Posts Tagged ‘education’

EFP Brief No. 256: F212.org Online Platform. Imagining the Future through Social Media as a Tool for Social Innovation

Friday, December 6th, 2013

F212.org is a virtual think tank of university students interested in sharing ideas on how to face main future challenges. It describes the results of a comparative study about the images of the future found among young students from Haaga Helia University of Applied Science (Finland) Tamkang University (Taiwan); and University of Alicante (Spain).

The Study of Images of the Future

The studies focused on images of the future date back to the second half of the twentieth century and have their origins in the fields of sociology and psychology. After the growing interest in this area which arose during the early 1990s, the study about images of the future –and more specifically about images of the future among young people– has consolidated within the framework of social sciences in general and, particularly, in the context of Sociology during the late 1990s and the first years of the twenty-first century.

According to Polak’s definition, “an image of the future is made of associated memories and expectations. It is a set of long-range goals which stress the infinite possibilities open to a person. Thus, an image of the future can be defined as a mental construction dealing with possible states. It is composed of a mixture of conceptions, beliefs, and desires, as well as observations and knowledge about the present. This affects a person’s choice both consciously and unconsciously and is derived from both reality and from imagination. It ultimately steers one’s decision-making and actions”. Therefore, the reflection about the expected impact of these images on the determination of our present actions and our attitude towards the future allows us to see the need for a systematic approach to study such images.

Nevertheless, the research into such images carried out during last century tended to be relatively sporadic and never had a predominant role in the context of futures research. As far as Sociology in particular is concerned, many works which attempt to identify and explain the concerns most commonly found among this population segment basically seek to answer the following question: how do young people expect their future to be?

However, it is far from easy to find studies where the approach consists in trying to find an answer to the question: what do young people want for their future? Therefore, there is arguably a lack of new approaches which can integrate aspirational parameters and enable a greater involvement of youths in the process of defining alternatives for the future.

For this reason, public and private institutions are now apparently taking a greater interest in identifying and understanding citizens’ expectations and wishes, which has led them to promote actions in line with the new paradigms of Social Innovation and Open Innovation that provide a more active, direct and continuous citizenship in governance, close to the concept of participatory democracy. In fact, this is something which currently seems much more feasible than not so long ago thanks to aspects such as technology development, the spreading of internet access and the increasingly high popularity of social online networks.

Therefore it is perfectly feasible to complement the descriptive approach to a ‘diagnosis of the future’ with images of the future and creative proposals directly defined and developed by young people, giving voice and prominence to them thanks to:

  1. the proliferation of communication channels that allow for immediate and continuous feedback (2.0 platforms, social networks) with the user/citizen; and
  2. the development of ‘participatory’ foresight methodologies in both institutional and private sectors.

The conceptual basis behind this approach leads participants to consider themselves as key actors in the task of defining their own future –through an active participation in the construction of shared images of the future. It could consequently prove much more motivating for young people to interact within these processes if participants are given some space to share and create.

Tool Set for the Future

The project presented here is based on a previous study (Guillo, 2013) which involved a total of 56 university students from the Haaga Helia University of Applied Science (Helsinki, Finland) and the University of Alicante (Alicante, Spain).

Based on the overall results and on the feedback provided not only by participants but also by the students and teachers involved, it was possible to highlight the following 4 points with the aim of achieving an improvement in subsequent studies:

  • Hard-to-understand / answer questionnaires: the students found the process hard to complete (too many categories and questions) and sometimes even confusing.
  • Lack of interaction: the platform suffered from a lack of technological tools, which always make it easier for users to interact with one another.
  • Overlap between groups: the selected categories proved useful to organise the responses to some extent but participants found numerous overlaps between the topics discussed in every category.
  • Hard to analyse: the scenario format gave us (as researchers) very valuable material to analyse. Nevertheless, a more precise way to express expectations, fears and wishes about the future is badly needed to improve interaction.

Taking into account the 4 points mentioned above, a new study was designed which included three significant changes with respect to the previous one, all of them oriented to improve users’ experience within www.f212.org:

Removing the division into categories: the categories from the previous study (economy, culture, politics, ecosystem, security) were abandoned in order to build an easy-to-complete questionnaire. Since the information-collecting tool was going to be an online survey (embedded in the platform), it became essential to provide a short, clear and quick-to-answer questionnaire.

Changing narrative scenarios by keywords: In this case, the change also had to do with the difficulty found by participants when completing the process. Therefore, a decision was made to replace the initial idea of describing a future scenario (150 words) with the choice of keywords to describe their future scenario (10 words). This would additionally allow us not only to process participants’ responses much faster –almost in real time– but also to update the tag clouds inserted in the platform, which could largely improve the level of interaction within the platform too.

Using a clearer language: the feedback received from the previous study led us to modify the instructions given for the completion of the different questionnaires –using a more straightforward language. Various levels of information were offered, including more detailed information (tutorials and FAQs) in case users needed a higher degree of detail.

Thus, the design of our new study started by restructuring the platform in the following sections:

  1. RATINGSFeelings about the future in 2030. Participants were asked the question “are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?” in this section. This allowed them to position themselves in terms of pessimism/optimism, on a scale from 10 (totally optimistic) to 0 (totally pessimistic). Three different dimensions were taking into account: World (global level), Country (national level) and Myself (personal level).

 

  1. FORECASTS – Probable future in 10 words.Participants had to write a maximum of 10 words about the main features which, in their opinion, will characterise the world in 2030.

 

  1. SKILLS – Self-evaluate your references about the future in 2030.The ratings and forecasts given by participants were subjected to self-evaluation through these three questions (to be answered on a scale from 0,  the worst,  to 10, the best):
    • Are you concerned about the future?
    • To what extent are you prepared to face the future?
    • What is your level of knowledge about global change processes?

    Participants were additionally asked to complement their self-evaluations by naming some of the sources (books, webpages, magazines, journals, etc.) that they usually consult and on which their visions of the future are based.

  1. WISHES – Future you want in 10 words.In this section, participants had to write a maximum of 10 words about the main features that, in their opinion, should characterise the world in 2030.

 

  1. IDEAS – Open Discussions.This section was included as a meeting place to share creative ideas on how to face future challenges.A total of 378 university students (between 20 and 32 years old) took part in this study by accessing the open platform.

Images of the Future of Spanish, Taiwanese and Finnish Students

RATINGS – How do you feel about the future in 2030?

A remarkable difference exists in the images of the future found at a national level among the participants from Spain (median 4), Taiwan (6) and Finland (7). In the case of Spain, the differences become even more evident when comparing the three levels considered: global (7), national (4) and personal (7). However, such results should actually “come as no surprise” within the current context of social and economic crisis in Spain, which also shows a high degree of inconsistency as far as images of the future are concerned. Another interesting finding is the widespread high degree of optimism with regard to the personal level (7).

FORECASTS – The probable future in 10 words: Females show more optimism

Seeking to make the platform as interactive as possible, tag clouds were generated with the participants’ responses in this section. These tag clouds – including the 50 words with the highest repetition frequency among respondents- were available online, and a allowed us to draw some general conclusions:

− High consensus on the key factors that define the probable future by 2030. The words which show a higher repetition frequency were technology, globalisation, competitiveness, artificial, connected, energy, ecology and war. These words can be regarded as part of the main speech about the future, presented in the general, mass media as part of a globally shared image of the probable future.

− Females show more optimism than males. A marked difference could be perceived in the degree of optimism shown by females and males among participants from Spain and Taiwan (and also among those from Finland, though to a lesser extent). That is why participants from Spain and Taiwan show a higher repetition frequency in words such as opportunities, hope and ecology.

SKILLS – Self-evaluate your references about the future in 2030_ Homogeneous use of TV as information source

The results in this section show a high level of preparation and knowledge, along with a lack of diversity in the sources considered (mainly TV and general-information newspapers). On the whole, participants from Spain, Taiwan and Finland see themselves as ‘experts’ in the topics under discussion: the median is 5 or higher in every case. Nevertheless, when asked about the kind of sources that they usually resort to, only a few of them mention access to specialised journals, reports, databases, etc. Information availability also helps us understand the aforementioned conclusion about the globally shared image of the probable future.

