Archive for the ‘Transport (including aeronautics)’ Category

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 2009, Könnölä 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.


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):


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).


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.


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,, Anna Leinonen,, Anu Tuominen,, Annele Eerola, ,Simon Bolwig,
Sponsors: NER (TOP-NEST project )
Type: Nordic foresight exercise
Organizer: VTT,
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. 245: Trend Database Design for Effectively Managing Foresight Knowledge

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

In 2010, the German Federal Government launched one of its largest research initiatives in the area of logistics and supply chain management with the central aim to secure tomorrow’s individuality, in the sense of mobility and distribution, with 75% of today’s resources. One of the projects, the ‘Competitiveness Monitor’ (CoMo) develops an innovative, webbased foresight platform, which supports strategic decision-making and contingency planning as well as competitive and environmental intelligence.

Sophisticated Architecture to Support Foresight Processes

The development of an innovative Trend Database (TDB) is part of an extensive cluster initiative that was launched by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in June 2010. The ‘Effizienz­Cluster LogistikRuhr’, synonym for leading-edge cluster in logistics and mobility in the German Ruhr area, aims to boost innovation and economic growth in Germany by bridging the gap between science and industry (BMBF 2010). The cluster involves 130 companies and research institutes that cooperate in a strategic partnership in order to shape a sustainable future for the region and beyond. The determined challenges of future logistics (e.g., urban supply) are currently being addressed in more than 30 joint research projects. In this way, the cluster contributes to finding new ways to growth and employment that gear not only Germany’s but the European Union’s economy towards greater sustainability (see, e.g., Schütte 2010).

One of the joint research projects is developing an innovative foresight tool, the Competitiveness Monitor (CoMo), which will contribute to the validity and robustness of foresight activities by digitally combining quantitative and qualitative forecasting methods. The CoMo aims to enhance cooperation in multi-stakeholder environments through a fully integrated web-based software solution that utilises existing knowledge and users’ conceptions. The tool links several applications for forward-looking activities as well as the development, processing and storage of foresight knowledge. The goal is to provide decision-makers from business, academia and government institutions with a valid knowledge base for future-robust decision-making.


The CoMo consists of three innovative foresight tools – Trend Database, Prediction Market app and a Future Workshop (“Zukunftswerkstatt”) app – which are implemented in an IT-based Futures Platform (Figure 1). The Futures Platform will serve as login portal in form of a dashboard and can be adapted by each user according to his or her individual interest. Within the TDB, future-oriented numbers, data, and facts on specific logistics-related topics or technologies can be stored or collaboratively developed by its users. Furthermore, the TDB shall not only include trend-related data but also handle weak signals, wildcards and disruptive events. The high practicability of the Trend Database is planned to ensure filtering of the query results through an intelligent algorithm.
Figure 1: Conceptual framework of the Competitiveness Monitor

Development of Trend Database Requirements

In the beginning of the TDB development process, we analysed and evaluated eight relevant TDBs in order to identify the state of the art. After that, we conducted several creative workshops and interviews with more than 40 interdisciplinary cluster partners and futures researchers to identify further requirements.

First of all, we compiled an extensive list of requirements and constraints in several participatory workshop sessions, which are considered relevant to our TDB. After conducting a requirement analysis according to the ‘Volere Requirements Specification Template’ (Robertson and Robertson 2006), we derived four categories and adapted them to the CoMo project concerns: (1) functional requirements, (2) non-functional requirements, (3) design requirements and (4) constraints. Whereas functional requirements describe the fundamental functions and processing actions a product needs to have, non-functional requirements are the properties that they must have, such as performance and usability. We clustered the final long list of 160 collected requirements in 9 categories as presented in the following:

In the next step of the TDB development process, we conducted a stakeholder analysis in order to generate possible use cases. Different use cases were defined according to the specific needs and organisational structures of the CoMo project partners and members of the EffizienzCluster involved. In doing so, we were able to conceptually test and complement the identi-fied requirements and constraints.
Finally, we revised the results of the trend database analysis and specification analysis and summarised our research results in a specification sheet, which now provides a clear and structured collection of TDB features for the programming process of a prototype.

Challenges and Differentiators

For the identification of the key challenges, we evaluated best practices and innovative features of existing TDB concepts regarding their applicability and efficiency. For this purpose, we focused on the surrounding conditions and primary objectives of the presented TDB, determined by its purpose within the CoMo and the cross-project objectives of the leading-edge cluster. We identified four main challenges of utilising a TDB, which we will discuss in the following: (1) extent and quality of trend information, (2) cooperation within the TDB community, (3) linking mechanisms and (4) creating incentives for users.

Extensiveness and Quality of Trend Information

Most of the TDBs analysed provide an extensive set of opportunities to describe and evaluate a certain trend or future signal. Since it is hardly possible to decide without further knowledge about the user’s purpose or what the right amount of information is, we continued to compare the ways in which future knowledge is contributed to the TDB. We see two main strategies within the examined sample of TDBs: (1) input from experts and futures researchers or (2) active participation of the user community. In the latter strategy, information is revised and complemented by the community, which more accurately meets the CoMo objectives of realising cluster potentials. However, in case of low interest in a certain trend, the information may remain fragmentary and lack reliability.

The combination of both strategies seems to be promising since it ensures certain quality standards as the information provided is subject to scrutiny from two sides: an expert review process, on the one hand, and user participation, on the other. Against the background of all our analyses, we propose that providing a certain amount of trend specifications (e.g., short description, key words, time horizon etc.) should be obligatory when entering a trend into the TDB. In addition, the CoMo TDB is planned to offer a regulator for the ‘level of aggregation’, which will enable users to constrain the trend search results regarding time, geography, economic scale and further aspects.

Cooperation within the TDB community

The so-called “wisdom of the crowds” is based on the logic that many people (a “crowd”) know more than single individuals (Surowiecki 2004). Consequently, the sharing of knowledge can improve the knowledge basis of different stakeholders as well. Therefore, it is useful – particularly in dealing with future-relevant knowledge – to motivate users to co-operate and to develop their knowledge further.

Regarding our TDB architecture, users shall therefore evaluate trends in terms of impact or likelihood, participate in surveys or add further evidence or aspects to existing future-oriented knowledge (Kane and Fichman 2009). Especially the stakeholders of the leading-edge cluster, who are aiming to improve their competitive situation through collaboration, are interested in sustaining topicality, validity and relevance of future-relevant knowledge in the trend database. Our TDB is expected to contribute to an improved quality of data and provide a more accurate basis for decision-making processes.

Linking Mechanisms

The CoMo TDB will be linked in three dimensions. First, the trends within the TDB will be linked among each other. This supports users by providing a more comprehensive causal picture of the future and allows decision-makers to identify early warnings and weak signals. Second, the trend database is linked to two other CoMo apps: the Prediction Market and the Future Workshop. Both apps require raw data from the TDB for purposes of evaluation (i.e. prediction markets) or analysis (i.e. future workshops). Furthermore, they define data sources by providing new or evolved future-oriented knowledge, which needs to be re-imported into the TDB. Third, the trend database will be linked to external data pools. Facilitating the idea of linked data, relevant external information can be included, increasing the basis to be drawn on in making future-relevant decisions (Auer and Lehmann 2010). Thereby, we aim to link our dataset intelligently by attaching metadata using the Semantic Web approach. This not only facilitates the process of finding relevant and recent data but also enables identifying related topics.

Motivation of Users

In contrast to the traditional World Wide Web, the application of a Semantic Web offers information that can be sorted by relevance, topicality and quality (Berners-Lee, Hendler et al. 2001). However, the Semantic Web requires the linkage of datasets first. Therefore, users have to be encouraged to tag, for instance, the trend information as good as possible, and the community needs to be motivated to edit and complete the tagging process.

In the process of developing the CoMo TDB, we discussed several concepts and ideas to address the challenges involved in motivating users. One concept that is planned to be applied in the CoMo is the lead users approach (Leimeister, Huber et al. 2009) in which users are incentivized by an awareness of the measurability of their contributions. Considering that most of the existing trend databases use an expert-based concept instead, we infer that this was thought to be the only efficient way of providing and processing future-oriented knowledge so far. However, current tendencies, such as the disclosure of previously protected data (i.e. open source/innovation) or the increasing activity in social networks, suggest that existing concepts need to be adapted to the new requirements forward-looking activities must meet.

Metadata Approach Using the Semantic Web

Future-oriented knowledge as a basis for decision-making is always critical due to its inherent uncertainty. Therefore, innovative concepts and tools need to be developed in order to provide users with the most valid, relevant and up-to-date information possible. With our new TDB concept, we try to acknowledge current challenges such as motivation and collaboration of users, usability of information and modern linkage methods. To meet these challenges, we aim to link our dataset intelligently by attaching metadata using the Semantic Web approach. This not only facilitates finding relevant and recent data but also enables identifying related topics. However, the linkage of the data has to be conducted manually. Thus, motivating users to share their knowledge within the community is essential to provide an accurate and comprehensive picture of the future reflecting the wisdom of the crowd. Finally, we will design our TDB to present future-oriented knowledge in a sufficiently comprehensive and detailed manner with an emphasis on clarity and thereby aim to contribute significantly to the robustness and quality of future decisions.

Authors: Christoph Markmann      

Stefanie Mauksch           

Philipp Ecken                 

Dr. Heiko von der Gracht

Gianluca De Lorenzis      

Eckard Foltin                 

Michael Münnich             

Dr. Christopher Stillings              

Sponsors: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Type: National foresight project
Organizer: EBS Business School / Center for Futures Studies and Knowledge Management (CEFU)
Duration: 2010 – 2013
Budget: € 2,300,000
Time Horizon: Long-term
Date of Brief: October 2011

Download EFP Brief No. 245_Foresight Trend Database Design

Sources and References

Auer, S. and J. Lehmann (2010). “Creating Knowledge out of Interlinked Data.” Semantic Web Journal 1.

Berners-Lee, T., J. Hendler, et al. (2001). “The Semantic Web.” Scientific American 284(5): 34-43.

BMBF (2010). Germany’s Leading-Edge Clusters. Division for New Innovation Support Instruments and Programmes. Berlin, Bonn, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung / Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Kane, G. and R. Fichman (2009). “The Shoemaker’s Children: Using Wikis for Information Systems Teaching, Research, and Publication.” Management Information Systems Quarterly 33(1): 1-22.

Leimeister, J. M., M. J. Huber, et al. (2009). “Leveraging Crowdsourcing: Activation-Supporting Components for IT-Based Ideas Competition.” Journal of Management Information Systems 26(10): 187-224.

Robertson, S. and J. Robertson (2006). Mastering the Requirements Process, second edition. Amsterdam, Addison-Wesley Professional

Schütte, G. (2010). Speech by. Germany’s Leading-Edge Cluster Competition – A contribution to raising Europe’s profile as a prime location for innovation. State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research framework of the European Cluster Conference. European Cluster Conference. Brussels.

Surowiecki, J. (2004). The Wisdom of Crowds, Random House.

Note: The content of this publication is based on the joint research project “Competitiveness Monitor”, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (project reference number: 01IC10L18 A). Joint research project partners are Bayer MaterialScience, BrainNet, dilotec, EBS Business School. Responsibility for the content is with the author(s).

EFP Brief No. 238: Research Agenda Dutch Mobility System, Energy System and Built Environment 2040

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Scenario forecasts for the Dutch mobility system, energy system and built environment in 2040 were performed to investigate which knowledge TNO should develop to support and stimulate future innovation in these fields. Three scenario studies were conducted to investigate the Dutch built environment, the Dutch energy system and the Dutch mobility system. The results serve to strengthen the TNO strategy statement.

Identifying Dutch Research Priorities for Future Mobility, Energy and Built Environment

Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO is an independent research organisation whose expertise and research make an important contribution to the competitiveness of companies and organisations, to the economy and to the quality of society as a whole. It’s activities are split into seven thematic domains; healthy living, industrial innovation, defence, safety and security, energy, transport and mobility, built environment and information society.

 TNO needs to update it’s strategy every four years to announce which societal issues it will address in their next strategy period and how it will apply the funds which are administered by the Dutch government. In order to formulate a strategy that is robust for future developments TNO used scenario planning in order to test its strategy against multiple possible future

Creating a Shared Vision

The objective of the scenario study is threefold:

1) to find what knowledge should be developed to deal with future challenges,

2) to test the TNO strategy against future scenario’s

3) to find the most important factors influencing the development of technologies in mobility, energy and the built environment and

4) to create a shared vision on future development amongst the participants.

Scenario Method

For the future forecast TNO applied a scenario method which is based on the original work of Kees van der Heijden for Shell (Heijden, 1996). For each of the three subjects a separate study was performed, consisting of a series of three workshops. Within these workshops the participants identified the main uncertainties in the future developments in the respective fields. Subsequently, these fields were clustered and scored for importance and level of uncertainty. Based on the two most important/uncertain uncertainties the participants developed four scenarios to describe the possible future outcomes.

In the scenario process an average of 25 TNO specialists per subject participated in the scenario development process. Selection of participants was based on coverage of all relevant expertise within the subject, furthermore participants were selected for their ability to overview developments in the entire field. Specialist were available on: key (emergent) technologies, finance, economy, policy, rules and regulations and international relations.


Clusters of Uncertainties

In the first workshop the participants were asked to name the most uncertain factors which would determine the future developments in energy, mobility and the built environment. The results were clustered into 6-15 clusters of uncertainties. Which clusters of uncertainties were most influential and uncertain was determined by popular vote and discussion.

