Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

EFP Brief No. 171: Research Priorities for Digital Creative Industries in Europe

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

With creativity and strategy, the CReATE project designed and implemented a novel strategic cluster development approach integrating Strategic Policy Intelligence tools (such as foresight and impact assessment) and direct innovation support instruments. Guided by a trans-regional framework and based on very different regional strengths and research, technology development and innovation (RTDI) support histories, it aimed at fostering cross-cluster and transregional learning and knowledge exchange more effectively and successfully. In an iterative process, alternating between and mutually enriching the regional and the trans-regional levels, research priorities for information and communication technology innovations in “Culture and Creative Industries” were identified. Strongly related to their “fields of excellence & fields of aspiration” (the existing strengths but also the future development trajectories set by the regional stakeholders), the strategic capabilities of the different stakeholder groups were strengthened and a strategic joint research agenda was developed. On this base, broader and more far-reaching activities will be developed regionally and trans-regionally, also involving partners from outside the consortium and optimising regional, national and EU programmes from RTDI and other policy fields.

Strategic Importance of Creative Industries

To emerge invigorated from the current economic crisis is the most important challenge for the European economies, societies, policies and the European Union as a whole. New sources of sustainable growth must be tapped, creating new jobs and markets for European citizens and companies.

It is of strategic importance to better harness the potential of innovation and knowledge cutting across and connecting all sectors, and to better coordinate priority setting and programme design between regional, national and EU levels in order to tap synergies of actions and policies.

In this respect, the Culture and Creative Industries (CI) based on state-of-the-art information and communication technologies (ICT) play a strategic role. The CI sector is one of the emerging lead markets of the European knowledge economy, already ranks fourth in EU GDP contribution (626 bn € in 2007). As ICT constitute the technology base enabling the development of innovative CI products and services, research progress in ICT is a key ingredient for sustaining competitive CI. Therefore, it is a good investment to support ICT research and to encourage a more systematic and forward-looking use of its innovation potential. To fully harness this potential, it is important to develop new strategic guidance and RTDI support schemes, as the CI sector is characterised by a comparatively high percentage of micro-enterprises and non-conventional forms of employment.

The CI employment growth rate has been double that of the general economy in recent years and is forecast to continue at an average of 10 % annually. Cooperation with CI enterprises increases the innovativeness in all sectors, and regional CI specialisation explains about half of the variance of GDP/capita. Efficient knowledge generation and its creative application can transform the traditional industrial landscape into a competitive industry base and modern service sector, thus contributing to the generation of new markets and high-quality jobs.

In its EU 2020 proposal to the Council in March 2010, the European Commission highlights the importance of creativity and knowledge creation for sustained and sustainable growth. It aims at an impetus for overcoming the current crisis and advocates a new approach that explicitly addresses the complex interdependence between all governance levels.

Often, the main challenge for effective decision-making is the distributed nature of knowledge. SPI tools provide public and private decision-makers with comprehensive, objective, and forward-looking information (e.g. on long-term developments, global trends, societal and individual values, etc). Applied consecutively and consistently, they can help identify, select, structure and ‘translate’ all available information, thereby enabling the development of better decisions and policies.

The concept of a simplified policy support cycle (see graph) can help take this better into account for improving policies and programmes. It facilitates the analyses of decision-making processes and identifies the tools necessary to optimise the outcomes at each stage. Strategic policy intelligence (SPI) tools include technology or territorial foresight, innovation and technology assessment, roadmapping, evaluations and other interactive exercises.

Building on these concepts, the CReATE project (Creating a Joint Research Agenda for Promoting ICT Innovations in CI across Europe) developed a novel approach for enhanced strategic, trans-regional cluster development. Mobilising the commitment of and supporting consensus-building among all relevant stakeholders, project activities included trans-regional vision-building, priority-setting, project development and programme coordination across CI clusters in Baden-Württemberg (DE), Piemonte (IT), Rhône-Alpes (FR) and West-Midlands (UK).

From Music Composition to Architecture

CReATE was co-funded by the EU “Regions of Knowledge” (RoK) initiative, which aims to strengthen the research potential of European regions by encouraging and supporting the development of regional research-driven clusters.

The seven project partners, including public authorities, cluster managing organisations, technology transfer and research organisations, aim to increase CI competitiveness, market potential and outreach to other industry sectors by making more systematic use of ICT’s innovation potential.