One important finding when comparing across countries is that participants from Finland showed the worst self-evaluations, a point below self-evaluations of participants from Spain. These results contrast with the overall Education results observed in both countries during the last years.

WISHES – The future you want in 10 words: Different perceptions on ‘Love’ and ‘Community’

Significant differences regarding how they describe their probable futures. Words like technology, global and connected, which had a strong weight in Forecasts, are now losing repetition frequency. This can be interpreted as reflecting an attitude of rejection towards today’s ‘hyper-connected’ world (a shared vision for the probable future). On the contrary, words like opportunities or work have a stronger weight in these desired futures, which can be explained by young people’s professional aspirations.

A lack of specific, creative terms to describe the desired future. On the whole, no breaking ideas are found in the words given by the students. Thus, the most often repeated words within this section are equality, peace, respect, ecology or freedom, which, in our opinion, form part of what can be described as a utopian and very broad vision about the society of the future. This lack of specific and breaking ideas can also be related to the fact that young people find it hard to visualise all the possibilities ahead of them.

Few differences between males and females. The biggest visible difference between males and females refers to the word love (whereas no males mention this word as part of their desired future, it stands out as one of the words with the most weight among females).

Few differences between countries. The most interesting finding in this respect is the word communal, only present among Finnish respondents. In the cases of Spain and Taiwan, despite the appearance of words such as equality or peace –which clearly suggest an idea of cooperation with one another in their meaning– the complete absence of this specific word seems very meaningful to us, and could be interpreted as a weak signal regarding social life in the countries represented.

Online Participatory Foresight Processes

The comparison between the results obtained in this study and those from the previous experience (Guillo, 2013) leads us to highlight the findings below:

  • Simplicity encourages participation. A decision was made to remove the division into categories in our study this time, which made it easier and faster for respondents to complete the whole process. This resulted in a much higher participation: 378 respondents (as opposed to 56 in the previous study).
  • More interaction means enriching our own images of the future. Respondents consider the possibility of exchanging ideas about the future with young people who have different cultural backgrounds very interesting. Thus, the international connection with other students from different parts of the worlds was seen as an extremely positive factor. Moreover, the integration of the section Ideas makes it possible for them to directly interact with other correspondents, which was also highlighted as a very positive point (more than 300 replies were registered in the open discussions started in this section).
  • Motivation is a key point. Two different mechanisms were designed for the purpose of involving people in the platform. One of them was the development of future workshops, where students received explanations on the basics of futures thinking and were encouraged to participate in the process. The other mechanism was the creation of a brief presentation, available on the platform and easy to use for e-mail communications. In this sense, a higher degree of participation was found among the students who took part in futures workshops and were personally motivated to sign up for the platform.
  • A more straightforward language and better design elements help understand large amounts of data. Technologically speaking, tag clouds were the best way available for us to show the results from Forecasts and Wishes to respondents. These graphs allowed users to have a slight –but also very clear– idea about the image of the future generally shown by respondents. The same approach was applied to other aspects of the platform, such as the design of the slide presentation and the presentation dossier or the instructions contained in every section of the platform, among other things.

As a general conclusion, it could be stated that improving interaction tools, designing better communication elements and opening the platform to an international university-student context have all had a strong positive impact on this study. Thus, the results collected in www.f212.org helped us achieve a better understanding of the mechanisms behind social media involvement.

 

 

Authors: Mario Guillo (PhD Candidate)    mario.guillo@ua.es

Dr. Enric Bas                           bas@ua.es

Sponsors: FUTURLAB – University of Alicante

FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science & Technology

Type: International think tank
Organizer: FUTURLAB – University of Alicante, Mario Guillo, mario.guillo@ua.es www.futurlab.es
Duration: 2011-2012
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: October 2013

Download EFP Brief No. 256_F212.org Online Platform

Sources and References

  • Guillo, Futures, Communication and Social Innovation: Using Participatory Foresight and Social Media Platforms as tools for evaluating images of the future among young people, Eur J Futures Res (2013) 15:17. DOI 10.1007/s40309-013-0017-2
  • Reinhardt, (ed.) United Dreams of Europe, Primus Verlag, Darmsdat, 2011.
  • Bas, Future Visions of the Spanish Society, in: U. Reinhardt, G. Roos, (eds.) Future Expectations for Europe, Primus Verlag, Darmsdat, (2008) 214-231.
  • Ono, Learning from young people’s image of the future: a case study in Taiwan and the US, Futures, 35 (7) (2003) 737-758.
  • Rubin, The images of the future of young Finnish people, Sarja/Series, Turku, 1998.

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. 230: From ‘Knowledge Capital’ to ‘Innovation System’ (follow-up)

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

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

Powerhouse of the Knowledge Economy

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

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

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

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

The Success Scenario Process

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

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

Five Success Dimensions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Progress Made

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

Ranking Improved

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

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

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

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

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

Innovation Manchester Network

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

From ‘Knowledge Capital’ to ‘Innovation System’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources and References

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

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

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

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

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

EFP Brief No. 225: FESTOS – Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

New technologies can improve our quality of life greatly, but they may also have a “dark side”. The objectives of FESTOS were to identify and assess evolving security threats posed by the potential abuse of emerging technologies and new scientific knowledge, on the one hand, and propose means to reduce the likelihood of such threats, on the other. Looking ahead to the year 2030, this foresight study scanned the horizon of different fields of technology. Possible means of prevention and policy measures were studied in the context of trade-offs between security needs and the freedom of research and knowledge.

Emerging Technologies
Pose New Threats to Security

The FESTOS project (Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies) identified and assessed evolving security threats caused by the abuse or inadequate use of emerging technologies and areas of applied research. Looking ahead to the year 2035, FESTOS scanned the horizon of fields such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, new materials, and information technology, as well as capabilities that might emerge from converging technologies.

FESTOS identified and evaluated these potential threats on the horizon. Based on this scanning, FESTOS stimulated “out of the box”, forward-looking thinking and constructed “threat scenarios”. Finally, FESTOS recommended policy guidelines designed to minimise the probability of these evolving security threats materialising. Possible means of prevention and policy measures were studied in the light of trade-offs between security needs and the freedom of research and knowledge while taking into account shifts in the public perception of threats and related security issues.

Three Pillars of the Project

FESTOS had three pillars:

  1. To identify new, potentially threatening technologies.
  2. To assess emerging threats and – based on a selected set of potential threats – to construct scenarios with appropriate early-warning indicators.
  3. To draft preparatory measures and policy guidelines.

As all foresight studies, FESTOS did not aim to predict the future. Instead, the project sought to raise awareness and initiate a debate among and between scientists and policy-makers about the possible “dark sides” of future technologies.

Technology Scanning

The FESTOS team carried out a horizon scanning of emerging technologies that might pose security threats in the future if these technologies are abused. Furthermore, an assessment of the potential threats was carried out. The first result was a structured description of around 80 “potentially threatening” technologies in the six fields listed above. The next step was to evaluate the threat aspects of 33 selected technologies by means of an international expert survey in which 280 experts participated. The collection of technologies was not intended to be exhaustive but to stimulate further discussions and provide a basis for the subsequent analysis. As such, it can serve as a “dynamic data bank” of potentially “abusable” technologies.

Determining the Nature and Severity of Threats

Subsequently, the results of the expert survey were analysed in terms of the likely time spans for the threats to materialise, prioritisation (relative impact of each technology), the nature and extent of the potential damages, as well as societal issues. This activity included ranking and selecting security threats for scenario construction. In methodological terms, the exercise included expert brainstorming sessions, a security assessment (including Ansoff filters and the STEEPV method), an analysis of the relevant signals of change and wild cards.

Scenario Development

Four narrative scenarios based on the identified security threats from emerging technologies were developed. The aim of the scenarios was to depict possible futures that take into account the social dimension and the interdependency of different impacts. In a scenario workshop, five methods and procedures were used: wild cards, security climates, futures wheel, security café for impact analysis and brainstorming.

