Posts Tagged ‘arts’

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

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

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

EFMN Brief No. 160_Future Jobs and Skills

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

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

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

EFMN Brief No. 158_MONA

EFP Brief No. 157: Roadmap Robotics for Healthcare

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The main aim of this study was to provide key research policy recommendations for the application of robotics in healthcare in the research programmes of the EC. The study also aimed at raising awareness about important new developments in this field among a wider audience. To this extent, a roadmap of promising applications of robotics in healthcare and associated R&D was developed, taking into account the state of the art as well as short and long-term future possibilities with a time horizon ending in 2025.

EFMN Brief No. 157_Robotics for Healthcare

EFP Brief No. 154: Looking Forward in the ICT and Media Industry – Technological and Market Developments

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The project was an activity within the framework contract between the European Parliament and ETAG, the European Technology Assessment Group, to carry out TA studies on behalf of the Parliament’s STOA Panel in view of the growing importance of a European science and technology policy. The purpose of this particular project was to identify current and expected technological and market developments in the field of ICT with an impact on the media industry and to indicate regulatory challenges and requirements stemming from the anticipated changes. The main target group are the Members of the European Parliament; the wider addressee is the interested public.

EFMN Brief No. 154_ICT and Media Industry

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

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

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

EFMN Brief No. 151_Furniture Foresight Centre

EFP Brief No. 150: Strategic Capacity Building in Clusters to Enhance Future-oriented Open Innovation Processes

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

For the purpose of increasing and sustaining business and regional long-term competitiveness, information and training modules were developed to enrich cluster development policies with tools that give incentives for and facilitate ‘outward-looking’ (open innovation) and forward-looking (foresight, technology assessment) activities and thus provide strategic guidance for developing future-proof, open innovation processes. After testing the tools in ICT, mechatronics and life sciences clusters, they are now being applied in a trans-regional foresight approach to develop a joint research agenda for clusters in the economically more and more important creative industries.

Regional Cluster Development to Systematically Boost Innovation

In the globalising knowledge economy, regional clusters are increasingly understood – in particular with respect to their ‘non-regional’ dimensions – as local nodes in global knowledge
flows. The Innobarometer 2006 on clusters’ role in facilitating innovation in Europe confirmed that companies situated in clusters are more innovative and competitive than companies outside. In strategically guided and well-managed clusters, the enhanced innovativeness and competitiveness at the firm level finally results in sustainable regional economic development. Thus, policy-makers at all administrative levels use cluster support instruments to systematically boost innovation and competitiveness of both businesses and regions. The cluster concept captures current discussions of managing (regional) innovation systems and open innovation processes at both the regional and business level. At the business level, management professor H. Chesbrough claims a fundamental shift in innovation paradigms from closed to open innovation and advocates collaborative and open innovation strategies and open business models to take the full benefit from collaborating with external partners. More and more, (in particular multinational) enterprises take into account, in addition to internal resources, the competences of external partners to meet the challenges of  ncreased complexity of research, technological development and innovation (RTDI), growing global competition leading to shortened ‘time to market’ etc. Regional clusters as ‘innovative hot spots’ and local nodes in global innovation networks play an important role for companies looking for external partners to form strategic RTDI collaborations. The business strategy of collaborative and open innovation at the micro-level poses considerable challenges for macro-level innovation policy. For example, new complex interactions and relationships emerge and continue to evolve between public
research organisations and industry, which in turn lead to new ways of organising and managing R&D and innovation by all stakeholders in an innovation system. Thus, horizontal and vertical coordination of policies and support of cross-sectional linkages and networks are imperative for systemic and interactive RTDI policy making. In this respect, (trans-) regional cluster development is broadly seen as an adequate and effective instrument to enhance and coordinate knowledge flows and collaboration between regional stakeholders coming from industry, science and public administration.

Linking Forward- & Outward-looking Approaches

Both the discussions on open innovation business strategies and on systemic regional innovation policies emphasize the vital role of strategic intelligence for innovation and point to the value added of linking forward-looking and openinnovation-focused approaches.
To develop and implement successfully future-oriented collaborative and open innovation processes, businesses rely on strategic economic and business intelligence in order

  • to generate common visions about longer-term market and
    technological developments,
  • to derive promising new products and services and define
    future business models, and
  • to develop and agree on joint innovation projects with
    external strategic partners.

Thus, in a world of open innovation, future-oriented technology analyses – comprising foresight and technology assessment activities – are decisive for strategic knowledge generation and transferring it into new products and services. The faster and easier businesses gain access to strategic knowledge and integrate it in their company strategy, the more successful they will be. This becomes evident in ‘business ecosystems’ where businesses co-evolve their capabilities around new technologies and jointly design a kind of ‘mass customization’ of new products and services to satisfy individual customer needs and to succeed in the worldwide ‘competition for the future’. Though, many enterprises (in particular SMEs) mostly rely on more easily accessible, short-term market information (e.g. from their clients). They often do not know how to sustainably
realise their full market potential by

  • thinking and acting more in a longer-term perspective and
  • developing strategic alliances and networks.

Due to restricted internal resources, most of them would have to use external strategic knowledge if they realise the need to change their business-as-usual approaches. In this context, strategic cluster support instruments can help these enterprises meet future challenges and support strategic capacity building in the region. Strategic cluster support combines forward- and outward-looking approaches (e.g. in cluster foresight type activities) to facilitate knowledge creation processes contributing to long-term competitiveness and sustainable economic development. Specifically, it

  • promotes knowledge exchange and strategic learning processes between cluster stakeholders in order to create a localised and unique knowledge stock,
  • facilitates cross-cluster, trans-regional and transdisciplinary knowledge flows and strategic business linkages to enrich and refresh the local knowledge pool with external impulses and to leverage complementary assets
    and capabilities of clusters in different regions, and enables cross-cluster policy learning and pursuit of common aspects of strategic cluster policies.

Orchestrating Business and Cluster Strategies

The sustainable success of cluster development depends substantially on the concerted actions of many different actors – multiple levels of government and public agencies, companies, educational and research organisations etc. In this context, it is crucial to develop a common vision and to  implement a cluster strategy that

  • reflects the specific needs of the cluster stakeholders,
  • focuses on the most promising international technology and market development perspectives, and
  • integrates a broad range of (European, national and regional) public policies and private sector activities.

Combining forward- and outward-looking approaches also means

  • to provide the regional stakeholders with strategic longerterm orientation by taking stock of available strategic knowledge from both public (e.g. regional foresight) and private actors (e.g. from corporate foresight or roadmapping activities in large companies) and
  • to align business strategies and longer-term regional cluster strategies.

