). On the whole, participants from Spain, Taiwan and Finland see themselves as ‘experts’ in the topics under discussion: the median is 5 or higher in every case. Nevertheless, when asked about the kind of sources that they usually resort to, only a few of them mention access to specialised journals, reports, databases, etc. Information availability also helps us understand the aforementioned conclusion about the globally shared image of the probable future.

One important finding when comparing across countries is that participants from Finland showed the worst self-evaluations, a point below self-evaluations of participants from Spain. These results contrast with the overall Education results observed in both countries during the last years.

WISHES – The future you want in 10 words: Different perceptions on ‘Love’ and ‘Community’

Significant differences regarding how they describe their probable futures. Words like technology, global and connected, which had a strong weight in Forecasts, are now losing repetition frequency. This can be interpreted as reflecting an attitude of rejection towards today’s ‘hyper-connected’ world (a shared vision for the probable future). On the contrary, words like opportunities or work have a stronger weight in these desired futures, which can be explained by young people’s professional aspirations.

A lack of specific, creative terms to describe the desired future. On the whole, no breaking ideas are found in the words given by the students. Thus, the most often repeated words within this section are equality, peace, respect, ecology or freedom, which, in our opinion, form part of what can be described as a utopian and very broad vision about the society of the future. This lack of specific and breaking ideas can also be related to the fact that young people find it hard to visualise all the possibilities ahead of them.

Few differences between males and females. The biggest visible difference between males and females refers to the word love (whereas no males mention this word as part of their desired future, it stands out as one of the words with the most weight among females).

Few differences between countries. The most interesting finding in this respect is the word communal, only present among Finnish respondents. In the cases of Spain and Taiwan, despite the appearance of words such as equality or peace –which clearly suggest an idea of cooperation with one another in their meaning– the complete absence of this specific word seems very meaningful to us, and could be interpreted as a weak signal regarding social life in the countries represented.

Online Participatory Foresight Processes

The comparison between the results obtained in this study and those from the previous experience (Guillo, 2013) leads us to highlight the findings below:

  • Simplicity encourages participation. A decision was made to remove the division into categories in our study this time, which made it easier and faster for respondents to complete the whole process. This resulted in a much higher participation: 378 respondents (as opposed to 56 in the previous study).
  • More interaction means enriching our own images of the future. Respondents consider the possibility of exchanging ideas about the future with young people who have different cultural backgrounds very interesting. Thus, the international connection with other students from different parts of the worlds was seen as an extremely positive factor. Moreover, the integration of the section Ideas makes it possible for them to directly interact with other correspondents, which was also highlighted as a very positive point (more than 300 replies were registered in the open discussions started in this section).
  • Motivation is a key point. Two different mechanisms were designed for the purpose of involving people in the platform. One of them was the development of future workshops, where students received explanations on the basics of futures thinking and were encouraged to participate in the process. The other mechanism was the creation of a brief presentation, available on the platform and easy to use for e-mail communications. In this sense, a higher degree of participation was found among the students who took part in futures workshops and were personally motivated to sign up for the platform.
  • A more straightforward language and better design elements help understand large amounts of data. Technologically speaking, tag clouds were the best way available for us to show the results from Forecasts and Wishes to respondents. These graphs allowed users to have a slight –but also very clear– idea about the image of the future generally shown by respondents. The same approach was applied to other aspects of the platform, such as the design of the slide presentation and the presentation dossier or the instructions contained in every section of the platform, among other things.

As a general conclusion, it could be stated that improving interaction tools, designing better communication elements and opening the platform to an international university-student context have all had a strong positive impact on this study. Thus, the results collected in www.f212.org helped us achieve a better understanding of the mechanisms behind social media involvement.