Control and Prevention

The possible control of scientific knowledge to prevent unintended new security threats is a very sensitive issue in open democratic societies. FESTOS raised a debate on whether and how to control emerging science and technology developments in order to prevent abuse without slowing down the process of knowledge creation needed for innovation, progress and improving human life. Secondly, FESTOS analysed the problematic issue of controlled dissemination of scientific knowledge in the light of the inevitable trade-offs between security and freedom of research and knowledge creation. The methods used were an online survey of approximately 100 selected experts and representatives from various parts of society, followed by 5-10 semi structured in-depth interviews in each of the participating countries (Poland, Germany, Finland, UK and Israel) with selected key actors representing civil society and other relevant organisations, and, finally, an international workshop on control and prevention, with the participation of invited experts and representatives.

 

 Top Technology Threats and Threat Scenarios

Three Types of Potential Threats

Examination of the diverse technologies led to identifying three broad categories of potential threats: The first category is the disruption of certain technological applications for malicious purposes (for example, jamming communications in intelligent collision avoidance systems in transportation). The second category concerns the increased availability of technologies that once were confined to the military or to unique, heavily funded laboratories and were prohibitively expensive. The third category concerns surprising malicious uses of new technologies developed for completely different, beneficial and civilian purposes. The most interesting for FESTOS seemed to be the third category, where we found the most unexpected threats, signals of change or surprising “wild cards”.

Ten New Top Priority Threats

The threat analysis resulted in a prioritisation of the threatening technologies with respect to their potential for malicious use (combining the easiness of putting them to malicious use and the severity of the threat). The resulting top ten technologies are:

  1. Smart mobile phone mash-ups
  2. Internet of things (IoT)
  3. Cloud computing
  4. New gene transfer technologies
  5. Advanced artificial intelligence
  6. Synthetic biology
  7. Cyborg insects
  8. Energetic nanomaterials
  9. Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
  10. Autonomous & semi-autonomous mini robots

Furthermore, the intensity of the potential threat (i.e. the overall threat to several spheres of society according to the experts) posed by the ten most relevant technologies was prioritised:

  1. Advanced artificial intelligence
  2. Human enhancement
  3. Swarm robotics
  4. Cyborg insects
  5. Internet of things (IoT)
  6. Water-catalysing explosive reactions
  7. Future fuels and materials for nuclear technologies
  8. AI-based robot-human interaction
  9. Cloud computing
  10. Programmable matter

For the time scale 2015 – 2020, the following potential “wild card technologies” were identified (i.e. technologies with high severity threats and a low likelihood of actual abuse): swarm robotics, brain implants, water-catalysing explosive reactions, future fuels, self-replicating nano-assemblers, medical nano-robots, ultra-dense data storage, meta-materials with negative light refraction index and synthetic biology.

Four Scenarios for Threat Assessment

Four narrative scenarios for threat assessment and identification of indicators were produced:

Scenario 1: Cyber-insects Attack!

Swarms of cyber-insects attack people and animals.

Scenario 2: The Genetic Blackmailers

Individual DNA is misused for purposes of extortion.

Scenario 3: At the Flea Market

Intelligent everyday nanotechnology-based products can be set to self-destruct, which is triggered by a wireless signal.

Scenario 4: We’ll Change Your Mind…

A terrorist group uses a virus to change the behaviour of a portion of the population for a certain period of time.

Conflict between Security and Freedom of Research

With the aid of the expert survey and the interviews, the FESTOS team assessed the respondents’ perceptions of the awareness, acceptance and effectiveness of control and prevention measures. The results show that control and prevention measures exist, mostly in the fields of ICT and biotechnology. On the basis of the national reports on the participating countries’ security institutions, we can say that the main institutions engaged in control activities are governments, ministries and security agencies. Most of the control measures have a high or very high impact on scientific knowledge, especially the freedom of science, knowledge creation and dissemination. The experts consider media, including the Internet, to be a dangerous channel of dissemination. By contrast, the most accepted control measures are

  1. education curricula including programmes aiming to raise the awareness of potential threats,
  2. measures invented by the knowledge producer and
  3. measures developed by the media to limit the publication of sensitive knowledge.

Codes of conduct, internal guidelines (bottom-up approach) and legal regulations are perceived as the most effective control measures.

 

Policy Conclusions

Continuation of Horizon Scanning of Emerging Technologies

There is a need for networking, international cooperation and broader expert panels to evaluate emerging technologies continuously with respect to possible unintended effects relevant to security. More detailed technological evaluations are required in the short-term, and it was suggested that at least sixty to eighty technologies need to be evaluated. FESTOS provides a starting point to cover all the risks and work towards a EU risk strategy in different areas of science and technology. In addition, there is a need to cooperate much closer with the EU patent office and with patent agencies around the world. It is furthermore very important to secure financing in Horizon2020 to allow continuing the horizon scanning work carried out in FESTOS.

Academic Freedom in Democratic Societies and “Knowledge Control”

There is a tension between possible security dangers of technology R&D and academic freedom, and there seem to be only two “stronger” control measures that academics are willing to accept: internal guidelines in research organisations and codes of conduct. Codes of conduct are the preferred control mechanism in R&D.

Ethical Control and Codes of Conduct

Since science and technology is globalised and develops at a fast pace, we can only have ethical control if there are international codes of conduct, to be developed by international organisations. Scientists need to understand the consequences of their research, and this needs to be handled at an international level. There seems to be a difference between democratic and non-democratic countries in this respect. In democratic countries, there is less of a threat that scientists might develop technologies that will be misused. In societies that are more closed and lack democratic institutions, scientists tend to continue their research even if they are aware that their invention might pose a threat to security. In any event, industry has a massive influence, including the ability to effectively lobby for its interests. Some of could focus on safe researcher practices, codes of conduct etc. and assist in the creation of an international “control” environment.

Project Assessment, Social Responsibility and Security by Design

It is highly desirable that the “dark side” is considered at the beginning of projects. Therefore, it is crucial to develop assessment criteria. It is more effective to build in design control measures during the design phases of the research than to turn to ethical assessment after the research is completed. Such an anticipatory approach results in “security by design”.

Networking: the Role of the State and the EU

Another critical element is “networking and networks”, which will be very important in the future. This aspect concerns how scientific organisations are networked to produce results for society. All innovations are based on knowledge, and we must develop knowledge-management systems to manage the dark sides as well. This requires an active role of the EU Commission and European Parliament.

The Role of Education

There is a need to educate students as early as possible about threats and security issues during their studies at university. Knowledge about these control dilemmas should be added to the universities’ curricula.

We also need early media training for children since they will encounter a number of challenges as they increasingly navigate an expanding digital universe. Such media proficiency is even more important since the digital universe can be unfamiliar or even unknown to their parents, who are “digital immigrants”.  The future “digital natives” can only cope and shape the digital universe if they are properly informed and know how to protect themselves.

Bottom-up vs. Top-down Approaches of Control

Actors and decision-makers, as they balance security needs, the requirements set by open democratic societies and the freedom of science, should take active measures against the possible dangers of the dark side of technologies. More promising than top-down measures are bottom-up proposals: Instead of legislation and coercive measures with rather questionable outcomes, the FESTOS team proposes to develop soft and optional measures. These measures, first of all, are based on self-regulation, self-control and the education of engineers and scientists. Codes of conduct, ethical guidelines and educational measures may initially be established on sub-state levels but must be developed into national, Europe-wide and global regimes. While self-regulation and education may be the means of choice in most cases, it has to be stressed that there are also exceptional cases, such as weapons of mass destruction, for instance. In these cases, there exist international regimes to regulate the prohibition of research and development of extremely dangerous technologies and, for the most part, the international community complies with the rules. An example is the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), which was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons.