To summarise, succeeding in linking forward- and outwardlooking approaches and creating a multi-actor, multi-level coherence of strategies and congruent activities means leveraging synergies.  Multiplier effects can be achieved (e.g. bundling forces to boost innovation effectively), and better – because broadly based and mutually strengthening – economic decisions lead to increased and  sustained business and regional competitiveness. These positive impacts can be made sustainable if, in addition to facilitating access to external strategic knowledge, the strategic capacities of the  innovation actors themselves are systematically built up in a way that takes into consideration their different absorptive and knowledge management capabilities.

The Connect2Ideas Approach – Strategic Capacity Building in Clusters

The FP6-funded project Connect2Ideas (June 2006 to May 2008) aimed at fostering trans-national technology transfer – mainly between multinational enterprises (MNEs) and SMEs – by enhancing future- and open-innovation-oriented thinking and acting in SMEs, related business networks and clusters. In this context, the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ) developed a series of two consecutive workshops on Strategic Capacity Building & Open Innovation and tested it in three regional clusters in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany with varying open innovation regimes and institutional settings (ICT, mechatronics and life sciences clusters). The strategic experience and knowledge of MNEs, for instance through corporate foresight, strategic planning and open innovation, should be used to improve strategic capacities also in their business environments (clusters, regions and institutions)

  • to overcome mostly short-term orientation by recognising the strategic relevance of future-oriented collaborative and open innovation activities,
  • to develop common visions concerning future trends and challenges (using horizon scanning techniques with a time horizon of ten years) and, based on these results,
  • to derive joint innovation projects aiming at sustainable long-term cooperation.

Target groups and participants were MNEs (e.g. Siemens, IBM, SAP) with deep roots in the region, SMEs, research and education organisations and other regional stakeholders including representatives from public RTDI funding agencies and public administration.
The preparation phase included

  • identifying and mobilising MNEs, company networks and business clusters and
  • analysing in an innovation audit type approach the strengths and weaknesses of the cluster-related innovation system with specific focus on the barriers to open innovation processes.

Common Vision about Trends and Challenges

The first workshops introduced various methods, concepts and approaches to strategic ‘future management’ and then focused on the development of a common vision about future trends
and challenges using specific foresight and TA elements and techniques such as

  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)/ STEEPV (social, technological, economic, environmental, political and values) analyses to identify key global trends
  • and (based on local strengths and weaknesses identified in advance) to discuss common longer-term challenges and opportunities, and impact analyses to assess the impact of the most relevant trends with a specific focus on business perspectives: for instance, future markets (customer needs), business models, innovation and value creation processes, requirements with regard to human resources (qualifications, skills) etc.

Future-oriented Open Innovation Processes

Based on the results of the first workshops, the subsequent workshops and follow-up activities focused on the development of joint innovation projects aiming at sustainable longterm cooperation using techniques such as

  • technology watch/scouting to identify existing or wanted technologies in the international business environment,
  • value chain analysis to identify potential international cooperation partners in the respective global value chain and innovation network, and
  • partner search and search for funds to identify potential strategic cooperation partners for the cluster stakeholders including relevant funds (e.g. FP7, CIP, ERDF, national, regional) for subsidising the strategic collaboration.

Success Factors and Outcomes

Critical success factors of the workshop series included the comprehensive preparation in close coordination with the responsible cluster organisations (e.g. preparing a draft SWOT and value chain, motivating the relevant cluster stakeholders, attracting high-reputation external experts for keynote speeches etc.). The quality of the introductory statements of the keynote speakers was also important to stimulate a constructive debate on future trends, specific impacts and open innovation processes. These workshops could only prepare the ground for forward- and outward-looking thinking and acting. Thus, interested cluster actors and stakeholders were provided with ongoing advice and assistance for implementation. The pilot workshops in Baden-Wuerttemberg contributed to increasing the strategic capacity at the firm level as well as at the level of regional economies and decision-makers:

  • They provided a basis for collaborative innovation projects with regional and international partners in the specific cluster and regional value chain (e.g. in the context of the German ‘Excellence Cluster’ competition).
  • The involved ministry decided to continue the workshop series in the framework of its participative regional innovation and new cluster policy. In this respect, the workshops
    served as a trigger for further cluster foresight activities in Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Outlook:
From Connect2Ideas to CReATE

The Connect2Ideas approach highlights the fact that strategic guidance enriches traditional regional RTDI policy instruments by generating a creative atmosphere and a seedbed for ongoing learning processes. Thus, it provides – independent of different local open innovation regimes and   institutional settings – a genuine value added – both for businesses and cluster policies. The Strategic Capacity Building & Open Innovation workshops demonstrate how linking forward-looking and openinnovation- focused approaches can support strategic capacity building in clusters and thus enhance future-oriented open innovation processes at the business and regional levels:

  • Businesses overcome their mostly short-term orientation by recognising the strategic relevance of longer-term perspectives and collaboration with external partners.
  • Regional RTDI policy-makers take into account the specific needs of the cluster stakeholders with respect to future challenges and opportunities, and, on this base, create long-term, sustainable competitiveness perspectives and framework conditions for the innovation systems.
  • Aligning future-oriented business strategies and longerterm regional cluster strategies lead to better, broadly based and mutually strengthening innovation processes contributing to increased and sustained competitiveness.

Based on the Connect2Ideas experience and in the context of the German (national) ‘Excellence Cluster’ competition, SEZ developed specific training modules for facilitating and improving
strategic cluster development at multiple levels:

  • cluster level: developing a common vision and strategy for the cluster and defining an action agenda that reflects the unique needs and capacities as well as the most promising international technology and market development perspectives;
  • ‘sub-cluster’ level: refining the cluster strategy, adopting the strategy and agenda to the specific needs and capacities of the respective ‘sub-cluster’ network and implementing concrete joint actions;
  • single firm level: training in future-oriented strategic innovation management results in an endogenous base for competitive, business specific roadmaps and strategies.