 

 

Authors: Mario Guillo (PhD Candidate)    mario.guillo@ua.es

Dr. Enric Bas                           bas@ua.es

Sponsors: FUTURLAB – University of Alicante

FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science & Technology

Type: International think tank
Organizer: FUTURLAB – University of Alicante, Mario Guillo, mario.guillo@ua.es www.futurlab.es
Duration: 2011-2012
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: October 2013

Download EFP Brief No. 256_F212.org Online Platform

Sources and References

  • Guillo, Futures, Communication and Social Innovation: Using Participatory Foresight and Social Media Platforms as tools for evaluating images of the future among young people, Eur J Futures Res (2013) 15:17. DOI 10.1007/s40309-013-0017-2
  • Reinhardt, (ed.) United Dreams of Europe, Primus Verlag, Darmsdat, 2011.
  • Bas, Future Visions of the Spanish Society, in: U. Reinhardt, G. Roos, (eds.) Future Expectations for Europe, Primus Verlag, Darmsdat, (2008) 214-231.
  • Ono, Learning from young people’s image of the future: a case study in Taiwan and the US, Futures, 35 (7) (2003) 737-758.
  • Rubin, The images of the future of young Finnish people, Sarja/Series, Turku, 1998.

EFP Brief No. 255: RIF Research & Innovation Futures

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

RIF explores possible future ways of doing and organising research in order to inspire fresh thinking among research stakeholders about underlying potentials and looming risks in the present.

Drivers for New Ways of Doing Research

RIF was setting out from the observation that current ways of doing and organising research are experiencing a number of new phenomena, challenges and tensions such as:

  • Increasing demand for public participation in defining research priorities
  • Demand for early economic exploitation of research findings and subsequent protection of intellectual property right
  • Increasing call for creation of socially robust knowledge
  • Emergence of diversity of knowledge claims challenging the monopoly of “science” such as the Rise of citizens scientists
  • New technologies changing science practises such as big data, computer simulation, researcher social networks and e-publishing
  • Call for open access to research findings
  • Established publishing modes challenged by new players
  • Institutional diversification and change of established division of roles
  • Increasing engagement of industry in research activities
  • Turn in Research and Innovation Policy towards mission oriented strategies
  • Established notions of science excellence being contested
  • Increasing relevance of large technical infrastructures
  • Change in the global landscape of research, emergence of new countries leading publications

Tackling Tensions of Future Research Governance

In view of this background the RIF Foresight exercise defined the following objectives:

  • Systematize knowledge of the emerging patterns, trends and drivers of change of ways of doing and organising research.
  • Develop medium-term explorative scenarios of possible future models of doing and organising research in our knowledge societies at a time horizon 2020
  • Anticipate and assess possible challenges and tensions resulting from these scenarios
  • Develop long-term transformative scenarios of alternative development paths of the way we will do and organize research and innovation in our societies at a time horizon of about 2030
  • Identify policy issues and strategic options for the actors and stakeholders affected, as resulting from the two types of scenarios
  • Create an open debate between different communities contributing to knowledge dynamics from their respective perspectives and explore room for joint action.

Explorative and Transformative Scenarios

The core element of the RIF methodology is a two stage scenario process as shown in figure 1.

bild1

In a first stage the RIF team identified current trends and drivers of research practices and organisation through an in-depth stocktaking of literature, forward looking studies and strategy documents (Schaper-Rinkel et al. 2012). In a next step RIF set up a scenario process involving around 70 stakeholders with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives within three interactive scenario workshops:

In the first workshop participants developed “explorative scenarios” with a mid-term time horizon by extrapolating today’s trends and drivers (c.f. RIF 2012). Out of these explorative scenarios they identified a set of tensions, junctures and dilemmas that could be emerging in the mid-term if current dynamics continue (c.f. figure 2).

The explorative scenario workshop comprised the following interactive methods:

 

  • plenary discussion and multi-criteria assessment for the selection of core trends
  • facilitated group brainstorming for projection of the selected factors into the mid-term future
  • open-space session for the final identification of tensions (c.f. figure 2)
  • self-organised group work for elaboration of the tensions

bild2

In the second transformative scenario workshop the RIF team and a few selected external participants with a background in the most relevant issues brought forward by the preceding workshop developed the “nuclei of change” from the previous workshop into draft transformative scenarios within plenary and group brainstorming sessions.

