Archive for the ‘until 2015’ Category

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

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

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

The Redesign of STI Policies and Institutions

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

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

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

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

The Conceptual and Empirical Drivers of Policy Changes

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

Limits of the Linear Model

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

Turning to Customized Production

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

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

Endemic Uncertainty

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

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

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

Specialisation of Argentina’s Production

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

Planning in STI Under the New Rationale for Intervention

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

Institutional development of the national STI system

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

Policy Focalization

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

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

STI Policy Designed to Strengthen the Production Model

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

Authors: Miguel Lengyel 

Maria Blanca Pesado

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

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

Sources and References

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

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

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

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

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

EFP Brief No. 236: Assessing Dutch Defence Needs Follow-up

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Under the influence of (inter)national technological, political and economic developments, the Dutch defence industry is increasingly intertwined with and developing towards a civilian industry. Consequently, the political responsibilities, atti-tudes and criteria are changing for both the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Economic Affairs. An analysis of the Dutch defence industry helped to determine the main opportunities for innovation in the industry and to identify the com-plementary technological competences needed to make the most of them. A strategic vision, including options for innova-tion policy, was developed as well. In this follow-up brief, we reiterate the background, approach and results of the initial foresight study and describe its impact in the years to follow.

Transition of Defence

Historically, “defence” supports national strategy, in which nations have built their own forces, defence industry and knowledge infrastructure. Consequently, within nations there arose a demand driven chain with a solid and confidential relationship between the parties in a closed chain, also discerning the industry from ‘civil’ industries. However, technological, political and economic developments in the last twenty years are changing defence radically. Issues such as the end of the Cold War, decreasing budgets, international cooperation, international organization of forces, industries and knowledge infrastructure, growing use of civil technologies, civil industries and civil markets, ‘the war on terrorism’, and homeland defence have entered the stage. Consequently, the political responsibilities, attitudes and measurements are changing for both the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, while the defence industry and knowledge infrastructure is increasingly intertwined and developing towards a civil industry and knowledge infrastructure. This critical transition of the defence chain demands timely strategic information and a vision to anticipate effectively. For ministries this means a clear view on responsibilities, effective investment strategies for a capable future force and an effective industry and innovation policy. The defence industry increasingly has to deter-mine their most favourable innovative possibilities.

Developing a New Strategic Vision

As a result, the ministries wanted to assess four is-sues/developments and formed working groups to prepare the strategy. Four groups were formed to

– Inventory the relevant international developments,

– determine success factors of international cooperation in procurement,

– determine priority technological areas for the defence industry which are for interest for the domestic market, and

– policy instruments to strengthen the strategic vision.

The third question concerning the identification of priority technological areas was the core issue in this project and divided into four sub questions:

  1. What are the current strengths of the Dutch defence industry?
  2. What are international opportunities for innovation in the defence market?

Structural Approach Based on Clusters

The challenge of the exercise was to systematically translate the four sub questions into perspectives on technological clusters or innovation opportunities. This makes the outcomes comparable. Every perspective was analysed and then translated into a codified taxonomy of technologies developed by the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG); this WEAG-classification on defence technologies is generally accepted within the defence sector. This taxonomy includes technology, products and intelligence or as they are called ‘underpinning technologies’, ‘systems-related technologies’ and ‘military assessments, equipment and functions’.

Additionally, the WEAG-classes were checked for interrelation such that priority clusters are formed and interpreted, which seem to combine specific technologies with products and intelligence. Finally, these priority clusters are compared such that a final reflection is made from the four different perspectives (see figure 1).

For determining the strengths of the defence industry, companies were analysed and a computer aided workshop including the industry was organized (Group Decision Room). The innovative opportunities were inventoried based on desk re-search and interviews with leading parties. Future needs of the military forces were inventoried and weighted based on al-ready planned investments by the Ministry of Defence. Finally, the civil market was assessed by experts based on most relevant societal challenges.

Below the analysis on current strengths is elaborated. For foresight purposes, the results on innovative opportunities are also included.

Outcomes: New Paradigm of Effectiveness

Military operations are increasingly operations other than war, such as peace operations, foreign humanitarian assistance and other military support to civil authorities. Consequently, governments turned their focus on the ultimate goal of ‘effect-based [security] operations’. In practice, effect-based operations imply a joint and combined cooperation between different armies and forces resulting in a transformation of a plat-form-centric force into a network-centric force. The term “network-centric warfare” or “network enabled operations” broadly describes the combination of emerging tactics, techniques, and procedures that a fully or even partially networked force can employ to create a decisive advantage. On the whole, the defence sector still innovates on platforms, weaponry and increasingly on intelligence. Figure 3 below shows all innovation themes which are on the agenda of the defence sector.