This triad in developing innovation-related strategies in clusters leads to aligned innovation processes and therefore increases the impact of coordinated RTDI actions. To avoid negative rigidity
and lock-in effects and to create a climate conducive to visionary, out-of-the-box thinking, the knowledge exchange with external partners is an important element in all strategy processes. In this respect, SEZ took up the Connect2Ideas approach and elaborated for the FP7-funded ‘Regions of Knowledge’ project CReATE (March 2008 to October 2010) a methodology to develop a trans-regional joint research agenda for clusters in creative industries sectors. Creative industries already contribute substantially to economic value creation and employment, and their importance is expected to grow further. So far, however, only some regions benefit from the economic stimuli of creative industries. In addition, enterprises in this sector highly depend on transregional and trans-disciplinary collaboration. Addressing both issues, CReATE aims at boosting the sector as a whole in Europe, especially by stimulating future-oriented open innovation processes between the  takeholders of creative industries clusters. The CReATE methodology uses a modified Connect2Ideas approach to define research priority areas decisive for the future innovativeness and competitiveness of the clusters. Agreeing first on regional priority areas (based both on regional excellence and ‘aspirations’), a trans-regional joint research agenda will be elaborated in a coordinated process of interlinked regional and trans-regional phases. By integrating the broad spectrum of stakeholders (including funding bodies), regional and trans-regional project ideas will be developed. The impact aimed for is to improve the innovativeness and international competitiveness of the creative industries in the participating regions, but also to stimulate growth beyond them in the EU. Processes of learning from and dissemination of the approach and findings beyond the project frame will be secured by tailored training workshops on future-oriented strategy development for companies and cluster managers.

 

Authors: Dr Björn Sautter sautter@steinbeis-europa.de
Dr Günter Clar clar@steinbeis-europa.de
Sponsors: European Commission (FP6/FP7), DG ENTR / DG RTD; regional bodies and enterprises
Type: Cluster foresight exercise
Organizer: Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum, Stuttgart, Germany (responsible for the project parts described in this brief)
Duration: 2006 – 2010
Budget: € 370,000
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: Septmeber 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 150_Open Innovation

Sources and References

Project website Connect2Ideas: www.connect2ideas.com
Project website CReATE: www.lets-create.eu
For further information, please contact
Dr Bjoern Sautter (sautter@steinbeis-europa.de), or
Dr Guenter Clar (clar@steinbeis-europa.de)
http://www.steinbeis-europa.de/340.html

EFP Brief No. 146: Germany 2020 New Challenges for a Land on Expedition

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

The brief provides a short overview of a project in which Deutsche Bank Research has combined its own foresight expertise with inputs from the bank’s business strategists and external experts in order to develop scenarios for the future development of the German economy and society against the backdrop of intensifying structural change.

Germany on the Path toward a “Project Economy”

Deutsche Bank and its clients require knowledge about the future for their investment decisions. Deutsche Bank Research provides this “corporate foresight”. A multidisciplinary team develops and applies a wide range of methods to identify longterm macro trends. These foresight results, which are achieved on the basis of structured, process-based, quantitative and qualitative analyses, are fed into discussions with strategic management and clients as well as into public debate on broader economic, societal and political issues. The next two decades will be crucial for determining the path Germany will take over the long-term. Will German society be able to cope with the demographic pressures bearing down on the economy and the state’s finances? Will Germany succeed in redefining its role in the rapidly changing global economy and world order? Will Germany be a leader or a laggard on the road to a knowledge economy? Our first step was to sketch four alternative scenarios outlining how the German economy and society may have developed by the year 2020 (“Expedition Deutschland”, “Wild West”, “Drawbridge Up” and “Skatrunde (Playing Cards) with the Neighbours”). In the second step, we used broadly-based trend analysis to examine which of these four future scenarios is the most plausible.

The “Expedition Deutschland” Scenario – Knowledge and Cooperation Are Critical

The core elements of the “Expedition Deutschland” scenario for 2020 (formulated from the perspective of the year 2020) are the following:

In 2020, the “project economy” delivers 15% of value creation in Germany (in 2007 the figure was about 2%). The “project economy” refers to usually temporary, extraordinarily collaborative
and often global processes of value creation. For many companies, this type of cooperation is in many cases the most efficient way of doing business. This is because product life cycles have shortened further; the breadth and depth of the knowledge necessary for developing and marketing successful products have increased rapidly; successful products are increasingly the result of convergence between different fields of technology and knowledge; and many companies and research institutes are even more strongly specialised in 2020 than they were in 2007. Consequently companies collaborate ever more frequently on joint projects, often in the form of legally and organisationally independent project companies. They delegate specialised employees or parts of their organisation to these projects, invest capital or put their knowledge and networks at their disposal. In this way, companies can respond flexibly to the considerably higher demands on knowledge and rapidity in the global markets while sharing the costs and risks. This is often – but by no means always – their key to success: in 2020, too, collaboration generates considerable personal and strategic tensions. Factors that help to reduce the frictions on the technical side are mature, highly standardised information technologies. The project economy is closely intertwined with the traditional way of doing business. In 2020, many companies are continuing to go it alone with the market launch of their products. Often, though, these same companies cooperate in other markets – for instance the innovation-intensive ones – by taking the project economy approach. Germany’s small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) benefit in particular from the project economy. SMEs can use their advantages of specialisation and organisational flexibility – and are additionally boosted by a renewed surge in start-up activity. Open innovation processes helped to conquer new markets. In 2020, Germany has caught up with its competitors in markets for cutting-edge technology and knowledge-intensive services. Today, innovation is Germany’s core competence, with “Created in Germany” often being first choice, especially in Asia and the Middle East. Some of the main reasons for this success are collaborative innovation as well as intelligent sharing and exchange of knowledge and intellectual property. A project- economy approach to work has proved efficient especially in the early innovative and thus particularly knowledgeintensive phases of value creation. Moreover, many German corporations (and their local and international project companies) have benefited over the past few years from having more closely integrated the generation of “sovereign customers” into their processes. These customers are well networked via interactive forums and have up-to-date knowledge of prices and qualities in the areas that interest them. By contrast, many business investments in long-term research and development will have fallen by the wayside by 2020. They are often poorly adapted to the more short-lived valueadded patterns of today. Knowledge is traded in efficient markets in 2020. Knowledge
about customers, markets and many other topics is valued and traded much more efficiently today than back in 2007. The operators of such knowledge-based services are flourishing. Intellectual property has become a commonly used asset class:
investors may choose from a broad spectrum of topic-oriented patent funds, copyright securitisations etc. Moreover, intellectual capital has swung into the focus of company valuations:
the capital market now takes interest not only in a company’s traditional balance sheet ratios but also its research efficiency, education and training budget, and cooperation ratings.