The third scenario workshop was dedicated to validation and enrichment of the transformative scenario drafts. A world café format enabled a constructive and structured futures’ dialogue:

On each world café table the team had placed a characteristic image and short descriptive paragraph for one transformative scenario draft. In group sessions of ca. half an hour participants commented on the drafts and enriched the scenarios. Several rounds were carried out so each participant was able to comment on at least two scenarios. One table had been reserved in case participants proposed additional scenarios, which was indeed the case when an entirely new wild card scenario was proposed by one of the participants.

In the second session participants relating to the four stakeholder groups science, policy, civil society and industry worked in separate groups. In a first step they defined their core strategic objectives with respect to research. Secondly, they assessed opportunities and threats for these targets for all six scenarios.

The RIF project has now arrived at the midterm of its duration. The next two workpackages will be dedicated to stakeholder debate on policy implications and strategic options emerging from the scenarios. For this purpose several participatory foresight workshops will be held. Some of these strategic conversations will be crosscutting while others will address specific stakeholder groups that are facing particularly relevant strategic issues according to the scenario analysis.

Broad Stakeholder Participation

The RIF team selected the participants of the Foresight exercise on the basis of a stakeholder analysis using (among others) the stakeholder classification scheme developed by Mitchell et al (1997). Representatives from the following institutional backgrounds participated in the workshops:

 

  • University based researchers (Professors, PhDs, students)
  • University administration
  • Research funding agencies
  • Foundations active in research funding
  • Regional policy agencies
  • Public research organisations
  • Research Ministries (national and EU level)
  • Large companies
  • SMEs
  • Science shops
  • Citzens’ science activists
  • Scientific journal editors
  • Science quality control agencies
  • Industrial associations
  • Trade unions
  • Health organisations
  • International researcher networks
  • Large research infrastructures

 

The majority of the participants came from different European countries representing some organisations from regional, national and European level but also from other continents and international organisations. RIF achieved a good balance between female and male participants.

From Slow Science to Competition 2.0

The RIF project is still on-going. Currently, the scenario report containing the explorative and transformative scenarios emerging from the stakeholder process is being finalised. The insights generated by the stocktaking and draft scenario building are available and summarised below.

The stocktaking (Schaper-Rinkel et al. 2012) pointed out six core dimensions of change in ways of doing and organising research:

  • Digitalization and virtualisation
  • Cooperation & Participation
  • Access
  • Impact
  • Globalisation & Internationalisation

Within these dimensions the analysis revealed the following tensions:

  • open science versus commodification of research
  • short-term project-orientation versus long-term development of new forms of research
  • abundance of scientific information versus shortage of individually manageable and reliable information
  • research collaboration versus competition for research funding
  • collaborative research versus individual incentives
  • diversity in research versus quality standards
  • scientific excellence that is associated with value-free, curiosity-driven research versus research that is relevant to contributing to societal needs
  • diversity versus uniformity
  • research efficiency versus foundational breakthroughs
  • diverse epistemic cultures in providing knowledge for decision-making

The foresight process outlined above generated seven transformative scenario drafts within the first two workshops:

Scenario I: Open Research Landscape

European research is coordinated by “Open Research Platforms (ORP)” where different types of globally connected actors align their funding activities. Each ORP runs an open knowledge sharing WIKI platform where researchers integrate their findings. The new gate-keepers of scientific quality are science & society social networks. University performance is judged by their contribution to the ORPs success.

