Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category

EFP Brief No. 230: From ‘Knowledge Capital’ to ‘Innovation System’ (follow-up)

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

As early as 2003, Manchester Science Parks sponsored a workshop that brought together leading players in the Manchester City region to develop a vision of how universities could contribute to the then newly established ‘Knowledge Capital initiative’. This exercise succeeded in many respects. Not only a vision and the respective action plan was jointly agreed and followed, but the knowledge base was also formed for a later vision creation exercise: that of developing an Innovation System in the Manchester City Region by 2015.

Powerhouse of the Knowledge Economy

The 2003 foresight exercise took place in the context of the strategic review of the Manchester Science Parks (MSP) to improve links between its tenant companies and universities and the city’s interest to capitalise on its concentration of higher education institutions and its cultural and leisure facilities. At the same time, the two most research-intensive universities were in the process of a merger that would later form the UK’s largest university. Thus, the opportunity emerged to drive the process much further over the next five years and secure Manchester’s position as a powerhouse of the knowledge economy.

MSP sponsored a scenario workshop in order to play a more proactive role both in the development of linkages with universities and in terms of local and regional policy-making. The two objectives of the exercise were:

• To develop a shared vision of the future of business–university linkages in the city region of Manchester. The aim was to link the strategies of the universities in the area with the city’s own vision of its future as a ‘Knowledge Capital’.

• To move towards a shared vision among senior stakeholders, such as local political leaders, heads of universities, heads of key intermediaries and industry associations, of what success in this area would look like in five years’ time and to begin the process of developing a road map to get there.

The Success Scenario Process

The workshop was organised following the success scenario process, which intended to develop a shared vision among senior stakeholders and the consequent roadmap to realise this vision. A key element of the method was that those who took part were also in a position to implement the outcomes, which they had already bought into, at least in part, through their own participation and contributions.

The workshop participants came from business and commerce, national, regional and local government, intermediary organisations and the city’s four universities. Participants were sent a briefing document setting out the objectives of the workshop and several background documents. The overall design of the process was based on three plenary sessions, interspersed with two rounds of facilitated break-out groups (the first on regional drivers and the second on modes of linkage), articulating elements of the scenario.

Five Success Dimensions

The output of the workshop was summarised in the form of a scenario for success in 2008. This brought together the key drivers and shapers identified by the participants and highlighted the different but related dimensions of this successful outcome. Five dimensions of change were identified to present the success scenario.

· Infrastructure: The reach of the knowledge producers spreads to all parts of the city region: a network of hotspots of university-industry interfaces has spread away from the campuses across the city region. Entrepreneurs are attracted by the combination of café culture and easily located specialised spaces for innovation. The Manchester Science Park brand defines the quality level.

· Human Resources: Manchester becomes a net importer of graduates: an exodus of graduates to Southeast England has been reversed as high quality jobs in small entrepreneurial firms attract the best. Rising teaching quality has pervaded the entire Manchester education system with mentoring being one of its hallmarks. Highly qualified and entrepreneurial immigrants are actively sought.

· University Missions: Each Manchester university is recognised as world-class in terms of its mission: following the emergence of the new University of Manchester as a world-class, research-driven institution, Manchester’s other two universities achieved similar levels of excellence within the context of their own missions. All three treat reach-out as an integral activity but approach it with distinctive and complementary styles.

· Inward Investment: Integrated policies attracts massive investment by multinationals and entrepreneurs: integrated packages combining land use, infrastructure and academic linkages have attracted huge investments by multinationals in the region, providing a natural market for start-up firms. Regional resources are used to gear and attract national and European investment.

· Networking: Firms of all sizes and ages in Manchester source knowledge and people and meet development needs from the universities: networking is seen as the key to businesses understanding how universities can help them. Much better interfaces now allow medium-sized firms to work with academics, while business joins city government in securing and supporting centres of excellence.

Progress Made

Around 2010, an assessment of the progress made in these five dimensions was carried out.1 In relation to infrastructure it was acknowledged that Manchester City Region had numerous innovation assets that already acted as hubs or that were seeing significant investment over the coming years. In fact, infrastructure was seen as the most developed element of the city region’s innovation system with 69% of survey respondents believing that it was nationally excellent or world-class. However, certain gaps were still present, including specialised facilities such as grow-on space for laboratory-based businesses, specialist incubation facilities, flexible, easyaccess space for a variety of enterprises, and slow development of next-generation broadband and wireless connectivity.