The young and seasoned minds that house this intellectual capital benefit from efficient learning markets in 2020. Private operators of learning services prosper. Also, the public universities and other educational facilities have become more efficient following a wave of consolidation. Furthermore, they are more strongly involved in the market for modular education and training.

From Direct Regulation to Co-regulation

Government reduces its intervention and there is more coregulation. Co-regulation closely integrates citizens and companies. On the one hand, legitimation problems have motivated the state and still tight fiscal constraints have compelled it to cede part of its mandate to others. On the other, the regulatory issues have become increasingly complex. More than ever before, the state needs to tap the knowledge of citizens and companies to be able to set suitable framework conditions. Regulatory regimes that emerge in this way are more intelligently geared to the needs of business and society. They are more transparent for people and companies alike and ease the struggle into new markets. In general though the state’s abandonment of parts of its mandate has resulted in social transfers now coming with strings attached. In addition, more and more social services (e.g. long-term care) are organised on a private basis. Germany has become a “stakeholder society” based on reciprocal action.

Successful New Middle Class – Low Earners Lose Out

A new middle class emerges in German society by 2020, but the lower periphery falls behind. The middle class celebrates its comeback. The new opportunities for upward social mobility and the higher risk of social decline, both being the consequence of increasingly global and volatile value creation, have clearly shown the middle class the value of knowledge. Many Germans with a mid-range income therefore invest heavily in education – and thus gain qualifications for the demanding, but at the same time well-paying jobs in the project economy.

Well-educated older people also benefit as they are intelligently integrated in the working world in 2020. By contrast, low earners have only limited access to the new learning markets, and young and old alike often have to fear for their livelihoods. International competition has an even more incisive impact on this group than on others. Many low earners are compelled to organise themselves in self-help networks and many have lost their faith in politicians.

Globalisation, Diversification in Energy Supply  and Digitisation Are Other Key Trends

These elements, however, are interrelated with three other aspects of structural change which are already well under way and which, in our view, have rather trend-like characteristics.

Globalisation leads to new centres of gravity in the international value creation chain. 

   Energy supply shows a broader mix and decentralised production. 

       Digitisation enables networked goods flows in the new Internet. 

Given the structural changes outlined here on the way to “Expedition Deutschland”, we expect Germany’s gross domestic product to grow at an average rate of 1.5% per year up to 2020. From a 2007 perspective, these changes will pave the way to extraordinary opportunities for business, society and politics, but also harbour substantial risks. Some key fields of action for business include, for instance, a structured analysis of collaboration options, a more systematic assessment of intangible investments, broader acceptance of new forms of education and training, and an increase in life-long learning activities.

Innovative Methodology to Deal with High Complexity in Scenario Analysis

The guiding question for our scenario analysis is how will structural change have affected the German economy by the year 2020? In order to answer this question, we applied a methodology based on a simple scenario approach. Normally, one identifies the two key drivers to build a “scenario matrix”. Each field in the scenario matrix represents a different combination of attributes (high/high, high/low etc.) of these two drivers, and one scenario is developed from each of their respective interactions (see Figure 1, for an overview of the different elements of our scenario analysis see box on page 4). In addition to these drivers, whose future development is uncertain, there are a number of trend-like drivers – whose future development is comparatively predictable (in the following they are referred to for short as “trends”) – which impact on all four scenarios. These trends show similar developments in all four scenarios.

But our scenario question is multi-faceted; the number of relevant drivers and trends is high. To cope with this complexity without losing too much information, we have advanced the above approach: we have aggregated drivers that are thematically related and whose development is correlated into “dynamics” (the trends, too, are aggregated into “trend-like dynamics”, see the figure Deriving scenarios by reducing complexity). Instead of taking individual drivers, we build the scenario matrix with the two key dynamics. Further information and a discussion of the merits and drawbacks of this approach can be found at www.expeditiondeutschland.de/en.

Nonetheless, through interaction with the other drivers, the trends can develop or impact slightly differently or at a different pace in each scenario. 

In the scenario method these drivers are often referred to as “determinants” and the trends as “premises“.

146_bild1

Concept of the “Most Plausible Scenario”

Classic scenario analysis examines alternative future developments – but without highlighting any one of the depicted scenarios as the most probable scenario. For good reason since the scenario method does not in itself deliver any (or sufficient) indications as to which picture of the future is the most probable.

We are deliberately breaking with tradition of future research here: we identified a number of trends or trend-like dynamics that have an exceptionally strong influence and whose general future development can be predicted particularly reliably. They are driving Germany in the direction of one of our four scenarios and therefore make it particularly plausible. We refer to this scenario as the focus scenario and call it “Expedition Deutschland“. These trends relate to developments in a broad spectrum of fields in business, society and politics as well as in science and technology. They partly reinforce each other, a factor that has further encouraged us to focus on this one scenario.[1]

[1] We have systematically analysed the interactions between many of these trends in the earlier project “Global Growth Centres 2020” (see Bergheim, Stefan (2005), loc. cit.).

Our focus on this scenario should therefore not be seen as a normative statement: our message is not that we are placing this scenario in the spotlight because it is the “most desirable” one in our view. But, despite all the plausibility bonuses derived from our trend analysis in favour of this scenario over the other three, the following needs to be stressed:

Our focus scenario is not a forecast. In 2020, Germany will look only in parts like we have described in our scenario. Rather, there will be a mix of elements of all four (and maybe other possible) scenarios.

Elements of our scenario analysis

“Driver”. Important factor of influence on future structural change in Germany whose future development is difficult to predict.

“Trend” (trend-like driver). Important factor of influence on future structural change in Germany whose future development is reliably predictable.

“Dynamic”. Aggregation of (mostly non-trend-like) drivers which are thematically related and whose development is correlated. The future development of a dynamic as a whole (without drawing on additional information) is difficult to predict.

“Trend-like dynamic”. Aggregation of (mostly trend-like) drivers that are thematically related and whose development is correlated. The future development of a trend dynamic as a whole is reliably predictable.

“Scenario”. An, in itself, consistent picture of the future (in this case of the German economy and society) derived from a

given combination of developments of the dynamics considered (and the expected developments of the trend-like dynamics). “Consistent“ means here that the interaction of the various elements has been taken into account.

“Focus scenario”. The one of our four alternative scenarios for Germany in the year 2020 which we consider to be the most plausible owing to the future impact of some of the above “trends“ and “trend dynamics“.

Our message is that, as far as we can judge today, it appears plausible that Germany is more likely to resemble our focus scenario than the other pictures of the future developed here.