FESTOS Consortium

The consortium of the project “Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies” (FESTOS) consists of the following partners:

Interdisciplinary Centre for Technology Analysis and Forecasting (ICTAF) at Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC), University of Turku, Finland

Centre for Technology and Society, Technical University of Berlin (TUB), Germany

Institute of Sociology (IS), University of Lodz, Poland

EFP Consulting (UK) Ltd, UK

Authors: Burkhard Auffermann    Burkhard.Auffermann@utu.fi

Aharon Hauptman         haupt@post.tau.ac.il

Sponsors: European Union DG Research
Type: European Union foresight
Organizer: ICTAF – Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis and Forecasting,                                             Coordinator: Dr. Yair Sharan, sharany@post.tau.ac.il
Duration: 2009 – 2011
Budget: € 824,552
Time Horizon: 2035
Date of Brief: February

Download: EFP-Brief-No.-225-FESTOS

Sources and References

http://www.festos.org/

 

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. 221: Priority Setting for Research on Information Society Technologies

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

This follow-up brief recapitulates the foresight exercise of the “Foresight on Information Society Technologies in the European Research Area (FISTERA)” project. Six years after the project was concluded, we look back with the purpose of extracting key lessons learned and ask what the mid-term to long-term implications of this foresight exercise are, in particular how effective the FISTERA project was in feeding the findings derived from the foresight exercise into a process of strategic priority-setting in information society technologies at the European level.

Creating a Common Vision for Our Information Society

The central purpose of the FISTERA project was to contribute to creating a common vision and approach by 2010 for developing an enlarged Europe towards an information society. As a thematic network, FISTERA’s aim was to provide a European platform involving a wide range of national and European policymakers that, through a structured foresight process, could inform the setting of priorities by providing support for targeted R&D funding in specific areas of information society technologies (IST) and thus contributing to future IST policy and research in Europe.

FISTERA was based on a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches. “As part of the bottom-up approach, FISTERA focused on the analytical dimensions, making use of its findings to set functional, S&T and socio-economically driven priorities. The top-down approach concentrated on the normative, process-oriented dimension to identify and prioritise policy options, building on what FISTERA calls the ‘success scenario’ for the European information society.” (Compaño, R. et al., 2006: 7).

The findings of the FISTERA foresight exercise intended to contribute to the evolution of policy thinking regarding the prospects of IST as part of the Lisbon objective. In sum, its overall aim was

(a) to compare the results of national foresight exercises and exchange visions for the future;

(b) to provide a new forum for consensus building on future visions for IST;

(c) to contribute to constructing the European Research Area through benchmarking, community building and providing a dynamic European platform on foresight;

(d) to provide inputs to the ongoing process of identifying key areas for research on which to concentrate public as well as private funding.

 

Delphi Highlighted Education and Learning

The FISTERA foresight process was based on three components: (a) a technology mapping (i.e. a study of the main technological trajectories in IST), (b) a Delphi study and (c) the development of scenarios. Through the implementation of a Delphi study, FISTERA gathered inputs from a wide variety of stakeholders concerning which areas of IST applications they thought most likely to yield benefits in terms of the goals defined by the Lisbon agenda.

The most outstanding result of the Delphi study was the strong focus on one particular application area, namely education and learning. Based on the findings of the Delphi study, FISTERA elaborated multiple scenarios in order to explore the plausibility of a set of diverse futures. For this purpose, various trends and countertrends and the ways they will likely interact in the future were studied. Four scenarios were proposed that brought together the S&T developments and fields of social application as a basis for dissemination activities. FISTERA was based on a ‘success scenario’ approach to examine the policy priorities required to produce the conditions for a desirable future in which the EU’s Lisbon objectives would be met as far as possible. The scenario-building exercise was aimed at providing options for a long-term development of IST for the economy and society.

On the other side, FISTERA tried to match the socio-economic needs with future technological trends and the consequences of potential IST applications. Therefore, a technology mapping was carried out that provided a perspective on the technological trajectories of IST. Due to the systemic nature of information and communication technologies (ICT), however, it was not possible to monitor the whole range of IST trends and provide prospective assumptions concerning the application and use of single technologies in the future. Instead, the focus was placed on clusters of technologies with similar functions while, at the same time, these clusters included competing and complementary technologies. The forward looking assessment of the evolution of these clusters was used to identify ‘technology trajectories’.

Identification of ‘Technology Trajectories’ in IST

The identification of a ‘technology trajectory’ followed a number of steps. First, a trajectory had to be defined. Then, information about individual ICT contributing to this particular technology trajectory needed to be collected, and this information had to be linked to the expected evolution of the trajectories. In a third step, the individual technologies were linked to possible applications and services.

The overall aim of this procedure was to identify particular technologies with the potential to influence the future development path of other technologies. In order to identify emerging patterns of relationships between technologies, a specific algorithm was used that analysed the strength and pattern of the link of a particular technology with other technologies as a function of time. Through this method, FISTERA was able to identify patterns of ‘technology attractors’ as well as trends of ‘technology disruptions’ and relate them to time horizons.

Some of the ‘technology attractors’ identified through this method were the following: (a) Batteries that are expected to have a profound influence on the evolutionary progress in many fields of IST. (b) Progress in bandwidth, understood as the transmission capacity at access level (rather than the network capacity on backbones), which will likely stimulate the advance in both optical, optoelectronics and electronics. (c) The growth of storage that will likely drive the creation and development of completely new industries. (d) Embedded systems that have been identified as the most crucial field for the future evolution of the overall market. (e) Information semantics that will act as an attractor technology with a profound influence on changes in the field of information value since it results from the merging of storage, computation and communication. (f) Developments in radio propagation that are expected to work as another attractor through the stimulation of new businesses and new applications. (g) Micro kernels and ad hoc protocols that are expected to have a stimulating effect on the evolution of communications infrastructures and the creation of new business opportunities at the edge of network structures.

With the help of the ‘technology trajectories’ concept, some of the technologies have been identified as being ‘disruptive’, meaning that their impact would be conducive to profound changes in technological systems as we know them today. The ‘disruptive’ potential of technologies may for example result from (a) the convergence between a number of diverse technological trajectories, (b) the shift from products to services, (c) the disappearance of the personal computer, (d) ubiquitous seamless communication, (e) changing traffic patterns, (f) unlimited bandwidth, (g) disposable products and (h) the shift from content to packaging.

 

FISTERA Inspired National Foresights on IST

By and large, the FISTERA foresight contributed important inputs to the debate about priority-setting in IST research in Europe and thus provided important impulses to the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Three levels of contributions have been identified (Compaño et al., 2005: 38):

(a) FISTERA generated valuable input that helped to identify and make transparent why some fields in IST research are more appropriate as priorities for the European Research Area than others.

(b) FISTERA helped to identify functional requirements that need to be met to translate these priorities into reality in the context of the European Research Area.

(c) FISTERA helped to identify the building blocks for consistent priority-setting. In this sense, the foresight process fulfilled an important function in legitimising public policy intervention in the field of IST research in Europe.

Although FISTERA did not embark on a comprehensive analysis of specific policy interventions to stimulate research in particular priority areas, the identification of promising technological trajectories in the field of IST was an important step towards investigating the future European positioning within these trajectories. FISTERA also prompted complementary action at the level of the member states by giving impulse to several follow-up foresight initiatives at the national level. For example, Austria (Foresight on Information Society in Austria – FISTA), and Hungary (Information Society Technology Perspectives – IT3) used the FISTERA approach to develop national IST foresights. We can therefore conclude that FISTERA not only contributed to establishing foresight for forward looking IST priority-setting at the European level but that it also inspired foresight practitioners at the national level.

However, with regard to the translation of the findings from the FISTERA foresight into priority-setting at the European level, there are also some lessons to be learned that might improve the efficiency of future foresights aimed at inspiring priority-setting processes at different levels.

The Methodological Framework

Regarding the methodological framework of the FISTERA foresight process, the following points were indicated during the follow-up interviews, which were carried out with individuals directly involved in the design and implementation of the FISTERA foresight:

(a) The implementation of the FISTERA foresight process was based on inter-disciplinary teamwork. The sub-optimal integration of the different skills and perspectives towards the broad area of IST was due to a lack of a coherent joint framework able to accommodate these interdisciplinary differences. Future projects should have a stronger focus on embedding inter-disciplinary foresight teams in a more coherent framework for collaboration.