For each subject the project the following major uncertainties were identified:


Strong governmental control vs. market driven and an individual society vs. a collective society.


Governmental control vs. market driven and lack of international cooperation vs. strong international cooperation.

Built environment

An individual risk prone society vs. a collective risk averse society and spread low economic growth vs. concentrated high economic growth.

Within the projects the experts developed two or four scenarios in group discussions. These scenarios are based on the two uncertainties that are considered most uncertain/influential for the subject. In the following sections the results of the scenario studies for the three subjects will be discussed separately. First the scenarios are described, then aspects which are relevant for all different scenarios or vary between scenarios are discussed and finally a draft technological research agenda is compiled.

Mobility: Four Scenarios Discussing the Shades of Governmental Control and Societal Involvement

Scenario I: Driven by individualism, the government limits is effort to a small number of activities that protect the rights of its citizens. The government facilitates market activities by providing a stable environment for economic growth. The scenario shows high economic competition, with a European home-market.

Scenario II: The government is strict, yet righteous. The government uses her influence through laws and setting norms and standards that are based on firm societal support. – after all, these are made in the public interest. Laws and regulations are firmly maintained.

Scenario III: The government has a minor role, market forces are trusted upon to ensure innovation. This way people can vote with their wallets.

Scenario IV: The influence of the government on societal issues is limited. Society is too complex and interests too divers to find a common ground for governmental action. Collective values are shared by joining communities that share our values and warrant your interest.


Mobility in the Context of the Four Scenarios

The developments in the mobility system are very uncertain. All scenarios are equally conceivable. Therefore, a strategy should be developed that is able to cope with different future developments.

Future developments in transport are highly dependent on the available infrastructure, vehicle- and fuel developments and the effect transport has on the environment and society.

All scenarios point to mobility that is concentrated on roads. Congestion will be a lasting problem. External effects are tackled with technological solutions.

Biofuels, hydrogen and electricity will play a more important role in mobility.


Scenario Specific Findings

  • In some scenarios a European network of high-speed rail connections is developed.
  • Solutions to congestion are scenario specific: optimisation of infrastructure usage, transport services or smart logistics.
  • Also solution to externalities are scenario specific, ranging from efficient driving mechanisms to capture of pollutants.
  • Transport- and travel volume are scenario dependent and depend on price. This price may increase, because of internalisation of external cost and high fuel prices, or drop because of more fuel efficient techniques.
  • The degree to which biofuels, hydrogen and electricity will play a more important role in mobility is dependent on the role of the government.

For TNO’S future Technological Research Agenda these findings imply that further knowledge is needed about:

  • Energy efficient vehicles;
  • Alternative driving mechanisms;
  • ITS systems for:
    • Managing mobility issues
    • Managing traffic
      • Communication between vehicles for increased safety and traffic flow enhancement;
    • Impact assessment of infrastructure;
    • Robust infrastructure;
    • Reliability of infrastructure;

Energy: Two Scenarios Discussing the Shades of Governmental Control and International Cooperation

Scenario I: Countries form a collective to face the global challenges, such as climate change. The national government firmly takes the initiative for bringing (sustainable) change.

Scenario II: : International governments and organizations are suspicious of each other. Countries compete for available energy sources. The national government is reactive and aimed at facilitating change processes initiated by industries and NGO’s.

Energy in the Context of the Two Scenarios

The entire built environment will be transformed to become energy neutral. More energy production will take place locally with solar (pv and warmth), Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) and geothermic energy.

Fossil fuels will remain an important source of energy. Whereas, biofuels and hydrogen will only play a small role in the Dutch energy system.

Scenario specific findings

  • The degree to which societal costs are included in the price for fossil fuels is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control.
  • The choice for climate change mitigation or adaptation is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control and international cooperation.
  • The degree to which local energy systems are developed collectively or independently is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control.
  • The emergence of a international smart grid and large scale energy storage capacity is largely dependent on the degree of international cooperation.
  • The large scale deployment of carbon capture and storage is largely dependent on the degree of international cooperation.
  • The substitution of oil by coal of gas is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control

Accordingly, in the energy sector, TNO will need knowledge to boost their Technological Research Agenda. Knowledge is needed about:

  • ways to include new technology in existing products;
  • insulation;
  • separate transport systems for inside and outside cities;
  • preparing the electricity network for larger fluctuations in supply and demand;
  • large scale storage of electricity and warmth;
  • small scale storage of electricity and warmth;
  • how to deal with the interaction between local networks, national networks and international networks of electricity, gas, warmth and CO2;
  • implementation of renewable energy systems;
  • mass-production of renewable energy systems.

Built environment: Four Scenarios Discussing the Shades of Collectiveness and Economic Prosperity

Scenario I: It is a self-service economy. Small government has prevailed. The economy is in a recession, especially in cities, resulting in more regional economic activity.

Scenario II: People strive for individual gain, and are willing to take risks. The Netherlands is a flourishing and innovative country. The economic growth is concentrated around the Randstad and a limited number of other cities.

Scenario III: People are more dependent on each other because of the fragile economic situation.

Scenario IV: Economic prosperity leads to collective appreciation of wellbeing.

Built Environment in the Context of the Four Scenarios

End consumers will get more influence in the building process. Buildings will have to become more adaptable during the different phases of life and individual needs. Elderly people will become a more important target group.

Scenario specific findings

Dense urban environments and intensive land use are themes which are important in the two scenarios with a concentration of economic activity in the Randstad area. In order to tackle the aspects identified in the scenarios, TNO will need knowledge with regard to the Technological Research Agenda on:

  • ways to increase flexibility in the use of buildings;
  • conceptual building methods;
  • re-use of building materials;
  • social-, construction-, traffic- and fire safety;
  • ways to become climate proof;
  • closure of material cycles (urban mining);
  • virtual building;
  • technologies for local energy generation and storage;
  • the effects of climate change;
  • intensive land use.

TNO Strategy Update Every Four Years

In order to formulate a strategy that is robust for future developments TNO used scenario planning in order to test its strategy against multiple possible future. TNO needs to update it’s strategy every four years to announce which societal issues it will address in their next strategy period and how it will apply the funds which are administered by the Dutch government.


Authors: Dr. J. van der Vlies

Drs. G.G.C. Mulder

Sponsors: Dr. H.M.E. Miedema
Type: National foresight exercise, single issue
Organizer: Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO
Duration: Feb-Sept 2009 Budget: 35 kEuro Time Horizon: 2040 Date of Brief: March 2011  


Download EFP Brief No. 238_Dutch Research Agenda.

Sources and References

Heijden (1996), Scenarios – The art of strategic conversation, second edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2005, West Sussex.

EFP Brief No. 234: Learning Effects of a Foresight Exercise: An Accompanying Social Research Study

Friday, December 21st, 2012

The purpose of the accompanying social research study to the Freightvision exercise (Brief No. 226) was twofold: First, we wanted to introduce a concept for accompanying social research of a large participatory foresight process in order to grasp immediate learning effects. Secondly, we analysed immediate learning effects in the course of a large participatory foresight process. The research questions guiding the empirical analysis were: How can we operationalise and measure learning in the context of a large foresight process? Learning thereby involves different levels of learning: individual learning, group learning, organisational learning, system-level learning etc. And how can we operationalise and measure networking, i.e. the establishment of personal ties that enable the exchange of information and hence learning in a large foresight process?

The Foresight Case Freightvision in Focus

The foresight case in focus intended to integrate new knowledge, perspectives and stakeholder groups into an established field. Creating channels for communication between participants from business, policy, civil society and R&D to overcome sectoral boundaries was an explicit goal from the beginning. Stakeholder participation in this case was defined as inviting representatives of research, business, policy and civil society explicitly as “experts” who take part in a strategic dialogue on long-term issues. The expertise of participants was sought as deliberative input and shaped the content and tangible results of the foresight process, leading to robust scenarios, recommended action plans, visions and background reports.
Given the large scale of the foresight exercise (up to 90 participants in four fora, budget >3 m EUR, duration > 3 years), deliberative participation was guaranteed through four large and highly interactive fora using large group intervention techniques derived from organisational development theory (world café, open chair discussion rounds, interactive poster sessions etc.). Methodologically, the Freightvision foresight assessed here relied on an overall architecture and methods of organisational development (OD) that focus particularly on changing the thinking and actions of stakeholders. The application of OD concepts and instruments throughout all phases of the foresight exercise was assumed to maximise interaction, collaboration and learning among stakeholders in this foresight system.

Methodologies of the Accompanying Social Research

Learning effects of foresight processes can occur in various dimensions, which we tried to capture in our accompanying social research study: i) the acquisition of social capital (e.g., establishing new contacts, building networks), ii) the acquisition of factual knowledge and understanding (new insights derived from discussions and multiple perspectives), and iii) the development of strategic alternatives (Amantidou & Guy, 2008). Following Lewin (1953), Schein (1995) and Grossman et. al. (2007), we distinguished and applied three different approaches of accompanying social research to analyse and assess the immediate learning effects of foresight. The three approaches were the practitioner model of field research, qualitative interviewing and content analysis.

Practitioner Model of Field Research

The accompanying research to evaluate the effects of the foresight process on participants and stakeholders was conducted by AIT – Foresight and Policy Development Department. The process involved 165 individual participants coming from private enterprises, interest groups representing the various transport modes, infrastructure providers, trade unions, environmental NGOs, research organisations and administration. Participation in Forum 1 to 4 was between 96 and 75 individuals.
In moderated workshops, we conducted a survey and several discussions as part of the foresight process. Within this foresight project group, organisational development (OD) researchers acted as counsellors trying to intervene in social systems in order to provoke change (Schein, 1995; Grossman, et al., 2007). In the context of these moderated workshops, the foresight counsellors and the foresight project group evaluated their roles during the stakeholder fora as well as other impacts by (1) reflecting on and adapting their own observations and patterns of intervention, (2) by evaluating the process as a whole and (3) by carrying out a qualitative survey of the project group in the moderated workshops after each stakeholder forum. The questions addressed mutual learning processes, short-term effects and the evaluation of the overall design and process of the stakeholder fora.

Participatory Ethnographic Research

According to Schein (1995) and Grossman et al. (2007), researchers participate in the day-to-day life of social systems yet try to minimise influence or set interventions. To capture various kinds of immediate impacts from the foresight case, telephone interviews were carried out after each of forum. Around 20% of the participants were interviewed by the research team, resulting in 71 interviews all in all (the interviews took 15-20 minutes each). Qualitative content analysis was applied to extract information from the interviews. The post-forum telephone interviews showed that participants were positive about the methodology. They were particularly positive about the high levels of interaction during the fora (working intensively in a productive atmosphere, using creative methods including wild cards and visualisation of the freight transport system in 2050), which helped the different stakeholder groups to better understand the motivations and backgrounds of various other stakeholder groups. The interviewees also mentioned that the project led to a systemic picture of the whole longdistance freight transport system across modes.

Experimental Social Research

In experimental social research, the observer implements a lab-like environment trying to minimise influence on the observed object. The research setting is designed to generate quantitative data that claims to describe “the reality of the observed object” apart from the observing researcher. In our case, a social network analysis (SNA) approach was applied, reducing the observed part of the complex communication and learning process to different categories of ties established between participants of the foresight fora. Assuming that actors are embedded in a web of social interrelations, SNA provides a set of methodologies and tools to understand internal communication, organisation and aspects of their formation (Heimeriks, Hörlesberger, & Besselaar, 2003; Coromina, Guia, Coenders, & Ferligoj, 2008). A questionnaire was designed and distributed both at the beginning and end of every forum, listing names of participants and asking each participant to quantify the level of acquaintance with all remaining ones. The difference in levels of acquaintance before and after every forum served as a proxy for the number and quality of ties established during the fora (qualitative and quantitative statistical network analysis was applied in order to extract information from the questionnaires).
The team of researchers conducting the accompanying social research were external observers. The network analysis based on pre- and post-forum questionnaires showed that the network of participants had already reached a high density after Forum II and that there were no signs of emerging closed clusters of unconnected sub-groups. New participants were integrated quickly (approximately one quarter were new in every forum), and the network density remained stable until Forum 4. Figure 1 shows a network of personal ties (or relationships) between participants based on personalised questionnaires returned a) before Forum I (March 2009, n = 41/96 questionnaires) and b) after Forum III (October 2009, n = 35/79 questionnaires). Stakeholders are coloured in black, all other project partners in grey. Geometric positions and distances are determined by the combined strength of a participant’s ties (participants are positioned closer if ties are stronger). The shape of a node is determined by the number of inward vs. outward ties and its volume by the total number of ties. Network “connectors” have more outgoing vs. incoming ties (ellipses pointed upward) and “authorities” vice versa (ellipses pointed sideward). All computations were performed using the software PAJEK (Chen, 2003).