To make the best use of their different RTDI support histories (EU, national, regional), factor and demand conditions, and strengths in the CI field, the partners worked with a common methodology (developed in an earlier RoK project) towards common overall priorities – and, on this base, developed different, regionally optimised applications. SPI tools were applied to identify promising RTDI priorities as a key ingredient of sustainable cluster growth, to foster trans-regional knowledge exchange more effectively and successfully, and to optimise the use of regional, national and EU infrastructures and programmes.

CReATE supports European co-operation of innovative clusters and focuses on the following six CI segments:

  • music composition and production,
  • film, television and video,
  • animation and computer games (entertainment software),
  • writing, publishing and print media,
  • advertising, graphic design and marketing,
  • architecture, visual arts and design.

Applying Strategic Policy Intelligence Tools

Based on a methodology developed in the earlier RoK project RegStrat (SPI Tools for Better S&T Investment Strategies in Europe’s Regions) and the policy support cycle shown above, several SPI tools were applied: innovation analyses and benchmarking were followed by foresight-type and impact assessment activities and resulted in recommendations for joint projects and for optimising RTDI programmes. The recommendations were adapted to the specific needs and policy objectives of the participating regions. To ensure both regional and trans-regional impact, the overall process was designed in an iterative way, alternating between and mutually enriching the different governance levels.

Stock-taking: Developing a Regional Knowledge Base

As a sound basis for the analysis of the state of play regarding the regional CI and ICT research potential and the identification of regional ‘fields of aspiration’, a background paper described general future trends and drivers in ICT research relevant for the application in CI. Based on this and the regional analysis template prepared by the strategy consultants of Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ), each region conducted stakeholder interviews and desk research to elaborate a comprehensive set of data and information on CI and ICT innovations. These regional knowledge-generating activities resulted in comprehensive regional reports including cluster maps and detailed SWOT-analyses.

Forward-looking: Identifying Regional Research Priorities

Prospective activities were undertaken in form of two workshops in each region, designed and supported by foresight consultants to ensure adequate and comparable results.

The first regional stakeholder workshop elaborated a common perception of important trends and drivers of possible future developments in CI. Then, key opportunities and challenges to be faced with regard to the regional strengths and weaknesses from the previous SWOT analysis were identified.

The second workshop developed a shared understanding of the possibilities arising from ICT RTDI for CI and derived a ‘ranking’ of regional research priority areas.

Outward-looking: Developing a Joint Research Agenda and Elaborating Joint Project Ideas

Based on the regional results, the identified ICT research capacities, the CI needs and the defined research priorities were related to each other, and joint priorities relevant to all project regions were identified. These were discussed with regional stakeholders and EU representatives during an international IC conference in Turin.

Subsequently, a synthesis report was drafted summarising the results of all regional activities. It also presented the five trans-regional research priorities that would form the basis of the Joint Research Agenda (JRA):

  1. Visual and Interactive Experience: new visual dimensions and digital interaction between humans and computers (3D internet, virtual worlds, simulations and computer-generated imagery).
  2. Tools of Productivity and Intelligent Automation: improved productivity and semantic software (rapid prototyping, conversion of 2D visualisations to 3D, more precise combination of web and database content).
  3. Digital Distribution: new distribution channels on the World Wide Web (collective availability of user-generated content, new markets and revenue streams).
  4. Mobility and Interoperability: a new level of flexibility in the mobile age (any time, any place access to information, location-related and personalised mobile services).
  5. User-Producer Interaction in Development: new production methods featuring user-generated content.

The JRA was based on a trans-regional analysis (‘match-making’) and enriched by input and feedback from regional stakeholders. It includes an outline of the current situation as well as future development perspectives, strategic research areas for CI and, more specifically, a comprehensive depiction of the CReATE transregional research priorities. Future lines of action and promising implementation activities for the CReATE and other regions were also outlined.

In line with this, the project partners and relevant stakeholders formulated promising cross-regional, cross-cluster project ideas and concepts. Feasibility and relevant funding opportunities were also scrutinized.

The implementation of these project ideas is not part of the CReATE project. However, as it plays a vital role for the sustainable impact of the whole process, the regional project partners aim to support and encourage regional stakeholders to continue the work in this sense. Also, the strategic CReATE results were designed in a way that they could be utilised in the medium-term for broader and long-term trans-regional cooperation and for the purpose of optimising regional research programmes and policy development more generally.