Scenario II Divided Science Kingdom

The research landscape is divided between two extremes: strictly governed publicly-funded research applying traditional quality criteria versus an open “knowledge parliament” where knowledge claims and funding opportunities are continuously negotiated. Universities are highly diversified according to the two realms

Scenario III: Grand Challenges for real

European research and innovation is strictly organized around Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) that develop solutions for key societal challenges through large scale socio-technical research and experimentation aligning diverse actors and knowledge types. Large shares of public budgets are used to finance the KICs in a coordinated manner. This happens in a period of reduced economic growth in Europe, where higher priority is given to other dimensions of quality of life.

Scenario IV: Tailored Research

The research landscape is coordinated through a fully tailored system of functions fulfilled by highly specialised actors that share revenues according to market rules. At the top of the pyramid, Research Assembling Organisations (RAOs) integrate the contributions of second and third tier research service providers into systemic solutions. A few actors define the rules of interaction and control access to research results and resources. Science is viewed as one of the key enablers for winning the global competition race.

Scenario V: Slow Science

A dedicated group of scientists, also known as “slow science community”, is orienting re-search towards societal and policy needs and placing high emphasis on work-life balance and on making the results of their research work effective in practice. The community is locally rooted, globally connected and funded by bottom-up crowd-funding from diverse sources.

Scenario VI: Competition 2.0 – European public research divided

Driven by business pressure, the Europe’s emphasis is on innovation-oriented research with a focus on improving mid-term global competitiveness. Independent basic research has almost vanished and struggles for funding from public sources.

Scenario X Happiness 2030

To reach the ambitious requirements of wellbeing and happiness until 2030, by 2020 a fully distributed research system based on virtual open science communities, micro-funding and real science markets emerges. Virtual communities grow stronger due to shared methods and processes, affordable tools and applications, as well as to ambitious young talents working and striving for societal reputation. Social science entrepreneurs are climbing up the ladder of success and foster bottom‑up innovation.

These scenario drafts are now being consolidated on the basis of the input from the third workshop which is documented in RIF 2012. The full scenario report will be available soon after.

Changing Value System in Research & Innovation

It is too early yet to draw definite conclusions and policy implications from the RIF foresight exercise. Already now it becomes clear however that longstanding certainties are becoming volatile and the future of research will pose major challenges to decision makers on all levels and institutional backgrounds. The lively debates around the “policy table” in the Vienna world cafe on pros and cons of the various scenarios revealed several valuable strategic questions for policy making today. Accordingly we expect the emergence of a number of relevant policy implications from the strategic debate within the two next work packages:

  • Scenario implication assessment (WP3)
  • Strategic options for society and policy (WP4).

The scenario report will present a consolidated version of the scenarios based on the inputs from the third workshop.

Authors: Philine Warnke                         philine.warnke@ait.ac.at
Sponsors: European Commission DG RTD Science in Society
Type: European level  thematic exercise
Organizer: Matthias Weber, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, and matthias.weber@ait.ac.at
Duration: 2011-2013
Budget: € 860 ,000
Time Horizon: 2020/2030
Date of Brief: January 2013

Download EFP Brief 255_RIF Research and Innovation Futures

Sources and References

More information on the RIF project including all reports for download can be found at: http://www.rif2030.eu/

Amanatidou, E., Cox, D., Saritas, O. (2012): RIF Deliverable 4.1: Stakeholders in the STI System.

Mitchell, R. K., Agle, B. R. and Wood, D. J. (1997), ‘Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts’, The Academy of Management Review, 22 (4), 853–886.

Schaper-Rinkel, P., Weber, M., Wasserbacher, D., van Oost, E., Ordonez-Matamores, G., Krooi, M., Hölsgens, R. Nieminen, M., Peltonen, A. 2012: RIF Deliverable 1.1 Stocktaking Report.

RIF 2012: Research in Europe 2030: Documentation of the RIF Vienna World Café. http://www.rif2030.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/RIF-Docu-World-cafe-Vienna_final.pdf

(Links for further information, references used, etc.)