Learning Effects

The immediate learning effect of a large-scale foresight project was analysed based on three methods of accompanying social research. First, the practitioner model was applied in an analysis of the foresight process in moderated workshops. Learning in this context mainly referred to the creation of cultural islands and increased the participants’ identification with the foresight process. Secondly, a qualitative analysis was conducted in an ex-postfacto analysis where individual learning resulting from the
foresight process in focus was captured in different questions.
The main result here is that the major achievement of a large participative foresight process with respect to learning is probably that details out of the social contexts and rationalities of various stakeholders add up to a multidimensional picture at the system level. This results in perceiving oneself as being part of a system and gives a clearer view of one’s own role in the system. Interdependencies between the various actors become more apparent, which on the whole results in a more comprehensive big picture at the system level. Thirdly, we tried to empirically grasp the increase of personal ties between participants of a large foresight process by means of a social network analysis. We assumed that these ties reflect some extent of exchange of information and hence can be expected to enable learning processes. Overall, the number of newly formed acquaintances more than tripled during the fora; the network diameter settled at a low size of three ties. A higher density, an average degree of centrality and a lower diameter reflect a higher flow of information. It becomes clearer how participants perceive their position within the network of stakeholders and their influence and future agendas (Schartinger et al., 2011).

Effects at European and National Level

A clearly discernible effect is the continued collaboration of the project team in the following FP7 calls, which can be attributed to the well-designed collaboration in the project team as active participants in the fora. In addition, the project team held briefing and debriefing sessions before and after the fora to discuss and optimise the networking process. Less can be said about the direct effect of the foresight in terms of relevance to policy documents, as the accompanying research ended shortly after the Freightvision project.

In Austria, the results were presented up to the highest ranks of the ministry of transport, which led to the ministry funding a follow-up project (Freightvision Austria, see EFP Brief No. 231) at the national level through the Transport Research Program IV2plus. Media coverage both at the sectoral level (some was very offensive even criticising the scientific evidence) the national level gives some indication of the relevance of the Freightvision process. After the final dissemination conference, DG TREN (MOVE) ordered extra copies of the last management summary for distribution throughout the directorate, which can be seen as a sign of the project’s relevance to internal discussion. In 2012, we conducted some additional interviews to find out whether Freightvision had any direct influence on the White Paper on Transport published in 2011.

Although some affirmative statements were made, it is not possible to verify such an influence. The Commission Staff Working Document on the White Paper shows no reference to Freightvision or other parallel FP7 Support Actions. However, several of the 36 measures from the project are mentioned in this document (e.g., CO2 labelling and integration into standards, e-freight, ecodriving training, liberalisation of cabotage, IST, ERTMCS/ETCS etc.).

Further Need for Follow-up Research

A further step in research on the effects of foresight would be to analyse in depth how participants of a foresight process deal with what they have learnt during the foresight process once they return to their usual surroundings and home environments. In principle, large participatory foresight processes induce participants to carry new impulses to their home organisations. Strategic dialogues and mutual learning processes during the foresight exercise can provide guidance in situations with high degrees of unpredictability and become effective in the organisations the participants originate from.

However, it is a great challenge to methodologically grasp the different kinds of effects over time and to isolate the contribution of foresight processes to complex and continuous processes like strategy finding and policy formulation. Determining the contribution of foresight exercises will always be achieved only in part.

Highly Controversial Stakeholder Responses

Although the process was built on a well-founded evidence base, including several models that are also cited in the recent White Paper, it was foreseeable that controversial positions would emerge in the normative phase of the foresight. For reasons of transparency, an effort was made to make dissent explicit and to document minority positions in working groups. Although it was clear that the project, financed through a FP7 support action, was no formal stakeholder consultation process in preparation of the White Paper, lobbying occurred to the extent that some participants at the final conference were on the verge of boycotting the event because of unfavourable conclusions for a specific interest group. Due to the explicit backing by many of the forum participants who attended the dissemination conference, it became clear that the overall results were valid and that the foresight process had been transparent and sound.

Sources and References

Amanatidou, E. and Guy, K. (2008), “Interpreting foresight process impacts: Steps towards the development of a framework conceptualising the dynamics of ‘foresight systems’”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 75, No. 4, pp. 539-557.
Chen, C. (2003), Mapping Scientific Frontiers. The Quest for Knowledge Visualization, Berlin: Springer.
Coromina, L., Guia, J., Coenders, G. and Ferligoj, A. (2008), “Doucentered networks”, Social Networks, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 45-59.
European Commission (2011), “Commission Staff Working Document – Accompanying the White Paper – Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system”, SEC(2011) 391 final.
Grossmann, R., Lobnig, H. and Scala, K (2007), Kooperationen im Public Management. Theorie und Praxis erfolgreicher Organisationsentwicklung in Leistungsverbünden, Netzwerken und Fusionen, Munich: Juventa Verlag.
Heimeriks, G., H., Hörlesberger, M. and Besselaar, P. van den (2003), “Mapping communication and collaboration in heterogeneous research networks“, Scientometrics, Vol. 58, No. 2, pp. 391-413.
Lewin, K. (1953), Die Lösung sozialer Konflikte. Ausgewählte Abhandlungen über Gruppendynamik, Bad Nauheim: Christian-Verlag.
Schartinger, D., D. Wilhelmer, D. Holste, K. Kubeczko (2011), Assessing immediate learning impacts of large foresight processes. Submitted to Foresight Journal.
Schein, E.H. (1995), “Kurt Lewin’s Change Theory in the Field and in the Classroom. Notes toward a Model of Managed Learning”, available at: (accessed 2 December 2012).

EFP Brief No. 231: FreightVision Austria 2050

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

The project Freight Vision Austria 2050 (FVA2050) aimed at providing a foresight study of freight transport and logistics futures in Austria by 2050. The intention was to explore the future of freight transport and logistics in particular, looking at technological progress and future innovation opportunities. A second aim was to outline a shared vision of an Austrian freight transport system by 2050 that would achieve European as well as national environmental and transport policy targets. The project FVA2050 was structured similarly to the European project FreightVision Europe (FVE 2050). FVA2050 was commissioned by the innovation section of the Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology. The objective was to set priorities and give a synopsis of key technologies and future innovation opportunities.

Coping with Increasing Demand for Freight Transport

Similar to economic growth, demand for freight transport in Europe is expected to double by 2050. As integration of the European internal market progresses and Europe represents one of the most competitive economic regions of the world, export industries all over Europe are expected to grow. This will particularly concern small, export-oriented national economies at the centre of Europe, such as Austria, which are strongly affected by freight transportation. Experts estimate that freight transport will increase across all transport modes.

Rising pressure on infrastructure capacity, an increasing environmental burden and upcoming conflicts over failing to achieve CO2 emission and noise reduction targets are likely. However, from a regional perspective, increase in transport demand might not affect the overall transport network in Austria apart from the main traffic axes. FVA2050 was informed by the general vision of the European Commission for a most competitive and sustainable transport system in Europe. This includes “growing transport and supporting mobility while reaching the 60% CO2 reduction target” (European Commission 2011, p.5). However, priorities from a regional perspective may differ from those defined at the European level. Other environmental policy targets, such as particulate matter or noise and vibration reduction, can be considered equally important.

Most freight transport in ton/kilometres is regional and not long distance freight transport. From a regional perspective, future scenarios revolving around reregionalisation are thus more feasible than scenarios based on internal market integration and globalisation. From a regional point of view, traffic congestion is a problem of infrastructure bottlenecks and not of the overall European transport network. The main challenge here is to coordinate environmental and transport-related policy targets across different policy levels and policy areas.

Stakeholder and Expert-driven Approach

The FVA 2050 project pursued an expert-driven, forwardlooking approach. Stakeholders and experts from different areas relevant to freight transport in Austria participated. Among them, in particular, demand-side actors from transport and logistics companies, but also researchers, NGOs and public administration representatives at the national and the state level (Länder). The aim of FVA 2050 was to explore possible futures of freight transport and logistics in Austria up to 2050. The participating stakeholders and experts outlined a shared vision and, in the process, blueprinted structural change in the freight transportation system to achieve the European CO2 emission targets and other transport and environmental policy objectives, such as minimising road fatalities, abating noise and particulate matter pollution and reducing congestion. Ideas and opinions on how to transform the current freight transport system towards this vision were discussed in detail, particularly ideas concerning technology and innovation pathways towards the future.

Scenarios and Socio-economic Trends and Trend Breaks

In the first workshop, the initial task was to outline framework scenarios describing possible socioeconomic futures that reflect the social and economic environment in which freight transport and logistics activities can be imagined to take place in the future. Four framework scenarios came out of this exercise: two scenarios reflecting current socio-economic trends and two scenarios taking potential trend breaks into account. Drivers, trends and trend breaks were jointly investigated. The experts drafted storylines for socioeconomic scenarios in group exercises and later developed them into coherent future stories:

· Trend scenario “Growth and liberalisation”
· Trend scenario “Growth and regulation trends”
· Trend break scenario “Oil & energy price shocks”
· Trend break scenario “Regionalisation & shrinking”

In the second foresight forum, the participants identified relevant technology and innovation pathways towards the future from a present point of view and perspective. They assessed options and obstacles of technological progress from the present to the future and opportunities for future innovations, considering the socio-technical context embedding and the socio-economic conditions shaping them. The final task of the second foresight workshop was to sketch out a shared vision of a structurally changed freight transport system for Austria that would allow to attain the different policy targets by 2050. The third foresight workshop was dedicated to further specifying the vision of a structurally changed freight transport system by 2050, including the main actions necessary to achieve it. However, in the end, the focus was mainly on technological steps towards this vision.

The main mission of FVA 2050 was to identify relevant priorities for the upcoming process of setting the national technology research agenda for research and innovation funding. A final, rather normative exercise allowed to define more radical technological steps. The incremental key technology and innovation opportunities initially identified by an explorative method were thus complemented by a range of blue-sky and out-of-the-box technology and far horizon innovation opportunities. The foresight exercise created a vision for a structurally changed Austrian freight transport system by 2050 and drafted a range of socio-economic framework scenarios.

Finally, the major outcomes were a synopsis and a prospective assessment of key technologies and future innovation opportunities up to 2050 and beyond. Around 80 experts and stakeholders of the Austrian freight transport system participated in FVA 2050, an average of 30 participants in each workshop. The foresight was implemented by a consortium of six partners: the AIT Departments Foresight & Policy Development and Mobility, the Department of Logistics at the University of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria and the Department of Production Logistics Management at the University of Economics and Business in Vienna. ProgTrans AG from Switzerland delivered a transport demand outlook for 2050. Transver Gmbh delivered an environmental impact assessment referring to the transport demand trends of ProgTrans AG. Most partners had already been involved in the European funded foresight FreightVision Europe (2007–2009).

They were thus invited to propose a similar forwardlooking and foresight activity for Freight Transport and Logistics 2050 and beyond in Austria. The Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit), the two major Austrian funding agencies (FFG, AWS) and the two major national rail and road infrastructure operators (OEBB, ASFINAG) assisted the foresight. They were all involved in an advisory board.

Shift to Rail versus Electrification of Road Transport

The foresight study Freight Vision Austria 2050 was performed during three large stakeholder workshops. Most of the stakeholders participated in all three workshops, which gave the exercise a particular continuity. Prior to each workshop a discussion paper was drafted by the consortium members and distributed among the participants. This discussion paper was based on desk analyses and outcomes of the preceding workshops.

The future dialogue started with an intensive discussion of the transport demand outlook presented at the first workshop. The prognosis anticipated a doubling of freight transport demand by 2050. This growth in freight transport demand can be expected to lead to a relevant increase in transport activities across all transport modes. An increasing shift to rail transport and even a bigger increase in road transport is estimated. Inland waterway transport is expected to remain at moderate levels due to exterior infrastructure.

The transport demand outlook and the projections of freight transport activities by 2050 were discussed controversially. On the one hand, the experts agreed that a significant increase in transport could be expected to come with economic growth. On the other hand, the experts questioned the anticipated doubling of trans-European freight transport, pointing out that a return to a regionalisation of production networks and supply chains could change the trend. However, the outlook gave definite alert that freight transport is expected to increase until 2050. Particularly on the main axes, transport infrastructure capacities in Austria may not at all be prepared to accommodate such growth.

The rather controversial discussion in the beginning motivated the preparation of four distinct socio-economic framework scenarios. At first, storylines were developed and elaborated into coherent stories of potential socioeconomic futures. In a second step, the scenarios were discussed regarding their overall feasibility. For example, the scenario on growth and liberalisation was assessed as less feasible than initially expected. The experts did not perceive it to be an option to leave freight transport futures to liberal markets alone; regulation and public policy were considered just as necessary to cope with increasing freight transport demand. Thus the second trend scenario on growth and regulation was seen as more feasible than the first scenario of full market liberalisation.

The experts anticipated a future of European freight transport where the primacy of the “free movement of goods” should no longer be interpreted as free choice among all means of transport along all European transport infrastructure axes. The Zurich Process for cross-alpine freight transport (CAFT) – a cooperation between the transport ministers of the alpine member states – was an example mentioned in this context. The experts pointed out that they explicitly expect a trans-European initiative to push the road to rail shift in the future.

Rising Oil Price as Moderate Driver towards New Technologies

Even more interesting was the dialogue regarding the two trend-breaking scenarios. The first of these socioeconomic scenarios was rather similar to trend break scenarios in other transport-related foresight exercises. None of the experts rated an oil price increase as a shock event but as a moderate driver towards technological alternatives such as the electrification of road transport or alternatively fuelled vehicles. Another discussion focussed on a return of regionalisation and local production networks. Instead of more European market integration, the shrinking of the internal market was seen as a potential socioeconomic future triggered by increasing global protectionism and global economic conflicts. By comparison, in 2009, such a socio-economic framework had not at all been envisioned in FreightVision Europe 2050.