(b) The insufficient integration of the technology-centred and the socio-economically-centred contributions were a methodological weak point of the FISTERA foresight. This might have created a bias towards promoting certain emerging technological paradigms and may have operated at the expense of devoting more attention to certain societal challenges that should not be neglected in priority-setting in practice.

(c) The interviewees indicated that since scenario development was very much on the macro level, priority-setting (in particular with a view to individual technological fields) was very difficult. Therefore, a better linking of the components of the foresight process to each other (in particular the technology mapping and scenario development) might improve future foresight initiatives in this field and help formulate more targeted priorities.

(d) It was further mentioned that the identification of thematic priorities was very difficult to translate into priority-setting in practice because technologies were clustered and no specific areas were focused upon.

Dissemination through Road Shows

The dissemination of the results of the FISTERA project was facilitated through various communication channels. The organisation of national road shows and communication papers contributed greatly to the broad dissemination of the project results to a variety of audiences. Although a book (Compaño et al., 2005) was published, according to a member of the FISTERA consortium, the transfer of the findings to high-level academic audiences remained behind its actual potential.

Reaching the Policy Level

Although FISTERA did not embark on a comprehensive analysis of particular policy interventions to support research in specific areas of priority in the field of IST, the interviews emphasised that the results of the foresight process provided important impulses to sharpen the perception of EU policymakers. According to one interviewee directly involved in FISTERA, an important accomplishment of the foresight was that it opened a debate on ICT in Europe towards a more multidisciplinary view and thus contributed to improving the framework conditions for a European dialogue about the future of ICT and ICT policy formulation (Pascu et al., 2006). Another interviewee who had knowledge of the internal decision-making processes within the EU Directorate General Information Society and Media (DG INFSO) stated that the results of the FISTERA foresight informed several initiatives that figured prominently in the work programme (for example Assisted Ambient Living).

Furthermore, it appears that FISTERA reached the policy level through direct interaction with the European Commission and its core advisory groups in the field of IST. There is no doubt that FISTERA had an impact on institutions that were directly or indirectly involved in European ICT policy formulation (Pascu et al., 2006). According to one interviewee, FISTERA’s impact was tangible on the policy level as reflected in the work of the IST Advisory Group (ISTAG), which is the most influential industry-oriented expert group advising DG INFSO on the IST programme. Furthermore, the same interviewee indicated that all decision-makers on IST issues in Brussels were exposed to the FISTERA results. In some sense, the FISTERA results also “paved the way” for subsequent projects, such as the PREDICT (Prospective Insights on R&D in ICT), which are still running today and provide inputs for policymaking at DG INFSO.

FISTERA results also proved to be relevant to several European think tanks.

However, foresight exercises are most successful whenever decision-makers go beyond the mere role of receivers of end products, such as reports on future scenarios, and become an integral part of the foresight process. In this sense, one interviewee stated that FISTERA failed to develop into an operational network for the interaction among different communities that hold stakes in the formulation of European IST policy development.

Priority Setting for IST Research through Foresight Practice

The FISTERA foresight marked an important milestone in counteracting forward looking perceptions based on technological determinism in the field of IST, which fail to provide an adequate perspective of technological futures. The timing for the establishment of a pan-European platform was favourable as foresight tools for priority-setting are proliferating, although it was stated during the interviews that FISTERA stayed far behind its set goal to establish a pan-European community concerned with IST futures. Nevertheless, FISTERA’s contribution to creating a European vision for IST has been an important first step towards establishing a discussion platform for IST foresight from a European perspective. Nonetheless, continued efforts to communicate the evolving European vision with ongoing priority-setting efforts in IST at the national level will be necessary. In this sense, it remains to be seen how the technology trajectories that have been identified by using the concept of “technology trajectories” will relate to forward-looking priority-setting exercises both at the national and at non-European levels. In light of the ERA’s increasing multilateral cooperation initiatives in particular, European priorities need to be related to the priorities of other regions of the world.

Inspiring Future Directions of Forward Looking Priority-setting

Based on the findings of the FISTERA foresight process, possible priorities for European IST research were identified. Foresight, however, can do no more than inspire the priority-setting process. It can help legitimise policy interventions in emerging fields, but it cannot anticipate concrete technologies that should be the recipients of targeted funding activities, and it should not generate expectations among policymakers that it can do so.

Authors: Dirk Johann                                   dirk.johann.fl@ait.ac.at
Sponsors: European Commission DG Information Society
Type: International foresight activity covering the enlarged European Union, focusing on the thematic area of Information Society Technologies
Organizer: The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS), Telecom Italia Lab, The University of Manchester, The Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS – Research Centre), Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), Gopa Cartermill
Geographic coverage: Europe
Duration: 2002 – 2005
Budget: € 1,500,000
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: June 2012

Download: EFP Brief No. 221_FISTERA_Follow-up

Sources and References

Compaño, R., C. Pascu, M. Weber (eds.) (2005), Challenges and Opportunities for IST Research in Europe, Bucharest: The Publishing House of the Romanian Academy.

Compaño, R., C. Pascu, J. C. Burgelman, M. Rader, R. Saracco, G. Spinelli, B. Dachs, M. Weber, S. Mahroum, R. Popper, L. Green, I. Miles (2006), Foresight on Information Society Technologies in the European Research Area (FISTERA) – Key Findings, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

 

Pascu, C., J. C. Burgelman, L. Nyiri, R. Compaño (2006), Foresight on Information Society Technologies: Lessons Learnt for Policy Intelligence Building in Europe, Second International Seville Seminar on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis: Impact of FTA Approaches on Policy and Decision-Making, Seville, 28-29 September 2006.

Weber, Matthias (2006), “FISTERA – Foresight on Information Society Technologies in the European Research Area 2020”. EFMN Foresight Brief No. 9. Online at http://www.foresight-platform.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/EFMN-Brief-No.-9-FISTERA.pdf.

 

EFP Brief No. 179: Facing the Future: Time for the EU to Meet Global Challenges

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The aim of this project is to provide a comprehensive picture of the main trends ahead and possible disruptive global challenges in the future and to examine how the EU could position itself to take an active role in shaping a response to them. The work described in the final report contributes a fresh perspective on the future, linking widely accepted quantified trends through 2025 and beyond with the opinions of experts and policy makers on the likely consequences of these trends and wild cards. This work has been undertaken in cooperation with the Bureau of European Policy Advisors of the European Commission.

The World in 2025

What will the world look like in 2025 and beyond? What are possible future disruptive global challenges? And how can the EU position itself to take an active role in shaping a response to them? There is a clear and growing need for the ability to anticipate change to be embedded in policy. This is critical not only for being able to respond and adapt to new situations before they occur but also to shape the future, building upon mutual understanding and common vi-sions to be jointly pursued.

For policy responses to address all the pressing current global challenges, especially when seen in isolation, is clearly a demanding task. Institutions face greater com-plexity and difficulty in providing solutions in due time. This is particularly true when the policy focus extends beyond the challenges that societies face today, seeking to anticipate future challenges and transform them into opportunities.

This is the rationale for the study “Facing the future: time for the EU to meet global challenges” carried out by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS) for the Bureau of European Policy Advisors of the (BEPA).

From Analytical Review to Robust Portfolio Modelling

The methodology used combines an extensive analytical review of more than 120 recent future-oriented studies, followed by a broad online consultation of almost 400 identified issues in six policy-relevant areas and use of multi-criteria quantitative analysis (Robust Portfolio Modelling) to prioritise the resulting issues. Key issues were then presented and discussed in a workshop with selected experts and policy makers. The main objective of the expert workshop was to organise the findings of the literature review and the analysis of the online survey into novel cross-cutting challenges, which the EU needs to tackle now in order to secure a better future for all and to translate them into policy messages. As a wide variety of challenges emerged related to the future of the world in 2025, the criteria of urgency, tractability and impact were used to prioritise and select the most relevant ones.

Main Challenges for the EU

Following the methodological approach above, three key challenges with a global scope were identified at the end of the expert workshop. Their multiple dimensions are articulated below.