EFP Brief No. 254: New Trends in Argentina’s Science, Technology and Innovation Policy

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

The brief describes the historical evolution of the national policy of science, technology and innovation (STI) in Argentina, identifying major turning points from the period of the import substitution model that lasted for 40 years to the current development pattern still in the making, with a sharp shift during the 1990s to a harsh market-led path. Domestic learning processes and emerging international trends led Argentina in the new millennium to adopt a new more proactive, flexible and participatory model of STI, which was further pushed by the creation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation in 2007. The National Plan of STI 2012-2015 reflects on-going efforts to deepen the redesign of research, technology and innovation policies.

The Redesign of STI Policies and Institutions

Science, technology and innovation policies and institutions in Argentina constitute today an evolving system whose configuration is the result of a several-stage process involving discontinuity regarding priorities, approaches and intervention modalities.

STI policies over most of the 90s implied a significant shift with regards to the pattern prevailing during the four-decade model of import substitution industrialisation (ISI). In a nutshell, this shift involved a drastic move away from state support to the development of basic science and of human resources, as well as from direct public intervention in some sectors deemed strategic or at the technological frontier. The new pattern, framed within a economic policy stressing the opening and deregulation of the economy and the privatization of public assets, strongly emphasized the modernization of the private sector under a quasi-market rationale and made the first moves towards a greater articulation and coordination of STI public institutions. In line with this pattern, a demand-driven approach, under the assumption that firm knowledge requirements set research and development (R&D) lines, and sectoral neutrality (i.e., massive horizontal policies favouring stronger links of individual firms with the supply of advising and training services) set the tone of STI policies.

By the end of the 90s, a more complex set of policies was implemented in order to address the increasingly heterogeneous capacities of the private sector to generate and absorb scientific and technological knowledge, the different “stages of the innovation cycle” and the need to target support by sectors. This shift towards greater policy differentiation and directionality as well as deeper integration and coordination of the national system of STI was invigorated since 2003. Particularly, the creation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (MINCYT) in 2007 was a big push in that direction as it gave room to a process of increasing prestige and institutionalization of the STI; this process fuelled, in turn, an important redirection of the rationale for policy intervention.

Three main aspects distinguish this rationale shift: the greater emphasis granted to a systemic vision of support to innovation based on the construction of stronger links with the science and technology dimension; the deepening of the shift from horizontal to more focalized policies; and the gradual move from support targeting individual actors (firms or institutions) to support stressing different types of associative behaviour (value chains, consortia, networks, etc.). This reorientation of the rationality for policy intervention was grounded in the need of the MINCYT to adapt its strategic goals and policies to the particular traits of the context in which it operates, in particular the mounting relevance of technological change and innovation for international competitiveness and the need to upgrade the increasingly complex domestic production structure, the nature of the problems and opportunities calling for public intervention, and the need of a systemic approach in order the enhance the effectiveness of STI policies. This conceptual reorientation has been matched at the instrumental level by the “restyling” of the existing policy instruments as well as the design of new ones in the policy axes that shape today public interventions (see below).

The Conceptual and Empirical Drivers of Policy Changes

The current reorientation of the rationale for policy intervention is in line with STI policy trends in developed countries and in middle-income countries within the developing world. It also echoes academic debates and policy recommendations from technical cooperation agencies.

Limits of the Linear Model

The deepest motive of this reorientation, which comprises three main threads with different degree of progress and articulation, is the awareness of the limits of a static or lineal view of the relationship between science, technology and innovation. In fact, believing in a lineal view means that the new scientific and technological knowledge (usually created through R&D) is easily adopted by producers, without any significant participation or feedback about real needs of knowledge production.