In the second foresight workshop, the discussion focussed on relevant environmental and transport policy targets for freight transport futures. It was difficult to come to a conclusion. Although there are strong trends toward harmonising environmental and transport policy targets in the European multilevel governance system, there is obviously still an open debate whether these objectives ought to be seen as a planning horizon or as guidelines for the future. Policy targets at one policy level may conflict with policy targets at other levels. The involved stakeholder and expert group decided to take European policy targets in addition to national targets as a frame of reference while addressing this frame in a rather general way based on a shared vision of how to shape the Austrian freight transport system by 2050 (structural change) by taking into account an increase in freight transport demand by 30-40% by that time.

Towards a “Network of Networks”

As the core of this foresight process, a shared vision of the Austrian freight transport system in 2050 was blueprinted. The participants illustrated their ideas and visions in a group exercise and further discussed their ideas and expectations for the future. All illustrations were integrated in a single shared vision scenario. A European transport network will be achieved by 2050. European legislation will serve to drive and harmonise environmental and transport regulations. However, a single European transport network is expected to be achieved as a network of networks with a European main axes infrastructure network at its core, but tightly connected with inter-regional, regional and urban mobility networks. Communication and information technologies will progress and allow to more closely connect these networks while allowing for many alternative mobility patterns for travelling and transporting goods. In a far-distant perspective, private sector mobility and transport might decline since European industries can be expected to more strongly revolve around knowledge-based services.

In 2050, freight transport at medium (up to 300 km) and long distance (above 300 km) will be fully intermodal, with a considerable shift to rail transport. European infrastructure axes for all transport modes will be integrated into one single corridor network. Road transport (below 300 km) will be widely electrified with large numbers of charging stations providing the necessary infrastructure. However, electrification of road transport may not be feasible for heavy duty transport. Last-mile transport will still be mainly road-based and rely on individual transport modes. Automated systems and pipe networks are expected to be deployed in urban areas.

Logistics in 2050 will be organised rather centrally under strict rules and requirements set at the European level. Third parties are going to organise logistics in crossregional or regional and urban distribution networks. Large interregional distribution centres will be established on a European scale. Tri- and bimodal hubs will be situated along the main transport corridors near manufacturing sites and will profit from information and communication concentration and renewable energy clusters (smart grids). Significantly improved freight demand management will reduce empty and half-full trips; this will include alternative modes of operation, for instance so-called milk runs for circular distribution.

Another main exercise in the foresight FVA2050 was to sketch a list of technology trends in the near (2020), medium (2035) and distant future (2050). The main areas discussed in the transport-related technology and innovation debate were:
· Intelligent transport systems
· Green freight and logistics
· Intermodal freight transportation
· Innovative infrastructure technologies

In these areas, particular technology and innovation pathways were assessed. Communication and information technologies as well as alternative vehicles and new materials were introduced as enabling technologies.

Smart Technologies to Improve Capacity, Greening and Safety

From 2020 to 2035, supply and transport chains will be further “smartened” by ICT. Information management systems will enable systems that calculate ecological impact. Between 2035 and 2050, most infrastructure and freight vehicles will be equipped with communication modules enabling real-time multimodal transport information. Autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle systems are expected to increase capacity and safety by platooning. A similar revolution like the container will provide new opportunities for intermodal transport with swap bodies to serve the European internal market. Automated harbour and hinterland transport, including vertical and horizontal loading systems, is expected to allow 24-hour operation. A European transport network will include a Europe-wide network of intermodal transport hubs. Transport infrastructure will be connected to energy infrastructure as a smart mobility/energy grid. In a distant perspective, from 2035, distributive intelligence in command and control will give rise to decentralised robot systems: smart objects, pipe networks and other simple track systems.

New Alternatives for Distances above 300 km

One of the key questions raised in FVA 2050 was if electrification of road freight transport might also be viable at medium and long distances in the future – a measure that is thought to play a significant role in achieving future European CO2 emission reduction targets. Experts believe that a shift to rail freight transport for distances above 300 km and even below 300 km for regional distribution will be a significant option in the long term. However, additional measures are required, for instance, regional rail/road distribution centres serving the first and last mile by an electric fleet. This has direct implications for future mobility and transport as well as transport-related technology and innovation policies.

Download the brief: EFP Brief No. 231_FreightVision Austria 2050.

Sources and References

COM(2011) 144: White Paper. Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system,

Seibt, C., Rath, B., Wilhelmer, D., Zajicek, J., Toplak, W., Hofmann-Porkopczyk, H., Starkl, F., Bauer, G., Stefan, K., Schmiele, J. (2012): Freight Vision Austria 2050. Final Report. AIT Report No. 42, Vienna, see

EFP Brief No. 228: Visions for Horizon 2020 from Copenhagen Research Forum

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

In January 2012, the Copenhagen Research Forum (CRF) gathered 80 European scientists to discuss the societal chal-lenges to be addressed by Horizon 2020, the next framework programme for European research and innovation, and consider how research could contribute the best solutions. This EFP brief explains the process behind the CRF and gives a summary of recommendations. It ends with a discussion on cross-disciplinarity and strategic partnerships as tools for organising research in order to solve complex societal challenges.

Visions for Horizon 2020 – from Copenhagen Research Forum

The EU Commission’s proposal for a new framework programme, Horizon 2020, is devoted to strengthening the strategic organisation of European research and innovation. The ambition is to mobilise excellent scientists across various branches of knowledge in order to provide solutions for complex societal challenges.

The Copenhagen Research Forum (CRF) set out to assemble a broad spectrum of leading European scientists to give their view on the Commission’s choice of societal challenges and possible ways of implementing Horizon 2020 as a means of tackling them. Approximately 600 scientists contributed throughout the process.

The CRF recommendations clearly affirm the EU Commission’s selection of societal challenges as well as the idea of supporting cross-disciplinary collaboration as a means to address crosscutting problems within and across challenges. The recommendations also send a strong signal of support for a framework where excellence, cross-disciplinarity and simplicity in administrative processes are key components.

The following pages provide an overview of the process behind the CRF, the main recommendations as well as a discussion of new instruments to be implemented to support cross-disciplinarity.

The CRF Process

The main idea behind CRF was to involve a broad spectrum of Europe’s top-level researchers in the making of Horizon 2020 since part of its preparation would take place during the Danish EU presidency in the first half of 2012.

The University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark and the Capital Region of Denmark wanted the scientific community to provide unbiased input to Horizon 2020, with the aim of making Horizon 2020 as attractive as possible to researchers working in the areas covered by the six societal challenges. Professor Liselotte Højgaard was appointed as Chair of CRF.

The concept was finalised in the summer of 2011. The key issue was that CRF should convey ideas, visions and comments from outstanding researchers, all of whom were invited personally to join CRF. A full list of names of conference participants may be found in the CRF report (see link on the last page).

The process comprised several steps and organisational roles:

Chairship – This involved contacting researchers for the six groups and establishing a chairship comprised of one Dane and one European researcher for each challenge:

  • Health: Professor Liselotte Højgaard MD, DMSc and Professor Deborah Smith.
  • Food & Agriculture: Professor Peter Olesen and Director Kees de Gooijer.
  • Energy: Dr. Jørgen Kjems and Professor Kjell Hugo Bendiksen.
  • Transport: Head of Dept. Niels Buus Kristensen and Programme Director Dr. Christian Piehler.
  • Climate & Resources: Professor Katherine Richardson and Professor Johan Rockström.
  • Society: Professor Ole Wæver and Professor Loet Leydesdorff.

The six panel chairships were asked to invite up to 100 researchers to offer their views in a virtual discussion forum. Out of the invitees, 15 researchers from each group were also asked to meet at a workshop conference in Copenhagen on 16 January 2012 shortly after the Danish EU presidency began.

Virtual discussion forum – Divided equally between the six societal challenges, the 600 researchers were invited to comment on the draft text of Horizon 2020. The researchers were asked to contribute personal visions for the future as well as point out needs and possible solutions. They were also asked to suggest and comment on the technologies and the priorities within the given challenge as well as consider the instruments and implementation needed to ensure success as seen from a scientific perspective. Lastly, they were requested to contribute their ideas on how to secure the link between research and the innovation perspective stressed in Horizon 2020. All of the input was collected in a draft report that formed the basis of the aforementioned conference in Copenhagen.

Conference – On 16 January 2012, the six panels met and discussed the draft report, offering comments and adding new ideas inspired by the input collected in the virtual discussion forum. The aim was to reach agreement on (1) the views and recommendations in each of the six panels, (2) a joint statement during plenary sessions expressing the view on scientific issues cutting across all six challenges and (3) recommendations for the implementation of a challenge-oriented framework as a basis for excellent research and far-reaching solutions.

The Danish Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education, Morten Østergaard, attended the conference.

Outcome – The conference resulted in a condensed report offering ideas and solutions that could help form Horizon 2020 from a scientific point of view. The conclusions were presented to the European community in an open dialogue as explained in the following.

Dissemination – The CRF recommendations were presented to the EU Council of Ministers’ meeting in Copenhagen on 1 February 2012 and subsequently to the European Commission, the European Parliament as well as directly to Director General for DG Research and Innovation, Robert Jan Smits. The dissemination activities were closely connected to the Danish EU presidency.

In the following section, we provide key statements from the CRF panels’ recommendations. A full version can be found in the report.

Key CRF Recommendations for Each Societal Challenge

Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing
  • Biomedical research and its implementation in clinical practice must be supported and accelerated. This requires a paradigm shift towards personalised medicine.
  • The global revolution in biomedicine is providing new technologies. Utilising those technologies requires vast efforts to expand and implement them.
  • A European platform engaging all key stakeholders to ensure discovery and delivery of these technologies will be crucial.
  • Establishment of a European Strategic Action for Healthier Citizens is also recommended to assist in strategic long-term healthcare research and planning, including preventive measures and the spread of best practice across Europe.

Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture, Marine and Maritime Research and the Bio-economy

  • Overriding challenges of increasing demand, competition for land use and other resource scarcities create massive pressure to produce significantly more per unit of a given resource.
  • Food, agriculture and land use must be seen in a complex and multi-directional value chain encompassing climate, available resources, environmental sustainability, transport, energy and health perspectives, not to mention social and economic requirements.
  • Key objectives are reductions in food waste and water consumption, valorisation of all bio-resources, including municipal bio-waste and agro- and bio-industrial side streams as well as the recycling of sufficient amounts of carbon and phosphor to maintain soil vitality.
  • Increasing prevalence of diet-related diseases and disorders calls for a balanced healthcare concept more geared towards prevention.
  • There is a need to create a collaborative innovation culture linking researchers, companies (especially SMEs), university education, NGOs and governments.
Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy
  • Horizon 2020 priorities should build on (1) a revised Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan), including a critical update of technology road maps and (2) a new, complementary systemic approach to combine technological, economical, political, social and cultural research to facilitate the transformation of the energy system as a whole.
  • Collaboration of social sciences and humanities with ‘hard sciences’ must be recognised as necessary and organised and funded accordingly to meet the challenges at the system level.
  • Coupling of educational efforts with research and innovation is critical for realising the ambitious plans for technology implementation and the overall system transition agenda.
  • Direct mobilisation of universities in addressing systemic challenges should be given high priority.
Smart, Green and Integrated Transport
  • The complexity of transport challenges requires closer cooperation across scientific domains and integration across universities, research institutions and industry than in the past.
  • Meeting the challenge of developing smart and green transport systems requires not only technological solutions but also a better understanding of transport behaviour and the use of innovative and effective policy instruments.
  • This calls for a more pronounced role for the social sciences than in previous framework programmes as well as for strengthening the integration of scientific domains.
  • Technological innovation will still be of paramount importance, including cleaner and safer vehicles for all transportation modes, cost-effective alternative fuels, advanced ICT for personalised real-time travel information with modal integration, metropolitan traffic management and smart payment systems.

Climate Action,Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials
  • Climate change constitutes one of the most urgent global resource challenges facing society, where the resource in question is our atmosphere as a receptacle for greenhouse gas wastes.
  • Development of actions and strategies for dealing with this challenge can potentially provide models for dealing with resource scarcity issues (biodiversity, ecosystem services, water, phosphorous, ores and metals etc.).
  • A general paradigm for dealing with resource scarcity is reducing the need for – and more efficient use of – the resource, combined with the adaptation of human activities to changed conditions and/or the recognition of resource scarcity.
  • In dealing with resource scarcity in general and the climate in particular, a major challenge is to channel the knowledge gained on the mechanisms of the Earth’s system into political and societal action. This requires cross-disciplinary approaches that integrate natural sciences with other disciplines.
  • The focus of Horizon 2020 should thus be to underpin societal responses to climate challenges by including research on systemic interaction, collecting baseline information and establishing monitoring activities of different mitigation and adaptation approaches.
Inclusive, Innovative and Secure Societies
  • The focus on ‘inclusive, innovative and secure societies’ provides a highly welcome challenge to the social sciences and humanities (SSH).
  • The Horizon 2020 proposal tends to focus on ‘hard’ technologies, especially statistics, assessments and measures of efficiency (evidence-based lessons), with a corresponding tendency to employ a technocratic definition of the nature of the challenges (e.g. in the security part, critical infrastructure protection is prioritised over international politics).
  • This represents a limited political and social vision that underestimates the power of citizens and communities to contribute to the realisation of inclusion, innovation and security.
  • Corresponding to a vision comprising a broader mobilisation of societal energies are forms of research that employ a wider selection of methodologies and theories to study the dynamics of society as productive and generative, rather than as the site of problems to be solved.
  • SSH can play key roles in the other societal challenges as well. It is important that researchers in the SSH engage scholars in the hard sciences in a joint effort to cultivate research-based innovation regarding the way expertise and democracy interact.