Innovation themes are divided into underlying innovative opportunities, translated in the WEAG-classification and finally clusters are identified. The main clusters are C4I, sensor systems and integrated system design and development.

Information Based Services

The clusters arising from the four perspectives are compared with each other to identify the main clusters. Table 3 below shows the synthesis.

Type 1 clusters can be regarded as broad, strong clusters, with a good industry base and market potential in domestic, inter-national and civil markets. This first type of cluster represents information based services for the Dutch industry. Type 2 clusters cover a couple of interesting niche markets. Finally, type 3 clusters are fragmented but might have some niches.

Original Brief Impact Discussion

In the 2007 brief, some of the impact of the foresight study was already visible and described:

The project was on a highly political trajectory, where the interests of industry and the ministries of Defence and Economic Affairs were intertwined. Also being a part of a broader process and the project delivering the content for just one of four working groups led to intensive discussions within the interdepartmental group before the results could be used as input to the national strategy for the defence industry. This, together with the change of government, considerably prolonged the finalization of the strategy.

About one year after the finalization of the project, the ministries determined their Defence industry strategy. The results of the project were largely integrated into the strategy and therefore had a high impact. The technological priorities stated were fully accepted and provided the backbone to the suggested defence innovation policy. The strategy was discussed in Parliament and will be part of the national policy on the defence industry.

A Follow-up Foresight Study

As noted, the results from the 2006 foresight exercise were integrated in the Dutch Defense Industry Strategy of 2007. However, since 2007 the strategic context in which this industry sector operates has changed significantly. New forms of conflict arise, that demand new kinds of response (e.g. cyberdefense), closer cooperation with coalition partners requires further integration of systems, the financial crisis has had an impact on defense budgets, and finally there is a clear movement to an open and transparent European defense market.

These strategic changes has prompted the Dutch Defense Ministry to evaluate the Defense Industry Strategy that was formulated in 2007. A key part of this evaluation is a follow-up foresight exercise to the foresight exercise of 2006 described earlier in this brief. In the original foresight exercise, research was done on three questions with regards to the Dutch Defense Industry: (1) what is the Dutch Defense Industry good in? (2) What does the market need? (3) What does Dutch Defense need? Questions 1 and 2 were sufficiently answered, but changes in the strategic context require an update to these answers. The answer to 3 was less detailed, and still required a more extensive study.

This follow-up foresight exercise is planned for 2012, and will be performed by the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies and TNO. It aims to examine whether the identified technology clusters are still relevant, whether they need to be adjusted to extended, considering the developments in the last 5 years. The approach is mostly similar to the one of the previous foresight exercise.

Several other forward looking activities in the past 5 years provide key input for the follow-up foresight study, including an exploration to the Dutch Defense force of the future (Dutch Ministry of Defense, 2010), and a NATO study into the future of joint operations (NATO, 2011).

The follow-up foresight study will be shaped along three main topics:

Needs: the future needs of the Dutch defense are investigated, including innovation characteristics of (new) required capacities, attention to the speeding-up of the lifecycle of innovations and capacities, and the role of defense in this lifecycle of capacities and innovations.

Strengths: the strengths of the Dutch defense industry are analyzed using datasets gathered yearly by other organizations using interviews and surveys with industry organizations.

Opportunities: in interviews and focus group sessions the estimates that the Dutch defense industry make about their own future opportunities are analyzed. This analysis is accompanied by an international comparison and a separate analysis by the organizations performing the follow-up foresight exercise.

In a synthesis phase, representatives from ministries, industry and knowledge institutions will be brought together in a workshop session, in which the final conclusions and recommendations of the study will be formulated.


The foresight exercise described in the original brief had a high level of impact in a specific area: the Dutch Defense Industry Strategy. The study results have proven to be useful in formulating a defense industry strategy by the relevant ministries. This usefulness is further illustrated by the fact that a follow-up study was requested and has been initiated, which is expected to provide input for an update to the defense industry strategy.

Authors: Bas van Schoonhoven                         

Annelieke van der Giessen       

Sponsors: Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Dutch Ministry of Defence  
Type: Single foresight exercise  
Geographic coverage: National (Netherlands)
Organizer: TNO – The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (
Duration: Jan/Jul 2006 Budget: € 150,000 Time Horizon: 2015    
Date of original brief: Oct. 2007     Date of follow-up brief: Oct. 2012    


Download EFP Brief No. 236_Assessing Dutch Defence Needs_Follow-up.

Sources and References

Butter, M, J.H.A. Hoogendoorn, A. Rensma and A. van der Giessen (2006), “The Dutch Defence Outlook”, TNO.