Need to Change the Current Ways of Using Essential Natural Resources

This global challenge relates to the human over-exploitation of basic natural resources, which are essen-tial for societies to function and evolve in a sustainable manner. Current conditions and patterns of behaviour need to be reflected, and policy actions supporting the shift towards sustainable ways of living should be fostered and strengthened. The long-term sustainability is key to ensure not only economic growth but also a better quality of life for all current and future generations. This depends on the intelligent use, conservation and renewal of natural resources and ecological systems.

All human activities both depend and have an impact on natural resources. Food production, for example, is highly dependent on water and land and its processing and distribution depends on energy. All industrial activity starts by extracting natural resources and then assem-bles them in different ways to add economic value, while using energy and generating waste along the chain. The chain ends with the disposal of final goods at the end of their product life. The provision of services also impacts on natural resources.

Economic growth has largely relied on the overexploita-tion of essential natural resources and hence ulti-mately caused the disruption of natural cycles. Techno-institutional lock-in may be an important factor that com-pounds and intensifies human impacts on nature since it creates barriers to the search for sustainable alternatives to existing processes and infrastructures as well as to behavioural change. The most well known effects are:

  • Climate change and its manifold effects on water and other natural resources, agriculture and food se-curity, ecosystems and biodiversity, human health and migration patterns (IPCC, 2007; UNEP, 2007).
  • A dramatic increase in water scarcity in many parts of the world partly due to climate change and partly due to excessive withdrawals and contamination of surface and ground water, with profound implications for ecosystems health, food production and human well being (WEF, 2009; WWF, 2008).
  • The decline in the geographical distribution and abundance of arable land, freshwater and marine biodiversity is progressing more rapidly than at any other time in human history, with humanity moving in the direction of crossing tipping points since changes in the biophysical and social systems may continue even if the forces of change are removed (WWF, 2008).
  • A possible global energy shortage due to increas-ing demand and consumption, which will lead to a rise in global competition for energy resources as well as a greater dependency between nations, with energy in general and oil in particular playing a key role in future power relations and defence policies (European Commission, 2008; OECD, 2008).
  • Increased demand for food due to a growing world population, rising affluence, and the shift to Western dietary preferences (World Bank, 2007); this will place more pressure on water for agriculture and have a strong effect of high food prices.
  • Climate change, water scarcity and lack of food at affordable prices will be important factors in the in-crease of illness and death rates in developing countries (IPCC, 2007), which will lead to a deepen-ing in poverty and exclusion linked to the unsustain-able exploitation of the natural resources still avail-able, mass migration as well as threats in the form of radicalisation and terrorism (United Nations, 2008).

Need to Anticipate and Adapt to Societal Changes

For the EU to fully become a knowledge society there is a need to anticipate and adapt to political, cultural, demographic and economic transformations. Business, demography, migration and societies are generally changing at a much higher rate than public institutions and related decision-making processes. Legal frame-works, social security systems, education and the mod-els of healthcare have difficulties in keeping up with the pace of these transformations. This hampers innovation and economic growth and puts high pressure on natural resources and on the ability of institutions to cope with societal transformations. Beyond the consequences already mentioned in challenge one, there are now in-creasing concerns on how to provide equal access to healthcare and how to become a so-called knowledge society. The multiple dimensions of this challenge are:

  • Rising employment rates will no longer be sufficient to compensate for the decline in the EU working population due to ageing and a change in skills needed to function in knowledge societies, leading to economic growth being mainly dependent on in-creases in productivity.
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  • Ageing societies are placing increasing pressure on pension systems, social security and healthcare sys-tems (European Communities, 2008).
  • Increase in continuing flows of migrants from de-veloping to developed countries due to environmental hazards and armed conflicts as well as aspirations to a better quality of life.
  • Education and information and communication tech-nology (ICT) innovations could lead to a shift towards citizen empowerment and e-governance with citizens holding governments accountable due to an increase in transparency, but this is at risk of failing to become reality since the majority of the world population is still excluded from having access to the knowledge society.
  • Innovations limited by social acceptance due to a lack of education, transparency and societal un-derstanding of technological possibilities.
  • New converging technologies that emerge from multidisciplinary collaboration are expected to drasti-cally change all dimensions of life (RAND, 2001).
  • In relation to globalisation, it is expected by 2025 that the world will comprise many more large economic powers. China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and In-donesia will take on greater significance in the global economy (EIN, 2007) and their huge consumer-driven domestic markets can be expected to become a major focus for global business and technology.

Need for Effective and Transparent Governance for the EU and the World

This challenge comprises the need for the EU to create more transparent and accountable governance struc-tures and processes that can adapt to and anticipate the future, and to use this capacity to do likewise at the global level in order to address global and common chal-lenges and to spread democracy and transparency all over the world. Addressing the multiple effects of both challenges mentioned above requires new forms of governance and that as many nations and stakeholders as possible join forces. The multiple dimensions of this challenge are:

  • Single policy governance approaches can no longer cope with global issues, leading to fragmented responses to common challenges that are complex and interconnected. This is linked to the lack of a single nation’s ability to keep up with the pace of socio-economic change and the reliance on reactive, individual, unaligned and inflexible strategies (Florini, 2005).
  • The problems faced by developing countries also increasingly become the problems of developed economies, such as the EU member states, as a consequence of increasingly fading borders between nations due to terrorism and conflicts (i.e. over natural resources) and migrations caused by pandemics and poverty.
  • Mainly thanks to ICT-related innovations there is an increasing shift towards empowerment in govern-ance. The use of the Internet is now moving towards the use of Web 2.0, with applications such as social networking, blogs, wikis, tagging, etc., and this supports a trend towards networked computing and e-governance systems (Accenture, 2009).
  • Many rising superpowers, such as Russia, China, the Middle-East and some Latin American countries, have widely differing traditions in democratic gov-ernance, which may cause pressures on democracy also elsewhere. Western norms and values, as the foundation of the global system, could also be challenged by radical religious identity politics that might emerge as a powerful counter-ideology with wide-spread appeal.
  • The growing strength of emerging economies in-creases pressure to integrate them more closely into international coordination processes. Unbalanced representation of nations in global fora, such as the UN, WTO and IMF, makes it impossible for many developing countries to participate in global decision-making processes and to implement or adopt strategies that are decided only by the economically powerful countries (Amanatidou, 2008).

Reduction of Resource Dependence, Equal Access to Knowledge Institutions and Social Care

Based on the above challenges, the main policy issues to be considered at EU level are:

  • Policy alignment towards sustainability – includ-ing the need to align all relevant policy domains to achieve reform in the agri-system; a reduction in the EU’s dependency on resources; an increase in levels of education and social awareness; appropriate and effective management of migration flows resulting from climate change, aspirations to a better quality of
    life, and the labour market needs of especially ageing societies; and a change in the policy paradigm based on GDP to an updated system that also considers ecological flows and stocks.
  • Social diversity and ICTs towards citizen empow-erment – including the need to build new incentives to facilitate and strengthen relationships between dif-ferent social systems; develop the necessary means to enhance education on the use of ICTs in conjunc-tion with other technologies; improve the quality of education by, for instance, fostering competition within and between EU national education systems; regulate the healthcare system, tapping into new technologies to provide equal access for all; develop radically new and far more efficient forms of social protection; and enhance regional specialisation through the formation of regional RTDI clusters.
  • Anticipation of future challenges to turn these into new opportunities – including the need to em-bed forward looking techniques in EU policy making; foster mutual understanding through ongoing and in-clusive dialogue both within the EU and worldwide to build shared values, common visions, actions, and smart regulations, and enable effective and adaptive international organisations to become a reality; estab-lish partnerships between industry, government and society; clarify at global fora the role and status of the EU and balance its representation in international or-ganisations; and foster (e)participation and (e)democracy through the use of web 2.0.

The foresight approach employed in this study contrib-utes to policy making by supporting a continuous and shared approach to understand the present in all its complexity, to look at different future possibilities and to shape a joint direction to follow while considering differ-ent stakeholders’ points of view. This can be coupled with a periodic evaluation of what has or has not been achieved to enable policy to correct deviations and to continually adapt to and re-shape upcoming new situa-tions. It is believed that such an approach, linked to other forward-looking techniques and tapping into evi-dence-based research and quantitative elements, would be critical to enable EU policy making to become more adaptive and able to anticipate and address change.