Excellence,Cross-disciplinarity and Simplicity

The ambition of using societal challenges as a means to organise European research requires new approaches. The message from CRF is to pursue this through a combination of excellence, cross-disciplinarity and administrative simplicity.

The CRF report signals a strong will among scientists to enter into cross-disciplinary collaborations in order to address complex challenges for which no single discipline has the solution. But this must not violate an equally strong need for administrative simplification and a continued effort to support excellence in all research activities. Without excellence as a fundamental requirement in all programmes, the cross-disciplinary ambition may become a hollow and strange add-on to ‘real’ science. Whenever a problem calls for a disciplinary approach, this should not be substituted with cross-disciplinarity. Timely application of new approaches must be a key priority.

Strategic Partnerships as Tools for Organising Cross-disciplinary Collaboration?

One of the ways in which cross-disciplinarity may enter the Horizon 2020 programme could be by establishing strategic partnerships devoted to delivering solutions to complex challenges. Strategic partnerships could be a way for the Horizon 2020 programme to nurture new constellations of fields of expertise without establishing very detailed road maps or other guidelines ‘from above’. It would be important to involve industrial and civil society actors in the formulation of strategic objectives in order to ensure that strategic partnerships become platforms for linking strategic priorities from science, policy, industry and other actors and that these partnerships organise collaboration accordingly.

A key feature of implementing strategic partnerships should be to provide them with sufficient operational freedom so as to secure flexibility and entrepreneurship in how partnerships pursue their goals at the project level.

Strategic partnerships should be an invitation and challenge to European research to explore new models of collaboration. This corresponds also with a clear recommendation from the CRF advocating the setup of strategic platforms connecting long-term visions with mid- and short-term investments in a dynamic way.

The advantage of a partnership-based organisation of strategic research is that it allows coordinating a variety of fields and actors while creatively linking actors who would otherwise not establish collaborative ties. Coordination and connection are thus key aspects of well-functioning strategic partnerships – but only if the model builds on principles that afford strategic partnerships sufficient degrees of freedom in organising collaboration projects. Otherwise, the risk of reproducing fragmentation and the resulting problems known from FP7 cooperation will be substantial.

The CRF epitomises an interest among scientists to engage in shaping the framework conditions of research and innovation. Beyond the scope of specific recommendations, the CRF may serve as a source of inspiration for how to establish a direct dialogue between the scientific community and policymakers.

The CRF report was followed up by a ‘CRF II’ process during which the chairship of CRF put together a set of recommendations for the implementation of Horizon 2020 in light of the CRF report. The resulting paper (Højgaard, L. et al. [2012a]) focuses on recommendations for implementing measures to promote excellence, cross-disciplinarity, simplicity and impact. The recommendations for implementation along with the CRF report can be found at the CRF homepage (

Authors: Brenneche, Nicolaj Tofte         

Højgaard, Liselotte

Sponsors: Capital Region of Denmark

Technical University of Denmark

University of Copenhagen

Type: European research and innovation policy, Horizon 2020
Organizer: Capital Region of Denmark, Technical University of Denmark, University of Copenhagen

Contact: Anne Line Mikkelsen,

Duration: 2011 – 2012
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: November 2012

Download: EFP Brief No. 228_Visions for Horizon 2020.

Sources and References

Højgaard, L. et al (2012): Visions for Horizon 2020 – from Copenhagen Research Forum.

Højgaard, L. et al (2012a): Copenhagen Research Forum II. Recommendations for an optimized implementation of Horizon 2020.

Both are available at

EFP Brief No. 226: Freightvision

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

The project goal was to develop a long-term vision and action plan for a sustainable European long-distance freight transport system by 2050, covering both transport policy and research and technology development policy. It aimed at bringing new knowledge (e.g. on climate change), perspectives (including from outside the transport sector) and stakeholder groups into an established field. Creating channels for communication between participants from business, policy, civil society and R&D to overcome sectoral boundaries was an explicit goal from the beginning.

Adjusting Long-distance Freight Transport to Old and New Challenges

The European Union faces the challenge to ensure economic growth and cope with limited transport infrastructure as well as increasing demand for freight transport in the years and decades to come. At the same time the transport system is supposed to become sustainable with a decreasing impact on climate change.

The Freightvision foresight focuses on a subset of sustainability aspects that are currently considered the most critical ones with regard to a sustainable European transport system and have failed to meet sustainability standards so far. These aspects are greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the share of fossil fuels, road fatalities and traffic congestion. They have been addressed specifically in the mid-term review of the European Commission’s 2001 transport white paper.

The Commission’s 20-20-20 goal to reduce GHGs and fossil fuel consumption and increase the share of renewable energy sources by 2020 along with the longer-term goal to reduce GHG emissions to 80% of the 2005 baseline by 2050 are tremendous challenges for the transport sector and particularly for freight transport.

DG TREN (MOVE) reacted to the overall goal and elaborated a new white paper. The financial crises and the rapid rise in energy prices led to new perspectives. Forecasts used before were outdated and business as usual scenarios had to be reconsidered.

Aligning Freight Transport with Climate Change Mitigation

The foresight focussed on long-distance freight transport in three modes: road, rail and inland waterways. The time horizon was set to 2050 in order to take into account climate change mitigation goals and the life cycle of infrastructures. Sustainable development should be envisaged in terms of GHG/CO2 reduction, reduction of fossil fuel use, less congestion and traffic accidents (particularly on roads).

The aim to develop a vision of long-distance freight transport in 2050 was understood in two different ways: (a) in the sense of concrete targets for 2020, 2035 and 2050 and (b) as a visualisation of the future of sustainable freight transport in 2050 based on stakeholders’ expectations.

The tangible output of the project was to consist of an action plan with recommendations for transport policy as well as for research, technology and innovation policy.

Complementary Approach to Foresight

The Freightvision foresight was designed as a complementary foresight process. The process accompanied the whole project and assured that stakeholders’ expertise and perspectives were integrated into the support action.

The complementary approach genuinely combined methodology, role and task sharing to capitalise on the capabilities of transdisciplinary research, foresight expert advisory and (trans-) organisational development counselling for complex projects settings.

The project was to profit from the team’s complementary expertise on:

  • Transdisciplinary research: Expert knowledge about the transport sector as well as the socio-economic and policy issues involved here. In particular, climate-related adaptation and mitigation expertise was brought into the stakeholder fora.
  • Foresight methods and techniques: Designing tailor-made foresight processes that encompass a fully fledged foresight process with appropriate techniques for the exploratory and normative phases.
  • (Trans-)Organisational development (OD) counselling: Orchestrating knowledge flows and network building in large group settings, such as the fora.
Integrating Modelling into Deliberative Foresight Processes

In Freightvision, results from several quantitative models were fed into the participatory foresight processes. The results of energy models informed the oil price scenarios; a congestion model and a CO2 emission model were used to analyse the impacts of reduction scenarios and assess policy measures.

Because the project provided a strong quantitative evidence base and integrated different strands of evidence by involving practitioners and including scientific expertise, deliberative participation and learning in large group settings led to well-founded results.

Stakeholder participation in this case was defined as invited representatives from research, business, policy and civil society taking part in a strategic dialogue on long-term issues. The stakeholders were explicitly involved as ‘experts’ based on their practical knowledge. The expertise of participants was treated as deliberative input to shape the content and tangible results of the foresight process, leading to robust scenarios, recommended action plans, visions and background reports.

To accentuate the expert role, attendance was mainly by personal invitation. The foresight process involved more than 100 representatives from the EC, ministries of the member states, advisory councils, technology platforms & ERANETs, freight forwarders and logistics companies, infrastructure operators, industry, trade, cargo owners, vehicle technology and energy suppliers, environmental and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as trade unions.

The project intended to take a holistic approach that addressed all aspects of the future challenges, i.e. infrastructure, ITS, propulsion systems, vehicles, fuels, interoperability etc., and considered all types of criteria in the solution: research, technologies, policies and pricing. The invitations were issued so as to ensure that a balanced mix of participants represented all relevant areas and that no group of stakeholders or mode of transport was over- or underrepresented.

The Freightvision process was organised in four highly interactive stakeholder expert meetings (fora) with up to 90 participants in each one. Given the large group settings, the goal of encouraging deliberation and the network-building function of the fora, the foresight relied on an overall architecture that had to be tailored to purpose. The methods applied in the group process were borrowed from the field of organisational development (OD) research, which focuses particularly on changes in the thinking and action of stakeholders. Applying OD concepts and instruments throughout all phases of the foresight aimed to maximise interaction, collaboration, deliberation and learning among stakeholders.

The four fora took place during a 12-month period from 2009 to 2010. They were designed around participative sessions where a maximum of 10 participants were seated at a table and each table discussed specific questions under the auspices of trained moderators. The stakeholders discussed project results, refined, adjusted, integrated and assessed the work of the project consortium, and collectively developed scenarios, visions and an action plan.

Modelling was used in four cases:

  • Long-term development of energy prices were taken from the Primes and PROMETHEUS model.
  • Forecasts from the Progtrans European Transport report were used to predict transport demand.
  • The TRANS-TOOL model was used for a congestion trend forecast for 2035. Making certain assumptions for the shorter term, the model was not flexible enough to properly capture longer-term developments as it was restricted to a limited network infrastructure of roads and railways.
  • A model for long-distance freight transport emissions and energy consumption was developed by the Finnish partner, SYKE. The model helped estimate the emissions and energy consumption of future transport systems described in the business-as-usual forecast and the backcasting exercise. The model maintained flexibility in accounting for different combinations of vehicles, technologies and fuels.

The model results – although often described as “forecasts” – were never used in the sense of predictions since such forecasts are most likely to be wrong. Instead, the results were used as a basis for discussions and a means of becoming clear about dimensions and relations (e.g. the emission reduction potential of transport modes). Awareness was raised that while model assumptions have to be made explicit, they are necessary to come to a manageable amount of scenarios in the process.

Foresight Toolbox

The projects led to a fully fledged foresight process including methods and techniques such as desk research, modelling, visioning workshop, scenario development, backcasting, wild card analysis and impact assessment. Figure 1 illustrates how the methodologies and particularly how modelling was integrated into the foresight process. Modelling was a part of each step of the project. The foresight forum meetings took place after each project step, and the modelling results and other findings were used and discussed in the fora. Apart from publishing research results in detailed work package reports, more comprehensive briefing documents (management summaries) were sent out to the participants prior to the fora to make knowledge flows more effective and transparent.


Figure 1: Integrated foresight design linking fora and project steps

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions as Major Driver

The process resulted in three stylised projections for each of the four sustainability criteria GHG emissions, the share of fossil fuels, congestion and accidents by 2050. The project proposes a long-term vision and a robust and adaptive action plan, developed in a joint effort by the project team and relevant stakeholders, for both transport and technology policy for sustainable long-distance freight transport in Europe.

Reaching the GHG reduction targets when taken seriously will have a tremendous impact on freight transport. It became clear that the EC goals for reducing GHGs will be the most important driver of freight transport policy over the coming decades and can be expected to dominate other EU-level transport policy issues, such as congestion and accidents. Containing GHGs from road transport will require the most efforts in the process. The modelling exercise showed that, even if volume could be doubled and electricity is produced by low carbon sources, rail freight transport would only contribute to reduction targets to a rather small extent.

Visioning Quantifiable Targets

Quantifiable targets for the sustainability criteria (Tab. 1) were formulated in correspondence with the models where available. Targets were set for GHG emissions, the share of fossil fuels, congestion and accidents. Preliminary targets were assessed based on the action scenario (developed in a backcasting exercise), a conflict and feasibility analysis and a wild card analysis.

Table 1: Targets for reducing GHG emissions, the share of fossil fuels, congestion and road fatalities

Solution Strategies and Controversies

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Dominates Debate on Policy Measures

GHG-reduction goals are tremendously challenging and dominated the debate about policy measures. Some of the most important conclusions were:

  • A modal shift from road to rail would have a limited effect only. The relative importance and potential remedy of shifting freight from road to rail transport was heavily discussed. Quantitative modelling showed low potential for increasing the currently relative small portion of rail traffic substantially.
  • Gigaliners, praised by some as highly efficient, can play only a small role in reducing GHG emissions effectively.
  • Road transport is the main producer of GHG emissions and demands substantial action.
Solutions for GHG Reduction in Freight Transport

The normative part of the foresight produced 36 measures related to road transport, rail transport, inland waterways and maritime transport, supply chain, energy supply and vehicle suppliers. Some of the most important solutions for the reduction of GHG based on the SYKE model were:

  • Improved aerodynamics of trucks was identified as a very effective technological measure although existing norms hinder the dissemination of such improvements in road transport.
  • More efficient logistics has to contribute 25% to GHG reduction if targets are to be met.
  • Electrification of long-distance road transport would be necessary to reach the required reduction targets, which is a very challenging task in the light of the present absence of appropriate technologies, particular in storing non-fossil energy for trucks.