Ranking Improved

In relation to university missions, significant achievements were noted. The new University of Manchester ranking jumped from 78th in the world in 2004 to 41st in 2009. In doing so, it has moved from 24th in Europe to seventh and from eighth in the UK to fifth. The new university was complemented by the city region’s other universities also achieving high levels of success. The scientific strengths were also seen to attract nonuniversity public sector research into Manchester to create a new innovative growth pole for the UK. Survey respondents believed that Manchester City Region’s knowledge assets were world class, more than any other category. A third of the respondents also believed that Manchester City Region was a world-class location for learning.

Quality of human resources did not present significant improvements, however. Nearly 30% of city region residents had degrees, but this was no more than the national average and well below the rate in the US. Too many people lacked even basic skills and had very low aspirations, while too many Manchester residents lived in areas ranked as the most deprived in the country.

Raising skill levels was identified as the key issue on which the city region should focus in order to raise productivity and tackle deprivation, and further steps were taken in this regard. Nevertheless, perceptions of skills and future potential were positive. Over half of respondents thought that the availability of talented people in Manchester City Region was nationally excellent or world-class. In addition, the high rates of graduate retention (over 50% within 6 months and 91% of these still in the NW after 2 years) were encouraging for raising future skills.

The 2003 workshop had an impact on creating an inward investment initiative in Manchester. In 2005, Manchester City Council (MCC), Manchester Inward Investment Agency (MIDAS) and Manchester Science Parks came together to form a partnership, branded as Sino-Ventures in the UK, with funding from the Northwest Regional Development Agency. The scheme was launched as a pilot project aimed at attracting and supporting overseas science and technology businesses, mainly from China, wishing to establish a base in the UK. During the lifetime of the project, 27 companies (from Greater China, USA, India, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Australia and Norway) soft-landed in the Manchester International Innovation Centre located on MSP’s Corridor site. Of these 27 companies, nearly three quarters have remained within the North West region. Moreover, the project supported 70 overseas companies, created 76 gross additional jobs (FTE) and 32 net additional FTE jobs up to February 2008. The inward investment project generated a gross GVA of £4.8 million.

In 2010, Greater Manchester still accounted for half of all creative and digital investment in the region. It was also seen to have particular strengths in life sciences and biomedical sciences, accounting for 75% of the sector in the North West, recognised as a member of the ‘European Super League’ of biotech clusters by Strategem, and ranked among the top 50 in the world by Boston Consulting. However, two weak points were also noted in relation to inward investment: lack of international connectivity and linkages and access to seed, start-up and early-stage funding.

Innovation Manchester Network

Finally, several initiatives were set up to increase networking. The Innovation Manchester Boardroom was created, which provides a forum for top private, public and social sector innovators to discuss key issues, challenges and opportunities. It has the primary long-term objective of developing leadership across sectors/interests and changing how people connect and work with each other. The Innovation Manchester Network teams were launched in 2008 in recognition of the need for strong private sector involvement in the push for a more innovative city and the need to develop purposeful crosssector networks for innovators. Innovation Manchester brought together over 70 of the city region’s top business leaders and key city partners, who identified and prioritised ways in which Manchester’s capacity for innovation could be increased and developed those ideas into live projects, such as Manchester International Festival: Creative Learning (MIF Creative), Manchester Masters and Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology (MIMIT).

From ‘Knowledge Capital’ to ‘Innovation System’

The 2003 foresight exercise achieved its objectives to create a vision for the Manchester City region as well as a road map towards realising it. Five years later, notwithstanding certain gaps, significant progress was marked in all the five success dimensions. The output of the 2003 exercise had additional impacts. The exercise paved the way for a new foresight exercise, commissioned in 2006 by MSP with a more global look at science parks. The main objective of the workshop was to define the next stage of development for mature science parks also called ‘third generation science parks’.

In addition, the 2003 exercise formed a valuable knowledge base upon which the next foresight exercise could draw in 2010. The 2010 exercise led to a vision of the Manchester innovation system in 2015 that has seen a step change in its effectiveness and laid out the key actions to get there. The same success scenario process was applied bringing together senior stakeholders from the public, private, academic and third sectors. The vision was built around the idea of an innovation ecosystem that governs and facilitates the flows of people, knowledge, finance and services between the main actors and institutions involved in innovation. Manchester has a reasonable starting position in each of these dimensions, with the knowledge base being the strongest and the access to finance the most challenging. Cutting across all four flows is the need to increase connectivity. Key actions to achieve the vision were defined under five specific dimensions as follows. People and skills: Enterprise and entrepreneurship at the heart of the curriculum, and movement of people and ideas across sectors.