Illustration of the Scenarios

We have developed posters to sum up the content and convey an intuitive image of the key messages of our four scenarios. They depict the behaviour of businesses and citizens (as persons), the market playing field (as environment/terrain) and the regulatory framework (as sky/weather) in 2020. To give an example, here we show the poster for the “Expedition Deutschland” scenario discussed above.

146_bild2

Authors: Jan Hofmann  jan-p.hofmann@db.com; Ingo Rollwagen   ingo.rollwagen@db.com; Stefan Schneider     stefan-b.schneider@db.com
Sponsors: n.a
Type: n.a
Organizer: Deutsche Bank Research
Duration: 2006 – 2008
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: January 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 146_Germany 2020

Sources and References

  • expeditiondeutschland.de/en
  • dbresearch.de

EFP Brief No. 144: US Families 2025: Trends and Alternative Futures

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

In response to a call for papers on the future of feminism from Futures, the international scholarly journal of Futures Studies, an informal workshop was organized to explore changes to US families and how the roles of men, women and children might be influenced by such forces. The ‘US Families 2025’ workshop was conducted entirely on a volunteer basis and provided opportunity for both newcomers and experts in the field of futures studies to engage in foresight and futures methodology. The outcomes of the workshop were analysed from the perspective of futures literature and feminist theory to arrive at the article ‘US Families 2025: In Search of Future Families’ published in Futures issue number 40 (2008) for the purpose of broadening the insights to and interpretations of the future with particular regard for gender as it relates to roles within marriage, reproduction, childhood and parenting.

Gender, ‘Family Values’ and the Future of the American Nuclear Family

In Janurary of 2005, George W. Bush was inaugurated to his second term as President of the United States. The red state (conservative) vs. blue state (liberal) divide seemed to influence a prevailing mood of culture wars, a contentious environment of leadership wielding power (and threatening to use it) over matters such as women’s reproductive freedom, children’s access to public education and a ‘marriage amendment’ legislating the rights to wed – or not wed – to spouse of one’s choice. To outlaw abortion, ban gay marriage, cut off funding for children’s healthcare and starve social spending on education seemed an assault on the American family, not ac hampioning of it. The sense that the US family had been exhaustively exploited as a pawn for political gain contributed to the idea behind US Families 2025: that an organized effort to explore fundamental changes impacting the family unit provided an opportunity to work on implications for the future of gender and offer social critique, as well as offer recommendations toward addressing various challanges of social inequality in the US

Project Background

There are tow parts to the project: a workshop and a research/writing endeavour. The workshop US Families 2025 set out to achieve two objectives. The first was to provide an event for interested participants to explore the future of families. An open invitation was extended to a futurist community via university listserv. All who wished to attend were welcomed as voluntary participants. In this sense, the objective was to engage any and all individuals in the local futurist community who felt the topic was of importance. THe workshop was designed to collect and organize information about trends and emerging issues as they relate to US families.

There was an informal guiding process, but the exercise was mainly an opend-ended exploration of family- including marriage, childbirth, divorce, cohabitation, caretaking, domestic life and cltural norms – as reflective of wider social patterns,and the driving forces shaping the future of the US family unit. Families were defined as households with or without children, including single parents, ‘traditional’ two-parent households, same-sex partners, unmarried cohabitating couples, and arrangements of anything other than a single person living alone. Lists of trends, emerging issues and four briefly outlined alternative futures were the output of the workshop. The workshop was held with the intent of publishing the results and workshop participants were invited to contribute to the writing.

The second part involved analysis of the workshop outcomes with special attention to the implications for the future of feminism. The scenarios were interpreted with the role of gender in mind, supported with feminist theory and relevant futures literature. The desired end result was a publishable submission for the journal Futures in a special issue on gender.

Workshop: US Families 2025

Workshop attendees were all from the Houston, Texas area, associated in some manner with the University of HoustonClear Lake (UHCL) graduate program offering a Master of Science degree in Studies of the Future. Participants in the workshop were drawn from the student population, alumni and faculty.  The workshop followed a simple format of brainstorming, trend identification, and discussion of emerging issues and led up to a follow up session for outlining four future scenarios based on a Global Business Network (GBN) methodology. The workshop was facilitated informally, eliciting responses from the participants based on a worksheet called ‘Big Questions about the Future’ designed by Dr. Peter Bishop of UHCL. A second meeting consisted of group collaboration on a GBN scenario exercise. Important uncertainties about the future of US families were identified; discussion of driving forces and four scenarios emerged.

Although the workshop was not largely publicized, the stakeholders may be defined as the entire US society at large. The topics of family and gender equality have impacts at personal and political levels. The ideas explored in the study might be of interest to policy makers, market researchers, family counsellors, activists and individuals making conscious decisions about family organizations. Religious, political and educational leaders may find the topic relevant to their audiences. As a contribution to the futures literature on the study of women and society, the subject is relevant to students and practitioners of futures studies with an interest in social change.

Four Alternative Futures

Four future scenarios resulted from the US Families 2025 Workshop, resulting from a GBN-inspired scenario exercise where the two main uncertainties (economic conditions and culture wars) are represented in the axes. The horizontal axis describes two extremes regarding future financial conditions: scarcity and long-boom economics. The vertical axis reflects the two camps in the culture wars: progressive and orthodox, which may also be seen as liberal vs. conservative or so-called ‘traditional family values’. The table below illustrates the scenario quadrants and their characteristics:

144_bild1

The scenarios each represent a quadrant of the GBN matrix in which two uncertainties were compared: economic conditions and the status of the Culture Wars. Each scenario reflects an extreme interaction of the two major uncertainties, a tactic that helps intensify the scenarios and generate urgency about the role of gender equality in terms of social/family structure.

Each of the scenarios also addresses a set of trends and emerging issues about the future of families. The trends are interspersed throughout the alternative future storylines and gain direction from the plot of the scenario. A conscious effort was made to cover economic, social/demographic and technological changes with the potential to impact the future of US families, and likewise be impacted. Emerging issues, such as the matter of workplace policies on employee absenteeism due to caretaker responsibilities, were addressed in terms of how resolution of the issue in one direction or another would impact social patterns.

Selected Trends and Emerging Issues

  • Smaller families having fewer children.
  • Workplaces appealing to need for work-family balance.
  • Number of single parent households, both male and female, increasing.
  • Increasing status of fatherhood.
  • Gender selection of offspring technology being utilized.
  • Growing perception of demonstrable skills required for marriage and parenting.
  • Merging/blending of office and home spaces.
  • Increased use of government-funded financial incentives for marriage between men and women.
  • Workplace absences due to caretaker responsibilities gaining attention as policy matter.
  • Increased number of households located in exurbs and edge cities.
  • Continued late age of parenting and marriage.
  • Highly educated women participating in child-rearing rather than careers.