Table 2: Key characteristics and the most effective policy actions

Transport Performance
·         Network optimisation
·         E-freight
·         Transport route planning & control
Vehicle Energy Demand
·         Aerodynamics and rolling resistance
·         Best available technologies
Low Carbon Electricity
·         CO2 labelling
·         Taxation of fossil fuels
Electric Energy in Road Transport
·         Improved batteries
·         Taxation of fossil fuels
·         Investment in road infrastructure
·         Clean vehicle technologies II – biofuels
·         Taxation of fossil fuels
Efficient Usage of Vehicles
·         Transport consolidation & cooperation
·         Training for eco-driving
·         Liberalisation of cabotage
Engine Efficiency
·         Integration of CO2 standards into HGV regulations
·         Best available technologies
Modal Split
·         ERTMS
·         Intermodal transport
·         Internalisation of external costs
Electrification of Rail
·         Electrification of rail corridors
·         CO2 labelling
·         Taxation of fossil fuels
Truck Weights & Dimensions
·         Modification of  HGV rules Weights & dimensions
·         Investment in road infrastructure
Infrastructure Capacity
·         Investment in ITS
·         Investment in road infrastructure
Transport Costs
·         Internalisation of external costs
·         Congestion charge
Fatalities per Vehicle km
·         Investment in ITS
·         Harmonised speed limits
·         Training for eco-driving
·         Enforcement of regulations


Controversial Issues Laid Open

Given the challenging but feasible reduction targets for GHGs, all of the above-mentioned policy actions would have to be implemented within a four-decade time span. Obviously, this has a number of critical implications both in terms of single actions as well from a systemic perspective.

The advantage of a large group in a foresight process is the involvement of a broad range of policymakers and stakeholders, who are key players in shaping the future. To reach a shared vision for the future is probably the most critical factor for a transition to take place. Participation of key players increases the potential to reach consensus and form new networks or link existing ones to face new challenges.

At the same time, working in large groups increases dissent. Necessary changes might threaten established positions and networks. However, carefully planning each forum can limit the threat of conflicts that might undermine the success of the foresight process.

In Freightvision, controversies between stakeholders and within the Commission went beyond what would be expected for a FP7 project that has no direct influence on formal stakeholder consultation processes. Some stakeholders of the rail mode were particularly critical as the role of rail transport in reducing GHGs turned out to be less important than expected. However, the detailed process design, its transparency and the clear communication of the results of the qualitative and quantitative research helped to keep controversies at a constructive level during the project.


Authors: Klaus Kubeczko 
Sponsors: DG TREN, FP7
Type: European – sectoral
Organizer: Austria Tech
Duration: 2008 – 2010
Budget: 4,000,000€
Time Horizon: 2050
Date of Brief: November 2012

Download: EFP Brief No. 226_Freightvision.

Sources and References

Freightvision website

Helmreich, Stephan; Keller, Hartmut (Eds.) (2011): FREIGHTVISION – Sustainable European Freight Transport 2050, Fore­­cast, Vision and Policy Recommendation. Springer Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg.

Helmreich, S., Kubeczko, K., Wilhelmer, D. and Düh, J. (2011): Foresight Process. In Helmreich, S., Keller, H. (Eds), FREIGHTVISION – Sustainable European Freight Transport 2050, Springer Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg, 17-32.

Schartinger, D., Holste, D., Wilhelmer, D. and Kubeczko, K. (2012): Assessing immediate learning impacts of large foresight processes. Special Issue: Foresight impact from around the world, Foresight 14(1), 41-55.

EFP Brief No. 217: Sectoral Innovation Foresight: The Sectors

Friday, May 25th, 2012

This brief continues the coverage of the Sectoral Innovation Foresight of Brief no. 216 by taking a closer look at seven out of the nine sectors that were explored in the project as part of the Europe INNOVA initiative: automotive, food and drink, knowledge-intensive services, aerospace, and wholesale and retail. The foresight study aimed to identify potential policy issues and challenges of the future. The emphasis was put on developments that could possibly have a disruptive effect on the sectors under consideration, on the one hand, and on developments that are likely to be of cross-sectoral relevance to innovation, on the other.

Sectoral Futures

The scenarios developed offered a variety of different futures with quite divergent impacts on the competitive landscape, technological progress, environment and society. The scenarios aimed to guide policymakers in considering specific scenarios but were also an attempt to prepare them for more than one possible future. This also helped gauge the extent to which policies maintain flexibility (‘robust strategies’) or focus on one single scenario (‘focused strategies’).

Including the full results for each of the nine sectors would be an impossible task within the format of this foresight brief. Short summaries of the nine sectors will be presented instead. For some sectors short, summaries of the scenarios are included, for others only the key drivers are presented. The complete results are available in the nine sectoral foresight reports, which can be downloaded from the website (see references at the end).


The automotive industry has been hard hit by the economic crisis. This has had a strong impact on its future strategic orientation and has triggered the transformation of the sector. Driving factors such as technical advances in developing power train technologies, new manufacturing strategies, market saturation, regulation, energy prices, and mobility behaviour have been considered to be significant.

From a future-oriented perspective, the following four drivers can be considered as particularly influential: (1) income (customers may have more or less relative income available in the future), (2) energy storage (we may see breakthrough innovations with respect to cost and capacity in relation to this crucial component of alternative power train technologies or only incremental innovations), (3) mobility behaviour (we can think of a differentiation of individual mobility or may see a reduction and substitution by public transport), and (4) regulation (ranging from radical attempts to incremental regulations). The last driver is pertinent in this respect as it is influenced by policymakers; hence, policy – more or less proactively – has a considerable influence on shaping the future of the automotive industry.


The construction sector is of considerable economic and strategic importance: the built environment affects almost every economic and leisure activity. The outputs of the construction sector affect our landscape, our environment, our living and working conditions – and will continue to do so for generations to come. It provides more employment than any other sector. And, more than any other sector, construction accounts for the use of raw materials and production of waste.

The following trends and drivers resulted as being particularly influential, yet uncertain, in the 10-15 years to come: (1) the conditions for the financing of investment (Will there be sufficient public and private financing available?); (2) sustainability (Will sustainability be market or regulation driven?); (3) the role of the public sector (Will public procurement be price-based or performance-based? Will the public sector act as a regulator or as a business operator?); (4) user-driven design (mass production vs. customisation, passive vs. interactive); and (5) labour (Will there be a shortage of people and skills or a surplus through immigration?).

Food and Drink

Currently, the picture of the food and drink industry as well as consumer choices seems to be mixed. Interests range from preferences for natural and minimally processed foods and drinks over specialised, fortified and high-tech nutrition to a diversity of convenience and fast foods. Many different factors, such as economic prosperity, ecological consciousness, environmental problems, food safety concerns, importance of health, technological progress, acceptance of new technology and economic prosperity, can have an influence on the direction of consumer and industry choices.

The scenarios derived from the following trends considered as generally fixed within a short- to mid-term time frame: the increase in global population, a decline of population in many EU countries due to lower birth rates, an increase in life expectancy in EU countries (aging society), and increases in scientific and technological knowledge and possibilities. In addition, the following parameters were considered to vary across the different scenarios and account for their differences: economic prosperity (on a world, country and individual scale), ecological consciousness, environmental problems (occurrences like droughts, floods, extreme weather that could negatively affect food production), food safety concerns (higher vs. lower concerns within society), importance of health (high interest in healthy living vs. rather low interest leading to problems like obesity) and last, technological progress as a function of socio-economic factors that lead to the real application of knowledge and possibilities.

Scenario 1: ‘Business as usual’. This is the reference scenario that depicts the current diversity and huge differences in the food and drink industry ranging from highly fortified and functional food over the trend of natural and organic products to fast food and food with no considerable nutritional value or even harmful ingredients. This scenario does not score high on overall innovativeness, although some sectors (e.g. functional food) will have great potential while others more or less continue their way of only small and incremental improvements in the future.

Scenario 2: ‘Going natural’. This scenario depicts the growing tendency towards less food processing and food products perceived as natural by consumers. Much innovation potential, such as the utilisation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) or nanoparticles in food production as well as other high-tech experiments, is found in areas generally not popular with the consumer. But also conventional ‘fast food’ considered unhealthy will be replaced more and more by other fast alternatives such as salads or fruit. Here, innovations mainly lie in finding ways to process food with healthier ingredients (e.g. natural food additives) or improved testing and process automation. A growing consumer concern over the environment and ethics (e.g. animal rights, fair trade etc.) are driving factors. This scenario is more likely under conditions of higher economic prosperity and greater concern over health issues. But it can also become more likely if the perception of ‘industrial food’ and industrial food producers becomes more negative.

Scenario 3: ‘Cheap and convenient’: This scenario reflects a situation where general prosperity as well as the interest in health, future and innovation declines. Contradictory information about nutritional health benefits as well as scientific fraud combined with higher budget consciousness leads to a growing disinterest of consumers in healthy nutrition. Budget (for some involuntarily), fastness, convenience and indulgence are major drivers. Resources for innovation are rather scarce, and companies are mostly interested in cost reduction.

Scenario 4: ‘High-tech nutrition’: In this scenario, technological progress is fast and developments from different disciplines, from biotechnology to material science, influence innovations in food and drink manufacturing. The consumers tend to increasingly accept novel technologies in the area of food and drink. Health improvement beyond healthy nutrition only stands in the centre of interest. It is considered to be achievable only through advanced technological modifications of food and drink products, which even result in medicinal food.

Scenario 5: ‘Emergency’: This scenario depicts a situation where some of the basic requirements of food security (availability and accessibility) are in jeopardy and the main goal for solutions and innovations lies in getting enough food. The ‘emergency’ scenario is certainly a kind of worst case scenario, but if sustainability were to be neglected, this could become a realistic outcome.

In the principal, technological possibilities in the area of food and drink production is high and even growing. The major challenge, however, lies in bringing these possibilities in line with consumer interests, solving current challenges and fostering the developments towards desirable futures while also stimulating culinary diversity and protecting culinary traditions.

Knowledge-intensive Services

The growth of knowledge-intensive services (KIS), including knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS), has been fuelled by the application of new technologies and changes in demand. The application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is the most important technology driver of growth in KIBS. The application of ICTs creates new service opportunities but also provides new ways to provide services to clients and enhances the range of service firms. Demand-side drivers of KIBS growth include a higher degree of specialisation and division of labour in the economy, which leads to an increasing demand for external expertise and an increasing degree of outsourcing. In addition, internationalisation opens up new markets for service firms and facilitates international off-shoring.

Based on these drivers, the scenarios of the future development of KIBS are sketched along two dimensions: (1) the degree knowledge can be codified, which is key to automated service provision and scale advantages; (2) the stability and fluidity of the business environment, which allows or hampers outsourcing, internationalisation, entrepreneurship and the emergence of new players. Combinations of the two drivers result in four scenarios.


Future developments in the sector are particularly influenced by demand drivers and technology development. Demand drivers differ between aeronautics and space, with demand for aeronautics particularly shaped by expected growth in air travel, which in turn depends on economic growth and fuel prices. Space, on the other hand, is still a largely regulated sector dominated by public demand, making public demand and regulation key demand drivers. Future demand for space applications is largely based on addressing societal challenges, such as security issues, monitoring and managing transport as well as land, water and air resources. Generally, regulation is the largest source of uncertainty, primarily affecting future demand in aeronautics, for example through an emission trading system, but also in the space sector, with regulation touching on liability issues and space tourism.

Key uncertainty factors that have a high impact and account for differences between the scenarios are the availability and price of energy, the level of economic growth and geopolitical uncertainties. These factors were identified as posing the biggest future uncertainties for the sector.

Scenario 1: ‘Global green aerospace’: This scenario describes a peaceful, highly globalised world in 2040 that has successfully taken steps toward an energy transition assuring a secure energy supply at reasonable but increasing prices. Business people but also private individuals enjoy the freedom of being able to travel frequently and far away. Terrorism is not a major threat obstructing air travel. This leads to a flourishing aeronautics and space sector. New technologies and smart regulation lead to radical improvements in aircraft efficiency and emissions while the space sector allows monitoring and tackling many societal issues, such as climate change, environmental resources and mobility. Furthermore, free access to space and a global judicial system for space also allow the sector to flourish commercially.

Scenario 2: ‘Regional aerospace’: This scenario describes a world in 2040 with strong regional power hubs and limited ties between them. No global agreement on climate change has been reached, blocking a smooth transition to renewable alternatives. Access to fossil fuels hence remains important and shapes international relations. This combination of realpolitik and protectionist tendencies leads to slow economic growth and rising energy prices, with large regional differences based on access to oil/gas resources. Europe tries to lead the way but struggles with strong international competitors. While still able to travel globally, people choose to take holiday trips within Europe, largely for economic reasons. With increasing rivalry between global power hubs, access to space becomes more difficult in this climate.

Scenario 3: ‘Zero-sum games’: A rapid energy scarcity leads to highly fluctuating energy prices and interruptions in supply. Globalisation, thriving on cheap energy and transport, comes to a halt with severe economic adjustment processes. International holiday trips are reduced sharply with people adjusting their consumption patterns to a changed economic environment. Countries seek their interests in protectionist policies leading to a downward spiral and breakdown of multilateral institutions. Trade conflicts become the norm with resulting conflicts for access to natural resources. Security expenditure rises steeply at the expense of other policies, such as the environment. European integration is at stake. Overall, this is an unfavourable scenario with regions competing on a zero-sum basis leading to a deteriorating economic and social environment.