An understanding of business and enterprise, of creativity and entrepreneurship should be a core component of the education system and the basis for as natural a career path as employment. Colleges and universities should respond quickly to user input to curriculum design. A city region mentoring scheme should be developed to support understanding and mobility between public and private sectors, between education and business and to allow senior managers of small firms to benefit from the experience of their equivalents in medium and large firms.

Innovation ecosystem: Manchester as a market friendly to innovative products and services that links SMEs to demanding customers and harnesses the links between cultural and technological sectors.

Public procurement practices should demand innovation and not exclude SMEs through initial qualification requirements. SMEs need help to respond innovatively to the demands of large private sector customers. Crosssector barriers can be broken down by bringing together individuals around key challenges such as creating a low carbon city region. Artists or designers in residence at technology companies should be complemented by technologists in residence at cultural organisations.

Demanding innovation: Public services better connected to user demand through engagement, and new products and services trialled in Laboratory Manchester.

Public sector management teams can become private sector delivery companies that are responsive to consumer demand, while communities should seek and promote innovative solutions to local social problems. The Laboratory Manchester concept should offer large scale trials built upon the city’s reputation for delivering effective public private partnerships. Manchester should develop a low carbon economy ahead of the curve.

Finance: An effective city region proof of concept fund and a business angel network.

A city region proof of concept fund should be launched to encourage and facilitate the development of new intellectual-property-based businesses. At the same time, business angel activity in the city region should be encouraged by enabling wealthy individuals to learn about investing in innovative companies, preferably from previously successful angels.

Telling the story: A coherent narrative about the Manchester innovation ecosystem developed that helps to coordinate the messages about the attractions of Manchester as a place to live, work and play.

Manchester should have a coherent narrative about its innovation ecosystem built on its history but focused on present and future strengths in the low carbon environment, health and life sciences, sports and new media. The narrative should be used to inform a coordinated talent marketing strategy to attract the best students and workers. This should be supported by a Web 2.0 platform that would provide access to innovation stories and also to technological opportunities with market potential.

Download: EFP Brief No. 230_From Knowledge Capital to Innovation System.

Sources and References

Georghiou, L., Cassingena Harper, J. (2003): Contribution of Universities to the Knowledge Capital. A Scenario for Success in 2008, ISBN 0 946007 09 8 2003

Georghiou, L., Davies, J. (2010): An Innovation System for the Manchester City Region, Manchester Science Parks Ltd.

Georghiou, L. (2008): Universities and the City-Region as a ‘Knowledge Capital’ 2008, Foresight Brief No. 14.

www.mspl.co.uk, last accessed 9 November 2012.

www.manchesterknowledge.com, last accessed 9 November 2012.

EFP Brief No. 181: Technologies for EU Minerals Supply

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

This exercise was part of an EU FP7 Blue Skies Project aimed at piloting, developing and testing in real situations a foresight methodology designed to bring together key stakeholders for the purpose of exploring longer term challenges and building a shared vision that could guide the development of the relevant European research agenda. This approach was applied to the theme of “Breakthrough technologies for the security of supply of critical minerals and metals in the EU economy”.

The Minerals Challenge

Minerals and metals are essential to almost every aspect of modern life and every economic sector. Aerospace, agriculture, culture, defence, energy, environmental protection, health, housing, transport and water supply are all highly dependent upon them. Plans for economic recovery and the development of new industries also depend on their availability – for example “green” energy production from solar cells and wind turbines, the green car of tomorrow and many more all require a range of rare minerals and metals for their production.

Although essential to our economies, development of this sector has been neglected in Western Europe during the past 25 years. This was mainly because of the very low price of these commodities – a consequence of abundant reserves discovered in the 1970s. As a result, the mining and metallurgical industry as well as related research and education almost disappeared from the present European Union, making our economies totally dependent upon imports.