Hoogendoorn J.H.A., Rensma A., Butter M., van der Giessen A., (2007), “Opportunities in Innovation for the Dutch Defence Industry”, EFMN Foresight Brief No. 120, available online at

(Dutch) Dutch Ministry of Defense, 2010, Eindrapport – Verkenningen: Houvast voor de krijgsmacht van de toekomst

NATO, 2011, Joint Operations 2030 – Final Report

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

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

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

Powerhouse of the Knowledge Economy

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

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

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

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

The Success Scenario Process

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

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

Five Success Dimensions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Progress Made

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

Ranking Improved

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

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

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

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

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

Innovation Manchester Network

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

From ‘Knowledge Capital’ to ‘Innovation System’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources and References

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

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

Georghiou, L. (2008): Universities and the City-Region as a ‘Knowledge Capital’ 2008, Foresight Brief No. 14., last accessed 9 November 2012., last accessed 9 November 2012.

EFP Brief No. 215: Institutionalisation of Constructive Nanotechnology Assessments: Challenges and Opportunities for Brazil and Portugal

Friday, May 25th, 2012

The main objective of this study is to explore possibilities of institutional capacity building for constructive technology assessment (CTA) of nanoscience and nanotechnology in Portugal and Brazil. In this project, CTA is understood as more than a specific methodology. It represents a family of approaches to broaden interaction among stakeholders and influence or modulate the design process. One of its tenets is to consider and promote reflexivity about ethical, legal and social issues, along with environmental, health and safety concerns early on and throughout the technology research and development process.

Responsible Development of Nanotechnologies

A variety of science and technology studies (STS) and policy statements have highlighted the critical need for more effective mechanisms to assess emerging technologies as part of a ‘responsible development’ of new technologies (e.g. Macnaghten et al. 2005). Nanoscience and nanotechnology (N&N) offers many opportunities to implement such a responsible development paradigm in the context of emerging technologies. The constructive technology assessment (CTA) model is regarded by many as one of the most effective approaches to implementing such a paradigm, as it considers ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) and environmental, health and safety (EHS) concerns in the early stages of development, thus avoiding risky and undesirable outcomes (for further details, see: Schot & Rip 1997).

The ‘Irresponsible’ Catch-up Process

While many of the leading countries in N&N research have explicit directives and initiatives to consider ELSI and EHS aspects in the early stages of N&N research and development (R&D), most peripheral and semi-peripheral countries have made few efforts to promote more ex ante and democratic technology assessments. This seems to be true in the case of Brazil and Portugal as well where, despite government support of N&N research, there is a complete lack of institutionalised programmes and/or initiatives related to CTAs. Moreover, surveys to assess the public understanding and acceptance of science and technology in Brazil and Portugal have shown a societal demand for more accountability and democratic participation in S&T development.

Objectives and Methodology: Institutions and Institutionalisations

The main objective of this study is to characterise the kinds of policies and institutions that are responsible for implementing and sustaining mechanisms of CTA of N&N in the UK, US and Netherlands as well as the existing N&N policies and institutions in Brazil and Portugal in order to understand how to further promote CTA in Brazil and Portugal. More specifically, this work aims at (1) describing the main policies and institutions that perform CTA (or comparable models) in the UK, US and Netherlands; (2) characterising the main policies and institutions responsible for N&N development in Brazil and Portugal; (3) identifying key institutional factors driving successful initiatives that could be implemented in Portugal and Brazil; and finally, (4) proposing ways or sites where CTA might be better institutionalised in Brazil and Portugal.

The methodology of this study followed a qualitative, inductive approach, based on literature reviews and content analysis of grey literature (governmental and non-governmental reports and publications, news, websites, etc.). The complete PhD research, however, includes laboratory ethnographies and semi-structured interviews. Data from the latter are not presented here.

Technology Assessment Arrangements in International Comparison

The United States: the Pioneer

While the US pioneered the establishment of parliamentary technology assessment agencies, there is a strong methodological tradition restricting technology assessment (TA) to an expert-driven analysis of technologies that are already in the production and dissemination phase. This was the case for the Office of Technology Assessment – OTA (active from 1972 to 1995). It was heavily criticised for its ineffectiveness, which was attributed to its political bias and the time required to deliver the assessment reports, which usually arrived too late for effective regulation. Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO – 2000 to present) carries out almost the same tasks.

In regard to the main federal policies for N&N, there are directives that explicitly require including ELSI and EHS concerns in the early stage of development. The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), implemented since 2001, reserves funds for research concerning the early assessment of N&N risks and impacts, and the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (2003) legally supports the initiative and corroborates its vision.

These policies have resulted in the funding of many research projects aimed at CTA and the creation of institutions designed to research and implement such activities. For example, the National Science Foundation has funded the creation of the Nanotechnology in Society Network, which pursues research and promotes CTA and similar activities, such as Real Time Technology Assessment (Guston and Sarewitz 2001) and Midstream Modulation (Fisher et al. 2006). The institutes funded are on the leading edge of global research concerning EHS and ELSI of N&N, for instance the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at the University of California and the Nano Center at the University of South Carolina.