Textiles and Clothing

The European textiles and clothing (T/C) sector is undergoing two main simultaneous developments: the move from a labour-intensive, low-technology sector to a knowledge-intensive industry and the ongoing relocation of production out of Europe. While new technological opportunities for the T/C sector are emerging, the move to a knowledge-based sector is still at an early stage and major challenges need to be addressed.

A number of main drivers of change have been identified, including both technological drivers as well as demand-side drivers. Out of these technological drivers, intelligent clothing and smart materials are considered to be of outstanding importance. Findings in other technologies, including ICT and nanotechnology, are of growing importance and increasingly incorporated into textiles and clothing products as well. New production methods are another main technological driver, enabling the T/C sector to reduce the still high share of rather low-skilled manual labour, reduce the amount of energy and raw materials used, and increase the flexibility and quality of production processes. These new products and production methods are complemented by the more frequent use of e-commerce and other interactive technologies, offering a wide range of new business models. On the demand side, changes in consumer behaviour are driven by demographic changes, an increasing consumer awareness of factors affecting health and sustainability, and consumers’ attitudes towards counterfeit goods.

As these drivers are of varying importance to either the clothing or the technical textiles subsector, two sets of scenarios were developed, each illustrating three different developments of the two subsectors within the next five to ten years in Europe.

Wholesale and Retail Trade

The scenarios developed for the retail sector followed the rationale that retailers are the link between consumers, on the one side, and a wide range of actors, on the other, including wholesalers, suppliers, logistics services, providers of payment systems, advertising and marketing agencies, construction services, waste industry and recycling services. The following drivers and trends were considered the most important ones having a high impact: diversification of lifestyles, transportation costs, regulation and the structure of the sector (further market concentration versus a more diverse landscape of retail and wholesale services).

Scenario 1: ‘Big boxes everywhere & green big boxes everywhere’: In this scenario, discounters, supermarkets, hypermarkets and the retail chains are omnipresent. Production and distribution are efficient and the high competition between retail chains forces the retailers to lower costs. Because of the limited number of retail chains the diversity of goods is limited. On the outskirts of towns, large supermarkets target car owners. Retailers are entirely in the lead in terms of what they offer in their ‘big boxes’ and they define what producers have to produce. Retailers are focused on providing relatively low-cost options, achieving economies of scale and offering bundled products and services. The chains develop their own brands while some trusted brands have survived and prospered.

Scenario 2: ‘Local markets – connected through the web’: In this scenario, local markets are strongly based on products produced locally. Because of strategies to reduce environmental impact and ensure continued economic support of farmers and local communities everywhere, local communities in Europe are interested in direct trade with developing countries. There is more local community-based trade between communities in different parts of the world aimed at bypassing established retail supply chains. At the same time, these local markets are linked through web-based networks, establishing a worldwide community of local market actors with the goal of optimising logistics, sharing knowledge on crafts, green production and cooperation. Brands are less powerful, but labels that ensure high environmental and social standards are more influential.

Scenario 3: ‘The digital consumer’: In this scenario, the common internal market for e-commerce is fully realised and shopping takes place through e-commerce. Online shopping and physical shops are combined in various ways: Companies present their products online and organise settings where consuming and shopping is embedded in spectacular events. Tools for virtual experience have been developed, and consumers can learn about products from the experience of interacting with objects, people and the environment. Producers of niche products are expected to benefit from this scenario because they get easy access to consumers and can use the new opportunities provided by social networks.

Scenario 4: ‘The rise of lifestyle stores and malls’: Providing more customer choice to meet changing lifestyle preferences is the defining driver in the ‘lifestyle store’ scenario. In this scenario, people are mainly searching for a stimulating shopping experience. This could be provided by everything from an ‘on-site eco-farmers’ market to a blend of high-tech entertainment and shopping facilities. Lifestyle shopping malls can include one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers and service providers that represent the special lifestyle. The lifestyle-oriented agglomeration of producers and customers offers new market perspectives for specialised producers and services providers that would otherwise not have access to a sufficient quantity of partners and potential clients.

Scenario 5: ‘The supermarket as a public good’: This scenario may arise if values in regard to shopping radically change the retail and wholesale landscape. In this scenario, the main kind of distribution is a type of supermarket that is owned by society not by any individual or company. It pursues democratic values and gives more freedom of choice to the consumer – but also assigns them more responsibilities. Its operations are geared not primarily toward maximising profits but toward fulfilling ethical values and supporting the reshaping of society towards more sustainability and societal soundness. This kind of supermarket could serve the key collective function of providing a place of social integration at the local level. It could lead to more socially and ecologically conscious consumption and force all companies along the supply chain to ensure transparency.

Authors: Annelieke van der Giessen
Sponsors: European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry
Type: Foresight study as part of Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch
Organiser: AIT, TNO with support from other partners in the Sectoral Innovation Watch consortium
Duration: 2008-2010 Budget: 336,000 € Time Horizon: 2020 (2040) Date of Brief: Mar 2012  

Download EFP Brief No. 217_Sectoral Innovation Foresight-Sectors

Sources and References

This foresight brief is based on the sectoral foresight reports from Sectoral Innovation Watch. All nine sectoral foresight reports can be downloaded here:

EFP Brief No. 216: Sectoral Innovation Foresight: The Challenges

Friday, May 25th, 2012

The Sectoral Innovation Foresight was part of the Sectoral Innovation Watch (SIW) project within the Europe INNOVA initiative. The foresight study aimed at exploring future developments in nine different sectors in order to identify potential policy issues and challenges of the future. The emphasis was put on developments that could possibly have a disruptive effect on the nine sectors under consideration, on the one hand, and on developments that are likely to be of cross-sectoral relevance to innovation, on the other.

Foresight on Sectoral Innovation Challenges

The Sectoral Innovation Foresight was part of the Sectoral Innovation Watch (SIW) project within the Europe INNOVA initiative. Europe INNOVA was launched by the European Commission’s Directorate General Enterprise and Industry as a laboratory for the development and testing of new tools and instruments in support of innovation with the goal of helping innovative enterprises innovate faster and better. It brought together public and private innovation support providers, such as innovation agencies, technology transfer offices, business incubators, financing intermediaries, cluster organisations and others. SIW aimed at monitoring and analysing trends and challenges. Detailed insights into sectoral innovation performance are crucial for the development of effective innovation policy at regional, national and European levels.

The foresight on sectoral innovation challenges aimed to integrate foresight exercises to understand the dynamics of sectoral systems of innovation. The concept of sectoral systems of innovation and production (Malerba 2002) seeks to provide a multidimensional, integrated and dynamic view of sectors. A sectoral system involves not only a specific knowledge base, technologies, inputs and demands that determine its development, both trends and trend-breaking developments are also drivers of sectoral change. The interactions of the sectoral actors (individuals, organisations, networks, institutions at various levels of aggregation) are shaped by institutions and by drivers of change. Undergoing change and transformation through the co-evolution of its various elements, a sectoral system is affected by science and technology drivers and demand-side drivers as well.

In recent years, a growing number of projects on sectoral innovation systems and on foresight concepts and activities have been initiated while a growing body of literature has been published. However, the two areas remained unconnected. Within the Sectoral Innovation Watch, the connection between these areas has now been made. The aim was to develop methods of sectoral innovation foresight for the development of a future-oriented innovation policy by identifying key drivers, emerging markets and requirements.

Foresight, in the way it was understood in SIW, is not about predicting the future, but follows the approach of ‘thinking, debating and shaping the future’ (European Commission 2002). It thus aims at sketching different reasonable variants of possible future developments (‘scenarios’), the associated challenges, underlying driving forces and options for dealing with them. In order to achieve this, the foresight approach must look beyond current trends (which are nevertheless an important input) and, in particular, into qualitative trend breaks that can give rise to qualitatively different future development paths in the sectors under study. It is when these qualitative trend breaks are superposed that major changes in both innovation and markets can happen.

This foresight exercise intended to look beyond time horizons that can be addressed by simply extrapolating current trends. In other words, to look sufficiently ahead for major changes to happen while at the same time staying sufficiently close to the present to remain relevant to decision-making during the next couple of years. While for some fast-changing sectors this may imply a three- to five-year time horizon (e.g. biotechnology), for others (e.g. construction) a ten-year time horizon may be more appropriate.

The nine sectors under study in the Sectoral Innovation Watch were:

  • biotechnology,
  • electrical and optical equipment,
  • automotive,
  • space and aeronautics,
  • construction,
  • wholesale and retail trade,
  • knowledge intensive services,
  • food and drink,
  • and textiles.

Enhancing Innovation and Competitiveness

The main objectives of the sectoral foresight exercise can be summarised as follows:

  • Explore and identify the main drivers of change in the nine sectors under study. These drivers will be both internal and external to the sectors, with several of them being of a crosscutting nature.
  • Identify and assess key future developments (i.e. main drivers, innovation trajectories, emerging markets, necessary co-developments, etc.). The emphasis is put on likely future innovation themes and emerging markets, more specifically also on the requirements and impacts that these innovation issues and emerging markets raise in terms of skills requirements, organisational, institutional and structural changes in the sectors concerned.
  • Develop scenario sketches for the sectors under study that capture the major uncertainties ahead of us.
  • Highlight key policy issues for the future, with a view to enhancing the innovation performance and competitiveness of firms operating in these sectors.

A Sectoral Perspective on Foresight

Foresight aims at sketching different reasonable variants of possible future developments, the associated challenges, underlying driving forces and options for dealing with them. In order to achieve this, the foresight approach looks at driving forces, captured for instance in trends and trend breaks. Recognizing the fact that future developments are by their very nature uncertain and open to value judgement, foresight covers activities to think the future, debate the future and shape the future. It is thus not a tool for predicting the future but a process that seeks to develop shared problem perceptions, make differences in expectations explicit and identify needs (and options) for action.

Thinking, debating and shaping the future of different but interlinked sectors is crucial today because innovation is a collectively shaped, distributed, and path-dependent process. Thinking, debating and shaping the future of sectoral systems has to embed the sector developments in contextual developments.

Innovation at the sectoral level depends to a large extent on the developments within the innovation system, but it is also driven by developments in its environment, like for instance changes in science and technology. To explore future patterns of innovation, it is thus necessary to investigate these contextual developments as well as corresponding developments within a sectoral innovation system.

For the purpose of the sectoral foresight exercise, the main building blocks of sectoral systems of innovation and production have been adjusted in order to integrate them with the foresight approach. This has led to a simple pattern of analysis, along the lines of which the sectoral foresights will be structured. The essence of this approach can be captured by the subsequent building blocks (see Figure 1, next page):

  • Drivers, i.e. emerging trends and trend breaks in S&T developments, of expected demand – both internal and external to the sectors under study – that are likely to exert a major influence on emerging innovation themes. Broader crosscutting developments/trends (e.g. the extent to which globalisation affects a sector) are also taken into account.
  • Innovation themes, which are seen as the results of the interplay of S&T developments and changes in expected demand.
  • Emerging markets, which can achieve significance if an innovation theme evolves successfully, i.e. if potential barriers can be overcome and enablers be strengthened.
  • Co-developments in and around a sectoral innovation system; they can serve as enablers of and barriers to innovation. They can even be essential in order to allow markets to emerge. Such co-developments reflect the aforementioned building blocks of sectoral innovation systems.

For the purposes of this exercise, we will refer specifically to

  • organisational changes at the firm level,
  • firm strategies for dealing with emerging drivers
  • skills requirements needed, for instance, to absorb S&T developments,
  • structural changes, i.e. changing configurations of actors in a sector,
  • institutional change, i.e. changes in the ‘rules of the game’ determining the interactions between the actors.

In addition to these four building blocks, the co-evolutionary dynamics of innovation and change in a sector are captured by way of scenarios. Scenarios are to be understood as plausible and at the same time challenging combinations of these building blocks in a future-oriented perspective. Due to the uncertainties associated with contextual developments as well as with all other elements of the innovation system analysis, it is essential to think in terms of several, qualitatively different scenarios of the future, especially if a time horizon is chosen that goes beyond the scope of extrapolating current trends and aims at qualitative changes. In particular, the interplay of different drivers and their mutual reinforcement can give rise to major, even disruptive changes in sectoral innovation systems, with major implications for firm strategies as well as public policy.

The SIW foresight exercise was implemented in four main steps and the results of these steps were integrated in nine sectoral foresight reports:

State of the Art Analysis

For each sector a review of secondary sources on foresight was carried out. This review covered, in particular, the situational analysis, the analysis of drivers of change, as well as a first view on innovation themes. The nine interim sector papers served as input to the workshop on ‘Sectoral innovation foresight: key drivers, innovation themes & emerging markets’ that took place on 23-24 June 2009 in Brussels.

First Foresight Workshop

This first workshop aimed at validating and deepening the findings on drivers and innovation themes but also at exploring first ideas about future sector-level scenarios and associated co-developments. Interim findings were presented and discussed in working groups that dealt specifically with each individual sector as well as with the main crosscutting issues. The discussions with and feedback from the sector experts across Europe helped validate the interim results on key drivers, innovation themes, related emerging markets and associated requirements, and thus contributed to identifying the crucial issues for the future. The first workshop was attended by 60+ key players from the nine sectors, including industry representatives, scientists, foresight experts and policy advisors.

Deepening Findings and Scenario Development

On the basis of the results of the first workshop, the preliminary findings on emerging developments in the sectors were deepened. In particular, this phase evaluated the inputs to the scenario sketches from the first workshop and provided further input for the development of scenarios. Interviews were used to refine the understanding of the role of co-developments for the emergence of markets related to the innovation themes identified.