Increasing Project Impact and Outreach

The European outreach of the project was addressed by transforming the project methodology and good practices from the partner regions into a generally applicable and easy-to-use toolkit for all European actors. Furthermore, the know-how gained during the project served as input to interactive training and capability-building workshops for interested regions. By June 2010, two of these will have been conducted in the greater Dublin region and Pomerania, Poland. Even after the end of the project, such workshops can be set up in other regions interested in strategic cluster development.

Leverage Effects for other Regions and Sectors

CI play an important role in economic growth, both in terms of the sector’s own contribution to GDP and its role in the innovativeness of other economic sectors. Supporting CI clusters in Europe’s regions can thus considerably contribute, directly and indirectly, to regional, national and European competitiveness. Higher, better coordinated and more focused RTDI investments can be achieved if sector or cluster priorities are set based on a broad forward-looking perspective considering future technological, social and political developments on the local and global level.

Thus, future projects, programmes and policies need to focus on how to achieve the agreed direction or facilitate the desired change of direction. Success means that activities are designed and conducted not only aiming “to do things right” but rather “to do the right things right”.

Therefore, strategic guidance, as developed and implemented in the holistic three-stage SPI-supported CReATE approach, will become increasingly important for the long-term economic success of research-driven clusters.

CReATE’s intertwined bottom-up and top-down approach, enhancing cooperation on various levels and between a variety of actors, can lead to a better adjustment, coordination and optimisation of innovation policies on all governance levels.

This is especially attractive for Europe’s regions because, in times where RTDI budgets are stagnating, pooling funds and know-how in joint trans-regional projects can help to make the most efficient and effective use of regional resources and infrastructures.

The CReATE project showed that, by conducting such forward-looking trans-regional activities, comprehensive knowledge and priority generation and its application are facilitated, trans-regional synergies are tapped, internationalisation of regional actors is enhanced and the basis for more economic success is established.

These more general conclusions are based on the concrete lessons learned during the implementation of CReATE:

  • The methodology followed a multi-actor, multi-level and multi-disciplinary approach, fostered trans-regional cooperation and thus promoted synergies between regional, national and European initiatives. Similar to the ‘Strategic Research Agendas’ of the European Technology Platforms, the CReATE JRA can contribute to raising public and private RTDI investments at all governance levels and improve their impact through optimising efforts and resources.
  • The dialogue-oriented CReATE methodology involved all relevant regional stakeholders of the ‘triple helix’ (university-industry-government) and thus facilitated consensus-building based on personal relationships and mutual trust. The CReATE activities can serve as a starting point for a comprehensive cluster foresight exercise to define a common vision and strategy for a broader approach to sustainable cluster development in the regions. The experiences of the regional CReATE activities show that participatory interactive approaches are a good way to set the scene for joint actions across different regions, sectors and disciplines.
  • On the regional level, the stakeholder workshops have shown some barriers between the different business cultures, languages and mindsets between ICT and CI representatives. The challenge for innovation policies, for instance concerning cluster development, is to bridge the gap between these different mindsets and to leverage cross-disciplinary potential to boost innovation and competitiveness in new markets. The CReATE project’s regional stakeholder workshops clearly pointed out the need for specific support actions to optimally utilise the synergies between ICT and CI.
  • The trans-regional JRA tapped trans-regional synergies by identifying specific regional needs and capabilities as well as the most promising international technology and market development perspectives. It provided the base for optimised concrete actions, both regionally and trans-regionally, generating a clear added value for the regions. The JRA enables all regional actors (from public to private sphere) to rethink and eventually to adjust the focus, effectiveness and efficiency of their policies and (business) strategies. A number of project ideas have already been developed among the project partners and will ensure a sustainable impact of the project after its finalisation.
  • The CReATE methodology facilitated trans-regional and cross-cluster knowledge flows and learning processes across and beyond the CReATE regions and fostered the integration of the CReATE regions into international innovation networks. In this context, broadening and deepening the cross-regional activities beyond the project time frame is valuable to fully capitalise on the added value provided by this methodological approach.
Authors: Sabine Hafner-Zimmermann, Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum,      hafner@steinbeis-europa.de

Dr. Björn Sautter,           Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum,                     sautter@steinbeis-europa.de

Dr. Günter Clar, Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum,                                  clar@steinbeis-europa.de

            Sponsors: European Commission (DG Research), participating regions
Type: Single issue brief
Organizer: MFG Baden-Württemberg GmbH Stuttgart, Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum, Stuttgart, Germany
Duration: 3/2008-12/2010 Budget: 11m EUR Time Horizon: 2020 Date of Brief: March 2010