Turning to Customized Production

Several traits of the present production situation reinforce the on-going redefinition of policy rationale. The first is the increasing heterogeneity of the production tissue, which cuts across sectorial and even sub-sectorial boundaries. Concretely, in the same sector and macroeconomic context, firm competitive strategies and practices differ along several dimensions, for instance the way they use technology and behave with regards to innovation. This heterogeneity turns horizontal and non-discriminatory policies, usually grounded on “broad range” market failures (complementary financing, imperfect information, coordination deficits and the like) largely ineffective to tackle down producers’ specific constrains to develop scientific and technological capabilities and to innovate. What it is rather required are policies geared to the provision of “customized” public goods (or “club” goods), in order to attend different needs at different levels of economic activity (firms, clusters, value chains, etc.).

In the same way, it is also important to foster a greater policy focalization through the identification of strategically significant areas as main targets of STI policies. Of course, this does not imply a return to old-fashioned practices of “picking winners” but instead the previous definition of activities and agents to be specifically targeted because of its relevance for upgrading and diversifying the production structure.

Endemic Uncertainty

The second relevant feature of the current production dynamics is not just the increasingly rapid pace of scientific and technological changes and, pari pasu, of the innovation process but the uncertainty of their direction that has led many people to talk about “endemic uncertainty”. Indeed, in an increasing number of production activities as well as in other areas of public interest (for instance, climate change, food safety or health care to mention just a few) it is more and more difficult to predict the next market demand, or, in the same vein, the next natural disaster, animal or plant disease, or virus variety, which will require to create and apply “new generation” scientific and technological knowledge that, in addition, can be rapidly turned into product and process innovations.

This giant uncertainty calls into question traditional notions of progress such as “technological frontier” or “technological catching up”. Knowledge production in these socio-economic and natural contexts calls instead for new policies and institutions that impulse the capacities of agents to search and detect new development opportunities by “de-codifying” them in response to the emerging needs, and to position themselves as providers of precompetitive knowledge for innovation.

The third driver of the reorientation of STI support policies or, to put it more accurately, of the intervention rationale is the fact that innovation – and much of the science and technology knowledge that nurtures it – is the work of inter-organizational networks including firms, public agencies, universities, research centres and other knowledge-producing organizations. Usually born spontaneously, although their emergence is more and more a public policy goal, the distinguishing trait of these public-private articulations is their role as instances of combination, coordination and synthesis of partial and complementary knowledge and resources coming from different disciplinary domains and fields of activity. These multidisciplinary networks tend to proliferate (though not exclusively) in high-technology activities in which it is highly unlikely that a sole agent have all the capacities and expertise to understand how those technologies work and how to apply them therein.

Specialisation of Argentina’s Production

Finally, on empirical grounds, Argentina is no alien to these trends towards increasing heterogeneity of production, acceleration of scientific-technological knowledge and network innovation, although the aggregate data on STI in the country does not properly reflect this. Indeed, in very distinct production activities (farm machinery, wine, technology-based agricultural inputs, nuclear research reactors, screening satellites, television scripts, sport boats, design-intensive clothing, software and boutique off-shore services, among the most relevant), firms or groups of firms have strongly grown, substantially upgraded production and achieved long-term competitive advantages in the domestic and foreign markets over the past decade on the basis of product and process innovation. These experiences share several features that link them to the above trends. Firstly, all involve the development of collaborative forms of production articulating public and private actors from different disciplines and institutional domains (final producers, part, input and service suppliers, science and technology agencies, universities and research centres in an relative reduced space (regions, counties, urban or semi-urban areas, etc.). Secondly, these networks share different but complementary resources (financial, human, etc.) and knowledge that allow them to identify the accelerating and changing innovation requirements and to generate the production responses to meet them. Finally, they include more or less institutionalized arrangements to coordinate knowledge creation, its application to production, the appropriation of the economic benefits accruing from its exploitation and financing that facilitate interest alignment among stakeholders.

Planning in STI Under the New Rationale for Intervention

STI planning in Argentina has shown a renewed vigour in the last decade and a particular concern at present to address the challenges posed by the emerging STI environment. In line with this purpose, the planning exercise for the 2012-2015 builds upon two main intervention strategies: the institutional development of the national system of STI and policy focalization.