Second Foresight Workshop

Scenarios played a central role at the second foresight workshop in December 2009. Moreover, cross-sectoral issues were addressed, like, for instance, common drivers of change across sectors or inter-linkages between them. The second workshop also aimed at extracting those issues that – from a forward-looking perspective – are likely to require policy attention. The second workshop was attended by 60+ key players from the nine sectors, including industry representatives, researchers, foresight experts and policy advisors.

Futures Robust Policy Analysis

The finding of commonalities across all sectors reveals what generic factors would be part of the basic pool of drivers to consider when aiming to for policy flexibility (‘robust policy strategies’) in the medium term. This will not reduce uncertainty but can improve preparedness against unforeseen developments while contributing to better policies focused on one single scenario (‘focused strategies’).

In general, there are four main axes that, according to the foresight exercises done, are likely to determine and organise to a large extent the future development of the sectors of interest of the Sectoral Innovation Watch. These are, in no order or priority, general macroeconomic conditions, government policy and intervention, science and technology advances, and the human factor understood as susceptibility of population and democratic systems to broad societal challenges. In addition to these four main axes, other important key organisers of future sectoral developments include energy consumption and pricing and global industrial dynamics.

General Macroeconomic Conditions

The levels of income, aggregated demand and availability of capital are strongly related to macroeconomic growth. Here income must be understood as a factor that affects supply and demand factors. On the supply side, general macroeconomic conditions affect the cost and availability of financing, not only of R&D and innovation but also general investments in infrastructures and production systems. In turn, poor macroeconomic conditions affect employment and overall household income, thus influencing demand for goods and services across an economy. Despite the importance of innovation in the increase in total factor productivity and its effects on growth, the sectors under study are part of a larger industrial ecosystem where typical macroeconomic parameters affected by events beyond the industrial system produce chain reactions across sectors (i.e., the recent financial crisis). Close monitoring of interest rates, trade balances, and overall government expenditure and deficits at the national level must be considered in the design of any sectoral policy.

Government Intervention

Government intervention in the form of regulation is one of the largest sources of uncertainty across all sectors. Its development and stringency along the business cycle is a major moderator of science and technology applications (innovation). Entire sectors (e.g. space) depend to a large extent on public procurement. The empirical analysis of the SIW on the role of regulation to moderate innovation confirms the important role of regulation on innovation performance. Empirical evidence indicates a positive relationship between regulation and innovation.

Science and Technology Developments

The foresight exercise conducted considered a large array of new technologies and innovation efforts likely to influence the direction and rate of growth in all sectors. Any sectoral policy must have a clear consideration of unexploited opportunities and technologies and innovation. An additional factor in this driver is the increasing pace of technological convergence that key enabling technologies bring. The set of foresight reports in the SIW have provided a broad account of current and near future innovations that will transform the sectors of interest to a certain extent.

Human Factor

‘Human factor’ refers to the susceptibility of citizens to very diverse issues that could be technology related or not. Important issues could be sustainability effects of consumption, travel behaviour, lifestyles, value given to health, safety, security, or risk technology perception, etc. Any demand-side policy targeting final or intermediate consumers or users of goods and services must take into account the susceptibility of the target population to a specific issue associated with the technology or innovation of interest.

Global Industrial Dynamics

Global industrial dynamics includes a number of issues that determine the evolution of sectors. These include market structures, market saturation, flexibilisation of supply and demand, availability of skilled labour and the return of the issue of global value chain dominance. In itself, industrial dynamics is a major determinant of the evolution of sectors. Any policy initiative not incorporating clear conceptions of the likely evolution of industrial dynamics in the medium term will have little chance of success.

The five factors described above form part of any robust policy that would ensure sufficient flexibility to face uncertainty and potentially haphazard sectoral developments.

Authors: Annelieke van der Giessen
Sponsors: European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry
Type: Foresight study as part of Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch
Organizer: AIT, TNO with support from other partners in the Sectoral Innovation Watch consortium
Duration: 2008-2010 Budget: € 336,000 Time Horizon: 2020 (2040) Date of Brief: Mar 2012  


Download EFP Brief No. 216_Sectoral Innovation Foresight Overview

Sources and References

This foresight brief is based on several sectoral foresight deliverables from Sectoral Innovation Watch. The two main sources concern:

Montalvo C. and A. van der Giessen (2011) Sectoral Innovation Watch – Synthesis Report, Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch, for DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission, December 2011.

Weber, M., P. Schaper-Rinkel and M. Butter (2009) Sectoral Innovation Foresight – Introduction to the Interim Report, Task 2, Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch, for DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission, July 2009

EFP Brief No. 213: Material Efficiency and Resource Conservation (MaRess) Project

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

In order to successfully provide relevant groups with political support for implementing resource efficiency, one needs to know where to start best, thus, where the highest potentials are likely to be found. Addressing four key issues, MaRess identified potentials for increasing resource efficiency, developed target group-specific resource efficiency policies, gained new insights into the effects of policy instruments at the macro- and micro-economic level, provided scientific support for implementation activities, engaged in agenda setting and communicated findings to specific target groups. This paper presents the overall results of Work Package 1 (WP1) with regard to the potential analyses of the identified technologies, products and strategies. The results were gained from research conducted in the context of a graduate research programme, which was embedded in a network of experts who were involved in the analysis.

The Starting Point

The extraction and exploitation of resources, the associated emissions and the disposal of waste are polluting the environment. The increasing scarcity of resources and the high and fluctuating prices of raw materials can lead to major economic and social dislocations, combined with a growing risk of conflicts over raw materials. Competitive disadvantages arising from the inefficient use of resources endanger the development of businesses and jobs. A strategy for increasing resource efficiency can limit all these problems, which is why this subject is increasingly becoming a key issue in national and international politics. As yet, however, consistent strategies and approaches for a successful resource efficiency policy have been lacking.

Against this background, the German Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Environment Agency commissioned thirty-one project partners, under the direction of the Wuppertal Institute, to carry out the research project Material Efficiency and Resource Conservation (MaRess, project number 3707 93 300, duration 2007 to 2010).

The project aimed at advancing knowledge with respect to central questions of resource conservation, especially the increase of resource efficiency with a focus on material efficiency. Therefore, the most interesting technologies, products and strategies for increasing resource efficiency were identified in a broad, multi-staged, expert-driven process. After that, their concrete saving potential was determined. The potential analyses were carried out as part of a graduate research programme in the wider context of an expert network and expert-based analytical process. After their finalisation, the results of the single potential analyses were analysed in an intense discourse and cross-evaluation process. Finally, issue-specific as well as overarching recommendations for action were concluded.

Identifying Topics with High Resource Efficiency for Germany

Selection of Topics

The process of topic selection aimed at identifying technologies, products and strategies that are expected to carry high resource efficiency potential in Germany. In this respect, a complex expert-based methodology for evaluation and selection was developed that included four steps:

Step 1 “Broad collection”: Identifying topics via desk research and surveys.

Step 2 “Pre-evaluation”: Evaluation of about 1,000 proposals by three criteria: resource input, resource efficiency potential and economic relevance to end up with a focussed topic list (“Top 250 topics”)

Step 3 “First evaluation”: Expert evaluation along seven criteria: resource input in terms of mass relevance, resource efficiency potential of the specific application, other environmental impacts, feasibility, economic relevance, communicability and transferability.

Step 4 “Selection”: The final selection of the “Top 20 topics” was carried out in cooperation with the German Federal Environment Agency.

Potential Analysis as Part of a Graduate Research Programme

Altogether, potential analyses were performed with reference to 20 relevant topics (“Top 20 topics“), which are expected to carry high resource efficiency potential. Methodologically, the resource efficiency potentials were quantified according to the concept “Material Input per Unit of Service (MIPS). Therefore, the potential analyses are based on resource use across the whole life cycle for up to five resource categories. They determine the concrete potential for increasing resource efficiency in each case. Besides the assessment along quantitative results, a qualitative evaluation was carried out to capture, among other things, possible rebound effects and constraints to the dissemination of the application. The qualitative evaluations are based on publications, statistics and expert opinions.

After the finalisation of the potential analyses carried out by the students, the advisors pre-evaluated the theses. Furthermore, an internal evaluation workshop was held to assess the pre-evaluated potential analyses of the WP1 partners according to the seven criteria outlined in Step 3 and the guidelines for potential analysis in an overarching frame. The results of each individual thesis were discussed and specific, overarching recommendations for action were concluded.

From Water Filtration to Resource Efficiency Business Models

Seven fields of action were worked out in the course of the criteria-based cross-evaluation in which central results and recommendations for action for the individual potential analyses were merged. Each field of action summarises several closely interrelated topics from the potential analyses. The selective assignment of the topics is not always possible and there are complex interdependencies between the individual fields of action. Table 1 gives and overview of the fields of action and the potential analyses:

Fields of action and assigned potential analyses
Cross-sectional technologies and enabling technologies: “Door openers” for resource efficient applications

Assessment of resource efficiency in grey water filtration using membrane technologies

Resource-efficient energy storage: comparison of direct and indirect storage for electric vehicles

Resource efficiency potential of energy storage – resource-efficient heat storage

Resource efficiency potential of insulation material systems

Renewable energies facilitate substantial resource savings

Resource efficiency potential of wind and biomass power

Resource-efficient large-scale energy production: potentials of Desertec

Resource-efficient energy production by photovoltaics

The growing ICT market needs a careful resource management

Green IT: resource efficiency potential of server-based computing

Green IT: resource efficiency increase with ICT – comparison of displays

Resource efficiency potential of recycling small electric and electronic appliances by recoverage from household waste using radio frequency identification (RFID) labelling of primary products  

Food – both production and consumption need to be considered

Resource efficiency potential in food production – example: fish

Resource efficiency potential in food production – example: fruit

Resource efficiency potential in food production – example: vegetables

Resource efficiency potential of intelligent agricultural technologies in the example of the use of nitrogen sensors for fertilization

Traffic – infrastructure bears higher resource efficiency potential than drive systems

Assessment of resource efficiency potential in freight traffic

Resource efficiency potential of electric vehicles

Integrating resource efficiency into product development

Consideration of resource efficiency criteria in product development processes

Resource efficiency potential of implementing light-weight construction using new materials

Resource efficiency potential of high-strength steel

Resource efficiency-oriented business models: product-service systems require rethinking

Resource efficiency potentials of new forms of “using instead of possessing” in assembly facilities

Resource efficiency potential of production on demand

Tab. 1: Overview of fields of action and potential analyses

Stronger Networking among Potential Partners and Early Industry Involvement

The topics worked on (“Top 20“) ought to be understood as the beginning of a systematic and encompassing analysis of resource efficiency potentials concerning our social and economic activities. Even though representing central and resource intensive sectors, the topics analysed naturally represent only a small selection from the totality of relevant topics and those that were identified and pre-assessed by the experts during the first expert workshop. Furthermore, some questions remain open and new questions were raised with regard to the topics addressed. Moreover, those topics presented in the expert workshop but not chosen for further analysis and those chosen at the workshop (“Top 50“) bear promising potential, which ought to be analysed in the future. There is also a need to study focus areas based on further case studies (e.g. central fields such as construction, living or food and nutrition).

The analyses also demonstrate the need to make greater use of or develop suitable arrangements (such as networks) to involve industrial partners at an early stage. On the one hand, the existing network of the MaRess project needs to be strengthened; on the other hand, further forms and consortia need to be established (e.g. with a stronger focus on sector-specific topics). This aims at ensuring that the project stays in touch with matters of implementation and feasibility regarding the potentials analysed.

Due to the broad range of topics and the possibilities for increasing resource efficiency in diverse sectors, the network of universities integrating the paradigm of resource efficiency in research and training ought to be expanded considerably. It would also be desirable to extend the circle of participating universities.

The Virtual Resource University

So far, in university education, only few departments and specialist areas offer programmes (e.g., lectures, seminars, projects) in the field of resource efficiency. Therefore, there is much room for increasing the number of programmes offered while they also need to be better integrated into existing curricula. To foster the broad integration of resource efficiency into university training and research, activities for the establishment of a “Virtual Resource University” (from innovation to implementation research) need to be started.

The results of the project will be documented in a comprehensive form in a final report and the central results are planned to be published in a book. Besides, the results of WP1 will be made use of in other work packages of the MaRess project and in the Network Resource Efficiency.

Authors: Dr. Kora Kristof             

Holger Rohn                  

Nico Pastewski             

Sponsors: German Federal Environment Ministry

Federal Environment Agency

Type: National foresight exercise to increase resource efficiency and conserve resources.
Organizer: Dr. Kora Kristof, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, D-42103 Wuppertal, Döppersberg 19, phone: +49 (0) 202 2492 -183, email:

Holger Rohn, Trifolium – Beratungsgesellschaft mbH, D-61169 Friedberg, Alte Bahnhofstrasse 13, phone: +49 (0) 6031 68 754 63, fax: – 68, email:

Nico Pastewski, Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO, Nobelstr. 12, D-70569 Stuttgart, phone: +49 (0) 711 970 -2222, fax: -2287, email:

Duration: 2007-2010 Budget: ca. 540,000€ Time Horizon: N/A Date of Brief: July 2011  


Download EFP Brief No. 213_Material Efficiency and Resource Conservation

Sources and References

For information and downloads on the MaRess project and its findings please visit: