Archive for the ‘until 2025’ Category

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

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

AAL in a rural region

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

Mühlviertler Alm

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

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

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

Aiming to Become Model of the Future

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

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

Exploring the Potential for AAL in a Rural Region

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

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

Exploring the Framework Conditions of the Region

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

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

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

Future-Oriented Stakeholder Process

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

Stakeholder Workshop I – Visioning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stakeholder Workshop II – Scenarios and Roadmap

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

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

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

Stakeholder Workshops III & IV – Services & Action Plan

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

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

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

Approaching the Needs of the Elderly

Mobility

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

Social Inclusion: Information Platform & Coordination Office

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

Health incl. telemedicine

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

Comfort & Living

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

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

 

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

Sources and References

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

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

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

EPF Brief No. 242: Quality and Leadership for Romanian Higher Education

Friday, December 21st, 2012

The project “Quality and Leadership for Romanian Higher Education” (QLHE) aimed to elaborate a vision of Romanian higher education in 2025 and a strategy consisting of specific policy guidelines to achieve it. Based on a large participatory foresight exercise, the project sought to contribute to improving the strategic management of universities and achieving a wide national consensus on the development of the Romanian higher education system.

Transforming the Higher Education System

The project was to help transform the framework of Romanian higher education, as it has been repeatedly stated that the system lacks a vision and long-term strategy. The Presidential Commission on Education issued a report claiming that “education in Romania is ineffective, irrelevant, and low in quality”. The whole reform process has been incoherent, ineffective and has lacked a long-term, shared vision of the future. Therefore, the education system was in urgent need of change. The transformation had to be endorsed by the academic community, policymakers, stakeholders and public opinion. In order to achieve broad consensus, the project carried out a foresight exercise – a large participatory exercise involving a substantial number of people from various target groups and a wide range of ideas, possible future scenarios, solutions, policy options etc.

The higher education system has been repeatedly evaluated as homogeneous, lacking diversity, outdated and out of tune with the realities of the dynamic and interconnected world around it. Prior to developing and achieving the final results, the project carried out activities to analyse the context and identify the major challenges and drivers of change in order to generate a clear and encompassing view of the environment, its needs, the existing obstacles and the potential opportunities. Panels of experts elaborated a series of studies concerning the analysis of the current state of Romania’s universities in relation to various aspects of society, the existing challenges, and the drivers of change in light of the main features of the Romanian social system. The resulting documents served as a point of reference for the subsequent activities.

Creating a Shared Vision

The goals of the project were to create a shared vision and a set of strategic recommendations for Romanian higher education and, in doing so, to develop the prospective analysis and leadership capacities of key actors through a series of workshops and training sessions on various topics of interest.

Another challenging objective was to develop and sustain a foresight community by creating an environment that would enable the emerging community to interact and exchange opinions. Thus, the project designed a web-based collaborative platform, The Foresight Wiki. The name indicates that the platform uses the wiki technology for developing collaborative websites and Web 2.0 technologies. This allows members of the future studies and foresight communities to write articles that any other member can edit. The platform represents an innovative tool providing a user-friendly interactive setting.

Bucharest Dialogues

The platform was not the only step to advance the development of the foresight community; a series of ten international debates, the Bucharest Dialogues, provided the platform with information and knowledge and gave the participants the opportunity to gain experience in the foresight process. These mutual learning workshops were designed as variations on the Bohm dialogues where experts can get together and discuss fundamental aspects of foresight. The Bucharest Dialogues invited foresight practitioners, managers and policymakers in a setup following David Bohm’s principles of dialogue. During a Bucharest Dialogue, key speakers would represent distinct voices within the foresight community, speaking on a broad, preestablished topic.

Mutual Learning Workshops

Both the Mutual Learning Workshops and the Bucharest Dialogues offered a great opportunity for knowledge, skills transfer and learning by allowing the Romanian experts to closely collaborate with more than one hundred international experts. Among the international experts that participated in the Romanian foresight exercise were representatives of institutions such as Fraunhofer ISI, The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), European Universities Association or UNESCO-CEPES (the European Centre for Higher Education), which acted as partner institutions, different international institutions, such as SAMI Consulting, UNIDO, and well-known individual experts, such as Murray Turoff, Roxanne Hiltz, Riel Miller, Peter Bishop, Ozcan Saritas, Denis Loveridge, Ziauddin Sardar, Wendy Schulz and others (for a full list of participants, see the ForWiki platform).

Large-scale Participative Approach

The context and the challenges addressed by this project and the objectives pursued were suited for a large-scale, participative, systemic foresight exercise. As mentioned above, such an approach was necessary since the lack of a systemic approach to change in higher education has not only generated a mélange of reforms but, more importantly, has also resulted in the absence of a clear vision of the future bearings of Romanian higher education.

The exercise started with a nomination/co-nomination process to identify the key stakeholders. It went on to combine panel work, workshops and online interaction. All these activities involved hundreds of participants who provided knowledge, feedback and recommendations during every step of the project.

A series of workshops and trainings were organised for the stakeholders. They focused on various topics of interest, such as foresight and strategic planning, public policy elaboration in higher education, public policy analysis, introduction to the Delphi method or critical thinking and helped to develop skills and abilities so that the whole transformation would actually occur from within the system and would represent a sustainable process, accepted and widely supported by the stakeholders. All these events were chaired by outstanding international experts.

The whole process highlighted interactivity and focused on sharing experience and new knowledge in an international context. One of the key features of the process was empowering stakeholders to contribute to a shared vision. There were two International Advisory Board meetings, international surveys, and various workshops and trainings facilitated by foresight experts. All the outputs were widely disseminated and constantly tested beyond the initial groups with the help of focus groups and a number of online surveys. At the same time, all results were presented to all participants and stakeholders in an appealing way, using films, attractive websites and platforms.

Following a bottom-up approach, the process started with expert panel analyses, which served as a starting point for the creation of four success scenarios on Romanian higher education in 2025. They were used as frameworks for the transformation of the system and expressed the most relevant and desired changes: University of Life and Jobs, Knowledge Constellation, Atheneum and Blue Ocean.

The scenario building was a vast process that combined three renowned and thoroughly tested methods: World Café, Cards and Integral Matrix Analysis. The scenario workshop was designed as a collaborative process in which the members of the expert panels and the invited stakeholders worked in a World Café setting with more than 70 participants. The participants and stakeholders “played” with the main concepts provided by the previously elaborated documents. They used cards and extracted
the most creative ideas. The goal was to outline a final vision for the higher education system, which was tested and altered in order to meet the requirements and desires of the community.

Elphi Platform

The project was innovative not only in carrying out the first foresight exercise on higher education in Romania but also in creating an adapted version of a Delphi questionnaire tailored to the needs of the Romanian higher education context. The questionnaire was provided on the online platform Elphi, which gave the stakeholders the opportunity to actively participate and in the shaping of the Romanian higher education strategy. A large number of respondents from academic, business, social
and policymaking environments participated. They analysed a series of policy proposals that had previously been drafted by nine different panels of experts in relevant areas. Experts were invited to provide arguments and dynamic rankings; their feedback was essential to improving the initial proposals in order to yield the most desirable policy proposals, adapted to the realities of Romanian higher education, while at the same time being future-oriented and bold enough to spur transformation.
The online platform was innovative in introducing a system of dynamically ranking arguments, providing respondents with an opportunity to refine their views and reach a final consensus. The involvement of a large number of experts also legitimised the recommended policies. Later on, these policies formed the core of the White Paper on Romanian Higher Education in 2015, the strategy document whose recommendations charted the first steps to be made towards the 2025 vision.

Measures of Change

The White Paper was to support the vision by suggesting concrete measures and policy proposals for change, designed for the medium term (2011-2015) and for immediate implementation. The first step in formulating the White Paper was to elaborate a series of policies that were tested and initially integrated into a Green Paper on Romanian Higher Education in 2015 by a group of experts – an intermediate step in developing the White Paper. The Green Paper proposed an approach in waves, in which the interest expressed by individual universities constituted the premise of transformations. According to this proposal, the process of transformation should be supported by financial assistance throughout a transition phase and strongly oriented towards autonomy, leadership and responsibility. Romanian higher education is currently perceived as an administrative service, with the state having the right to intervene in the universities’ internal affairs. Thus, university autonomy is weak and subject to administrative, fiscal and financial restrictions. As a potentially significant opportunity, participating universities should be offered the option to change their legal status. Universities must maintain their public interest status, but, at the same time, enjoy economic and fiscal freedoms specific to educational and research services.

The Green Paper was a consultative document; a large online consultation was opened around the key statements, and several university rectors and vice-rectors were interviewed. The integration of the opinions and comments expressed during this process by over 300 respondents supported the development of the White Paper.

Personalisation, Diversification, and Transparency as New Values

The vision and the White Paper were the products of a broad and complex process whose first stages were described in the sections above. Reflecting the success scenario elaborated by stakeholders, the 2025 vision document describes a future of Romanian higher education based on the values of personalisation, diversification and transparency. In short, the three principles describe the desired changes the system should undergo. Personalisation means more options for students in terms of flexible educational pathways that can be fit to their individual plans for the future. Diversity means institutional structures and a systemic configuration that allow for distinct trajectories for institutions with different missions and goals. Transparency highlights the importance of comprehensive, relevant and easily accessible information about the education system while working towards a reputation system for universities.

Innovative Aspects

In Romania, using the foresight methodology to build a vision of the higher education system and develop strategic recommendations (White Paper) represented an innovative approach. The Romanian higher education foresight exercise was the second national foresight process in this country. Such a toolkit had never been used in higher education before and, as such, it represented a major challenge to the team implementing it.

The foresight exercise was the preferred methodology because the project strove to go beyond the limits of common expertise and the traditional policymaking process in Romania, which had led to inconsistent higher education strategies. Moreover, the need for a systemic approach was implicit in the complexity of an education system that engages a variety of actors and their relationships and eventually influences the life of every citizen. Another innovative aspect was the use and adaptation of the online roundless Delphi, which was adjusted to the specific needs of the project and led to the creation of the Elphi platform.

Reform Approaches Find Society’s Consent

The process and the results were designed to raise awareness about the fact that the Romanian higher education system needs to be changed and that Romanian society supports this transformation. By participating in the process, a variety of actors and stakeholders legitimised the vision document and the strategy-setting White Paper. These two documents, together with the
workshops, training sessions, dialogues and debates organised throughout the three years of the project, set out an appropriate framework for the transformation of higher education. They supported a long-term vision designed to draw the picture of a desirable future, generate and stimulate forward-looking thinking about future challenges, provide the basis for decision-making in the present, and mobilise individual and collective action.

Although these ideas, solutions and policies were embraced by the key actors and stakeholders in the education system, the actual transformation of course requires more than visionary documents or the will of the actors involved. While, to date, there has been no official commitment to carry through with the proposed changes in law, a number of follow-up projects are currently empowering the universities in accordance with the principles set out in the vision (improving the system’s transparency, encouraging the collaboration of universities, and capacity-building for differentiation).

Download EPF Brief No. 242_Quality and Leadership for Romanian Higher Education.

 

Sources and References

Andreescu, L., Curaj, A., Gheorghiu, R. (2011): Unleashing individualization. Challenges for Personalization in Tertiary Education, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on the Management of Technological Changes, ed. C.

Rusu, Greece, Alexandroupoli: Democritus University of Thrace.

Andreescu, L., Gheorghiu, R., Proteasa, V., Curaj, A. (2012): Institutional Diversification and Homogeneity in Romanian Higher Education: The Larger Picture, in Curaj, A. et al. (eds.): European Higher Education at the Crossroads, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York, London: Springer, pp. 863-885

Andreescu, L., Gheorghiu, R., Zulean, M., Curaj, A. (2012): Systemic Foresight for Romanian Higher Education, in Curaj, A. et al. (eds.): European Higher Education at the Crossroads, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York, London: Springer, pp. 995-1017

Andreescu, L., Gheorghiu, R., Zulean, M., Curaj, A. (2012): Understanding Normative Foresight Outcomes: Scenario
Development and the ‘Veil of Ignorance’ Effect, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, available online 26 October
2012 ISSN 0040-1625, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2012.09.013. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162512002399)

www.edu2025.ro, last accessed 17 September 2012.

www.forwiki.eu, last accessed 17 September 2012.

 

EFP Brief No. 232: STRATCLU

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

STRATCLU, the ‘entrepreneurial’ strategy process of the German ‘spitzen’-cluster (leading-edge cluster) MicroTEC Südwest meets the needs of multi-actor, multi-governance-level and multi-sector research and innovation (R&I) policies. The forwardand outward-looking process exemplifies how a broad range of regional R&I actors can share and utilise strategic knowledge to identify joint priorities for longer-term, synergistic R&I investments and collective actions, and focus their diverse competences in microsystems as a general purpose technology to tackle societal challenges and enter future markets globally.

Research & Innovation Programmes Addressing Challenges of the 21st Century

In line with a more systemic understanding of research and innovation (R&I) policy (OECD 2005), the respective support programmes introduced the perspective of global, societal challenges to be tackled by scientific and technological breakthroughs. The German government, for instance, launched its High-Tech Strategy 2020 (HTS 2020) in 2006 with the aim to make Germany a leader when it comes to solving global challenges (climate/energy, health/nutrition, mobility, security, communication) and providing convincing answers to urgent questions of the 21st century. The German Strategy for Internationalisation of Science and Research stresses that, to realise optimised solutions to these challenges, it is necessary to leverage science and innovation potential worldwide. In the same vein, the Europe 2020 strategy and its flagship initiative “Innovation Union” aim at refocusing R&I policy on the challenges facing society, and the EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 asks the member states and regions to develop innovation strategies for smart specialisation. The ‘entrepreneurial process’ of developing regional innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3) (Foray et al. 2009) focuses on unique regional assets with a view to developing competitive products and services in international markets. If the different RIS3 are developed in alignment with the European context, synergies can be leveraged to further develop the European Research Area.

Against this backdrop, clusters as local nodes of global knowledge flows and ‘innovative hot-spots’ in globalised value chains provide the base not only for developing technological answers to the urgent problems of the 21st century but also for producing adequate, strategic knowledge for cutting-edge (and trans-regionally aligned) R&I programming (Sautter/Clar 2008). In 2007, the German government launched the ‘spitzen’-cluster competition as the flagship of the HTS 2020 and cornerstone of the national Strategy for the Internationalisation of Science and Research to support the development and implementation of future-oriented R&I strategies. The overall objective is to tackle key societal challenges and thus position the ‘spitzen’-clusters in the global knowledge economy and make them attractive for talented, creative people as well as innovative companies and forward-looking investors. MicroTEC Südwest in Germany’s south-western state of Baden-Württemberg and one of the winners of the competition started a forward-looking cluster strategy process inspired by the Strategic Research Agenda of the European Technology Platform on Smart Systems Integration (EPoSS), and focused on the priority fields of the German HTS 2020: climate/energy, health, mobility, security, communication.

‘Spitzen’-Cluster Strategy on Smart Microsystems Technology (MST) Solutions to Global Challenges

The MicroTEC Südwest cluster, closely linked withneighbouring parts of France and Switzerland, covers the competences needed along the value chain of the GPT (General Purpose Technology) miniaturised systems: from basic research, for instance in nano-, micro- or bio-technologies, to the design and production of smart microsystems, to the integration of such systems in ‘intelligent’ products (e.g. driver assistance systems in cars or point-of-care diagnostic systems in the healthcare sector). Besides global players like Bosch and Roche Diagnostics, the 350 actors involved in the cluster include top universities and research centres, and many small and medium-sized enterprises.

In order to focus the different competences on synergistic R&I investments, a ‘spitzen’-cluster proposal was developed with two application-oriented priorities to generate breakthrough innovations in global lead markets (health and mobility) and two technology-related priorities to develop and produce next generation microsystems for future fields of application. The funds (50-50 public-private) for implementation amount to nearly 90 million EUR, from national and regional ministries, regional bodies and enterprises.

The MicroTEC Südwest proposal was highly evaluated in the competition not only for the quality of its research projects but also for its additional structural projects on innovation support, qualification and recruitment, internationalisation and the STRATCLU strategy process.

From Ad-hoc Strategy Building to Systematic Learning Cycles

The STRACLU project has been set up to advance the successful ‘spitzen’-cluster project and to broaden and consolidate the participative decision-making process in the cluster. Stakeholder groups (cluster board, strategy panel etc.) have been established and strategic policy intelligence (SPI) tools combined in a learning cycle with three main stages:

· Stock-taking (incl. outward-looking): Review of cluster position in the global context (major SPI tools: audit, evaluation, benchmarking)
· Forward-looking: Longer-term perspectives & priorities (foresight, impact assessment)
· Action-planning: Roadmaps with milestones and specific joint actions (roadmapping, GOPP)

An operational learning cycle has been put in place as well to monitor the implementation of the joint actions. With these learning cycles, STRATCLU both guides individual actors in their strategic decision-making and develops MicroTEC Südwest itself into a learning ‘smart innovation system’, which continuously

· identifies global challenges and promising future markets,
· formulates long-term and ‘open’ RTDI strategies for smart MST-based solutions,
· builds local competences and capacities, looks for strategic partners along global value chains,
· encourages key local and global actors to join forces in common strategies and thus
· ensures long-term success in global competition.

MicroTEC Südwest AGENDA 2020+

Related to the national priorities of the HTS 2020, and based on detailed science and market analyses, the investigation and discussion of global trends and an assessment of their specific impacts along the strategic learning cycle (fig. 1), the MicroTEC Südwest strategy panel prioritised a joint AGENDA 2020+ with the following five major crosscutting priority fields for R&I, and an additional focus on cross-industry innovation and education and training.

These five R&I-related priority fields for smart MSTbased solutions address and leverage synergies across all key application fields (in particular with regard to the national priorities of the HTS 2020).

This topic was assessed as the most relevant. The renaming of the microsystems technology (MST) division of the German Ministry of Education & Research into Demographic Change: Human-Technology Interaction in the context of the German BMBF Foresight Process (Cuhls 2010) underlines the relevance of this issue. The big challenge is to develop smart MSTbased solutions adapted to people’s needs and providing them with real value added.

Here, the focus is on the integration of smart systems in superior systems: from smart systems to smart things like cars to comprehensive systems such as the transportation system (cf. cyber-physical systems or Internet of Things). The big challenge is to handle the increasing complexity that comes with a higher degree of system integration.

Energy converters (e.g. important for energy harvesting) and storage along with self-sustaining systems are preconditions to realise the systems-of-systems approach and to develop mobile and functional intelligent devices.

In the future, the production of smart systems and things has to be closely related to mass-customisation in order to provide the users (consumers) with wellcustomised and cost-efficient solutions.

Resource efficient production and consumption systems, total life cycle assessment (including the recycling stage) etc. are important issues in this priority field.

Roadmaps to Tackle Societal Challenges

Continuing along the strategy cycle, the AGENDA 2020+ provides the strategic framework for roadmapping exercises at multiple levels: Cluster actors develop R&I roadmaps towards market-focussed and MST-based breakthrough innovations to tackle societal challenges in prioritised joint action areas (e.g. in personalised medicine, factories of the future or green cars). These roadmaps will be aligned with other roadmaps, for instance of the European Technology Platforms EPoSS or MINAM, and integrated in the MicroTEC Südwest Cluster Roadmap 2020+, which involves also horizontal support measures like qualification, recruitment etc. and will be communicated to public and private investors (‘agenda setting’). Furthermore, the roadmaps will be transferred to SMEs in the cluster to support them in their own longer-term business development and R&I investment strategy.

Taking a Big Step Towards Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth

The participative forward- and outward-looking strategy process in the German ‘spitzen’-cluster MicroTEC Südwest shows successfully how regional R&I consortia can share and utilise strategic knowledge to identify joint priorities for longer-term, synergistic investments and collective actions. By enabling actors to systematically develop future strategies together, to asses them and develop actorspecific, synergistic approaches to successful implementation, the overall risk of longer-term R&I investments can be reduced significantly, for the current participants and for foreign direct investment.

The strategy approach of MicroTEC Südwest meets the needs of (new) future-oriented, multi-actor, multigovernance level and multi-sector R&I policies in manifold ways. First, it focuses local competences in a general purpose technology on tackling grand societal challenges with the aim of entering global markets. Second, it strives to attract complementary competences and foreign direct investment from other regions, and to work together with strategic partners along global value chains. Third, it combines ‘bottom-up’ with ‘topdown’ activities by taking up and assessing external inputs from a regional perspective: for instance, the German High-Tech Strategy or the BMBF Foresights, European and other R&I policies and strategy processes, such as Joint Programming Initiatives or the Japanese NISTEP Delphis, respectively. Against this backdrop, the MicroTEC Südwest approach can be seen as a test bed for an ‘entrepreneurial process’ suggested by the European Commission to develop regional smart specialisation strategies and to capitalise on them to advance the European Research Area.

To fully benefit from the regional assets across Europe, strategic capacity building has to be strengthened, not only in Europe’s world-class clusters. If more clusters such as MicroTEC Südwest develop and align their longer-term strategies in order to raise, structure and optimise overall private and public (EU, national, regional) investments, with one focus on pooling forces and jointly tackling common challenges, a big step could be taken towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Download: EFP Brief No. 232_STRATCLU.

Sources and References

Cuhls, K. (2010): The German BMBF Foresight Process, in European Foresight Platform, EFP Brief No. 174.

Foray, D., David, P.A. and Hall, B. (2009): “Smart specialisation: the concept”, in Knowledge for Growth: Prospects for science, technology and innovation, Report, EUR 24047, European Union.

OECD (2005): Governance of Innovation Systems: Volume 1: Synthesis Report, OECD Publishing.

Sautter, B., Clar, G. (2008): Strategic Capacity Building in Clusters to Enhance Future-oriented Open Innovation Processes, in The European Foresight Monitoring Network, Foresight Brief No. 150.

Web links for more information:

www.microtec-suedwest.de

www.smart-systems-integration.org

www.minamwebportal.eu

www.era.gv.at/space/11442/directory/11767.html

www.steinbeis-europa.de/rsi.html

www.steinbeis-europa.de/stratclu_en.html

EFP Brief No. 229: Taiwan Agricultural Technology Foresight 2025

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

This was the first time that Taiwan conducted a large-scale expert opinion survey using the Delphi approach. The goal was to identify research topics relevant to shaping the future of agriculture in Taiwan. Applying roadmapping, the project presented policy suggestions at the end of 2011. The suggestions have been incorporated into the Taiwanese govern-ment’s Council of Agriculture (COA) research agenda as evidenced by COA’s call-for-projects announcement.

The Role of Agriculture in Taiwan

Taiwan was one of the leading countries in subtropical agriculture several decades ago, but now agriculture has lost its importance in job creation, domestic production and international trade. However, agriculture is still at the root of the economy and has many functions beyond production – it provides the food we eat, conserves the environment we live in, and is a force for social stability.

Taiwan, with nominal GDP $427 billion US dollars and GDP (PPP) per capita $35 thousand US dollars in 2010, is known for its manufacturing capabilities today, but it used to be exporting a lot of agricultural products and technologies to many countries long time ago. Since 1959, more than 100 agricultural missions have been dispatched to more than 60 countries, among which about half missions are currently at work in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific.

In fact, Taiwan’s total land area is about 36,000 square kilometers, most of which is mountainous or sloped. Therefore, agriculture is practiced mainly in the plains, which comprise 29 percent of the country. As a subtropical island characterized by high temperatures and heavy rainfall, Taiwan offers bio-diversities for agriculture, but also lends itself to the breeding of insects and disease. Particularly, there are frequently typhoons causing natural disasters in the summer and autumn every year.

There have been significant changes in Taiwan’s agricultural exports over the years however. Years ago, Taiwan exported sugar cane, rice, and canned mushrooms or asparagus. Now Taiwan’s main exports are aquaculture products (e.g. tuna, eel, tilapia), leather and feathers, and its main agricultural imports include corn, soybeans, wine, tobacco, cotton, lumber, beef and wheat. In 1953, the average value of agricultural production increased 7.3 percent annually and exports increased at a rate of 9.3 percent, but beginning in 1970, agricultural exports fell behind agricultural imports. In 2010, imports were USD 12.8 billion and exports were USD 4 billion. The production value based on agriculture is estimated approximately 11.2 percent of GDP, while primary production accounts for only 1.5 percent of GDP in Taiwan.

The Revitalization of Agriculture in Taiwan

In order to revitalize the agriculture sector to meet the challenges of trade liberalization, globalization, the knowledge- based economy and particularly, climate change, the Taiwanese Government’s Council of Agriculture (COA) commissioned a project- Taiwan Agricultural Technology Foresight 2025 – to the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER). This four-year project (2008–2011), with an annual budget of USD 350 000, conducted foresight-related activities including demand surveys, trend and policy analyses, horizon scanning, visioning, essay contests, training workshops, two-round Delphi surveys, road mapping and development of policy suggestions (short-, mid- and long-term development plans and priorities) (see Figure 1).

The project aimed to identify R&D priorities to meet the long-term objectives for agriculture in Taiwan such as to improve farmers’ productivity and livelihoods, to develop resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to do farming, and to ensure food safety by instituting a traceability system, which were embedded in a vision of making a better living in Taiwan in terms of industrial development, environmental protection and life quality respectively.

Environmentally-Freindly Farming for Taiwan’s Future

In 2008, TIER set up a task force with six researchers and two assistants to learn the foresight techniques, mainly from Japan. It built up a data-base of social needs, technological trends, research resources, critical issues and agricultural policies nationwide and worldwide.

Under the support and approval of COA, the project set up the Planning Committee, including government officers, agricultural experts, senior research fellows, social scientists and an economist. The Planning Committee decided that the project’s target year was 2025, and that the purpose of the foresight was to identify R&D priorities to meet the long-term objectives for agriculture in Taiwan such as to improve farmers’ productivity and livelihoods, to develop resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to do farming, and to ensure food safety by instituting a traceability system, which were embedded in a vision of making a better living in Taiwan in terms of industrial development, environmental protection and life quality respectively.

Visioning for Research Topics

In order to link the foresight and policy, the project set up the Strategy Formation Committee, with ten subcommittees corresponding to the ten research areas of COA, each of which was comprised of agricultural experts and senior scientists. The members of the Strategy Formation Committee were nominated by the Planning Committee and then approved by COA. The duty of the Strategy Formation Committee was to depict 2025 visioning in each research area and to figure out the research topics to meet the needs for shaping the future agriculture in Taiwan identified by the Planning Committee.

In 2009, the Strategy Formation Committee proposed more than 100 research topics for the project. The TIER task force tried to consolidate some of them and organize them in a uniform format. Then, the Planning Committee identified the final 74 research topics and the related key questions for the Delphi questionnaire.

In 2010, the TIER task force built up an on-line survey platform and carried out two rounds of Delphi survey. There were 675 experts and scientists on the list of the first round, 546 of which participated in Delphi survey (response rate of 80 percent), and 512 of which questionnaire were effective. Then there were 546 experts and scientists on the list of the second round, 413 of which participated in Delphi survey (response rate of 76 percent), and 407 of which questionnaire were effective.

Based on the survey responses to 74 research topics, the project compiled the indices of industrial development, environmental protection, life quality, national priority and government support respectively to measure the research topics in different aspects. The standard deviations of all indices at the second round became smaller than those at the first round, so it implies that the Delphi survey of the project did converge for reaching consensus.

The survey shows that the government should support those research topics with higher ratings in environmental protection as well as in life quality particularly due to agricultural multi-function (externality). It is, however, slightly correlated between industrial development and government support to be needed for those research topics because some of them could be developed by the private sector. These research topics have been incorporated into COA’s research agenda as evidenced by COA’s R&D system call-for-projects announcement.

Attracting the Young Generation

Besides, in order to attract the young generation to think about the future of agriculture, the project invited young people to participate in the Taiwan Agricultural Technology Foresight 2025 contest (see Figure 2).

Foresight for Policy and as Policy

This was the first time that Taiwan conducted a large-scale expert opinion survey using the Delphi approach, in order to identify the research topics to meet the needs for shaping the future agriculture in Taiwan. The project made policy suggestions by road mapping at the end of 2011, and these have been incorporated into COA’s research agenda as evidenced by COA’s R&D system call-for-projects announcement.

The major contribution of the project has been the government’s support for the research topics of ‘national priority’ in terms of industrial development, environmental protection and life quality, with equal weights embedded in the vision of making a better living in Taiwan. The project is expected to improve farmers’ productivity and livelihoods, particularly for smallholders; to develop resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to do farming in Taiwan’s limited land area; to reinforce the links between production and consumption of agricultural products by implementing a traceability system.

Authors: Julie C. L. Sun           juliesun@tier.org.tw

 

Sponsors: Council of Agriculture, Taiwan

 

Type: National foresight exercise
Organizer: Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, Julie C. L. Sun      juliesun@tier.org.tw
Duration: 2008–2011 Budget: 1 Mill USD Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: July 2012  

Download: EFP Brief No. 229_Taiwan Agricultural Technology Foresight 2025.

References

The website of Taiwan Agricultural Technology Foresight 2025, http://agritech-foresight.coa.gov.tw

COA R&D project management system, http://project.coa.gov.tw

EFP Brief No. 222: The Future of Learning: A Foresight Study on New Ways to Learn New Skills for Future Jobs

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

The Future of Learning (FoL) project aimed to advance the state of the art by developing a range of new and imaginative visions on initial and lifelong learning in Europe by 2025. The foresight project elaborates on six major challenges for future learning. These include multicultural integration, early school leaving, talent development, improving the transition from school to work, re-skilling and re-entry into the labour market. These challenges were elaborated as scenarios and illustrated through six different personas.

Challenges to the EU Labour Market

Europe will be confronted with new challenges arising from the changes in the labour market in the coming decade. Ageing, globalisation, migration and technology will be key drivers of change. By 2020, 16 million more jobs in the EU will require high qualifications while the number of low-skilled jobs will decline by about 12 million. The ageing of European societies means that large numbers of workers will start to retire in the coming years. Labour shortages are expected in many sectors. Dealing with these anticipated shortages and enhancing Europe’s global competitiveness while improving productivity and innovation will require a massive investment in the advancement of skills and competences of Europe’s workforce.

Many jobs will be profoundly affected by global developments and policy decisions. Key global developments include outsourcing and offshoring, which change the number, content and nature of job functions. The broad trends towards sustainable development across Europe and the world will significantly change – in the face of future energy shortages and the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the types of products produced and services rendered as well as the way in which they are produced.

All these developments are taking place in the context of a (financial) crisis that has swept the world since mid-2008 and which is unprecedented in both its size and its effects on production and trade. Depending on the nature and duration of the crisis, the effects on employment will be profound, especially in the manufacturing sectors but with possible knock-on effects on jobs in the public sector as well.

New technologies (information and communication technologies (ICT), biotech, manufacturing) will play a major role in shaping future labour markets. They also pose major challenges for Europe’s education and training systems. ICT will need to play a role in providing education more efficiently as teachers will start to retire in large numbers in the near future. ICT will also allow education and training to become much more effective by enabling new teaching and learning methods and changing the roles of teachers and learners.

Public policies at national and EU levels will be of key importance to support the transition of the labour market towards a very different situation by the year 2025.

Creative Visioning of Innovative Learning

The Foresight on Learning, Innovation and Creativity (FORLIC) project aims to advance the state of the art in learning foresight by developing a range of new and imaginative visions on the key components of creative and innovative learning in Europe by 2020. The foresight project focuses on emergent skills and competences, related changes in roles of teachers and learners in the learning process, implications for the education and training system, the role of ICT as an enabler of change, certification and accreditation, and policy implications.

Project Approach: From Scenarios to Personae Creation

The FoL project involved a number of different activities:

  • Desk research: reviewing relevant foresight studies on learning, ICT, skills and competences, and innovation and creativity.
  • Vision building: organizing a series of online expert and stakeholder consultations and workshops for development of visions on the future of learning.
  • Scenario development: elaborating and assessing a range of scenarios illustrating key challenges identified in the visions in a variety of audio-visual and multimedia formats.
  • Developing policy recommendations: identifying strategic issues for policymakers on new ways to learn new skills for future jobs.
  • Dissemination: disseminating visions and scenarios on relevant online platforms; integrating results of all contributions in a final report synthesising visions, scenarios and key strategic issues.

The review of relevant foresights used a range of different materials including information from the European Foresight Monitoring project (EFMN) and the European Foresight Platform (EFP).

A number of different methods were used in vision building. One was a group concept mapping study undertaken by the Open University (Stoyanov et al., 2010). This method generates, clusters and rates different aspects of possible educational, technological, economic and scientific futures.

The results were used to develop a range of scenarios for initial and for lifelong learning. These scenarios were elaborated as personas illustrating a learning issue or challenge. Initially nine personas were developed (Figure 1).

The personas were used to discuss a range of issues on the future of learning through a series of online expert and stakeholder consultations. These consultations were held through the Future of Learning LinkedIn group. The group had been set up for the purpose and counted over 1100 members. The consultations involved a series of qualitative online discussions and quantitative surveys that served as inputs for elaborating the challenges and personas. Further inputs were obtained through an expert workshop.

The result of this process is a set of visions on creative and innovative learning, which can be employed for scenario-building and illustrating specific challenges. In the process, personas were used to make sure that the scenarios were concrete and embedded within a specific learning context. Different media were employed and some creativity applied in describing the persona and scenarios. An example of a persona illustrating the theme of early school leaving is given in Figure 2 below:

Figure 1: Early School Leaving
222_Bild1

A set of policy recommendations suited to tackle the challenges was developed. Finally, six of the nine personas representing key challenges were elaborated into animated video clips, available on YouTube and on the project website.

Figure 2: Overview of Personas

222_Bild2

Vision on the Future of Learning

The overall vision based on the group concept mapping, the online stakeholder and expert consultations, and the workshops is that personalisation, collaboration and informalisation (informal learning) will be key trends at the core of learning in the future. These terms are not new in education and training, but they will become the central guiding principle for organising learning and teaching in the future. The central learning paradigm is thus characterised by lifelong and life-wide learning and shaped by the ubiquity of ICT. At the same time, due to fast advances in technology and structural changes in European labour markets related to demographic change, globalisation and immigration, generic and transversal skills are becoming more important. These skills should help citizens to become lifelong learners who flexibly respond to change, are able to pro-actively develop their competences and thrive in collaborative learning and working environments.

New skills. The increased pace of change will bring new skills and competences to the fore, in particular generic, transversal and cross-cutting skills, which will enable citizens to flexibly and proactively respond to change and to seize and benefit from lifelong learning opportunities. Problem-solving, reflection, creativity, critical thinking, learning to learn, risk-taking, collaboration and entrepreneurship will become key competences for a successful life in the European society of the future. While mathematical, verbal, scientific and digital literacy will remain key building blocks for successful participation in society, it will become increasingly important for citizens to have a better understanding and awareness of the natural and social environment in which they live. This will lead to a new focus on nature and health, on the one hand, and on civic competences, on the other.

New learning patterns. With the emergence of lifelong and life-wide learning as the central learning paradigm for the future, learning strategies and pedagogical approaches will undergo drastic changes. With the evolution of ICT, personalised learning and individual mentoring will become a reality. Teachers/trainers will need to be trained to exploit the available resources and tools to support tailor-made learning pathways and experiences that are motivating and engaging while being efficient, relevant and challenging at the same time. Along with changing pedagogies, assessment strategies and curricula will need to change, and, most importantly, traditional education and training institutions – schools and universities, vocational and adult training providers – will need to reposition themselves in the emerging learning landscape. They will need to experiment with new formats and strategies for learning and teaching to be able to offer relevant, effective and high quality learning experiences in the future. In particular, they will need to respond more flexibly to individual learners’ needs and changing labour market requirements.

Initial education will have to address challenges of inclusion of an increasingly diverse population, to ensure participation by all, address the problem of early school leaving, and to foster a wide range of different talents. Lifelong education and training will need to address issues of matching qualifications to labour market requirements, of labour market reintegration to improve labour market participation, and of re-skilling in the face of rapidly changing job content and new technologies. These challenges are elaborated in six key personas (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Challenges and Personas

222_Bild3

Download: EFP Brief No. 222_Future of Learning

Authors: Govert Gijsbers                       govert.gijsbers@tno.nl

Bas van Schoonhoven              bas.vanschoonhoven@tno.nl

Sponsors: JRC-IPTS in collaboration with European Commission DG Education and Culture
Type: European foresight exercise
Organizer: Future of Learning Consortium (TNO, Open University of the Netherlands, Atticmedia)

Contact: Govert Gijsbers, govert.gijsbers@tno.nl

Duration: 2009-2011
Budget: € 160,000
Time Horizon: 2025
Date of Brief: February 2012

Sources and References

For ongoing discussions, visit the FoL project website at www.futureoflearning.eu

To see the persona animations, visit the project YouTube channel: Forlic2020 on:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=forlic2020&oq=forlic2020&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_l=youtube.3…4229.9318.0.10045.10.10.0.0.0.0.72.417.10.10.0…0.0.

Redecker, C. M. Leis, M. Leendertse, Y. Punie, G. Gijsbers, P. Kirschner, S. Stoyanov, and B. Hoogveld. 2011. The Future of Learning: Preparing for Change. Sevilla: JRC-IPTS. http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC66836.pdf

Stoyanov, S., B. Hoogveld and P. Kirschner (2010). Mapping Major Changes to Education and Training in 2025. JRC Technical Note JRC59079, http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/publications/pub.cfm?id=3419

 

EFP Brief No. 211: Towards Transformative Innovation Priorities

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

This brief synthesises the findings of forward-looking activities that were recently carried out in different European countries with a focus on research and innovation. In order to structure the activities’ outcomes, a framework is used that distinguishes different types of outcomes. The findings of the activities are then presented along this framework. The last section suggests some conclusions for European-level, challenge-driven research and innovation priority setting. The study was conducted for the expert group Global Europe 2030-2050 http://ec.europa.eu/research/social-sciences/fwl-experts-groups_en.html and financed by the European Commission’s Social Science & Humanities Programme.

National Innovation Priorities Addressed

The countries in focus were France, UK, Germany, Spain, Poland, Finland, Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and the region of Flanders. All nine activities adopted forward-looking methods for a structured assessment of possible pathways for research and innovation. All activities were based on intense involvement of experts and stakeholders with diverse backgrounds. Some adopted very large-scale participation and reached out to broad publics (FORSK2015, NL Horizon Scan); others were more confined to core actors with specific expertise (UK TIF, T&I Flanders, BMBF Foresight). Moreover, some of the activities aimed at generating possible pathways of change within a certain time horizon or even pursued fully fledged country scenarios, as in the case of Poland and Ireland. Others were more interested in scanning signals pointing towards relevant changes (Foresight.fi, NL Horizon Scan), and again others sought to collect and assess a wide range of proposals for research and innovation (R&I) topics (FORSK2015, FNR, ClésTech).

While some of the activities focused on assessing technological trends (ENCYT2020, T&I Flanders, ClésTech) others adopted a very broad perspective on up-coming socio-economic change and its consequences for research and innovation (France 2025, Poland2020). Other activities put particular emphasis on linking established realms of research and innovation, on the one hand, and areas of need and problems in new future-oriented ways (BMBF-Foresight, NL Horizon Scan).

With this rich diversity of approaches, all selected activities have one ultimate goal in common: defining a research and innovation agenda that best addresses future needs. Most of the activities used a set of criteria for assessing RTI topics composed of global challenges, on the one hand, and national objectives, on the other. Thus, the synthesis may well provide valuable insights on the challenges ahead when orienting research and innovation towards the grand societal challenges of our times, as envisaged in the European Innovation Union Initiative.

Categorising Future Research & Innovation Priorities

In the synthesis the categories will be used as follows:

Research and innovation topics: Specific topics for research and innovation assessed as highly future relevant and therefore to be prioritised. Due to the nature of the activities, these topics usually stem from engineering and natural science realms. Example: Metamaterials (UK TIF).

Application domains: Domains and sectors where significant applications of the technology and innovation areas are expected. Example: Transport (ENCYT, UK TIF).

Socio-economic change signals: Changes in society and economy assessed as highly relevant for priority setting in research and technology innovation (RTI). Example: New forms of ownership (Foresight.fi, UK TIF)

“Grand Challenges”: Major challenges for society expected to drive the research and innovation agenda in the future. Example: Need for preservation of ecosystem services (FORSK2015, FNR)

Crosscutting priority areas: Proposed RTI focus areas linking several elements out of the four previous aspects. Example: Manufacturing on demand (UK), ProductionConsumption2.0 (Germany)

Some activities contribute in depth to one of the categories; others address two or more aspects as illustrated in Figure 1.

Converging Topics

Despite national specificities and differences among the countries, a certain convergence of R&I priorities can be observed. Topics related to energy transition as well as sustainable patterns of production and consumption are high on the agenda of several countries followed by health related topics and information and communication technologies.

Signals of Socio-economic Change

A number of the activities emphasise socio-economic change as a key element of the innovation arenas. In particular, several activities point out the need to explore new forms of identity-forming, cultural diversification and community building to understand successful innovation pathways.

The Foresight.fi blog specifically considers changes in socio-economic patterns as a core part of research and innovation futures. Issues such as changing attitudes towards product ownership, identity formation, self-expression, changing innovation patterns, new concepts of work, new types of jobs, new work and communication attitudes, open data, open science, new growth models, information owner-ship/control are discussed at some length and seen as relevant drivers not only for society overall but also for the direction of technological innovation. Another study that considers socio-economic innovation in depth is the NL Horizon scan. Some of the proposed priority topics explicitly address socio-cultural research, focusing for example on the socio-cultural meaning of an aging population. Another cluster is dedicated to new forms of work and education. Two other topics deal with global political and economic changes. The UK TIF study deals in depth with intellectual property rights as an area of innovation in its own right.

Furthermore, the following areas of socio-economic change are mentioned as relevant for the research and innovation fields in at least three activities:

  • Values, lifestyles, behaviours, determinants of choices, in particular of coming generations
  • Social fabric (age, culture)
  • Patterns of consumption/use
  • Value creation patterns, business models
  • Conception of humanness
  • Economic patterns, growth models
  • Work/life patterns
  • Modes of governance
  • Public sector, transparency, open data
  • Science-society interaction, citizen participation
  • Modes of communication and trust building
  • Leadership challenges

Application Domains

The domains where the innovations are expected to be applied are similar in all activities. Across activities, there is a striking emphasis on food and agriculture, both in terms of security and safety and as a key aspect of environmental sustainability and culture. The other two top innovation target areas are energy and transport followed by health, housing, communication, education, public administration and security.

Some national differences can be clearly identified. France, for instance, is putting strong emphasis on agriculture whereas Luxembourg is focusing on multimedia and service innovation. Germany is innovating along traditional production paradigms whereas the UK is pushing innovative manufacturing technologies in combination with new service and business concepts. Finland is especially concerned with the future of the countryside.

“Grand Challenges”

Most of the activities did not explicitly attempt to define the grand challenges driving research and innovation activities but rather adopted them from well-known documents such as the Millennium goals. In one case (Ireland), competitiveness of national industry was used as the only relevant criterion, but also several other national activities chose technology and innovation areas with a strong emphasis on securing advantages over competing economies.

However, most activities saw the need to address global challenges as an important rationale for RTI priority setting and adopted a mix of selection criteria combining competitiveness and challenge-oriented criteria.

The following societal challenges are explicitly mentioned as drivers for RTI priority setting:

  • Energy (securing energy supply and decarbonising energy production through new sources and efficient use)
  • Counteracting climate change
  • Preserving biodiversity
  • Food safety and security
  • Preserving ecosystems services/securing a clean environment
  • Adapting to climate change
  • Securing water supply
  • Combating chronic and infectious diseases
  • Handling global conflicts
  • Understanding and dealing with changes in social fabric, in particular demographic change but also diversity
  • Ensuring well-being and quality of life
  • Ensuring resource security

Towards Socio-technical Breakthrough

None of the activities highlights one particular technology area as likely to yield radical breakthrough innovations in the near or mid-term future. However, most activities aim towards breakthrough transformations in key innovation arenas through alignment of innovations from technological and socio-economic realms in order to achieve change in addressing societal challenges. By definition, such transformative priorities require research across engineering, natural and social sciences as well as the humanities, as they target aligned social and technological breakthrough innovation rather than just isolated technological change.

The synthesis offered here focuses on the most striking convergences within the national foresight activities. Accordingly, the transformative priority arenas outlined below are far from covering all relevant topics for research and innovation identified by the activities.

Conclusions for the Innovation Union

The transformative priorities emerging from the national forward-looking activities outlined in the previous section directly link with the “grand societal challenges” addressed in the Lund declaration and the Innovation Union initiative. Moreover, they are perfectly in line with the Innovation Partnerships proposed by the Innovation Union Flagship, both in terms of set-up and content. In particular, the areas Smart Cities and Smart Mobility as well as Agricultural Sustainability outlined by the Commission Communication fit well into the framework presented in this paper. But also the challenge-driven approach, the strong role of social innovation and the need to go beyond the “technology focus of the existing instruments” fit with the Innovation Union approach.

Transition Arenas Must Not Be Isolated

Several of the societal challenges are closely interlinked. It is obvious that the evolution of living spaces is closely tied to the underlying infrastructures and energy sources, which again co-evolve with the patterns of production and consumption. Therefore, the transition arenas cannot be easily separated. Optimising one aspect without taking into account the other is bound to fail, as several activities point out using the example of potential conflicts of biodiversity and bio-resource use.

Cultural Diversity Matters

Although several activities converge around certain socio-technical breakthrough arenas, the meaning is still different in each cultural context. This is obvious in the case of the living spaces of the future. Even though some countries have proposed almost identical priorities, the main concerns behind these propositions differ: The Fins are very much concerned with life in the countryside as a key element of their culture; the Dutch in turn expect to free space by changes in agricultural use and think of new possibilities for making good use of scarce space; the French focus is on the future of agriculture and food quality whereas the Germans, with their recent experience of shrinking cities in Eastern Germany, are considering flexible spaces to adapt to changing life-styles. Similar observations hold for all other transition arenas. Accordingly, when acting at the European level, “normalising” national diversity into one-size-fits-all approaches is bound to fail. The rich diversity needs to be kept as a particular strength.

Defining and Implementing Transformative Priorities Requires Participatory Processes

Transformative breakthrough priorities, as suggested here, are not a purely a matter of science and technology but involve substantial social and cultural innovation. Accordingly, they cannot be addressed through research alone but require aligned social and technological experimentation. This again cannot be enforced by top-down priority setting in the realm of science and technology. Participatory processes involving not only researchers and engineers but also European citizens are needed to define the adequate designs for these experimental spaces. The activities investigated here give some indications how this could be done, also at the European level. In particular, the Netherlands Horizon Scan and the Danish Forsk2025 seem to offer feasible routes for orienting research and innovation in society and technology towards shared goals by a creative and participatory linking of problems and solutions.

Authors: Philine Warnke                               Philine.Warnke@isi.fraunhofer.de
Sponsors: European Commission, DG Research
Type: Overview Brief
Organizer: Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (FhG-ISI)
Duration: 2011 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2020-2025 Date of Brief: Feb 2012

Download EFP Brief No. 211_Towards Transformative Innovation Priorities

Sources and References

National forward-looking activities covered:

France: France2025 http://www.strategie.gouv.fr/article.php3?id_article=811

Germany: BMBF-Foresight http://www.bmbf.de/en/12673.php

UK: UK TIF Technology and Innovation Futures UK Growth Opportunities for the 2020s

Spain: ENCYT2020 Estrategia Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (ENCYT) 2020. Ejercicio de Prospectiva a 2020

Poland: Poland2020 Edwin Bendyk: Poland 2020. A Look from the Future. Alternative Visions of Poland’s Development Based on the National Foresight Programme Poland 2020 Scenarios

Flanders: T&I Flanders Technology and Innovation in Flanders: Priorities. Summary Report and Recommendations. http://www.vrwi.be/en/publications/study-18a

Finland: Foresight.fi http://www.foresight.fi/

Ireland: Ireland2025 Sharing Our Future: Ireland 2025 – Strategic Policy Requirements for Enterprise Development

France: ClésTech Étude Technologies clés 2010 http://www.industrie.gouv.fr/techno_cles_2010/html/sommaire.php

Luxemburg: FNR FNR FORESIGHT – THINKING FOR THE FUTURE TODAY. http://www.fnrforesight.lu/

Netherlands: NL Horizon Scan: Horizon Scan Report 2007: Towards a Future Oriented Policy and Knowledge Agenda

EFP Brief No. 207: From Future Scenarios to Roadmapping: A Practical Guide for Exploring Innovation and Strategy

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

This methodology brief describes a procedure where we combine scenarios that allow us to anticipate and prepare for multiple futures with the process of roadmapping serving as a systematic decision support tool. This specific foresight exercise, from scenarios to roadmapping, can be conducted as a one to two-day workshop with 20-30 lead engineers or managers to gather information in an organisation.

Visionary Approaches for Corporate Foresight

Managing technologies and strategic planning of business development goes hand in hand in today’s knowledge economy. Business planning in the long run involves planning of emerging technologies as well as anticipating and preparing for disruptive change in economy and society. This involves tremendous uncertainties. Both scenarios and roadmapping are flexible tools fitted to deal with uncertainties. Scenario-making is one way of anticipating possible futures to make better decisions today. Yet, scenarios leave us with many plausible futures, thereby making it difficult to choose which path to follow as each scenario projects a storyline with emphasis on different drivers and ridden with uncertainties. Traditionally, scenarios have been developed to support the formulation of a vision and mission statement for the most desired path of development. However, scenarios have been criticised for being too distant to support strategy development. Roadmapping, on the other hand, is a very precise tool oriented towards decision-making in the present, but it may exclude important uncertainties as the focus is on one single future. The roadmap is a way to illustrate and communicate alignments of technology, product development and market requirements and the right timing guided by a common vision (Phaal et al., 2004 and 2009). Technology management literature defines it as visualising the strategy and showing the route from the current situation to the desired future (Goenaga and Phaal, 2009).

In general, roadmapping is described as a structural, yet flexible tool when navigating in a sea of uncertainties. However, we claim there is a weak point in roadmapping not dealt with in foresight or roadmapping literature, namely where the vision comes from. The reason could be that technology roadmapping so far has mostly been part of technology management where the vision is given. This may stand in opposition to strategic management where the vision is developed. For sure, a shared vision is a strong driver for any process. The vision may be developed by top management, but in organisations it is important to actually make it a shared vision leading to shared actions (eventually a driver for the mission statement).

While participatory scenario-making provides visions for multiple futures, a roadmap operates with one vision only. In this paper, we propose combining the flexibility of multiple visions of scenarios with action-oriented roadmapping.

Positioning of a Systematic Decision Support Tool

Only a few previous studies in foresight have dealt with the practical side of linking scenarios with roadmapping. Lizaso and Reger’s article from 2004 provides a theoretical discussion of the value of linking roadmapping with scenarios for strategic technology planning. They describe a step-by-step process of creating scenarios to open up a variety of possible futures. However, they also perceive visions as desirable pictures of conceivable futures. Yet this is not necessarily so. In line with Saritas and Aylen’s article from 2010 that roadmapping usually builds on one future and scenarios on multiple futures, we suggest that combining these methods will add value by exploring possible innovation paths and identifying knowledge gaps and critical decision-points at a given time, thus improving strategy-making. However, in contrast to Saritas and Aylen, who build one roadmap for each scenario, we use the scenarios to develop a common understanding, a common vision, which is a necessary requirement in a corporate setting.

This methodology therefore combines the four scenarios that allow us to anticipate and prepare for multiple futures based on a common vision, which serves as the driver for the roadmapping processes. Linking scenario-making to roadmapping involves moving from an exploratory study of possible futures towards a more goal-oriented strategic roadmap – meaning in this case that the scenario exercise is a playground for building visions.

From Four Visions to Consensus

Our point of departure is a group of lead engineers, technology managers or a division of a company – public or private – involved in exploring innovation and future developments (20-30 persons). The group has some insight in the present strategies of a company and the challenges it faces. The STEEPV acronym for the six themes of thinking about the future, social, technology, economics, ecology, politics and values, guides the search for future uncertainties (Loveridge, 2002; id. and Saritas, 2009). Examples are climate change, new technologies, political change and policy drivers, scarce resources (e.g. oil, gas and minerals), economic crisis, and social factors, such as demographic change, change in access to skilled staff, costumer needs etc. We use the STEEPV themes for trends and drivers up to 2025 to facilitate the construction of four future scenarios. The scenarios are constructed based on two identified uncertainties and a number of market drivers (Figure 1).

Managers justifiably involve experts in technology management to give technical and market advice, but often no one really exactly knows where technologies and markets are heading in the long run. This is where scenario thinking becomes important because it allows raising important questions:

Which set of multiple futures might be likely?

How can the company prepare for them?

The exercise divides the participants into four groups, a group for each scenario. The task is to give the scenario a name and formulate a short narrative formulated into a vision. A vision is explained as a desired picture of the company’s position in each scenario given the uncertainties. Figure 2 illustrates the results.

The next step is to synthesise the four visions into one common vision for the following participatory technology roadmapping exercise to build upon. Based on the four scenarios, the participants develop a common vision for the firm to meet the challenges envisaged up to 2025.

A Common Vision Is Developed in Plenum

The common vision exercise provides a bridge from the four scenarios to the explorative roadmapping process. It is based on a consensus process integrating the four visions from the scenarios into one shared vision. The common vision acts as the driver in the technology roadmapping process and provides guidance toward the desired future.

The group is then introduced to roadmapping, moving from an explorative strategic landscape towards a more goal-oriented technology roadmap. In plenum, the group is presented with a framework of the strategic landscape. The participants again apply the STEEPV themes, but this time they have a common vision and a timeline.

The common vision is placed in the framework to highlight the common direction. Post-its are placed along the timeline from the present up to 2025, aligning the layers as illustrated in Figure 3 and 4. Brief comments and discussion are welcomed as the post-its are placed along the layers.

The information gathered using the post-its from the previous exercise is condensed into the plenum roadmap, and specific issues or new innovation ideas are placed, discussed and eventually ranked by each participant, placing a red dot on the most important ideas to be explored using the roadmap framework.

In our exercise, five technology roadmaps were developed, as there were five groups, providing five new ideas and five development paths for each idea or issue, which were in line with the common vision. The common vision should be seen as the key driver in the innovation process.

In general, the roadmap provides a visual representation of layers of information related to developments of technologies in the context explored.

The focus on condensing the complex information into one graphical framework is a key benefit of technology roadmaps, allowing to visualise market pull and technology push while checking for consistency in alignments of market and business drivers with product and services and R&D development to ensure the right timing for entering the market (Goenago-Larranaga and Phaal, 2010).

Manuel for a One-day Workshop: A Practical Guide to Our Methodology

First, we include a brief theoretical introduction to scenario thinking to create awareness among the participants for the social shaping of the future by showing the possibility of equally plausible alternative paths of development.

After the introduction follows a brainstorm session. First, each participant produces post-its for trends and drivers up to 2025 using the STEEPV themes as guidance. Thereafter, we conduct collective brainstorming in plenum where all post-its are placed on a large whiteboard. As facilitators, we cluster the post-its according to the STEEPV themes. The participants then vote on the most uncertain and most likely trends and drivers. The plenum consents on two drivers for constructing the scenarios. Using a simple matrix, the plenum constructs a framework for four scenarios up to 2025. Four groups work on constructing a scenario each based on one vision.

After the groups present each scenario and their vision, a consensus process in the plenum leads to formulating a consensual vision. The major value of this procedure is building cohesion around this common vision before introducing the roadmap framework.

The roadmapping exercise works with two types: strategic landscape and technology roadmapping. The common vision is the driver for the roadmaps since it guides the process towards achieving a desired future. The participants vote to determine the five topics they consider most import to be explored via roadmapping.

Five technology roadmaps – one on each topic – are developed in newly formed groups. The roadmaps support identifying current knowledge gaps if the desired future is to be reached. The framework allows the participants to recognise challenges and critical decision-points that one needs be aware of to respond in time to windows of opportunity.

The process ends by evaluating the exercises in plenum.

Meta-level Considerations

1. Learning from scenario-making: We see scenarios as a creative way of inspiring innovation. The lesson to be learned from the scenarios is that the decisions made in the present are of strategic relevance to the future and thus actually part of shaping it since the long-term future is an open process. We therefore conclude that scenario thinking creates awareness of socially shaping the future by showing the possibility of equally plausible alternative paths of development in industry.

2. Learning point from the roadmap: The point of the roadmap was to provide a strategic framework for aligning market trends and drivers with technology developments and setting priorities for R&D.

3. Combining scenario and roadmapping: The value of combining scenario-building and roadmapping in this exercise is that scenarios allow us to anticipate and prepare for multiple futures while roadmapping enables identifying options for shaping a technology in more than one direction.

4. The strength of a common framework: Our experience from using this guide testifies to the importance of familiarising the participants with the methodology as a flexible framework and exercise. All of the elements are key ingredients to bring together, for instance, lead engineers or stakeholders in an innovation system with the goal of developing a common vision, initiating innovation efforts, and aligning technology and innovation efforts with trends and market drivers in time to be able to effectively respond to market changes and create the right timing for a new technology. Of course, neither roadmapping nor scenarios are silver bullets. Scholars such as Rob Phaal (Phaal et al., 2003) have argued that the true value of roadmapping lies in the on-going process. We very much agree as roadmapping, albeit a strong tool for decision-making, has no miraculous future-telling powers. As practitioners of strategic projects know, uncertainties change and competing or promising technologies sometimes fail to reach market.

Creating the Future Through Visioning and Roadmapping

Linking scenarios with technology roadmapping initiates an exploratory and creative phase aimed at identifying and understanding uncertainties. Scenario-building creates awareness for the possibility of more than one future, each of which is equally plausible. Roadmapping provides a framework for condensing all information into a single map and timeframe – revealing windows of opportunity and thus linking decision-making with alternative futures. The step from scenario-building to technology roadmapping requires creating a common understanding of challenges and establishing a common vision.

In exploring possible futures and visions, the participants are exposed to the basic assumption in foresight that the future in 20 years is open and it is possible to sense and seize opportunities and develop new technical and organisational skills or utilise existing ones.

An exercise of this kind can be conducted as a one-day workshop. However, we do recommend a two-day workshop since it leaves more time for group work and presentations. The role of the facilitator is of great significance; it is important to keep a positive attitude and perceive the workshop as an interactive learning process. Furthermore, the structured and systematic framework ensures a common context that makes facilitating the process easier. It may even provide a starting point for the participants to establish networks in the future based on this shared learning experience.

In conclusion, combining future scenarios and roadmapping can be useful in that the creativity provided by scenarios may help in making better decisions in developing the paths spelled out in the roadmap.

Authors: Lykke Margot Ricard                       lmri@man.dtu.dk, lykkemargot@gmail.com

Kristian Borch                                 krbo@man.dtu.dk

Sponsors: Technical University of Denmark, DTU Management
Type: Methodology Brief
Organizer: Technical University of Denmark, DTU Management, www.dtu.dk
Duration: N/A Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: Jan 2012  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 207_From Scenarios to Roadmapping

Sources and References

Goenaga, J.M., Phaal, R., 2009. Roadmapping Lessons from the Basque Country. Research-Technology Management 52, 9-12.

Goenago-Larranaga, J.M., Phaal, R., 2010. Roadmapping in industrial companies: Experience. DYNA-BILBAO 85, 331-340.

Lizaso, F., Reger, G., 2004. Linking roadmapping and scenarios as an approach for strategic technology planning. International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning. Volume 1, 68-86.

Loveridge, D., 2002. The Steepv Acronym and Process: A Clarification, Ideas In Progress. Paper No. 29. PREST, University of Manchester.

Loveridge, D., Saritas, O., 2009. Appreciation and Anticipation in the Evolution of the Nano-Field – a Case for Systemic Foresight.

Phaal, R., Farrukh, C., Mitchell, R., Probert, D., 2003. Starting-up roadmapping fast. Research-Technology Management 46, 52-58.

Phaal, R., Farrukh, C.J.P., Probert, D.R., 2009. Visualising strategy: a classification of graphical roadmap forms. International Journal of Technology Management 47, 286-305.

Phaal, R., Farrukh, C.J.P., Probert, D.R., 2004. Technology roadmapping – A planning framework for evolution and revolution. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 71, 5-26.

Phaal, R., Muller, G., 2009. An architectural framework for roadmapping: Towards visual strategy. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 76, 39-49.

Phaal, R., Muller, G., 2007. Towards visual strategy: An architectural framework for roadmapping. Picmet ’07: Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology, Vols. 1-6, Proceedings, 1584-1592.

Saritas, O., Aylen, J., 2010. Using scenarios for roadmapping: The case of clean production. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 77, 1061-1075.

EFP Brief No. 204: Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

This activity was conducted as part of the EU FP7 CIVISTI project (Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation) funded through FP7 under the Social Sciences and Humanities theme. The project aimed to develop and pilot a cost-effective mechanism for involving citizens in the formulation of European science, technology and research policy. A number of new and emerging issues for European S&T were identified, leading to the development of a set of recommendations for future European framework programmes.

Citizen Involvement in the Policy Process

The development of scientific and research policy at EU level already incorporates a system of extensive consultation with the member states. However, such consultation is generally limited to key stakeholders, such as industry representatives and the scientific community, and is rarely extended to the general public.

The CIVISTI project is based on the idea that the process of defining relevant research agendas could benefit in many respects from consultation with ordinary citizens. With the right facilitating methods, the concerns and aspirations of ordinary citizens can be developed as supplementary input to the existing consultation process. Such an approach will deepen the process of European democracy by supporting inclusiveness and increased transparency.

Most forward-looking activities traditionally source their input from those involved in technological development and research disciplines (the supply side). CIVISTI is unique in taking as its starting point the ultimate beneficiaries of any technological development – the general public (the demand side).

First Europe-wide Citizen Consultation on Science & Technology

The CIVISTI methodology is based on three key elements:

  • A first citizen consultation where ordinary citizens are asked to develop their visions of desirable futures.
  • An expert-stakeholder workshop where scientific experts review the visions put forward by the citizens and develop them into policy recommendations.
  • A second citizen consultation where the recommendations are presented to the citizens for endorsement and prioritisation.

Inviting Citizens

The process got underway with a consultation session in each of the seven CIVISTI partner countries where ordinary citizens were asked to formulate visions of desirable futures based on their concerns and aspirations. Seven citizen panels each consisting of approximately 25 citizens were established, with participants carefully selected to ensure a broad representation of gender, age, educational level and occupation. The seven workshops were all held within a month’s time.

For inspiration and common knowledge-building on future visions and EC science policy, the project team prepared appropriate guidance material and distributed it to the participating individuals beforehand.

Each consultation session took the form of a two-day structured workshop led by a facilitator. The participants were encouraged to articulate and develop approximately 25 visions, which were then documented according to a predefined format. Each workshop concluded with a voting session with the objective of identifying the nine or ten most important visions prepared by the group. This resulted in a total of 69 visions for the seven participating countries.

Expert-Stakeholder Workshop

In the second phase of the process, a small group of experts and stakeholders were brought together to process the citizens’ visions and transform them into research agendas and policy options for European research. The framework for extracting new science and technology policy options from citizen visions was inspired by Kingdon’s streams model of policy agenda setting, which is a widely applied approach in policy analysis.

On the first day of the workshop, the experts were divided into six groups of three, with each group being facilitated by a member of the CIVISTI team. The visions from all participating countries were pooled and distributed for analysis among the six teams. Each team was requested to discuss six related topics according to their field of expertise, with each topic incorporating between one and three visions. The experts endeavoured to transform the visions into concrete recommendations, taking care to maintain a clear link between the original vision and the recommendation. This process resulted in the generation of more than 100 recommendations.

On the second day of the workshop, the experts selected the 30 top recommendations on the basis of novelty, importance and timeliness in an open-space process. The experts refined the recommendations and sought to formulate them in a manner that could be understood by both ordinary citizens and policymakers.

Second Citizen Consultation

In the third and final phase of the consultation process, the citizen panels convened once again, and the participants were asked to validate and prioritise the research agendas and policy options prepared by the experts. The participants were requested to evaluate the recommendations according to the following criteria:

  • Faithfulness: the degree to which the recommendation reflects the idea of the original vision.
  • Effectiveness: the extent to which the recommendation would help to achieve the desired vision.
  • Desirability: the extent to which the recommendation represented a desirable action.

Science & Technology Topics at the Crossroads of Everyday Life

Challenges

Despite its success, the CIVISTI project encountered a number of challenges, which are highlighted to point the way to a more streamlined approach in future exercises.

Engagement of citizens: despite efforts to keep citizens engaged between the first and second consultations, the project experienced a considerable dropout rate. This was probably due to the length of time that elapsed between the two sessions, arising from the fact that the methodology was still under development and constituted a major component of the project. Reducing the time lag between the first and second citizen consultations should overcome this problem.

Drafting of recommendations: great care must be taken during the review exercise, where the experts transform the citizens’ visions into policy recommendations, to ensure that such recommendations are faithful to the original vision. During the second consultation session, these recommendations are referred back to the citizens, who expect to find a clear link between the two.

Consolidated ranking: there was extensive discussion on how to combine the seven country results into a single ranked list of recommendations. Should each participating country be allocated an even number of votes, or should there be a weighting in proportion to the country population? In the case of CIVISTI, it was found that this was not an issue and the final results were very similar using both methods.

Citizen Visions

The first consultation exercise resulted in a total of 69 visions, characterised by their breadth and interdisciplinarity. The visions spanned a broad range of topics, covering scientific, technical and social subjects, and addressing both present as well as future perspectives.

Several of the visions addressed similar topics, and the following analysis revealed that they related to a total of 37 distinct topics. However, the range of topics is not as broad as that of FP7, with certain areas being notably absent, such as nuclear power, nanotechnology, and production technologies.

As might be expected, many of the recommendations were oriented towards matters that citizens encounter in their everyday life or are based on their personal experiences. Most of the topics have a strong social focus as opposed to a natural science or technological one.

The following themes appear to be uppermost in the minds of citizens:

  • Health care and medical services
  • Education and learning
  • ICT, automation and artificial intelligence
  • Legislation, quality of life and life style
  • Employment and new modes of work
  • Energy

Towards a More Society-oriented Research Agenda

The top ten recommendations emerging from the CIVISTI project are detailed below. A number of these recommendations are already the subject of research in FP7 and little additional action is called for in their regard. This is in itself a meaningful result indicating citizen support for the work currently in progress under the framework programme. Other recommendations, however, are not being addressed to the desired extent and appropriate remarks are made for possible action.

The recommendations are discussed in the order of their final ranking by the citizen panels:

  1. Promote technical and social innovations that can enhance people’s access to and use of public transportation.

Most aspects of public transport are already well addressed in FP7 with specific mention in the Transport work programme, and numerous relevant projects have been funded through the framework programme.

However, the CIVISTI results are a strong indication that the progress achieved so far, although noteworthy, still falls short of what is desired by the public. It is therefore proposed to submit this as a topic for Mobilisation and Mutual Learning Action Plans for future Science in Society (SIS) work programmes.

  1. Foresight and research to explore sustainable options of decentralised energy production systems and the resolution of energy related conflicts.

This topic is already the focus of considerable attention and extensive research by the EU, and it is believed that no additional action is called for in this area. Citizens emphasise the long-term perspective of this initiative.

  1. Go and re-appropriate the countryside!

The CIVISTI consultations highlighted a public desire to establish attractive contemporary life in the countryside. It is proposed that this theme should be investigated and developed further through an activity funded through the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) work programme.

  1. Tools for disabled people.

This recommendation is already addressed to some extent both by thematic work programmes and especially by the Ambient Assisted Living joint programme. However, it may be useful to promote greater interaction between research organisations, carers and civil society organisations working with people with special needs in an action along the lines of the Mobilisation and Mutual Learning Action Plans as seen in recent SIS work programmes.

  1. Optimisation of urban space: towards dense European eco-cities.

The Environment work programme does include an action line dedicated to urban development. However, very little research has been funded in this area.

The CIVISTI results express a strong desire by citizens for concerted action through long-term research and pilot projects with the objective of creating a blueprint for European eco-cities with sustainable waste management, transportation, urban space use and energy usage. Such action should be based on significant input from the public.

  1. Social innovations for aging societies are needed.

Research should be undertaken to identify issues and possible solutions relating to the sudden transition from full-time employment to retirement. It is proposed to submit this topic for possible inclusion in a future SSH work programme.

  1. Increase direct democracy through e-voting.

Citizens expressed a keen desire to participate more regularly in national and possibly supranational decision-making. Traditional referenda are very expensive and time-consuming, and are rarely contemplated. Technology for e-voting (direct recording electronic voting) is already in existence, but there exist issues of security, audit and transparency. Moreover, the cost of holding a referendum using e-voting is still too high to allow regular use. Further research is needed to improve security and bring down costs. The topic should be put forward for possible inclusion in a future Information and Communication Technology work programme.

  1. Develop effective urban infrastructures supporting a multigenerational lifestyle.

This recommendation revolves around the use of communication and mobile technologies to support multigenerational families through urban design and infrastructural development that provides a friendly environment for large families and their changing needs during familial life cycles. It is proposed to investigate this theme further in an activity funded through the SSH work programme.

  1. Humanistic research to explore what dignity during the dying process means to contemporary Europeans.

It is believed that this subject has not previously been specifically addressed in the framework programme. It may be proposed as a topic for possible inclusion in a future SSH work programme.

  1. Select or develop plans and techniques for areas with extreme climate conditions.

This topic has already been addressed to some extent through the projects funded under the FP7 Knowledge Based Bio-Economy (KBBE) work programme. However, activity in this area is rather limited and it is proposed to submit this recommendation to be considered for inclusion in a future Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology (FAFB) work programme.

Authors: Brian Warrington                             brian.warrington@gov.mt

Anders Jacobi                                    aj@tekno.dk

Sponsors: EU Commission
Type: EU-level single issue foresight exercise
Organizer: FP7 CIVISTI Project Coordinator: Danish Board of Technology, Lars Kluver lk@tekno.dk  
Duration: Sep08-Feb11 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: Sep 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 204_Civisti

Sources and References

http://www.civisti.org

Decker, M. & Ladakis, M. (eds.) (2004): Bridges between Science, Society and Policy; Technology Assessment – Methods and Impacts, Berlin: Springer Verlag.

Joss, S. & S. Bellucci, (eds.) (2002): Participatory Technology Assessment. European Perspective. London: Centre for Study of Democracy.

Kingdon, J. (1984): Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

Klüver et al. (2006): Enablers of Science-Society Dialogue. Final report from the EU ERA-Net “ForSociety.” Copenhagen: Teknologirådet – the Danish Board of Technology, available online at www.eranet-forsociety.net~Results

Masini, E.B. (1994): Why Futures Studies? London: Grey Seal Books.

EFP Brief No. 198: Weak Signals and Emerging Issues in Health

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

This foresight activity was conducted as part of the EU FP7 SESTI project (Scanning for Emerging Science and Technology Issues) aimed at developing a process that can be used to identify weak signals and emerging issues in a systematic, efficient and effective way. It also pursued the application and implementation of such techniques by contextualizing them and initiating discussions within the policy arena, thus linking them in a meaningful way to existing policy processes. To enhance the quality of the comparison of the different weak signal scanning approaches, the content domain was limited to signals that are precursors to changes in the research and innovation system. This policy brief reports on the approach and findings of the SESTI project on the health theme.

Demographics, New Technologies and Patient Empowerment

Countries have been facing increasing pressure on health service budgets due to a number of factors. This trend is projected to accelerate over the coming years, and countries are desperately looking for ways of limiting expenditure without reducing the quality of services or their accessibility.

The most significant factors driving the change are:

  • Demographic and societal change. The ageing population has profound implications for the cost of health and social services.
  • Health informatics and telemedicine. ICT is changing the face of healthcare. ICT systems are revolutionising information sharing between health professionals, for example through the development of seamless electronic patient records. This requires the implementation, maintenance and upgrading of a sophisticated infrastructure with all the investment that this entails.
  • New health technologies. New pharmaceuticals and techniques are continually being developed leading to a broader range of treatments applied on a routine basis resulting in additional medical costs. But new health technologies can also contribute to decreasing costs, at least in the mid to long run. Better early diagnostics (enabling cures at an early stage), self-monitoring of health functions, robotic assistance (enabling the elderly to live on their own for a longer time or assisting medical and nursing personnel) and modern prosthetics (enabling disabled people to work more efficiently) can improve efficiency and reduce costs over time (Braun et al 2009, p 22).

Issue-centred Scanning and Exploratory Scanning

During the project, two different approaches to identify new emerging issues were followed: issue-centred scanning and exploratory scanning.

Issue-centred Scanning

In this approach, the project team foresight experts systematically conducted searches for signals that could indicate potential emerging issues. The scan tapped various digital sources, such as scientific journals, newspapers, policy papers, reports and statistical data books.

This approach provides valuable information and is a very useful technique for identifying emerging issues but has the drawback that it may miss the so-called unknown unknowns, although individual scanners may stumble upon them during the scanning activity.

The manual search for potential emerging issues followed two main lines:

  1. The first focused on selecting potential emerging issues that may be relevant to the topic being researched, using material from the national horizon scanning exercises.
  2. The second is based on a more open search on the Internet, using key questions and phrases as search strings constructed by the experts based on the kind of issues one may expect in the subject area.

The method delivered a useful set of emerging issues that were used as input for the workshops held later during the project.

Exploratory Scanning

In the exploratory approach, the foresight experts examined a variety of digital sources of information and screened them for weak signals using automated text-mining tools. The advantage of this approach is that it does not rely on an expert for identifying topics and that it should be more effective in identifying novel issues outside the perception of policymakers and expert communities.

While the concept of a bottom-up approach using automated techniques appears attractive, in practice we found that the difficulty of clustering the raw data posed an obstacle to successfully identifying emerging issues. Thus, the further development of the text mining tools would be necessary before this technique could be applied reliably in practice.

Refining the Set of Early Warning Signals

The scanning exercise produced a long set of early warning signals. This list was then refined through an assessment exercise where the underlying issues as well as the impact and uncertainty of the signals were considered. There was also a first appraisal of the reliability of the signals. The signals were clustered in different ways, taking into consideration the content dimension (keywords, areas and topics) as well as significance and granularity.

Visualisation tools, such as tag clouds, were employed to help identify keywords and provide a basis for discussion. Keywords may be either single words or phrases (e.g., health care, regenerative medicine).

The processing involved the following six steps:

  1. Clustering of weak signals
  2. Assessing the significance of clusters
  3. Framing of connected weak signals
  4. Tentative modelling of emerging issues
  5. Comparison with results of previous foresight exercises
  6. Selection of significant emerging issues.

Workshops

Following the conclusion of the scanning and processing phases by the SESTI team, a workshop was held to present and discuss the project results with a variety of stakeholders, including national policymakers, thematic experts, EC officials and delegates from the private sector. A workshop paper was prepared and circulated to the workshop participants beforehand as background material for the meetings.

The workshop was structured according to the following format:

  • Setting the scene: presentation on the thematic background by a member of the SESTI team;
  • Emerging issues: presentation of the results of the SESTI scanning activities;
  • Discussion: open floor discussion on the emerging issues presented;
  • Voting on the issues by the participants on four criteria: impact, plausibility, novelty and policy implications.

Personalisation, Diversification and Individual Accountability

The scanning exercise identified a number of emerging issues of which the following five were highlighted as being the most prominent.

Diversification in Medicine

A wide range of new offerings beyond conventional medicine and outside the public health system have sprung up in recent years. Diminishing trust in conventional medicine, the debate on cultural diversity in medicine and the increasing use of complementary and alternative medicine may lead to new requirements with regard to regulation. This field encompasses a number of therapies including herbalism, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback and traditional Chinese medicine. A growing number of people in Europe (more than 100 million) are turning to complementary and alternative medicine for disorders they feel cannot be treated with conventional therapy.

Mental Health in an Ageing Society

Advances in medicine means that humans are living longer than ever before. However, for the individual this may prove to be a mixed blessing since the quality of life of the elderly is often compromised due to frailty, reduced mobility, dependence on medication, financial limitations and loneliness in the twilight years. One in four older adults lives with depression, anxiety or other significant mental health disorders. In many EU member states the suicide rate among the elderly is higher than that for any other age group.

This aspect of the ageing population has been overshadowed by the economic perspective related to the pension problem and rising healthcare bill. The psychosocial consequences of an ageing society and the related problems are not widely known.

Obesity: the Global Epidemic Marches On

It is estimated that in excess of one billion adults are overweight, and that at least 300 million of them are clinically obese. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions and has been a major contributor to the global burden of chronic disease and disability. Within Europe, obesity affects 20-30% of adults, and a cause of particular concern is the increase in obesity rates among the young.

Rising obesity is the result of a combination of factors – increasing affluence leading to abundance of food, poor consumption habits due to a hectic routine, and a sedentary lifestyle. To combat obesity we need to recognise and address these realities, yet a number of endeavours aimed at raising public awareness and encouraging a healthier lifestyle appear to have had a limited effect. The problem calls for a new impetus and for a broader approach in the fight against obesity.

Is Prevention Better Than Cure? Re-prioritising Health Research

Most medical research funding is channelled into ways of treating disorders rather then towards methods of preventing disease. Whilst nobody would contest the remarkable progress and medical discoveries that have been made in recent years, new pharmaceuticals and treatments have contributed to a spiralling healthcare bill. Rising citizen expectations and an ageing society have placed further demands on healthcare services, and most countries are facing major challenges in terms of its sustainability.

The time may be ripe for radically rethinking health research strategy. Social interventions at policy level have a high impact on health and may become of great interest to public health policy. Nevertheless, the outcome cannot be measured in the same way that the outcome of clinical trials or health behaviour interventions on individuals can be measured.

Personalised Medicine

Personalised medicine is an approach that tailors interventions to individual variations in risk and treatment response. Although medicine has long made efforts to achieve this goal, recent advances and falling costs in genomics are beginning to make this concept a reality.

Pharmacogenomics may also provide an opportunity for an increased range of medicines. A number of drugs fail to obtain regulatory approval because they have a negative side effect on a small part of the population. This reduces the range of available medicines and pushes up the costs of research. If the genetic element could be incorporated into the testing and licensing procedure, it would be possible to develop many more drugs provided that these would be prescribed on the basis of successful genetic tests only.

As the cost of genetic testing continues to fall, it may be generally available as early as 2014. The recent developments raise questions about regulatory policy, technology assessment, and especially the financing and organisation of medical innovation.

Changing Demand for Health Services May Reduce Costs

The workshop proved invaluable in bringing together a variety of perspectives representing different interests, including academia, the public sector, the private sector and civil society. This collective knowledge ensured an interesting and balanced discussion and helped impart a certain degree of validity and legitimacy to the results.

The workshop conclusions are summarised below according to the issues introduced above.

Diversification in Medicine

The growing popularity of complementary and alternative medicine could lead to a demand for a diverse mix of medical services in the future. The regulation of practitioners may need to be extended to include those practicing alternative medicine. This speciality may provide opportunities for reducing the public healthcare bill.

Mental Health in an Ageing Society

The increasing incidence of mental health problems among the elderly is a looming problem that could have a significant impact both in terms of demand for medical services as well as in a wider social context. There are very significant policy implications and the matter deserves further consideration.

Obesity

Increasing incidence of obesity and the limited success of current attempts to address the problem demand a new impetus and a broader approach. Alternative measures could include additional regulation of the food industry and regulatory constraints on marketing by the fast food industry.

Re-prioritising Health Research

New pharmaceuticals and treatments have contributed to a spiralling healthcare bill, and in many countries, future sustainability is a challenge. The time may be ripe for radically rethinking health research strategy with an increased focus on preventive solutions.

Personalised Treatment

Widespread personalised medicine is believed to have a significant impact on the future treatment of individuals. Its increasing significance is considered a plausible prospect for the future as pharmacogenetic knowledge grows and costs continue to fall. Pharmacogenomics also provides a mechanism for improvements in the pharmaceutical regulatory regime leading to a broader range and lower cost of drugs.

Authors: Petra Schaper-Rinkel                      Petra.Schaper-Rinkel@ait.ac.at

Ozcan Saritas                                    ozcan.saritas@mbs.ac.uk

Brian Warrington                             brian.warrington@gov.mt

Victor van Rij                                     v.vanrij@awt.nl

Sponsors: EU Commission
Type: EU-level single issue foresight exercise
Organizer: FP7 SESTI Project Coordinator: TNO, Maurits Butter maurits.butter@tno.nl  
Duration: Oct 08 – Mar 11 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: April 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 198_Weak Signals Health

Sources and References

For more information, visit the project website at http://www.sesti.info

Amanatidou et al. (2011). “On concepts and Methods in Horizon Scanning: Lessons from Initiating Policy Dialogues on Emerging Issues.” Fourth International Seville Conference on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis (FTA)
Seville, 12-13 May 2011

Braun et al. (2009). EFMN. Special issue on healthcare. Healthy ageing and the future of public healthcare systems, Brussels 2009

Kopelman, P. (2010). “Foresight Report: the obesity challenge ahead.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 69(1): 80‐85.

Mossialos, E., Dixon, A., Figueras, J. and Kutzin, J. (Eds.) (2002). “Funding Healthcare: Option for Europe.” Open University Press, Buckingham.

Office of Science and Technology (OST) (2001). “Healthcare 2020, Report of the Foresight Healthcare Panel.” Department of Trade and Industry, London, available at: www.foresight.gov.uk/

Saritas, O. and Keenan, M. (2004). “Broken promises and/ or techno dreams? The future of health and social services in Europe.” foresight, vol. 6, issue 5, 281-291.

EFP Brief No. 192: Delphi-based Disruptive and Surprising Transformation Scenarios on the Future of Aviation

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Our study intends to present disruptive and challenging events, i.e. wildcard scenarios, with a significant impact on the aviation industry. We aim to assist decision and policy makers in preparing for the future and enrich decision making processes on possible courses of action by presenting a robust and reliable decision support system and creating awareness for opportunities in strategy and policy. We demonstrate how a Delphi survey (in our case a real-time variant) can be applied as a starting point to systematically develop wildcard scenarios by conducting a deductive wildcard analysis.

Combining Delphi with a Wild Card Approach

In an increasingly uncertain environment, planning uncertainties force policy and decision makers to foster strategic forecasting and technology planning processes, including future-oriented technology analyses (FTA). In spite of its growing importance, the recent expansion of FTA has paid little attention to conceptual development, research on improved methods, methodological choice or how best to merge empirical/analytical methods with stakeholder engagement processes. This is especially the case for Delphi surveys, which are one of the most commonly used tools in FTA. We address this issue by demonstrating how an innovative web-based real-time Delphi can ensure validity and reliability of foresight activities via taking relevant drivers of change into account, such as technology, socio-culture, politics, the economy and the environment. Our highly standardised scenario development process applies qualitative as well as quantitative measures and equips policy and decision makers with a robust and reliable decision support system.

We outline specifically how the Delphi method can be used to identify wildcard developments deductively and at an early point in time (Däneke, von der Gracht et al. 2010) while we also illustrate inductive wildcard analysis.

Furthermore, the results of our study and adjacent analyses allow to derive an ‘opportunity radar’, which depicts a range of opportunities and challenges for governments and companies (von der Gracht, Gnatzy et al. 2010). Our ‘radar’ is the product of several participatory future workshops in which the examined scenarios were discussed. It is designed to provide a pragmatic but also creative perspective on the future while displaying opportunities with different degrees of innovativeness.

Innovative Real-time Delphi

The study employs an innovative version of the Delphi method (von der Gracht, Gnatzy et al. 2011) and is designed as an Internet-based, almost real-time survey, which increases the validity of results by streamlining the classical procedure. Our Delphi method combines quantitative as well as qualitative research approaches to ensure a high level of scientific rigour and thus refutes objections raised in the past on grounds of expert panel biases or time scale disadvantages (EC 2004).

Furthermore, we have introduced methodological and usability improvements so that Delphi remains a valuable tool for FTA procedures. Such improvements are the ‘ease-of-use facilitator portal’, the ‘consensus portal’ and a ‘graphical real-time feedback’, which reduce drop-out rates and speed up the whole process.

Delphi Data Sample and Analysis

Within the scope of our Delphi survey (Linz and Rothkopf 2010), 57 aviation strategists, C-level executives, aviation researchers and consultants evaluated 40 projections in terms of probability (scale from 0-100%) and desirability of occurrence (5-point Likert scale) as well as impact on the aviation industry (5-point Likert scale).

In addition to their quantitative assessments, participating panellists were able to provide qualitative statements to support their numerical estimations and discuss relationships between factors thought to shape future developments. Based on the assessments and more than 1,300 collected verbal arguments offered in support of the individual expert expectations, relevant extreme and wildcard scenarios were deducted, enabling contingency planning and preparation for unforeseeable and disruptive events (Cuhls and Johnston 2006). Furthermore, the arguments and comments provided the foundation for later storytelling and the identification of weak signals, wildcards, outlier opinions and mainstream arguments.

Delphi-based Deductive Wildcard Analysis

The deductive wildcard analysis aimed at developing and analysing company and market-specific wildcards. Since the kind of data required for such an analysis is generally not readily available, the wildcards have to be developed from scratch. Due to the complexity of the future and the unpredictability associated with complexity, the number of potential surprises is virtually endless. Therefore, it is impossible to identify all possible wildcards in an exhaustive manner. Nevertheless, the deductive wildcard analysis provides an adequate approach for identifying those issues relevant to a specific company at a reasonable cost.

In the first step, the critical future assumptions have to be identified. In a second step, wildcard scenarios are deducted on the basis of a qualitative Delphi data analysis and scenario techniques. This is followed by the development of plausible scenario origins and paths. Fourth, relevant wildcards have to be elaborated. And finally, possible strategies and policies need to be developed in order to enable linkage between strategy and daily business requirements. The wildcard transfer has to be conducted through a process of storytelling, contingency planning and the set up of an early warning system.

Inductive Wildcard Analysis

The inductive wildcard analysis is based on the idea of manifold archetypical wildcards that generally have to be taken into account by policy makers and business leaders. Those wildcards can represent internal (e.g., financial failure) or external disruptive events (e.g., natural disaster). The wildcard analysis consists of five incremental steps.

First, potential wildcards have to be collected. Second, the wildcards identified need to be assessed in terms of relevance to politics and business. In a third step, relevant wildcards must be selected. The wildcards thus selected are then elaborated with regard to their operative and strategic implications. Finally, possible strategies and policies are developed and implemented.

The Future of Aviation between Terrorist Threats and New Fuel Technologies

Based on the survey data, we derived several wildcard scenarios for the year 2025, which address manifold aspects ranging from natural catastrophes to technological revolutions (Linz and Rothkopf 2010).

(1) Aviation Terrorism Reloaded

Since 9/11, the fear of terrorist attacks has increased tremendously. Important hubs and large airports especially could become the focus of physical aggression.

(2) Spread of a Global Pandemic

New pathogens originate worldwide on a regular basis. The potential impact of a prolonged global pandemic on aviation networks has become apparent in the case of SARS in Asia in 2002/2003.

(3) Natural Catastrophes

Major impacts can evolve from volcanic activities as in 2010, but danger might also arise from space. Planet Earth has always been subject to impacts from comets and asteroids, which pose a potential source of danger to life and property.

(4) Deglobalisation, Relocation and Protectionism

Intense worldwide economic shocks could provoke a fundamental re-thinking of free trade resulting in strict protectionism.

(5) Energy Revolution

An energy revolution based on a scientific breakthrough would render all the traditional energy sources obsolete. Nuclear fusion and zero-point generators, which do not require fuel to produce heat and energy, could be technologies of this kind.

(6) Revolution in Transportation Technologies and Concepts

New transportation technologies and concepts are being discussed that could revolutionise air transportation or pose significant opportunities and threats to the aviation industry.

(7) The Fabbing Society

‘Fabbing’ means the direct fabrication of objects from computer models. So far, the technology has only been applied in the industrial sphere. However, with technical advancements and falling equipment prices, these technologies could also be made available for private use by 2025.

Based on current and expected risks, we set up a process to develop a set of future chances and opportunities, which is represented by our ‘opportunity radar’ (Linz and Rothkopf 2010).

The ‘opportunity radar’ focuses on promising opportunities related to aviation over the next 15 years. Some of them are already near implementation while others remain visions by current standards.

Applying the Results in the ‘Competitiveness Monitor’

The results of our research have already been used on several occasions. Multiple workshops with stakeholders from the aviation industry were held. There, the implications of the measures for the different stakeholder groups were further discussed. In addition, the methodological results from the wildcard and opportunity analysis have contributed to the joint research project ‘Competitiveness Monitor’ (CoMo) conducted as part of the EffizienzCluster LogistikRuhr of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The CoMo will combine three foresight tools in a single IT-based futures platform. This platform will integrate user specific information from (1) a trend database (TDB), (2) a collaborative prediction market application and (3) an individual future workshop.[1]

With our research, we aim to assist decision and policy makers in preparing for the future. Therefore, we present disruptive and challenging events, i.e. wildcard scenarios. Furthermore, we provide a robust and reliable decision support system to assist decision and policy makers in making informed and sound decisions in the light of complexity.

[1] We presented detailed findings from the Competitiveness Monitor project in our 4th FTA 2011 conference papers (1) “Competitiveness Monitor: An integrated foresight platform for the German leading-edge cluster in logistics” and (2) “Trend Database design for effectively managing foresight knowledge – A sophisticated FTA content base architecture to enable foresight processes”.

Authors: Steffen Schuckmann                      Steffen.Schuckmann@ebs.edu

Dr. Marco Linz                                Marco.Linz@ebs.edu

Dr. Heiko von der Gracht                 Heiko.vonderGracht@ebs.edu

Dr. Inga-Lena Darkow                      Inga-Lena.Darkow@ebs.edu

Sponsors: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research1
Type: Single issue brief
Organizer: Center for Futures Studies, EBS Business School, Marco.Linz@ebs.edu
Duration: 06/10 – 05/13 Budget: 2.3m € Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: June 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 192_Future of Aviation

Sources & References

Cuhls, K. and R. Johnston (2006). ‘Corporate FTA’, Anchor Paper, Proceedings of the Second FTA Seville Seminar, Future-Oriented Technology Analysis: Impacts on Policy and Decision Making. Seville, IPTS.

Däneke, E., H. A. von der Gracht et al. (2010). ‘Systematische Wildcard-Analyse mit Hilfe der Delphi-Methode am Beispiel Future of Aviation 2025.’ In: Gausemeier, Jürgen (ed.) 2010: Vorausschau und Technologieplanung Paderborn, Heinz Nixdorf Institut. 6: 419-440.

EC (2004). New Horizons and Challenges for Future–oriented Technology Analysis – Proceedings of the EU-US Scientific Seminar: New Technology Foresight, Forecasting & Assessment Methods. F. Scapolo and E. Cahill, European Commission, Joint Research Centre (DG JRC), Institute for Prospective Technological Studies.

Linz, M. and A. Rothkopf (2010). The Future of Aviation. Global Scenarios for Passenger Aviation, Business Aviation and Air Cargo. St. Gallen, BrainNet.

von der Gracht, H., T. Gnatzy, et al. (2010). Transportation & Logistics 2030. Volume 2: Transport infrastructure – Engine or hand brake for global supply chains? PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)/ Supply Chain Management Institute (SMI).

von der Gracht, H. A. and I.-L. Darkow (2010). ‘Scenarios for the logistics services industry: A Delphi-based analysis for 2025.’ International Journal of Production Economics 127(1): 46-59.

von der Gracht, H. A., T. Gnatzy, et al. (2011). New Frontiers in Delphi Research – Experiences with Real-Time Delphi in Foresight. Conference Volume of the WorldFuture 2011, Vancouver, Canada. In Press.