Institutional development of the national STI system

The first strategy stresses transversal institutional development and changes required to achieve an effective intervention in the current STI conditions; it may be summarized with the productive innovation-institutional innovation formula under the understanding that the latter is a critical necessary condition of the former. This strategy involves the dimensions of capacity building, system linkage, process improvement and learning for network innovation. The assumption is that a system with strengthened endowments of resources and capabilities and, at the same time, better articulation allows to avoid the duplication of initiatives and actions (with the ensuing deficient resource allocation), to identify blind points, to contribute to align interests, to prioritize efforts and to generate synergies both within the public sector and between public institutions and productive and social actors, among other benefits.

Policy Focalization

As for the focalization strategy, the on-going planning effort has adopted a novel conceptualization cantered on the notion of strategic socio-productive nuclei (SSPN). This involves the identification of intervention opportunities in specific domains on the basis of the articulation of general-purpose technologies (GPT: biotechnology, nanotechnology, and ITC) with a bundle of sectors producing goods and services (agro-industry, energy, health, environment and sustainable development social development, and manufacturing). The rationale of this approach is to take advantage of the potential impact of GTP to generate qualitative improvements in terms of production competitiveness, people quality of life and the country’s standing with regards to emerging technologies and medium- and long-term foreseeable technological development. In other words, this approach seeks to go beyond the logic intervention driven only by the technological supply or demands requirements; looking forward to generate the conditions to adjust or adapt, if needed, transversal actions and policy instruments to the differentiated needs of selected SSPNs.

Both strategies comprise four operational work axes: coordination (inter-institutional, territorial, international), resources (human, infrastructure, information), processes (regulatory frameworks and monitoring & evaluation), and policy instruments and financing. The first three axes look at the new architecture, rules of the game, and agency/management capacities of the system of STI. The axe of instruments and financing concerns more horizontal tools to promote the expansion of the science and technology base, the search for selectivity and directionality in the public interventions to foster innovation as well as the impulse of the connectivity and coordination among STI actors and the mechanisms for funding support policies.

STI Policy Designed to Strengthen the Production Model

The history of STI in Argentina took several models of intervention or no intervention policy under different political rationalities. Nowadays, the development of STI has a greater potential because of the public planning strategies and concrete lines of action according to the production needs of the country. On the whole, this has meant a redesign of public policy institutions in order that science, technology and innovation strengthen the production model by generating greater social inclusion and improving the competitiveness of Argentina’s economy, becoming knowledge the backbone of national development.

Authors: Miguel Lengyel           mlengyel@flacso.org.ar

Maria Blanca Pesado bpesado@flacso.org.ar

Sponsors: n.a.
Type: national exercise
Organizer: Latin American School of Social Sciences
Duration: 2007 – 2010
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2015
Date of Brief: August 2011

Download EFP Brief No. 254_Argentina’s New STI Policy

Sources and References

Porta, F., P. Gutti and P. Moldovan, “Polìticas de ciencia, tecnología e  innovación en Argentina. Evolución reciente y balance”, Buenos Aires: Universidad de Quilmes y Centro Redes, febrero de 2010.

Sanchez, G., I. Buttler and Ricardo Rozmeberg, “Productive Development Policies in Argentina”, Washington DC: IADB, 2010.

Lengyel, Miguel, “Innovación productiva e innovación institucional: el vínculo virtuoso”, en D. García Delgado (comp.), Rol del estado y desarrollo productivo inclusivo, Buenos Aires: Ediciones Ciccus, 2010.

Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD), “Innovación productiva en Argentina”, Buenos Aires: PNUD, 2009.

Sabel, C., “Self-discovery as a Coordination Problem”, forthcoming in C. Sabel, E. Fernández Arias, R. Hausmann, Andrés Rodríguez-Clare  and E. H. Stein (eds.), Self-discovery as a Coordination Problem. Lessons from a Study of New Exports in Latin America, Washington DC. IADB, 2011.