In addition, there are strong non-governmental institutions, like the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Loka Institute, that have lobbied policymakers to implement CTA activities related to N&N development.

The United Kingdom: Policy Learning

The British parliamentary agency for scientific and technological policy advice, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), has been active since 1989.

One of the most important guideposts for global policy-making in N&N has been the British Royal Society (RS) and Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) report ‘Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: Opportunities and Uncertainties’ of 2004. The British government appears to have considered the arguments presented in this study by one of the most prestigious academies in the world. This has been attributed to a kind of ‘institutional trauma’, or a legitimacy crisis, caused by the government’s previous reactions to the biotechnology controversies and the BSE crisis. One year later, in 2005, the government’s response to the RS and RAE report was published. Among the many recommendations, they agreed on the necessity to promote public engagement in the upstream phase of the technological development. Since then, the government agency Sciencewise-ERC has designed and coordinated activities for an ‘upstream public engagement’ on nano, such as the Nanodialogues, the Nanotechnology Engagement Group and the Nanojury.

Another important endeavour reflecting the will, not only of the public but also of the private sector, to shape R&D activities into more socially robust arrangements is the development of the code of conduct for nanoresearch by the Royal Society along with the Insight Investment and Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA).

The Netherlands: Birthplace of CTA

The Netherlands is the place of birth of the CTA approach. It was first applied in the late 1980s and 90s at the NOTA – Netherlands Office for Technology Assessment, which is now called the Rathenau Institute. It still promotes TA activities and public engagement in science and technology issues. The Dutch model has been acknowledged as a successful approach to TA, as it recognizes the importance of deepening the understanding of the co-production of science, technology and society for the responsible governance of emerging technologies.

The main national policy, called NanoNed, is organised by a consortium of universities and industries. One of the main activities of the NanoNed programme is technology assessment, which explicitly refers to the CTA paradigm. It is coordinated by one of the developers of this approach, Dr. Arie Rip. NanoNed has provided 2-3% of the total funding for CTA activities. The TA enterprise is mostly conducted by PhD projects oriented exclusively to the analysis of the co-evolution of science, technology and society and concerned with issues such as nanotechnology and sustainability, risk and responsibility, and methods to map the sociotechnical dynamics of N&N. The programme also supports researchers in the field of N&N to include a component of TA in their work. There are also recurrent interactive workshops and other feedback activities.

Portugal: Vitalising Science

Portugal has recently elected a new government, which has not yet published the new policy for the N&N sector. So far, the strategy has not taken the form of a specific program for nanotechnology, but there is an evident orientation to pursue innovation in the N&N sector. There are two national laboratories concerned specifically with nano R&D and many other N&N projects among 26 similar institutes. The main focus of the government’s action plan has been to establish the Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL). It is a partnership with Spain, with the goal of gathering highly qualified international experts to advance research at the frontier of N&N.

There is no governmental office for technology assessment. Although there were some foresight exercises for policy decisions, usually the technical controversies have been addressed by ad hoc commissions. Still, Portuguese and German researchers of future-oriented technological analysis have created a PhD programme in technology assessment in 2009, hosted at the University of Lisbon.

The Ministry of Science and Technology and High Education has one strong programme of science communication, the ‘Ciência Viva’ (Live Science). Although its goal is to develop a national ‘scientific culture’, it mostly promotes traditional activities of scientific education and communication and so far has not stimulated public deliberative activities.

Brazil: Emerging Concerns

Brazil has a specific federal government programme for nanotechnology, the PNN (Programa Nacional de Nanotecnologia), which has created several networks in N&N specific areas. Although the necessity to research the impact of emerging nanotechnologies is mentioned in the programme, it does not consider their assessment in the early stage of development. For example, the government agency for industrial development has promoted a prospective study of nanotechnology suggesting that ELSI and EHS issues should be addressed only in the final stage of technology development. Still, the Ministry of Development, Industry and Trade promotes the Nanotechnology Competitiveness Forum, which organises periodic open meetings dedicated to discussing N&N and orienting policymakers accordingly. Many of the issues raised by the participants deal with risks and regulation of nano research and products.

Although there is no parliamentary technology assessment agency, there is some government-sponsored research on technology assessment. For example, the Ministry of Health has a specific programme for TA. There is also a National Technical Commission, consisting mostly of experts but also of civil society representatives, responsible for assessing and regulating new biotechnologies.

Since 2005, there exists an institutionalised network named RENANOSOMA (Nanotechnology, Society and Environment) that promotes discussion and public communication about N&N. It was initially funded by the government agency for S&T, CNPq (National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development). Unfortunately the funding was not renewed. Based on the efforts of the individual researchers involved, it has continued its activities with a very restricted budget and limited outreach.

Institutional and Policy Similarities

“Best Practice” Countries

In all countries, it is possible to identify in the policy discourses a commitment to improve and widen direct democratic governance. Moreover, there is know-how and a tradition of parliamentary and other kinds of technology assessment. There is a deep collaboration within private and public R&D institutions. Every country also has a strong STS institution of some kind. The latter, along with influential non- or semi-governmental institutions, such as the think-tank DEMOS, lobby for policy decisions to promote a more responsible innovation process, especially by advocating the role of public engagement in the early process of R&D.

Some analysts identify not only a trauma from recent S&T controversies but also perceive the advance of the knowledge society paradigm and the need to address social concerns as inevitable to assure best economic outcomes (Thorpe 2010).

TA activities are mostly promoted within the academic environment and are funded by national government agencies. The exception is the UK where upstream public engagement activities are directly promoted by governmental agencies.

Although the institutional arrangements may vary, governments have adopted the ‘responsibility paradigm’, either in the form of research institutions concerned with public engagement and the foresight of technology impacts at the early phase of development or by stimulating the integration of a TA component in core areas of N&N research.

Portugal and Brazil Lagging Behind

Both Portugal and Brazil have never had a permanent or general parliamentary technology assessment institution, which may indicate a lack of human resources qualified for the task. Even though both countries have made efforts to foster cooperation between industry and academia to improve innovation capacity, R&D in the field of nanotechnology so far has mostly been done by public institutions.

Although the Brazilian programme for science and technology has specific directives on social inclusion, there is a common orientation in the policy discourse to the linear model of innovation and the deficit model of the public understanding of science, with little concern about public engagement in S&T. This goes along with a centralised top-down approach in S&T policymaking and a weak influence of STS scholars on S&T policy, despite the high quality of research and significant results of particular initiatives.

Both countries have increased the effort to catch up in terms of scientific and technological capacities, especially by stimulating more private R&D and fomenting collaboration among public and private institutions. They have a common history of brain drain and technological dependence along with weak connections between universities and industries. Finally, most of the research on nanotechnology, even in nanoparticles and nanostructured materials, is in its initial stages although they have already developed some patents and products.

Steps toward CTA in Portugal and Brazil

The obvious sites for CTA activities are the public institutions where nano R&D is already going on. Here there is a need for incentives for more collaboration between social and natural scientists in the R&D laboratories and other settings. In this sense, PhD projects focused on assessing emerging nanotechnologies – as the way much of the activities are done in the NanoNed programme – seems to be an adequate and viable path of initiating a culture of CTA. This approach does not require much funding, and it engages transdisciplinary collaboration between social and natural scientists.

In Portugal, for example, there could be an integrated technology assessment department at the INL and other national laboratories, ideally coordinated by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

In Brazil, TA could be added as a mandatory element to the statutes of all the National Institutes of Science and Technology (networks of researchers organised around specific scientific topics). The present policy obligates these institutes to promote science communication, but they usually proceed according to the deficit model of the public understanding of science, that is, they engage in a one-way type of communication.

Of course, there should be more (or any) funding for academic projects focused on nano CTA, ideally inside the N&N institutes. This could not only provide qualified human resources and scientific data but it could contribute to fomenting more reflexivity among N&N researchers.

Big programmes of public engagement in nanotechnologies, such as those promoted in the UK, do not seem feasible in a short time horizon. The limited budget and the historical apathy of Brazilian and Portuguese citizens in terms of engaging in S&T controversies are evidence to a lack of institutional support.

Final Remarks

The information presented here reflects the early results of an in-depth study. The recommendations and suggestions above are not based on primary data or extensive sociotechnical analysis. Nonetheless, the study has already made clear the relevance of answering the following questions: How is the concept of responsible innovation of nanotechnology understood among policymakers, developers and interested civil society members? What are the perceptions and understandings of different stakeholder groups in Portugal and Brazil about CTA approaches? What are the particular methodological needs of CTA in the realities of these two countries? In what specific N&N sub-sectors is CTA more urgently needed? Finally, how feasible is the implementation of CTA in Brazil and Portugal in the short-term?

Authors: Paulo Fonseca                         ;
Sponsors: Scholarship from Monesia – Mobility Network Europe South America: An Institutional Approach – EC/EACEA; advisor: Dr. Tiago Santos Pereira
Type: Comparative and Analytical Study
Organizer: Center for Social Studies, Faculty of Economics – University of Coimbra
Duration: 2010-2013 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: ~2015 Date of Brief: Feb 2012  


Download EFP Brief No. 215_Institutionalisation of CTA-Portugal and Brazil

Sources and References

British Royal Society (RS) and Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) (2005). Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: Opportunities and Uncertainties. London: RS&RAE

Guston, D. H., & Sarewitz, D. (2001). Real Time Technolgy Assessment. Technology in Society, 23(4), 1-17.