 

Download EFP Brief No. 171 CReATE

Sources and References

  • Project websites: www.steinbeis-europa.de/index.php5?file=484; lets-create.eu; www.regstrat.net
  • Contact persons as mentioned above
  • See, e.g., http://www.europe-innova.eu/web/guest/home/-/journal_content/56/10136/178407

EFP Brief No. 163: EFONET: Assessment of Energy Foresight in the EU

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Within the EFONET Coordination Action, an analysis of the state of the art of energy foresight activities in the EU countries has been carried out in order to assess the transferability of the “good practices” learnt from the national foresight experiences towards energy foresight on the European level.

EFP Brief No. 163_EFONET Assessment of Energy Foresight

EFP Brief No. 143: Teagasc 2030: Reinventing the Irish Agri-Food Knowledge System

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Teagasc means ‘teaching’ or ‘instruction’ in Gaelic. It is the name of the food and agricultural research, education and advisory body in Ireland. By 2006, fundamental changes happening to the Common Agricultural Policy in Europe were already being felt throughout the Irish agri-food sector. New and emerging issues were gaining importance and looked likely to have an impact on the sector. It was necessary to ask how Teagasc could maintain its relevance to clients and stakeholders as it moved ahead. The study builds upon previous foresight exercises and long-term strategic studies undertaken in Ireland and the EU.

Employing Knowledge for  Developing a Positive Vision  and Creating Opportunities

Teagasc 2030 was designed to establish a broadly-shared vision of what the Irish agri-food and rural economy would look like in 2030 and a vision of what Teagasc could become as the leading science-based knowledge organisation in the sector. It set out to develop the strategic capabilities of Teagasc, improve its ability to provide proactive leadership on complex issues, identify strategies and mechanisms to maximize the impact of its knowledge generation and procurement, technology transfer and education activities through innovation support and to develop an internal culture of continuous renewal.

The Steering Committee (SC) included key Teagasc managers, high-level representatives from relevant organisations, such as the university system and the Environmental Protection Agency,influential business leaders from both the farming and food sectors, as well as international experts. The members of the SC played a decisive role in the process in that they were fully engaged and provided constructive input each time the group convened. The Working Group (WG), consisting of Teagasc employees aided by two international consultants, was responsible for the detailed planning and execution of the exercise. The Foresight Panel (FP) consisted of experts from Teagasc, representatives of the farming and food sectors, as well as experts from the research community, including a commercial research service provider. FP members participated in and contributed to workshops and other activities organized by the WG.

Early consultations with the SC reinforced the need for a structural approach that went beyond the traditional sectoral view. The SC emphasized the need for new strategic capabilities that would enable the organisation to operate in a rapidly changing context. One of the first tasks of the WG was to review foresight exercises on food, agriculture and the rural economy that had been conducted previously, whether in Ireland or around the world, start a discussion on the scope of the exercise and get agreement on the nature of the results it should provide. The first observation of the WG was that previous foresight exercises on food, agriculture and the rural economy tended to focus on problems related to commodity markets and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) system of payments. It was resolved at an early stage that Teagasc 2030 would have to do more than this by identifying how knowledge could help create opportunities for young people in the sector and by developing a positive and realistic vision of an innovation-led rural economy.

The work itself was organized in two phases. A Divergent Phase, where the main purpose was to study issues relating to the organisation, the sector and the broader economy in a creative and exploratory fashion, brought in outside knowledge and expertise, as well as relevant case-studies from abroad. The second Convergent Phase focused on choices to be made about desired outcomes, long-term visions for the future of Teagasc and the context in which it would operate, as well as the practical immediate steps to be taken on the basis of an action plan. Just before the end of the Divergent Phase a Radical Thinkers Workshop was organized to challenge peoples’ thinking and try to overcome any remaining inertia or scepticism as regards new ideas and the necessity for change.

The Divergent Phase

This consisted of paper writing on a number of key topics that provided important background to the members of the Foresight Panel. The papers were especially important as they allowed people who are not experts in a domain to get an overview of what is happening. The real action, however, was in a series of four workshops (WS).

Turning Towards a
Knowledge Based Bio-Economy

WS1 consisted of a scoping and profiling activity to determine the boundaries of the Teagasc 2030 exercise and to verify that the FP included a sufficiently broad range of actors. Important discussions arose concerning how agriculture and food related to the use of land in Ireland, the relationship between this and both the rural and national economy, how both the theatre and the actors might be changing, and how there was a need to revisit ideas of who the typical Teagasc client was, is now or would be in the future. The immediate output of this workshop was strongly criticized by the SC as not being radical enough. It was thought too traditional or sentimental in its attachment to ‘land’. The modern reality consists of urban agriculture, gardens on the sides of buildings, forests, marine and lake habitats, greenhouses and bio-reactors, as well as a food industry that has long outgrown a dependence on local production and that in some sectors relies almost entirely on imports for raw material inputs. This workshop started a process of reflection that lasted until the end of the exercise.

The feedback of the SC on the results of this first workshop was very important. Its intervention ensured that some of the issues addressed in the workshop did not conclude pre-maturely, but stayed open and continued to be debated for the best part of a year. New ideas need time to mature. The workshop started a process whereby traditional and ultimately limited thinking about farming and the rural economy were replaced with entirely new thinking about the knowledge-based bio-economy or KBBE.

WS2 focused on trying to understand relevant drivers of change, the factors shaping the future of Teagasc and the environment in which it operates. The focus was on identifying the drivers and the impacts that they could have on the economy in 2030. The discussion included references to trends and trend breaks. The exercise was intended to help people develop their ‘intuition’ about 2030.

WS3 focused on strategic issues and started the process of formulating the opportunities and challenges that the various sectors and stakeholders would face in 2030. By this stage the concept of the ‘Sustainable KBBE’ had started to come into focus.

WS4 was about developing scenarios to further develop thinking about the ‘Sustainable KBBE’ in 2030, to further explore and define the issues and challenges, and to identify the big questions, whose answers would impact on the structures and programmes of Teagasc going forward.

A Radical Thinkers Workshop was timed to take place between WS3 and WS4 to provide new ideas to the ongoing foresight process. This consisted of a series of talks followed by discussions, involving speakers from a variety of areas who were capable of presenting challenging views on relevant topics. It involved scientists, geographers, venture capitalists and policy makers. For some participants it was an opportunity to hear for the first time about a renewable chemicals industry based on crops grown for their chemistry rather than for food, feed or fibre. For others, it was an opportunity to hear what foreign experts think. A venture capitalist provided his vision of where important opportunities for investment would arise in future. A Danish speaker raised important questions about the organisation of research and innovation when he explained that, while Denmark performs about 1% of all global research, Danish industry requires access to the other 99% of global research if it is to achieve or maintain global competitiveness.

The Convergent Phase

This consisted of a series of three workshops involving the FP and had to provide an actionable plan for the transformation of Teagasc. Such a plan would require the commitment of Teagasc senior managers. It had to be something they would own and act upon. To make sure that they were adequately prepared, a series of internal meetings was arranged involving senior managers and representatives of the WG to help them understand the implications of the exercise, identify the main axes of change for the organisation and anticipate the detailed requirements of the last workshop. Although the foresight workshops were usually animated by members of the WG with help from the external consultants, the goal was for key sessions of the final workshop to be led by members of senior management with support from the WG. At the same time, an internal dissemination or consultation process took place involving all parts of the organisation. The goal was to explain what was happening and gather feedback on the changes required for moving forward. An external consultation process separately involved farming and food industry representatives. It too explained the ideas that were emerging. It gathered feedback and inputs from Teagasc clients as inputs to the final stages of the foresight exercise.

WS5 was dedicated to the development of scenarios about the Sustainable KBBE. In particular, the goal was to develop more specific thinking about the role of knowledge, learning, research, innovation, training and advice in the sector in 2030.

WS6 was used to finalize the scenarios and flesh out a vision for the sector in 2030 along with an identification of its knowledge requirements and the role that Teagasc would occupy in the system.

WS7 was devoted to the issue of organizational transformation and the directions of change for Teagasc. The senior management meetings played a significant role in determining the structure of this last meeting. Based on their discussions it was decided to focus on transformation under the major headings of leadership, partnership and governance.

The issue of leadership originally emerged in meetings of the SC and was echoed in discussions with industrial stakeholders. Leadership gaps emerged on long-term scientific and technological issues not only for small and medium-sized enterprises, but for larger companies as well.

The Vision of a  Sustainable Bio-Economy

One of the most important results was the development of a vision for the Agri-Food and Rural Economy in 2030 as a knowledge intensive, innovative, internationally competitive and market-led bio-economy. This helped to place the sector at the centre of something big and positive, with significant opportunities that would play a role not only in the rural economy, but also in the general knowledge economy, via its contribution to climate change, energy security, sustainability and the transition to a post-petroleum era.

Recognizing that countries with excellence in agriculture have opportunities for moving up the value-chain by selling not only their products but their know-how, the final report speculated about a time when the most important export of the dairy sector in Ireland might no longer be its milk, cheese, yoghurt and functional foods, but its management expertise and its technical knowledge about the organisation of competitive dairy production systems.

The Four Pillars of the KBBE

From an Irish perspective it made sense to complete this vision by distinguishing four pillars of the KBBE:

  • Food Production and Processing, which mainly represents mature industries where competition is relentless and global, where competitiveness often relies on efficiencies of scale, automation and process technologies, as well as scientific management and competitive sourcing.
  • Value-Added Food Processing, which includes advanced food processing and food service, functional foods, as well as food-additives and ingredients, bio-actives, nutraceuticals and cosmaceuticals. This sector is fast moving and innovative. There is continuous adoption and improvement of technologies for production, processing, distribution and preparation. Supply chains are constantly changing and considerable attention is given to intangibles such as patents,brands, provenance and traceability.
  • Agri-Environmental Goods and Services includes foodsafety and traceability, animal welfare, energy security, climate, clean air and water, fertile soils, bio-diversity, areas of public amenity, natural beauty and those of importance for cultural heritage. Although these are normally treated as spin-offs from other activities based on multifunctionality, they are given a separate identity in recognition of the overall role they will play in the quality of life of citizens, in energy and climate security as well as in the overall sustainability of society and the economy.
  • Energy and Bio-Processing includes the production of feedstock for bio-fuels and bio-polymers. This sector makes substantial investments in harnessing knowledge. It places great importance on knowledge as a factor of production. It corresponds to new and emerging areas of science and to entire new markets. It is characterized by a high level of risk and provides opportunities for government support to lead markets. This sector is where highvalue-added and commodity sectors of the future are being created.

Demographics Facilitating Change

A key observation concerning the future of Irish agriculture was the observation that approximately 40% of farmers in Ireland would retire in the next 10 years and that almost all farms would change hands at least once by 2030. This pointed to an opportunity to use the unavoidable dynamic of retirement and property transfer to restructure the farming sector so that land as a natural resource could make the greatest possible contribution to the economy. This would include enabling successful farmers to increase the area they manage and less successful ones to move on perhaps using models based on leasing.Discussions arose about ‘future farmers’ and ‘foresight farmers’. It is possible that the land transfers that will happen in the coming years will give rise to a younger, better educated and more international generation of farmers. Armed with agricultural MBAs, or degrees in bio-technology, many will approach farming as a business more than a family tradition or vocation. Their approach would be less sentimental and more scientificentrepreneurial. Such farmers represent very different clients for Teagasc than those it has served before.

Leadership, Partnership and Governance

One of the most important currents of debate throughout this foresight exercise concerned the traditional push-approach to technology transfer, the so-called ‘linear model’. The old approach was summarized as follows
143_bild1

whereas Teagasc in 2030 would need to focus on innovation support that would resemble something more like this:
143_bild2

One challenge that emerged was the need to become more demand-led as an organisation. Another challenge emerged from the recognition that no organisation can meet all of its research or knowledge needs internally and that an increasing share of these would need to be sourced outside. This is something that traditional research organisations are not used to doing, and, in future, they will need to engage both private and public service providers, as well as cooperate with international knowledge networks.

The vision that emerged for Teagasc as an organisation in 2030 was that of an organisation suffused with a culture of support for innovation by its clients, capable of:

  • providing leadership where necessary on innovationrelated issues,
  • developing and maintaining the partnerships required for research, innovation, technology transfer and education,
  • employing governance mechanisms to assure relevance and accountability to its clients and stakeholders.

Creation of a Permanent Foresight Unit

In many ways, the implementation of the action plan started even before the exercise was finished. A part of the action plan is a natural continuation of consultations with major stakeholder groups that was started as part of the foresight process. The most immediate and tangible result was the creation of a permanent foresight unit within Teagasc to oversee the implementation of the Teagasc 2030 action plan and to support other foresight activities as needed within the organisation.

The action plan is outlined in the Teagasc 2030 report. It includes steps to create a broader culture of innovation within the organisation and to intensify systematic interaction with client groups and stakeholders. It addresses reform of personnel structures to enable greater mobility of staff within the organisation, facilitate transdisciplinary work and align incentives with the needs of clients. Other structural reforms include a focus on network-based activities, as well as timelimited project-network-like interventions such as technology platforms and commodity working groups that pool the resources of partners and involve stakeholders in management.

The general message of Teagasc 2030 is a positive one based on the opportunities offered by the KBBE, not only for actors currently involved in the agri-food and rural economy, but for a whole new generation of bio-entrepreneurs who may have no prior link to the land.

The key to success continues to be innovation. What is new is the pace of innovation and the need for organisations such as Teagasc to operate simultaneously on several fronts in a more international context and in shorter time frames. The challenge for Teagasc in the future will be to increasingly channel its efforts and resources towards support for innovation, in particular for the development of the knowledge-partnerships required by clients for innovation in the KBBE.

Authors: Patrick Crehan – Patrick.Crehan@cka.be, Lance O’Brien – Lance.Obrien@teagasc.ie, Gerry Boyle – Gerry.Boyle@teagasc.ie, Owen Carton –  Owen.Carton@teagasc.ie
Sponsors: Teagasc the Irish food and agricultural research, advisory and training body
Type: Structural foresight
Organizer: Teagasc, CKA and SEZ
Duration: 1.5 yrs
Budget: €300,000
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: July 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 143_Teagasc 2030

Sources and References

All background papers, scenarios and proceedings as well as the final report are available from the Teagasc 2030 website at www.teagasc.ie/foresight/index.htm. The papers and presentations of the Radical Thinkers Workshop are available at http://www.teagasc.ie/publications/2007/20070725/index.htm.
Lance O’Brien is the head of the new Foresight Unit. He can be contacted at lance.obrien@teagsc.ie.

EFP Brief No. 103: Public Service 2022 in Ireland

Friday, May 20th, 2011

By 2022, Ireland will be celebrating 100 years of self-government. The Public Service 2022 project was launched to consider what kind of Ireland could exist by then, and what kind of public service might emerge. The idea behind the project was to identify and ex-amine trends and drivers of change both for Ireland and for the public services over the coming years. It was intended to present some of the options and choices which exist in improving the capacity of the public service to help design, respond to and implement poli-cies that are determined by government.

EFMN Brief No. 103 – Ireland Public Service 2022

EFP Brief No. 60: Rural Ireland 2025

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Ireland has set ambitious goals for the development of its rural regions. This foresight exercise asks if the goals of state policy for rural Ireland will be achieved on the basis of current trends, what can realistically be achieved and what needs to be done to ensure a desirable outcome. The conclusions of this foresight exercise are framed in terms of 3 main actions to be undertaken immediately if the state is to realise its ambitions.

EFMN Brief No. 60 – Rural Ireland 2025

EFP Brief No. 41: Imagineering Ireland: Future Scenarios for 2030

Friday, May 6th, 2011

In contemporary society, it is well recognised that public policy, corporate strategy and individual choice, and the way in which they are conducted, is becoming increasingly complex. Consequently, in the context of this rapid change and heightened uncertainty, a better and more versatile understanding of the future and the powerful forces influencing its evolution, is required to assist in policy formulation and decision making at every level across all sectors. In 2005, the Futures Academy, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland, produced a document Imagineering Ireland – Future Scenarios for 2030 to demonstrate how scenario development can be used in Ireland to explore the opportunities and threats that lie ahead for the nation over the next few decades.

EFMN Brief No. 41 – Imagineering Ireland – Future Scenarios for 2030

EFP Brief No. 7: Archaeology in Ireland 2020

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Since the 1990s there has been explosive growth in the number of construction and public works related archaeological excavations carried out in Ireland. As a result archaeology has become a business activity. It operates in a competitive climate radically different from that of the traditional university research environment. Although the primary purpose of archaeology is to create knowledge about the past, systemic failures have emerged with the result that most of the knowledge created in the course of construction related digs will effectively be lost to science. The goal of this foresight exercise is to bring together all relevant stakeholders, develop a vision for the role of archaeology in Irish society in 2020, propose recommendations that will address systemic weaknesses that have emerged along with the rapid growth in the number of archaeological excavations and propose additional measures to ensure an appropriate management of this important aspect of Irish cultural heritage.

EFMN Brief No. 7 – Archaeology in Ireland 20201