Download EFP Brief No. 179_Facing the future

Selected References

The full bibliography is available in the final report on http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC55981.pdf.

Accenture. 2009. Web 2.0 and the Next Generation of Public Service. Accenture.

Amanatidou E. 2008. The Role of the EU in the World. EFMN Brief 133, http://www.efmn.info/.

European Communities. 2008. The 2009 Ageing Report. European Economy 7/2008.

EIN. 2007. The world in 2025 – how the European Union will need to respond. Discussion Document. European Ideas Network: Brussels.

Florini A. 2005. The Coming Democracy – New Rules for Running a New World. Brookings Institution Press: Washington DC.

IPCC. 2007. Climate Change 2007 – Synthesis Report. An Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Geneva.

OECD. 2008. World Energy Outlook 2008. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: Paris.

RAND. 2001. The Global Technology Revolution – Bio / Nano / Materials Trends and Their Synergies with Information Technology by 2015. RAND: Santa Monica.

UNEP. 2007. Global Environmental Outlook (GEO4) – Environment for Development. United Nations Environment Pro-gramme: Nairobi.

United Nations. 2008. Trends in Sustainable Development: Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Desertification and Drought. United Nations: New York.

WEF. 2009. World Economic Forum Initiative: Managing Our Future Water Needs for Agriculture, Industry, Human Health and the Environment – The Bubble is Close to Bursting: A Forecast of the Main Economic and Geopolitical Water Issues Likely to Arise in the World during the Next Two Decades. World Economic Forum.

World Bank. 2007. World Development Report 2008 – Agriculture for Development. The World Bank: Washington DC.

WWF. 2008. Living Planet Report 2008. World Wide Fund for Nature.

EFP Brief No. 171: Research Priorities for Digital Creative Industries in Europe

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

With creativity and strategy, the CReATE project designed and implemented a novel strategic cluster development approach integrating Strategic Policy Intelligence tools (such as foresight and impact assessment) and direct innovation support instruments. Guided by a trans-regional framework and based on very different regional strengths and research, technology development and innovation (RTDI) support histories, it aimed at fostering cross-cluster and transregional learning and knowledge exchange more effectively and successfully. In an iterative process, alternating between and mutually enriching the regional and the trans-regional levels, research priorities for information and communication technology innovations in “Culture and Creative Industries” were identified. Strongly related to their “fields of excellence & fields of aspiration” (the existing strengths but also the future development trajectories set by the regional stakeholders), the strategic capabilities of the different stakeholder groups were strengthened and a strategic joint research agenda was developed. On this base, broader and more far-reaching activities will be developed regionally and trans-regionally, also involving partners from outside the consortium and optimising regional, national and EU programmes from RTDI and other policy fields.

Strategic Importance of Creative Industries

To emerge invigorated from the current economic crisis is the most important challenge for the European economies, societies, policies and the European Union as a whole. New sources of sustainable growth must be tapped, creating new jobs and markets for European citizens and companies.

It is of strategic importance to better harness the potential of innovation and knowledge cutting across and connecting all sectors, and to better coordinate priority setting and programme design between regional, national and EU levels in order to tap synergies of actions and policies.

In this respect, the Culture and Creative Industries (CI) based on state-of-the-art information and communication technologies (ICT) play a strategic role. The CI sector is one of the emerging lead markets of the European knowledge economy, already ranks fourth in EU GDP contribution (626 bn € in 2007). As ICT constitute the technology base enabling the development of innovative CI products and services, research progress in ICT is a key ingredient for sustaining competitive CI. Therefore, it is a good investment to support ICT research and to encourage a more systematic and forward-looking use of its innovation potential. To fully harness this potential, it is important to develop new strategic guidance and RTDI support schemes, as the CI sector is characterised by a comparatively high percentage of micro-enterprises and non-conventional forms of employment.

The CI employment growth rate has been double that of the general economy in recent years and is forecast to continue at an average of 10 % annually. Cooperation with CI enterprises increases the innovativeness in all sectors, and regional CI specialisation explains about half of the variance of GDP/capita. Efficient knowledge generation and its creative application can transform the traditional industrial landscape into a competitive industry base and modern service sector, thus contributing to the generation of new markets and high-quality jobs.

In its EU 2020 proposal to the Council in March 2010, the European Commission highlights the importance of creativity and knowledge creation for sustained and sustainable growth. It aims at an impetus for overcoming the current crisis and advocates a new approach that explicitly addresses the complex interdependence between all governance levels.

Often, the main challenge for effective decision-making is the distributed nature of knowledge. SPI tools provide public and private decision-makers with comprehensive, objective, and forward-looking information (e.g. on long-term developments, global trends, societal and individual values, etc). Applied consecutively and consistently, they can help identify, select, structure and ‘translate’ all available information, thereby enabling the development of better decisions and policies.

The concept of a simplified policy support cycle (see graph) can help take this better into account for improving policies and programmes. It facilitates the analyses of decision-making processes and identifies the tools necessary to optimise the outcomes at each stage. Strategic policy intelligence (SPI) tools include technology or territorial foresight, innovation and technology assessment, roadmapping, evaluations and other interactive exercises.

Building on these concepts, the CReATE project (Creating a Joint Research Agenda for Promoting ICT Innovations in CI across Europe) developed a novel approach for enhanced strategic, trans-regional cluster development. Mobilising the commitment of and supporting consensus-building among all relevant stakeholders, project activities included trans-regional vision-building, priority-setting, project development and programme coordination across CI clusters in Baden-Württemberg (DE), Piemonte (IT), Rhône-Alpes (FR) and West-Midlands (UK).

From Music Composition to Architecture

CReATE was co-funded by the EU “Regions of Knowledge” (RoK) initiative, which aims to strengthen the research potential of European regions by encouraging and supporting the development of regional research-driven clusters.

The seven project partners, including public authorities, cluster managing organisations, technology transfer and research organisations, aim to increase CI competitiveness, market potential and outreach to other industry sectors by making more systematic use of ICT’s innovation potential.

To make the best use of their different RTDI support histories (EU, national, regional), factor and demand conditions, and strengths in the CI field, the partners worked with a common methodology (developed in an earlier RoK project) towards common overall priorities – and, on this base, developed different, regionally optimised applications. SPI tools were applied to identify promising RTDI priorities as a key ingredient of sustainable cluster growth, to foster trans-regional knowledge exchange more effectively and successfully, and to optimise the use of regional, national and EU infrastructures and programmes.

CReATE supports European co-operation of innovative clusters and focuses on the following six CI segments:

  • music composition and production,
  • film, television and video,
  • animation and computer games (entertainment software),
  • writing, publishing and print media,
  • advertising, graphic design and marketing,
  • architecture, visual arts and design.

Applying Strategic Policy Intelligence Tools

Based on a methodology developed in the earlier RoK project RegStrat (SPI Tools for Better S&T Investment Strategies in Europe’s Regions) and the policy support cycle shown above, several SPI tools were applied: innovation analyses and benchmarking were followed by foresight-type and impact assessment activities and resulted in recommendations for joint projects and for optimising RTDI programmes. The recommendations were adapted to the specific needs and policy objectives of the participating regions. To ensure both regional and trans-regional impact, the overall process was designed in an iterative way, alternating between and mutually enriching the different governance levels.

Stock-taking: Developing a Regional Knowledge Base

As a sound basis for the analysis of the state of play regarding the regional CI and ICT research potential and the identification of regional ‘fields of aspiration’, a background paper described general future trends and drivers in ICT research relevant for the application in CI. Based on this and the regional analysis template prepared by the strategy consultants of Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ), each region conducted stakeholder interviews and desk research to elaborate a comprehensive set of data and information on CI and ICT innovations. These regional knowledge-generating activities resulted in comprehensive regional reports including cluster maps and detailed SWOT-analyses.

Forward-looking: Identifying Regional Research Priorities

Prospective activities were undertaken in form of two workshops in each region, designed and supported by foresight consultants to ensure adequate and comparable results.