Scenario Descriptions and Implications

The intent of the scenario analysis is to offer insights along the lines of the future of the nuclear family, marriage, childbearing, child-rearing, nurturing and care-giving, and the relationship between domestic/household arrangements and the status of women in society.

1. Mr. And Mrs. Right Now

Transient relationships and equal economic partnerships between spouses amidst a backdrop of socially recognized nonkin emotional bonds characterize the scenario. There is an emergence of sharing economic and emotional resources to meet familial needs, particularly those of children.

Implications: In this future, adults beyond biological parents are permitted greater and more intimate access to children’s lives. The implications of the dissolving of nuclear households could be either negative or positive for children, but it could balance the domestic responsibilities between men and women. Men gain appreciation for nurturing and care-giving with children and the elderly, which improves the empathy between men and women.

2. Marriage Marketplace

Arguably a ‘baseline’ scenario in which contracts, resumes and proven competencies determine partnerships formed for the purpose of reproduction, cohabitation, marriage and childrearing.

Implications: Marriage Marketplace hints at the potential for children to become valued only as material possessions, while men and women exist solely as commodities of the marketplace. The exaggeration of masculine and feminine is possible. Genetic trait selection, breeding and strict technological control over reproduction and offspring are possible.

3.The New Waltons for the 21st Century

Named for a popular 1970s television programme celebrating the ‘traditional’ American family, this scenario observes the extinction of dual-income families and the nuclear household.

4. Desperate Housewives

Women’s rights to reproductive freedom, employment and divorce are challenged in this future. Men obtain elevated status based on the number of offspring they claim. Financial incentives for marriage and childbearing are distributed as government stipends; the US childbirth rate explodes.

Implications: The elimination of extended family ties amidst overt patriarchy fractures contemporary women’s liberation. For men, a large number of children bolsters one’s social status; for women, they represent their lost access to birth control. Both women and men who deviate from the sociallyprescribed gender norms are alienated.

Trends, critical uncertainties and emerging issues were taken to extremes to develop unexpected ideas about the future. For example, arranged marriages emerge in the New Waltons scenario as an expression of economic scarcity combined with stridently orthodox cultural values. Evoking such an unlikely event challenges the audience. The strategy of introducing seemingly implausible connections between gender and social equality to alternative methods of family and domestic social organization has the capacity to generate change in the present.

Important cultural differences exist between the US and the rest of the world in terms of families and relationships. At the onset of outlining the scenarios it was clear that many of the family forms we could project into the future probably already exist in other cultures. For example, while extended family is a norm in many cultures, it is all but obsolete in the US. However, immigrants from Latin America challenge the nuclear family with their extended households. Meanwhile many young children today are being raised by aunts, uncles and grandparents in the absence of biological parents. So the study avoids trying to identify anything ‘new’ about families. In fact, it may be impossible to construct anything new at all about families. The value of foresight to raise awareness about the present – for instance, conduct social critique – while imparting a sense of change, is strengthened by the potential to increase cultural sensitivity.

Feminist Theory:
Alternative Family Futures  and Visions of Gender Equality

Feminist social critique of the US has often identified the family and women’s role in it as central to women’s disenfranchisement. This analysis of the US Families 2025 scenarios, in terms of the future of gender equality, acknowledges mainly just one feminist premise: women’s reproductive, marital and domestic roles define her social status. Multiple theories for the advancement of female equality exist, thus there are multiple frames of interpretation applicable to the scenarios. Each particular theory may be viewed as representing a utopian ‘vision’ for the future of female equality. New social implications are drawn out of each alternative future under the theoretical ‘lens’ lent by a given ‘feminism’. Furthermore, this approach offers the suggestion that new theories of gender equality will continue to emerge and challenge women’s roles in society.

Liberal feminism can be defined as legal equality for women. From this view, the Marriage Marketplace scenario may be most preferable, since men and women have equal access to the marriage and family life of their choice. Family roles are flexible and impermanent, unlike the New Waltons future where matrimony suggests females are the property of men. Similarly, the Desperate Housewives alternative strips women of their right to divorce at will. The harsh economic conditions of Mr. & Mrs.

Right Now offer the opportunity to cooperate with male (or female) partners, although there is also the threat of highly competitive conditions emerging.

Utopian feminism maintains that women’s unique characteristics are a form of social power. The potential for all women to express their autonomy is erased by the patriarchal slant of New Waltons and Desperate Housewives. A celebration of feminine qualities is observed in Mr. & Mrs. Right Now, since men and women alike take on child-rearing as a valuable and essential task. The value of nurturing activity, meanwhile, becomes more complicated in the Marriage Marketplace.

Marriage and child-rearing are separate roles with different qualifications and neither may be entered without consent and understanding of the terms under which these roles will be enacted.

Marxist feminism looks upon the US capitalist system as a hindrance to female equality. Mr.& Mrs. Right Now demonstrates a future where capitalism largely suffers, suggesting this as a preferred future for Marxist feminism. Marriage Marketplace is a capitalist haven where women’s authority over their own fate is respected and equal access to capital is the norm. Marxist feminists may not condone the free-market approach to gender equality, though. Desperate Housewives and The New Waltons commit women’s fate to reproductive and domestic slavery, thus a far cry from the Marxist school of thought concerning women’s rights.

Postmodern feminism interprets the marginalization of women as a by-product of the worldview where man is ‘self’ and woman is ‘other’. Only the Mr. & Mrs. Right Now scenario pulls away from this duality by the introduction of communal households and childrearing. In the Marriage Marketplace, women can slip into commodity status, while the New Waltons and Desperate Housewives futures portray women as little more than baby-

making servants. The New Waltons in particular emphasizes the role of fathers in objectifying women by strategically marrying-off daughters to ensure their own social status.

Radical feminism takes the position that women are universally oppressed by virtue of their sex. There is little to be optimistic about in all four alternative futures in light of this view. Radical feminists might highlight the opportunities in the Marriage Marketplace and Mr. & Mrs. Right Now to avoid men altogether by entering all-female domestic arrangements. There is also the potential to enact a revolution in the face of blatant patriarchy evident in the Desperate Housewives future scenario. Women’s complete subservience to men under the New Waltons conditions may also work to emphasize the importance of gender equality.

In Search of Feminism in Public Discourse

The premise that female equality was secured by the women’s movement of the 1960s and 70s contributes to the dismissal of gender equality in mainstream public discourse. There is a tendency to overlook the interaction between family and women’s status and emphasize educational and employment opportunities as demonstrative of the advancement of female status. However, the rights of women are routinely challenged by efforts to restrict reproductive freedom, workplace policies that minimize women’s labour through unequal pay compared to men and by fringe social movements toward returning women to their ‘rightful’ place as second-class citizens under the control of husbands and fathers. A more deliberate articulation and understanding of theories of feminism can correct the misconception that women’s equality has already been achieved. Furthermore, with a concerted effort to bring women’s rights to the table, it is possible that new theories of feminism will emerge. The application of genuine, practical and purposeful thinking about women and their social status will empower not just women but men and children as well.

 

Authors: Alexandra Montgomery                                         alexandramontgomery@yahoo.com
Sponsors: None
Type: Workshop, research and writing project
Organizer: Alexandra Montgomery
Duration: 2005-2006
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2025
Date of Brief: August 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 144_US Families 2025

Sources and References

US Families 2025: In Search of Future Families, Futures, Volume 40, Issue 4, May 2008, Pages 377-387

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

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

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

Employing Knowledge for  Developing a Positive Vision  and Creating Opportunities

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

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

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

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

The Divergent Phase

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

Turning Towards a
Knowledge Based Bio-Economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Convergent Phase

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

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

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

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

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

The Vision of a  Sustainable Bio-Economy

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

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

The Four Pillars of the KBBE

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

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

Demographics Facilitating Change

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

Leadership, Partnership and Governance

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

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

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

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

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

Creation of a Permanent Foresight Unit

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

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

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

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

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

Download: EFMN Brief No. 143_Teagasc 2030

Sources and References

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

EFP Brief No. 142: Foresighting Food, Rural and Agrifutures in Europe

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Through a renewed mandate in 2005 aimed at strengthening the coordination of research efforts in Europe, the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) launched a foresight process to consider the prospects for agriculture in 2015 – 2020 and to help identify political answers to the challenges raised. In July 2006, the European Commission’s Directorate-General Research set up a Foresight Expert Group to support SCAR in identifying long-term research priorities to support a European knowledge-based biosociety. The group was given the remit to formulate possible scenarios for European agriculture in a 20-year perspective allowing for the identification of evidence required (for more robust policy approaches) and innovation needs in the medium to long-term.

Europe’s Agrifuture Challenges

Europe’s agri-food industries and broader rural economies are being rapidly reshaped, predominantly by global trends and policy developments, combined with a diverse range of nonmonetary issues, including food safety/security, environmental sustainability, biodiversity, biosafety and biosecurity, animal welfare, ethical foods, fair trade and the future viability of rural regions. European agri-futures are evolving within the context of the EU’s overarching policy drives (Lisbon and Gothenburg), which project Europe as

  • the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven (sustainable) economy, and
  • a responsible global player, particularly vis-à-vis developing countries.

The point of departure for addressing these policy drives is not to consider them as mutually irreconcilable, but to define the most appropriate and effective approaches for creating synchronous efforts thereby generating added value. The ‘agrienvironmental’ measures in Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have been promoting development that incorporates environmental issues and CAP in general is being reoriented towards a wider rural policy perspective integrating environmental issues and rural development perspectives.

Terms of Reference

The Foresight Expert Group, composed of a chair, rapporteur and eight domain experts1, was tasked to work in close collaboration with the EC services involved and the SCAR working group, under the co-ordination of the Commission’s foresight unit (DG RTD E-3), to review and analyse foresight information relating to European agriculture in relation to eight major driving forces (economy and trade, science and technology, rural economy and regional development, societal and demographic changes, climate change, non-food and energy, environment, health). This analysis was to lead to a working paper for each driving force. Based on this analysis, the group of experts would agree on a minimum of three futures scenarios (20-year horizon) for European agriculture and an analysis of the implications for evidence required (for more robust policies) and innovation needs in the medium to long-term. The work was to take into account foresight activities on a global, European and national level, including other ongoing EU projects in this area.

The main objective of the exercise was to set research priorities for the medium to long-term. The terms of reference included:

  • The gathering and analysis of foresight information on the eight major drivers.
  • Preparation of a foresight paper on each of the major driving forces for agriculture in Europe and perspectives for agricultural research.
  • Using the information produced during the first part of the study to conduct a foresight exercise to predict possible futures scenarios (20 year perspective) for European agriculture.
  • On the basis of identified scenarios, to assess the implications for research and innovation requirements of European agriculture over the medium to long term.
  • To present a draft report based on papers presented on the “major drivers” at a foresight conference in early 2007 and production of a final report.

A Creative Disruption Approach

The expert group opted for a disruption scenario approach with four scenarios developed through a simple method, whereby each expert identified four “disruption factors” emerging over the next 20 years. These factors were grouped into three blocks: “climate disruption” (the most significant); “energy disruption” and “socialquestions: health, safety, employment. The following “wild cards” emerged:  “intellectual property” disruption and “monetary disruption”. Four scenarios emerged and a baseline scenario was subsequently developed.

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Disruption Scenarios
  1. Climate Shock starts with climate change and the acceleration of related environmental impacts as the driving disruption factor. This scenario combines a primary business as usual scenario – with differing geographical climate impacts, no European-level action is taken, and a crisis situation ensues – with a success scenario built into it at the end, where positive action is taken on a national level. It underlines a fundamental challenge that Europe will increasingly face with the onset of climate change impacts on agriculture, namely how to coordinate European policy responses to the diverse regional and local impacts of climate change bearing in mind different regional contexts and framework conditions.
  2. Energy Crisis focuses on energy supply vulnerability of Europe as the key disruption factor and the acceleration of related economic and societal impacts as the key drivers. This scenario also combines a business as usual scenario, a crisis engineered by the energy global players, with a success scenario developing at the end as a result of Internet-based community empowerment and action. It implies
    a strategic research emphasis at the European level to support in the short-term the improved networking of farmers and researchers with a view to addressing urgent knowledge needs, instituting faster mutual learning processes and supporting communities of practice.
  3. We Are What We Eat focuses on food health and society as sources of disruption jointly determining a more community and consumer-oriented research agenda. This scenario combines an initial crisis situation with a success scenario approach with clear guidelines for an effective European research agenda. It highlights the advantages of a citizen-oriented research where science and technology are effectively harnessed to address the real needs and concerns of citizens. The main priorities relate to quality, safe and functional foods for a range of emerging lifestyles and technologies to produce primarily citizenoriented enabling environments for knowledge production and exchange together with socially-driven, environmentally effective products, processes and services.
  4. Cooperation with Nature focuses on society, science and technology as key joint drivers evolving in a beneficially symbiotic relationship. This primarily utopian scenario projects an ideal situation where science and technology have been effectively deployed to ensure sustainable development at all levels. The key to addressing these needs is the transition to local small-scale production and a shortening and transparency in the food supply chain, and Internet, open learning, and ambient systems creating more globally aware, sustainability conscious consumers.