Fisher, E., Mahajan, R. L., & Mitcham, C. (2006). Midstream Modulation of Technology: Governance From Within. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 26(6), 485-496.

Macnaghten, P., Kearnes, M., & Wynne, B. (2005). Nanotechnology, Governance, and Public Deliberation: What Role for the Social Sciences? Science Communication, 27(2), 1-24.

Schot, J., & Rip, A. (1997). The past and future of constructive technology assessment. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 54(2-3), 251-268;

Thorpe, C. (2010). Participation as Post-Fordist Politics: Demos, New Labour, and Science Policy. Minerva, 48(4), 389-411.

EFP Brief No. 173: Norwegian National Research Foresight: Case Study of an ICT Foresight Project

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The brief presents results from a case study of a foresight project conducted by the Research Council of Norway in the field of information and communication technology (ICT) in 2004. The main aim of the foresight project was to provide insight into the challenges facing Norwegian ICT research in 2015.

Widening the Debate on the National Research Agenda

In autumn of 2002, the Research Council of Norway (RCN) launched a comprehensive foresight project as a response to an international evaluation of the Research Council. The evaluation had recommended launching a foresight process to initiate a “wider than normal debate about priorities and empower more parts of society in relation to the national research agenda” (Arnold et al. 2001).

The comprehensive foresight project was a first attempt to use a participatory approach by involving a large number of stakeholders representing research and industry. Five separate foresight projects were organized, covering the areas of aquaculture, clean energy systems, material technology (nanotechnology), biotechnology and ICT. Between thirty and forty external participants were invited to participate in each of the five projects. The project was described as a “development and strategy project” with both “theoretical and method-oriented object-
ives” (RCN 2006). It was part of a larger organisational process designed to serve as a new way of informing strategy processes and to help detect possible new research areas of crucial interest to the RCN and to national research development.

Organizing Foresight

Between 2002 and 2005, five foresight projects were conducted. They were headed by project groups consisting of ten to fourteen members, who were responsible for the design, conduct and results of the projects. They included both RCN staff and representatives of research institutes, universities and private companies invited by virtue of their professional backgrounds, experience and perspectives. Responsibility for the projects was thus distributed among different actors within and associated with the RCN. The five project groups had to report to the line management of the three divisions of the RCN and received guidance from a cross-divisional management group. The comprehensive foresight project was also required to meet the expectations of three boards overseeing the three divisions
(see RCN 2010). All five projects used scenario building as their common method, but the approaches were organized slightly differently in each case.

Case Study: Foresight on ICT Research

The foresight project on ICT research was to achieve closer cooperation between public and private actors and to inform a new large-scale programme on ICT research.2 This process lasted from mid September 2004 to January 2005. During September and October of 2004, two two-day workshops were organized involving forty participants. The main activities of the workshops included

  • discussing driving forces that will influence the sector over the next twenty years;
  • developing scenario models and drafts about how these driving forces will influence developments over the next twenty years;
  • developing larger scenarios based on these drafts; and
  • preparing strategic recommendations.

The workshop groups delivered six scenario drafts to the foresight project group. Two workshop groups had focused on surveillance and a warden society in which the need for security leads to new ICT solutions. A second group contributed the idea of a user society in which ICT research is completely user-driven and geared towards entertainment. Group 3 had focused on a competence society in which research priorities are set on a national basis and aim at improving competence among all citizens. Group 4 had focused on the regional aspects of social and technological development. Finally, Group 5 had concentrated on developing an idea about researchers being out of sync with the rest of society and living in an ivory tower, indifferent to social developments around them.

Research out of Sync, Consumerism and R&D Policies

After the first two-day workshop with forty participants, the project group together with two consultants with narrative skills conducted six meetings over the course of three weeks to establish three coherent scenario stories. Here several issues emerged. The scenarios were meant to address the question of how ICT research should be conducted in the future and how it might improve long-term decision-making in the RCN. Six scenarios were deemed too many while three based on distinct storylines were considered sufficient.

2 The case study discussed here is based on firsthand observations of the process, including participatory workshops, meetings of the ICT foresight project group, the process of writing scenarios and the final evaluation of the scenarios in relation to the development of the ICT research programme.

3 ERA stands for European Research Area

A first scenario called The Spirit of the New ERA”3 was developed. Here, ICT development would become part of a state-governed strategy giving priority to national research. According to the facilitator, this scenario could create a “marketing effect” for the RCN.

A second scenario, called eConsuming Norway focused on consumerism, short-term solutions and applied ICT research, using ideas from two scenario drafts. Finally, elements from groups 1 and 5 formed the basis for a third scenario called Out of Sync showing the entire ICT research community as out of step with societal development and being only interested in furthering basic research. The workshop scenario drafts were thus ordered into stories that were assigned different roles in ICT research policy.

Challenging the Scenarios

Several challenges emerged in the process of writing scenarios about the future of ICT research. First of all, the lack of attention to future technological development in the scenarios was addressed several times, and some group members asked for a technology scenario to be added. Second, the scenario “The Spirit of the New ERA” was repeatedly criticized for its obvious focus on a strong state-governed research policy. Third, the scenarios were supposed to be evaluated by different stakeholder groups, such as the project group itself, the workshop group of the forty participants that had contributed the original ideas, and the different organisational units in the RCN (see organisation).

The scenarios were thus meant to be relevant to a wide range of processes outside the foresight project. This was a challenge that influenced the discussions during the writing phase but did not necessarily contribute to developing the stories themselves during the meetings. The main writing activities were conducted by four group members who were RCN employees, hired consultants and the facilitator in between meetings. The writing process resulted in the three scenarios described above.

Can Change be Progress?

The scenarios were presented in the second and final workshop, again conducted with forty participants, where they were evaluated for their strategic relevance. Some of the uncertainties resurfaced in the discussions that had already emerged during the writing stage.

The external experts argued that there was not enough information on technological developments in the scenarios. However, according to a RCN employee centrally involved in the process, the scenarios were meant to introduce change – change in ways of thinking about ICT research, the future and strategy.

Not all ICT research could succeed in Norway, so some of it, basic, applied or industrial, would have to be scaled down or organized in a different way. New combinations of research to foster innovation as well as novel social contextualization should move to the forefront to meet the challenges spelled out in the scenarios.

Yet, according to other group members, it was especially important to highlight the aspect of generic ICT research in the research programme in order to “push the whole research field and contribute to progress within ICT research”. This focus on generic ICT research, such as micro-technology, infrastructure and distributed applications, had not been considered in the scenarios. Because the scenarios failed to provide ideas on technological development, the stories sounded unconvincing to the ICT experts. Their strategic interests were first and foremost geared toward enhancing competence and scientific progress not social change.

The scenarios did therefore not influence the programme proposal published early in 2005. The committee evaluated them as irrelevant for informing the new programme in their present form.

Learning from Challenges

The main challenges highlighted here concern participation, scenario writing and relevance. The particular context, conditions and implementation of the foresight project show that these were challenges related to the specific context. Yet, they also have more general implications for foresight practice.

Difficulties in Involving Prominent Actors

The participation of representatives of powerful research organizations in the development of priorities in national research policy represents a challenge for foresight organisers. When participants are asked to actively promote their interests in a foresight process, those who do not receive sufficient attention will find it difficult to mobilise resources and make their voices heard (Salmenkaita and Salo 2004). Therefore, organisers should attempt to police attempts to push sectoral or individual interests (Cuhls and Georghiou 2004). In the ICT foresight project described above, participants were asked to put their sectoral or economic interests aside during the foresight workshops. This, however, led to uncertainty among the participants about how to employ their expertise in developing relevant scenarios. Ensuring quality, relevance and representativeness is thus a challenging balancing act for organisers of foresight processes.

How to Ensure Representativeness in Scenario Writing

Foresight activities are often structured around a core group of key actors assigned responsibility for choosing the topics treated, scenarios written and recommendations given (Rask 2008). Foresight literature addressing the scenario writing stage is mostly prescriptive and discusses possible or optimal approaches depending on which areas scenarios are meant to inform, i.e. strategic planning, research policy or public debates on future technologies. Empirical knowledge about the negotiation of scenario writing seldom enters the wider professional and academic research arena. The case study shows that scenario writers not only collect and re-present scenario ideas. They are also scenario authors, employing their narrative skills, personal style and perspectives. This poses challenges to foresight in terms of representing the broad variety of participants’ perspectives and ideas.

Foresight and R&D Policy

According to Dannemand-Andersen and Borup (2006), the managers of national research programmes are in a situation where they must muster support for specific decisions about national research priorities. In this respect, there is uncertainty about how to implement foresight exercises within research councils. Foresight can be understood simply as a type of output for better informing policy-makers and thus as standing in a loose relation to decision-making (Brown et al. 1999). Scenarios introducing ideas about socio-technical change run the risk of becoming irrelevant if research priorities are developed according to an understanding of progress as the advancement of scientific knowledge alone.

Authors: Stefanie Jenssen
Sponsors: Research Council of Norway (RCN)
Type: National foresight project addressing research challenges in five key technology areas
Organizer: Research Council of Norway (RCN), Contact: Hilde Erlandsen:, Jan Dietz:
Duration: 2002-2005 Budget: unknown Time Horizon: 2015-2020 Date of Brief: June 2010


Download EFP Brief No. 173: Norwegian National Research Foresight: Case Study of an ICT Foresight Project

Sources and References

The brief presents issues of scenario development discussed in a PhD thesis currently being reviewed by a PhD committee (June 2010). More information on the foresight project and the PhD thesis can be acquired by contacting the author.

Arnold, E., S. Kuhlman and B. van der Meulen (2001): A singular council: evaluation of the RCN. Technopolis.

Brown, N., A. Nelis, B. Rappert, A. Webster, F. Anton, C. Cabello, L. Sanz-Menéndez, A. Lohnberg and B. van de Meulen (1999): Organising the present’s futures – towards an evaluation of foresight, knowledge flows and the coordination of innovation., viewed June 2010.

Cuhls, K. and L. Georghiou (2004): Evaluating a participative foresight process: Futur – the German research dialogue. Research Evaluation 13 (3): 143–53.

Dannemand-Andersen, P. and M. Borup (2006): Strategy processes and foresight in research councils and national research programmes. Paper presented at “EU–US seminar: international Seville seminar on future–oriented technology analysis”, 28–29 September, Seville.

Rask, M. (2008): Foresight – balancing between increasing variety and productive convergence. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 75 (8): 1157–75.

RCN (2006): Report on foresight initiatives at the Research Council 2003-2005. Summary in English:, viewed June 2010.

RCN. 2010. The Research Council’s Organisation., viewed June 2010.

Salmenkaita, J.–P. and A. Salo (2003): Emergent foresight processes: industrial activities in wireless communications. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 71 (9): 897–91.

EFP Brief No. 160: Future Jobs and Skills in the EU

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The renewed Lisbon strategy stresses the need for Europe to place more emphasis on anticipating skill needs. Globalisation, technological change and demographic developments (including ageing and migration) pose huge challenges in that respect, comprising both risks and opportunities. At the same time, a lack of information on future skill needs has been a long-standing concern in Europe. With specific targets set in the Lisbon strategy, the need for regular forward-looking assessments has gained momentum. Subsequently, this resulted in the recent New Skills for New Jobs initiative by the European Commission, and related European projects aimed at identifying future job and skills needs using quantitative modelling approaches. While having advantages of robustness, stakeholders as well as the European Commission identified a clear need for complementary, more qualitative forward-looking analysis. Consequently, the European Commission (DG EMPL) earlier this year commissioned a series of 17 future-oriented sector studies (Horizon 2020) on innovation, skills and jobs following a qualitative methodology. The final results of these studies will become available in spring 2009, and will be followed by a number of other initiatives over the year to come and beyond.

EFMN Brief No. 160_Future Jobs and Skills

EFP Brief No. 158: MONA: A European Roadmap for Photonics and Nanotechnologies

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Photonics and nanotechnologies are highly multi-disciplinary fields and two of the principal enabling technologies for the 21st century. They are key technology drivers for industry sectors such as information technologies, communication, biotechnologies, transport, and manufacturing. Photonics/nanophotonics and nanomaterials/nanotechnologies can benefit from each other in terms of new functions, materials, fabrication processes and applications. The MONA Roadmap identifies potential synergies between photonics/nanophotonics and nanomaterials/nanotechnologies. The challenge of mastering nanoelectronics and nanophotonics science and technologies at an industrial scale is of utmost strategic importance for the competitiveness of the European industry in a global context.

EFMN Brief No. 158_MONA

EFP Brief No. 153: Extremadura Regional Foresight Exercise

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The Extremadura region has carried out the first regional foresight exercise to help devise a global strategy for the socio-economic
development of the region so as to enhance economic growth. The main agents involved in regional development set out to plan a desirable
future for the region and clearly define investment priorities. The Extremaduran foresight exercise aimed at projecting the position
of key sectors and technologies in the context of future international trends.

EFMN Brief No. 153_Extremadura_Foresight

EFP Brief No. 152: Combining ICT and Cognitive Science: Opportunities and Risks

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Many experts think that the technological convergence of previously separated sciences like nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and communication technologies and cognitive sciences will have a deep, long-term impact on society and economy. Key actors in society need to become aware of the challenges linked to converging applications (CA) and take decisions in support of developing them. By analysing CA-related opportunities and risks at a very early stage, we hope to contribute to reducing possible adverse effects in the future.

EFMN Brief No. 152_ICT and Cognitive Science

EFP Brief No. 151: Furniture Foresight Centre – CEFFOR®

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

CEFFOR was created to promote the sustainable development (in terms of all three pillars: economic, social and environmental) of the
furniture industry in countries with high costs of production. CEFFOR is to accomplish this task by means of contributing strategic
information to the social agents and companies who participate in determining enterprise strategies and industry policies.

EFMN Brief No. 151_Furniture Foresight Centre