The first regional stakeholder workshop elaborated a common perception of important trends and drivers of possible future developments in CI. Then, key opportunities and challenges to be faced with regard to the regional strengths and weaknesses from the previous SWOT analysis were identified.

The second workshop developed a shared understanding of the possibilities arising from ICT RTDI for CI and derived a ‘ranking’ of regional research priority areas.

Outward-looking: Developing a Joint Research Agenda and Elaborating Joint Project Ideas

Based on the regional results, the identified ICT research capacities, the CI needs and the defined research priorities were related to each other, and joint priorities relevant to all project regions were identified. These were discussed with regional stakeholders and EU representatives during an international IC conference in Turin.

Subsequently, a synthesis report was drafted summarising the results of all regional activities. It also presented the five trans-regional research priorities that would form the basis of the Joint Research Agenda (JRA):

  1. Visual and Interactive Experience: new visual dimensions and digital interaction between humans and computers (3D internet, virtual worlds, simulations and computer-generated imagery).
  2. Tools of Productivity and Intelligent Automation: improved productivity and semantic software (rapid prototyping, conversion of 2D visualisations to 3D, more precise combination of web and database content).
  3. Digital Distribution: new distribution channels on the World Wide Web (collective availability of user-generated content, new markets and revenue streams).
  4. Mobility and Interoperability: a new level of flexibility in the mobile age (any time, any place access to information, location-related and personalised mobile services).
  5. User-Producer Interaction in Development: new production methods featuring user-generated content.

The JRA was based on a trans-regional analysis (‘match-making’) and enriched by input and feedback from regional stakeholders. It includes an outline of the current situation as well as future development perspectives, strategic research areas for CI and, more specifically, a comprehensive depiction of the CReATE transregional research priorities. Future lines of action and promising implementation activities for the CReATE and other regions were also outlined.

In line with this, the project partners and relevant stakeholders formulated promising cross-regional, cross-cluster project ideas and concepts. Feasibility and relevant funding opportunities were also scrutinized.

The implementation of these project ideas is not part of the CReATE project. However, as it plays a vital role for the sustainable impact of the whole process, the regional project partners aim to support and encourage regional stakeholders to continue the work in this sense. Also, the strategic CReATE results were designed in a way that they could be utilised in the medium-term for broader and long-term trans-regional cooperation and for the purpose of optimising regional research programmes and policy development more generally.

Increasing Project Impact and Outreach

The European outreach of the project was addressed by transforming the project methodology and good practices from the partner regions into a generally applicable and easy-to-use toolkit for all European actors. Furthermore, the know-how gained during the project served as input to interactive training and capability-building workshops for interested regions. By June 2010, two of these will have been conducted in the greater Dublin region and Pomerania, Poland. Even after the end of the project, such workshops can be set up in other regions interested in strategic cluster development.

Leverage Effects for other Regions and Sectors

CI play an important role in economic growth, both in terms of the sector’s own contribution to GDP and its role in the innovativeness of other economic sectors. Supporting CI clusters in Europe’s regions can thus considerably contribute, directly and indirectly, to regional, national and European competitiveness. Higher, better coordinated and more focused RTDI investments can be achieved if sector or cluster priorities are set based on a broad forward-looking perspective considering future technological, social and political developments on the local and global level.

Thus, future projects, programmes and policies need to focus on how to achieve the agreed direction or facilitate the desired change of direction. Success means that activities are designed and conducted not only aiming “to do things right” but rather “to do the right things right”.

Therefore, strategic guidance, as developed and implemented in the holistic three-stage SPI-supported CReATE approach, will become increasingly important for the long-term economic success of research-driven clusters.

CReATE’s intertwined bottom-up and top-down approach, enhancing cooperation on various levels and between a variety of actors, can lead to a better adjustment, coordination and optimisation of innovation policies on all governance levels.

This is especially attractive for Europe’s regions because, in times where RTDI budgets are stagnating, pooling funds and know-how in joint trans-regional projects can help to make the most efficient and effective use of regional resources and infrastructures.

The CReATE project showed that, by conducting such forward-looking trans-regional activities, comprehensive knowledge and priority generation and its application are facilitated, trans-regional synergies are tapped, internationalisation of regional actors is enhanced and the basis for more economic success is established.

These more general conclusions are based on the concrete lessons learned during the implementation of CReATE:

  • The methodology followed a multi-actor, multi-level and multi-disciplinary approach, fostered trans-regional cooperation and thus promoted synergies between regional, national and European initiatives. Similar to the ‘Strategic Research Agendas’ of the European Technology Platforms, the CReATE JRA can contribute to raising public and private RTDI investments at all governance levels and improve their impact through optimising efforts and resources.
  • The dialogue-oriented CReATE methodology involved all relevant regional stakeholders of the ‘triple helix’ (university-industry-government) and thus facilitated consensus-building based on personal relationships and mutual trust. The CReATE activities can serve as a starting point for a comprehensive cluster foresight exercise to define a common vision and strategy for a broader approach to sustainable cluster development in the regions. The experiences of the regional CReATE activities show that participatory interactive approaches are a good way to set the scene for joint actions across different regions, sectors and disciplines.
  • On the regional level, the stakeholder workshops have shown some barriers between the different business cultures, languages and mindsets between ICT and CI representatives. The challenge for innovation policies, for instance concerning cluster development, is to bridge the gap between these different mindsets and to leverage cross-disciplinary potential to boost innovation and competitiveness in new markets. The CReATE project’s regional stakeholder workshops clearly pointed out the need for specific support actions to optimally utilise the synergies between ICT and CI.
  • The trans-regional JRA tapped trans-regional synergies by identifying specific regional needs and capabilities as well as the most promising international technology and market development perspectives. It provided the base for optimised concrete actions, both regionally and trans-regionally, generating a clear added value for the regions. The JRA enables all regional actors (from public to private sphere) to rethink and eventually to adjust the focus, effectiveness and efficiency of their policies and (business) strategies. A number of project ideas have already been developed among the project partners and will ensure a sustainable impact of the project after its finalisation.
  • The CReATE methodology facilitated trans-regional and cross-cluster knowledge flows and learning processes across and beyond the CReATE regions and fostered the integration of the CReATE regions into international innovation networks. In this context, broadening and deepening the cross-regional activities beyond the project time frame is valuable to fully capitalise on the added value provided by this methodological approach.
Authors: Sabine Hafner-Zimmermann, Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum,      hafner@steinbeis-europa.de

Dr. Björn Sautter,           Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum,                     sautter@steinbeis-europa.de

Dr. Günter Clar, Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum,                                  clar@steinbeis-europa.de

            Sponsors: European Commission (DG Research), participating regions
Type: Single issue brief
Organizer: MFG Baden-Württemberg GmbH Stuttgart, Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum, Stuttgart, Germany
Duration: 3/2008-12/2010 Budget: 11m EUR Time Horizon: 2020 Date of Brief: March 2010

 

Download EFP Brief No. 171 CReATE

Sources and References

  • Project websites: www.steinbeis-europa.de/index.php5?file=484; lets-create.eu; www.regstrat.net
  • Contact persons as mentioned above
  • See, e.g., http://www.europe-innova.eu/web/guest/home/-/journal_content/56/10136/178407

EFP Brief No. 167: The World in 2025

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

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

The World to Come – Global Trends & Disruptions

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

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

Group of Experts & Scenario Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Europe to Face Marginalization

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

Shift towards Asia

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

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

Scarcity of Natural Resources

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

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

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

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

Potential Conflicts, Threats and Wild Cards

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

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

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

What Experts Recommend to EU Policy Makers

Key RTD Areas

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

Europe Must Not Fall Behind in R&D

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

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

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

Effective Governance

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

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

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

Will the Looming Crisis Be Averted in Time?

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

Outlook: Socio-economics & Humanities Re-considered

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

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

Authors: Anette Braun                 braun_a@vdi.de

Axel Zweck                   zweck@vdi.de

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

 

Download EFP Brief No. 167_The World in 2025

Sources and References

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

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

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

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

EFP Brief No. 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