 

Agro-Food Sector Bound to Change

In spite of the excellent performance of Europe’s agro-food system in recent decades, the European Union is now facing a major disruption period in terms of international competitiveness, climate change, energy supply food security and societal problems of health and unemployment. Disruption means fast change, resulting in both positive and negative impacts and thus the main challenge facing agro-food actors is the speed of adaptation and proactive responses to secure a European lead in this area. Systemic approaches show that decentralised systems adapt themselves faster to change than centralized ones. A careful assessment of agricultural research and innovation systems is needed to identify and modify the places where centralised decision-making generates rigidity, in research as in policy.

Decentralised Adaptation

Decentralised adaptation relies on a high performance information system allowing the decision makers, each operating at his level, to use in real time the best upgraded data necessary to implement their rationality. Technology now offers the operational tools to put upgraded data at the disposal of the farmers and decision makers of the food chain and to allow an exchange of experience between actors.

Early Warning System

Through satellite imaging and Internet diffusion technologies it is now possible to build an early warning, free access information system on climate change and its long-term consequences for ecosystems. This system has still to be developed and marketed and training provided to the end users. The Internet is emerging as a powerful tool for facilitating the development of worldwide networks linking growing communities of practice in a number of agriculture-related areas and themes. The Internet not only changes the research framework and conditions, but also the link between researchers and endusers of research results and has the potential to facilitate a more proactive engagement of rural communities, farmers and citizens in the design and implementation of ongoing research and knowledge exchange activity. In order to facilitate these interactions, eEurope strategies at the European and national levels need to cater for the extension of broadband access at affordable prices to rural communities, farmers, citizens and other stakeholders.

Overcoming the Barriers towards  a Knowledge-based Biosociety

One of the major hurdles facing Europe in making the transition to knowledge-based agri-futures is the need to address the growing challenge of knowledge failures. European agricultural research is currently not delivering the type of knowledge that is needed by end-users in rural communities as they embark on the transition to the rural knowledge-based biosociety. The problems are not exclusive to agricultural research but are felt more acutely in this sector where the role of traditional, indigenous knowledge is already being undermined as a result of the growing disconnection with ongoing research activity.

New System of Education  and Knowledge Diffusion

The social dimensions of the shift to the knowledge-based biosociety are rendered more complex by the demographic and mobility/migration factors. They call for new systems of education and knowledge diffusion and careful consideration of the implications for education as we enter a new system characterised by a shift from engineering, physical and mechanical sciences to converging technologies.
Knowledge exchange strategies and policies, already in place in the more advanced EU member states, need to be formalised and given a higher profile at the EU level, as stand-alone strategies and not merely as add-ons to research and innovation policies and good practices shared with other member states. Knowledge exchange policies differ from innovation policies per se, although they also inter-connect with them. The main emphasis of knowledge exchange policies is to ensure the relevance and accessibility of knowledge to communities, farmers, consumers, young people and educational institutions.

A Case for Action

  1. More coordinated EU, national and regional policy responses to a range of challenges that affect the world rural agri-economy and facilitate the shift to a knowledge-based biosociety are
  2. An overview of emerging global trends, policy developments, challenges and prospects for European agri-futures point to the need for a new strategic framework for theplanning and delivery of research is called for, addressing the following challenges:
  • Sustainability challenge: facing climate change in the knowledge-based biosociety
  • Security challenge: safeguarding European food, rural, energy, biodiversity and agri-futures
  • Knowledge challenge: user-oriented knowledge development and exchange strategies
  • Competitiveness challenge: positioning Europe in agrifood and other agricultural lead markets
  • Policy and institutional challenge: facing policy-makers in synchronising multi-level policies
  1. The complex, dynamic inter-connection of challenges, facing European agriculture research from a forward-looking, 20year perspective requires strategic European policy responses right now. This will entail re-designing the institutional framework for research and putting in place a two-track approach for agri-futures research:
  • a transition research agenda to address the more immediate sustainability and safety/security concerns and the radical transformation arising from the reform of the CAP, combined with
  • a more long-term high-tech research agenda to ensure that appropriate high-tech research investments are put in place so that Europe’s agri-food industries and rural economies retain their competitive position in global markets.
  1. To raise the capacity of rural regions to generate, participate in and translate research developments into economic growth, a regionally-focused, demand-driven approach to research and innovation needs to be developed. A basic requirement is a dedicated funding system designed (i) to capitalise on regions’ comparative advantage, by mobilising all resources available towards attainment of context dependent and demonstrably attainable goals, and (ii) to exploit good practices and models in the governance and delivery of research, technology implementation and innovation.
  2. The competitiveness challenge and demographic decline facing rural communities, combined with reduced global financial support to agriculture, may lead the EU to adopt, under emergency pressure, a temporary protectionist Long-term, strategic and institutional capacities in knowledge transfer, public early warning on ecosystems evolution and decentralised systems of agricultural research and approaches are of even more central importance in the transition from a subsidies-driven to a knowledge-driven biosociety.
  3. Continued, active engagement in foresight is critical for enhancing the strategic and institutional capacities of Europe’s agricultural policy-making and research and knowledgetransfer organisations.
Authors: Jennifer Cassingena Harper Jennifer.harper@gov.mt
Sponsors: FEU Directorate-General Research
Type: EU Foresight Exercise
Organizer: EU Directoral-General Research Mr Elie Faroult elie.faroult@ec.europa.eu
Duration: July 2006
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: April 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 142_ Agrifutures in Europe

Further Reading

Gaudin, Thierry et al. (2007), Foresighting food, rural and agri-futures.
http://ec.europa.eu/research/agriculture/scar/index_en.cfm?p=3_foresight
http://ec.europa.eu/research/agriculture/scar/pdf/foresighting_food_rural_and_agri_futures.pdf