Demand for these minerals and metals is likely to increase dramatically. Much of this new demand will come from rapidly growing, highly populated emerging countries, such as China, which have attracted large parts of the world industrial production due to cheap labour, regardless of raw minerals and energy issues. Already strong competition for access to natural resources, including mineral resources vital to any economy, is likely to accelerate further in the coming years with possible severe environmental and social impacts. The EU economy is more than any other exposed to these developments, as it produces very little of the minerals it consumes and almost none of the critical minerals it needs to develop its green technologies.

Against this background, the creation of a new research and innovation context in Europe has become essential, not only to reduce the EU’s dependence on imported minerals and metals but also to chart the road ahead, to develop a win-win cooperation with developing countries and to stimulate the competitiveness of EU technology, products and service providers to the global economy.

However, these solutions can take a long time to be implemented, and it is important to identify today’s priorities for knowledge generation and innovation so that action can begin. This in turn creates a need for a foresight approach that brings together the knowledge and interests of the main stakeholders. It is in this context that the FarHorizon project invited leading experts in the area from government agencies, industry and academia to take part in a success scenario workshop. The aims of the exercise were

  • to identify the key challenges for raw materials supply in Europe;
  • to identify breakthrough technologies or other innovations that could transform the picture, including substitution, new sources, ways to change demand and new applications; and
  • to define in broad terms the research and innovation strategies needed to develop and make use of such technologies.

Success Scenario Approach

The “Success Scenario Approach” is an action-based approach where senior stakeholders develop a shared vision of what success in the area would look like, together with appropriate goals and indicators, which provide the starting point for developing a roadmap to get there. The purpose of having such a vision of success is to set a ‘stretch target’ for all the stakeholders. The discussion and debate forming an integral part of the process leads to developing a mutual understanding and a common platform of knowledge that helps to align the actors for action.

Important outcomes of these workshops are the insights they provide in terms of the level of maturity in policy design and development and the viability and robustness of long-term policy scenarios to guide policy-making. The workshops also provide indications on whether there is a need for further discussion to refine thinking and policy design and/or to bring additional stakeholders into the discussion.

The theme was developed in partnership with the French geosciences institution BRGM. The workshop brought together twenty representatives of scientific organisations, industry and government agencies to identify the role of technology in addressing the socioeconomic and political challenges facing Europe in this sector. Briefs on key issues were prepared before the workshop, and participants took part in an exercise to identify key drivers using the STEEPV framework (social, technological, environmental, economic, political and values). Common themes were increasing demand and growing sustainability requirements. Geopolitical themes were also touched upon.

The basic structure was to identify the key challenges facing the sector and then to explore the potential role of breakthrough technologies in addressing those challenges. A third main session examined the key elements needed for a sectoral strategy for innovation.

The figure below gives an outline of the methodology:

Challenges in Three Dimensions

Informed by the drivers, participants were tasked to identify the key challenges for raw materials supply in Europe and to prioritise these. If these challenges can be met, we can expect to achieve a situation as defined by the successful vision for the sector in 2030 and realise its benefits to Europe. Three dimensions of the challenge were addressed:

Geology and Minerals Intelligence

  1. Access to data on mining, production and geology
  2. Knowledge of deeper resources
  3. Better knowledge due to improved models of how deposits are produced
  4. Better exploration
  5. Systematic data sharing
  6. Exploitation of ‘exhausted’ mines

Mining, Ore Processing and Metallurgy

  1. Exploiting deeper deposits
  2. Accessing seabed deposits
  3. Better health and safety; prediction of seismic events and natural or man-made hazards
  4. Using less water and energy
  5. Reducing CO2 footprint
  6. By-product handling
  7. Social and business organisation

Sustainable Use, Efficiency, Recycling and Re-use

  1. Downstream resource efficiency
  2. Better citizens’ understanding/attitude
  3. Building capabilities and providing training
  4. Transforming waste into mines/urban mining
  5. More systemic view of different critical minerals
  6. Better use of other resources, e.g. water and energy
  7. Global governance of new extractive activities

Against these challenges, breakthroughs were sought in four areas: new applications, substitution, new sources of materials and rare metals, and changes in demand.

Four Key Actions toward a Comprehensive Policy for Securing Raw Materials Supply

Policy recommendations geared toward securing the supply of raw materials in Europe were summarised in terms of four necessary key actions:

Key Action 1: Establish an integrated strategy for raw materials supply and support it by providing continuous funding.

Research in the area of raw materials supply needs to be clearly linked to creating the right conditions for successful innovation. There is some concern that the European Commission has no competence in minerals as such but rather in matters of environmental protection, trade or economic competitiveness. This limits the development of a holistic, complementary approach needed to tackle the various issues related to securing Europe’s mineral resources supply within the sustainable development context. The sector needs a more horizontal approach – otherwise we may do research, but there is no innovation behind it. An innovation-friendly market can be created by developing stringent environmental and recycling regulations. Europe is at the forefront of a number of technologies in these areas. Regulators need to understand that part of their job is to stimulate innovation if not for today at least for tomorrow. Engaging them in foresight, along with technologists and users, is important for developing this horizon. There is a 7-8 year challenge to develop a new lead market.

Key Action 2: Move from stop and go to a lasting approach with three central aspects for a research, technology and innovation programme.

Support up to now has been project-based and provided only to a limited extent on a stop and go basis while continuous policies and knowledge development would be necessary.

2.1 There are three broad research priorities:

  • Research dealing with mineral resources intelligence. This is research of a totally different kind, i.e. mainly interdisciplinary. It is needed to keep up with a dynamic situation where even what minerals and metals are critical changes over time.
  • Research leading to new or better technologies with a focus upon whatever is needed by industry. The large scale South Korean national initiatives provide a good example of speed, scale and pragmatism and also represent the competition that Europe has to face. The US investment on rare earths in the Ames laboratory is another example.
  • Research on mitigation and understanding of environmental impacts.

2.2 Adopt a holistic approach to the innovation cycle. Support for research should be long-term and structured so that most publicly funded research is open and shared internationally. The full range of mechanisms is needed: basic R&D, integrated projects or their equivalent and joint technology initiatives. However, 80% of the effort should be in large applied projects and the rest focused on longer term work. Partnership with the US, Japan and possibly South Korea could be meaningful in a number of areas.

2.3 Adopt a joint programming approach. Currently there is little or no coordination between European-level and national research. Some governments are in a position to take the initiative in this area – notably Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Finland and Poland.

Key Action 3: Increase the flow of trained people.

A supply of trained people is a significant constraint. The lack of investment in research and teaching in this area over the past 20 years has depleted the availability of expertise to undertake the necessary research and teaching. Training initiatives are needed and within the European framework a pool of excellence should be developed – a platform that coordinates the supply and demand for education and training in the area with some elements being in competition and some complementary. There is also a need to attract interest from researchers outside the area; many of those doing research in this field have a background in the minerals sector, but breakthroughs may be more likely to come from people currently working in other fields.

Key Action 4: Governance issues are critical.

Securing raw materials is a task that goes beyond the competence and capability of the individual member states and is inherently European. Even current European initiatives in other fields are dependent on action in this sector – rare metals are behind all the EU’s proposed Innovation Partnerships. Collaboration beyond Europe is also necessary, but a collective voice for Europe is more likely to be heard in the international arena. There are also opportunities to exert a positive influence to halt environmentally damaging or politically dangerous approaches in other parts of the world, notably in Africa and parts of the CIS. The momentum from the current EU Raw Materials Initiative, aiming to foster and secure supplies and to promote resource efficiency and recycling, needs to be carried forward into the EU’s Eighth Framework Programme, its innovation policies and also its wider policies including those concerning interaction with the African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

Authors: Luke Georghiou luke.georghiou@mbs.ac.uk, Jacques Varet j.varet@brgm.fr, Philippe Larédo philippe.laredo@enpc.fr
Sponsors: EU Commission
Type: EU-level single issue foresight exercise
Organizer: FP7 FarHorizon Project Coordinator: MIOIR, Luke Georghiou Luke.georghiou@mbs.ac.uk
Duration: Sept 08-Feb11 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: Apr 2011

 

Download EFP Brief No. 181_Technologies for EU Minerals Supply

Sources and References

Georghiou, L., Varet, J. and Larédo P. (2011), Breakthrough technologies: For the security of supply of critical minerals and metals in the EU, March 2011, http://farhorizon.portals.mbs.ac.uk

European Commission (2010), “Critical Raw Materials for the EU”, Report of the RMSG Ad Hoc Working Group on defining critical raw materials, June 2010

European Commission (2011), Tackling the Challenges in Commodity Markets and on Raw Materials, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, 02/02/2011 COM(2011) 0025 final

EFP Brief No. 167: The World in 2025

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

DG Research’s Directorate for Science, Economy and Society in collaboration with the Bureau of European Policy Advisers launched a foresight exercise on “The World in 2025”, which resulted in a report published in January 2009.

The World to Come – Global Trends & Disruptions

The report “The World in 2025” highlights the main trends up to 2025 (demography, urbanisation, macro-economic projections, education, science and culture) and underlines the pressures on natural resources and the new production-consumption patterns while attempting to identify the so-called “wild cards”. The role for European foresight and forward-looking activities are presented focussing on a multi-polar world and beyond technological innovation. The report has benefited from the discussions of the group of experts set up by the European Commission in 2008 (see box below).

It has taken stock of the most recent publications in the field of foresight and forward-looking activities and includes most of the reflections of different Commission Directorates-General.

Group of Experts & Scenario Process

DG Research’s Directorate for Science, Economy and Society in collaboration with the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) launched a foresight expert group on “The World in 2025”, which met on five occasions in 2008 and 2009.

The objectives of this group were, first, to assess and measure global trends over recent decades to serve as a basis for forward projections while distinguishing the different major economies and regions, including the European Union, and identifying the main economic, geopolitical, environmental and societal relationships and interconnections.

Secondly, the group was asked to generate and analyse alternative (even disruptive) scenarios of world trends up to 2025 based on specified assumptions about economic, political, social, environmental and technological developments in order to assess their consequences for the EU and to examine which policy responses could be appropriate.

“The World in 2025” group was composed of experts with a profound understanding of global challenges and developments as well as a solid knowledge of foresight in specific countries or regions. Group members included representatives from think tanks, universities, industry, the European Commission and governmental bodies. Meeting five times in 2008 and 2009, the group produced two publications: one collects the experts’ individual contributions and the other called ‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and Socio-ecological Transition’ highlights the conclusions.

The experts identified principal trends, tensions and transitions while highlighting strategies that may help policy stakeholders make informed decisions. They also say that competition for natural resources and shifts in wealth, industrial production and populations may lead to tensions over natural resources (food, energy, water and minerals), migration and urbanisation.

Each expert produced an individual contribution to the discussions and, collectively, they generated a set of indicative scenarios for the world in 2025. The experts covered a wide range of issues, including demography, migration, urbanisation, cohesion, macro-economics and trade, employment, services, environment and climate change, energy, access to resources, education, research, technology, innovation, economic governance, defence, security and intercultural dialogue.

The key messages concern the main challenges to be faced in the next fifteen years, the main drivers that could impact on the future, the main strengths and weaknesses of Europe by 2025 and finally the wild cards that may radically change the different situations that are foreseen.

Europe to Face Marginalization

The report “The World in 2025” underlines the major future trends: geopolitical transformations in terms of population, economic development, international trade and poverty. It elucidates the tensions – natural resources (food, energy, water and minerals), migration and urbanisation – and draws transitional pathways towards a new production and consumption model, new rural-urban dynamics and a new gender and intergenerational balance.

Shift towards Asia

By the year 2025, the centres of gravity, wealth and industrial production may shift towards Asia, and the United States and Europe could likewise lose their scientific and technological edge over Asia. India and China could account for approximately 20% of the world’s research and development (R&D), that is more than double their current share.

Within 16 years, the world population will reach eight billion, the experts in the report say. Some 97% of world population growth will occur in developing countries. The analysis of demographic growth for 2025 indicates that the European population will only constitute 6.5% of the world population.

Scarcity of Natural Resources

Increased population, according to the expert group, may lead to greater scarcity of natural resources and impact the environment. This can result in tension and shifts in production and consumption patterns and the availability of natural resources.

From these demographic and resource challenges, the report sees a new ‘socio-ecological’ production and consumption model arising. New technologies (renewable energy sources, capture and storage of CO2, nuclear power, hydrogen and fuel cells) as well as changes in social behaviour, supported by economic incentives, will contribute to a reduction in energy consumption (better house insulation, replacement of environmentally damaging cars with greener options, and increased use of public transport).

The report says that while numerous scientific and technological advances will give rise to controversies in society, Europe, with its wealth of various debate and participative governance experiences, is well equipped to manage them and involve civil society in research. Global access to knowledge, though, together with the development of joint global standards and the rapid worldwide diffusion of new technologies will have a great impact on Europe’s future welfare.

It is assumed that by 2025 Europe will be specialized in exporting high-tech products. Although the specific products are currently still unknown, they can be expected to benefit from the rapid growth in Asia whose growth will probably be accompanied by an increasing inequality in the purchasing power of the population. “The increase of the population is already a good indication of the future opportunities of the market, of the consumer aspirations that have not been covered, better than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

Potential Conflicts, Threats and Wild Cards

The report also points to the possibility of future social conflicts emerging in Europe around scientific and technological advancements in areas like cognitive sciences, nanotechnology, security technologies, genetic manipulation, synthetic biology and others.

Among the unforeseeable turbulences that could shape the next two decades, the report identifies seven “wild cards”:

  1. Persistence of the financial and economic crisis beyond 2010.
  2. A major war (for the years 2010-2020 of strong turbulence).
  3. A technological disaster that could influence the choices of priorities of governments (e.g. a nuclear accident like Chernobyl blocking the nuclear option for many years).
  4. Pandemics with devastating effects.
  5. The collapse of a major urban area in a developing country.
  6. The blocking of the European Union as a result of the difficulties of establishing new economic governance and political decision mechanisms;
  7. A breakthrough in the field of renewable energy production;
  8. A new wave of technological innovations and a new rapid growth cycle driven by emerging countries;
  9. Sudden or even brutal acceleration of the (nonlinear) impacts of climate change;
  10. Progress in the adoption of a world governance system due to the extent of the problems to be dealt with and to the pressure of public opinion.

What Experts Recommend to EU Policy Makers

Key RTD Areas

The EU should struggle for maintaining its leadership in key RTD areas, such as technologies of energy saving, research into sustainable development and climate change, health and the containment of diseases, food safety and security in general.

Europe Must Not Fall Behind in R&D

Experts suggest that Europe become a model based on emphasizing quality of life, which might involve maintaining global access to knowledge and guaranteeing or contributing to establishing international standards in science and technology. “To ensure access to knowledge through the global networks also means to be attractive for the researchers and the investment that comes from the outside”, the report points out.

From ‘Brain-drain’ to ‘Brain-circulation’

There will be a switch from ‘brain drain’ to ‘brain circulation’, and young researchers will be moving to various regions of the world, which will become educational and scientific centres. It is estimated that in 2025 there will be 645,000 Chinese students and 300,000 Indian students outside their countries. In turn, the number of European students that transfer to these two countries can also be expected to grow.

Effective Governance

Europe needs good policy in order to retain its traditionally strong position in developing cutting-edge innovation that goes beyond incremental improvements of existing technology. It will be essential that some key governance issues are solved. For instance:

  1. Set a new 3% target. One in which the EU member states commit themselves to spending 1% of GDP from public funds for research and 2% for higher education by 2020. Its implementation will be under the full control of the national governments.
  2. Consider the “Grand Challenges” – a term denoting major social problems that cannot be solved in a reasonable time, under acceptable social conditions, without a strong coordinated input requiring both technological and non-technological innovation and, at times, advances in scientific understanding. In a way, the central issue is the other side of the coin of the previous one. Can resources, not just in terms of research but also procurement and other investments, be shifted across European stakeholders to more productive “societal uses” to influence not only the pace but also the direction of technical change and innovation?
  3. Create a strong coordination between research and innovation policies in order to orient innovative activities towards the needs of society. A stage gate approach is suggested, including adequate provision for innovative procurement and pre-commercial procurement practices.
  4. Discuss European versus national research policy approaches. The global financial crisis represents a window of opportunity for more radical reflections on the relationship between Community and national research policies. As fiscal pressures mount in each member state, the question of increasing the efficiency of national research funding agencies and of higher education and public research funding is likely to be raised in coming months and years in many countries.

The opportunities for further deployment of new Community instruments will only be realized if they can demonstrate their particular value for Europe in terms of administrative flexibility and best practice governance. Only then will they play a central role in structuring a new, post-crisis augmented European Research Area (ERA).

Will the Looming Crisis Be Averted in Time?

If issues of effective governance at EU level are not addressed as ones of absolute priority, the crisis shock might actually go the other way: increasingly questioning the value of Community research and leading to a future ERA that is much more based on the member states’ national efforts at attracting research talent within their own borders.

Outlook: Socio-economics & Humanities Re-considered

The stimulating contributions and discussions of this expert group have paved the way for a broad debate at European and world level. This prospective analysis contributes to understanding, anticipating and better shaping future policy and strategy developments in the European Union.

Forward-looking approaches help in building shared visions of the future European challenges and evaluating the impacts of alternative policies. A qualitative and participatory method (‘foresight’) combined with quantitative and operational methods (‘forecast’) allows better long-term policies to develop, like the post-2010 European strategy and the European research and innovation policies. Through its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) with its ‘socio-economic sciences and humanities’ theme, the European Union is funding forward-looking activities with around EUR 30 million.

Authors: Anette Braun                 braun_a@vdi.de

Axel Zweck                   zweck@vdi.de

            Sponsors: European Commission – DG Research – Directorate L – Science, Economy and Society Unit L2 – Research in the Economic, Social Sciences and Humanities – Prospective
Type: European/international – covering issues from a European or even global perspective
Organizer: European Commission – DG Research – Directorate L  – Science, Economy and Society Unit L2 – Research in the Economic, Social Sciences and Humanities – Prospective
Duration: 2008 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: Dec. 2009

 

Download EFP Brief No. 167_The World in 2025

Sources and References

Based on the report ‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and socio-ecological transition’ (Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2009) and information from the European Commission.

‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and socio-ecological transition’ report is available at

http://ec.europa.eu/research/social-sciences/pdf/report-the-world-in-2025_en.pdf and

http://ec.europa.eu/research/social-sciences/pdf/the-world-in-2025-report_en.pdf

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. 123: Scenarios 2026 for the South West of England

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

This study (which took place in 2004) presents four ‘socio-economic-political scenarios’ designed to stimulate, guide and inform strategic thinking about the future of one of nine English regions, namely the South West. The scenarios portray distinct pictures of the social, political and economic background against which the strategies for the South West can be reviewed and developed. They provide a consistent approach and serve as practical thinking tools. The scenarios are also intended to help organisations in the South West to assess their vulnerability to forces of change and to plan appropriate adaptation strategies.

EFMN Brief No. 123_South_West_England

EFP Brief No. 117: England’s Rural Futures Project: Scenario Creation & Backcasting

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Rural Futures is a study of what the English countryside might look like in 20 and 50 years time, from a social geographical perspective. Its overall purpose is to help policy makers and local communities clarify their objectives for the future and what needs to be done over the next few years to ensure that they are on a trajectory towards a desired and feasible scenario. The project addressees are therefore decision makers in all levels of government.

EFMN Brief No. 117 – Rural England

EFP Brief No. 104: Agricultural Futures in England and Wales and Implications for the Environment

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Agriculture in the UK and Europe as a whole is facing an uncertain future as the factors that have shaped it over the last 50 years are realigned in the face of changing priorities. In this context, this study explored possible future scenarios for agriculture in England and Wales through to 2050 in order to identify implications for the environment and possible policy interventions and research priorities to help promote sustainable agriculture.

EFMN Brief No. 104 – Agricultural Futures

EFP Brief No. 89: England’s Regions 2030

Friday, May 20th, 2011

In spite of the fact that regions and regional disparities have become important political issues inter-regional aspects are rarely addressed neither scientifically nor politically. The report provides an attempt to forecast economic and demographic changes within regions in England and how these changes will affect inter-regional relations. Thus, the report can also be regarded as a basis for regional planning over the next 25 years. The main goals of the report are, hence, to identify underlying forces in regional economies, describe how the relationships between regions have been changing and will change in the future, and develop a “national perspective” on England’s regions. It also explores the opportunities for policy intervention.

EFMN Brief No. 89 – England’s Regions 2030

EFP Brief No. 23: UK Foresight on Exploiting the Electro-Magnetic Spectrum – 2020

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

The objective of the UK Foresight Project entitled EEMS – ‘Exploiting the Electro-Magnetic Spectrum’ was to provide a vision for the future exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum to ensure increased UK innovation in related areas. Technologies that ‘exploit’ the Electro-Magnetic Spectrum include lasers, X-rays and other medical technologies as well as technologies for communication, the miniaturization of complex micro-systems, sensing, imaging as well as security.

EFP Brief No. 22: Cognitive Systems 2020

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

The objective of the UK Cognitive Systems Project was to produce a vision for the future development of cognitive systems through an exploration of recent advances in neuroscience, computer science and related fields, and their potential for future interaction.

EFMN Brief No. 22 – Cognitive Systems 2020