Posts Tagged ‘European Research Area (ERA)’

EFP Brief No. 251: VERA – Forward Visions on the European Research Area

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

The VERA project provides relevant strategic intelligence for the future governance and priority-setting of the research, technology, development and innovation (RTDI) system in the EU and for better adapting science, technology and inno-vation policy to the shifting global environment and upcoming socio-economic challenges. For this purpose VERA carries out an in-depth stocktaking of RTDI related forward looking activities in Europe and internationally and a thorough review of trends and drivers of long-term change of European RTDI governance. On the base of these insights VERA develops scenarios on the evolution of the European Research Area, assesses the critical issues for the ERA’s future capabilities emerging from these scenarios, explores subsequent strategic options and ultimately generates a set of policy recommendations for responsive and future oriented multi-level, multi-domain RTDI policy strategies. As VERA will run until 2014 we will present some intermediary results of the first two work packages in this Brief.

Changes and Tensions within ERA

Recently, ERA has undergone many relevant changes from inside. First of all, research and development became a domain of shared competence between the member states and the EU as a result of the new Lisbon Treaty in 2009. The subsequent strategic processes, such as the Lund Declaration, the Ljubljana Process, the Europe2020 Strategy and the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union, have provided a solid mandate for a strong and open European Research Area that is highly responsive to societal challenges and provides excellent research and innovation activities in open exchange with the international RTI landscape.

However, in order to realise this ambitious agenda, the share of integrated research expenditure needs to be significantly increased. Furthermore, new coordination mechanisms are required to allow for flexible identification of ERA priorities, mobilisation of the critical mass of funding, and governance of its implementation.

In the last few years, a number of integrative instruments have been developed and implemented, such as:

  • Knowledge and innovation communities (KICs) selected within the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
  • ERA Net and ERA-Net Plus allowing for joint funding of EU and member states
  • Joint technology initiatives (JTIs article 187) developed through the European technology platforms (ETPs)
  • Joint programming in research (JPIs)
  • Public private partnerships (PPP)
  • Joint research programmes (article 185)
  • European research alliances
  • European innovation partnerships

Thus a number of opportunities and experiences for more integration and pre-allocating significant chunks of EU funding to joint priorities do exist. At the same time, there are many tensions associated with the implementation of these strategies.

A key challenge and opportunity for ERA development is its relation to and integration with the wider world. The production and composition of knowledge have become globalised. While science always has been international, the scope of actors and the need for coordination and cooperation across the globe has changed dramatically in the face of global challenges. At the same time, there is an increasing specialisation of knowledge production and exploitation. Global division of labour and connecting the global centres of excellence that have emerged is a key requirement of the future. In addition, many of the problems European societies face are either the same as for other societies (obesity, demographic change) or transnational in nature (climate change, pollution, security) while the EU is just one among many international players. The overarching challenge of decoupling economic growth from the depletion of the ecosphere and preserving natural capital demands an unprecedented alignment of efforts on a global scale.

There are a number of changes in the way research and innovation is being embedded in the societal context. Changing values and lifestyles are giving rise to new societal expectations of research and innovation. Changing economic and institutional contexts introduce new rationales into knowledge production. Established boundaries, such as basic and applied research or users and producers of innovation and knowledge, are blurring. New actors such as NGOs, citizens and user groups are increasingly playing relevant roles in the realm of research and innovation.

The need for research and innovation to address the grand challenges in realms such as health, food, security and sustainability is not only increasingly advocated but also poses new kinds of challenges. Transformative socio-technical pathways rather than isolated key technologies need to be explored. Social innovation, service organisation and organisational innovation need to be aligned with breakthrough technological innovation. Experimental approaches are gaining relevance for successful innovation trajectories, in particular when transitions are at stake. These changes make it imperative to situate ERA in the global context.

Identifying the Grand Challenges of the Future

In order to generate custom-made strategic intelligence for the future of ERA, the starting point was, first, to identify Grand Challenges (GC) and, secondly, to do so in relation to research sectors that are relevant to the ERA. The GC were identified based on existing EU documents and discussion papers that had been published in the context of pertinent foresight and horizon scanning projects. These GC were classified into relevant research sectors, for instance health, energy, environment and civil society. This approach allowed a thematic clustering of topics, which then served as a basis for broadening the scanning of FLAs. Ten sectors and more than 760 GC in total from a stock of 71 sources were identified.

The stocktaking was designed so as to collect information that would help reach the objective of the work package, i.e. to answer questions such as,

  • What Grand Challenges in the fields of economy, environment, geopolitics, society and ethics, technology and health are the documents and projects under consideration concerned with?
  • Do these documents and projects represent the discourse on Grand Challenges in the European Union and in other parts of the world?
  • What conclusions can we draw from these documents concerning the future governance needs of the ERA? And what do they tell us about the future requirements of RTI governance?

Sixteen Grand Challenges

The VERA team managed to identify 16 Grand Challenges from the analysis and clustering of 760 individual issues from the inventory and interviews with individual STI experts:

  1. Uncertainty is arising from a multipolar world

Increasing polarisation and regionalisation are driving towards a multipolar world. Possible evolutions and implications of or even solutions for this multi-aspect and multi-level challenge are still hardly understood.

  1. Values and attitudes are changing globally

Attitudes and values are changing globally; societies and particularly policy need to respond to these changes.

  1. The traditional role of the state is challenged

A number of developments require new models of governance that go beyond the traditional model of the state.

  1. The world is becoming more interconnected and thus more vulnerable

The more the world becomes interconnected and interdependent, the more new forms of crime and security threats are interlinked and have far-reaching consequences at all levels of society.

  1. Health concerns of an aging society are rising

The ageing of populations has diverse implications for science, technology, economy and society that are proliferated in the context of new health risks and ineffective health systems.

  1. A risk of financial system failure is emerging

In the financial sector the risk of systemic failures is increasing.

  1. Current non-sustainable economic models come under scrutiny

A growing unease with the current model of economic growth calls for alternative approaches to societal progress at the macro level. At the same time, environmentally sustainable business models are required in all sectors of economic activity.

  1. Migration requires responses

The challenge of migration takes many forms as a consequence of other challenges such as climate change, food and water shortages, natural disasters, pandemics etc., each of which requires a specialised and coordinated response at various levels of governance.

  1. Education is struggling to cope with new demands

The education and training systems in Europe need to be modernised. A more specific demand defines the need for education systems capable of promoting sustainability, innovation and solidarity values, and new professions require highly skilled craftsmanship.

  1. The health situation in deprived regions is deteriorating

Impoverished regions around the world are struggling with acute and virulent health issues.

  1. Climate change is causing new diseases

New health problems are arising globally due to climate change.

  1. Providing basic resources for increasing global demands becomes difficult

Without ecologically, economically and politically sustainable solutions, scarcities of basic resources may lead to extensive and serious social and political problems in some areas of the globe.

  1. Material resources are becoming increasingly scarce

Demand for metals and minerals is growing dramatically, especially due to the fast growth of emerging economies and increasing strategic demand for minerals in industrialised economies.

  1. Our modes of energy supply and use are threatening the survival of humankind

Adopting sustainable forms of energy production and consumption is one of the key means for mitigating climate change.

  1. Transportation systems are coming under strain

Environmental and health impacts from emissions, mitigation of climate change, urbanisation, the need for traffic safety and security, and avoidance of traffic jams are among the drivers pushing towards the reinvention of mobility and full-scale transition of existing transportation systems.

  1. EU competitiveness is endangered

The fragmentation of Europe, poor education and skills as well as rising costs and declining labour force participation caused by demographic change may prevent effective exploitation of Europe’s research and innovation potential.

Facing the Grand Challenges to the Future of Europe Means Facing the Global Ones First

From the analysis of a broad range of sources on Grand Challenges, it becomes clear that we cannot take a European perspective only. Especially not when attempting to identify ways of dealing with the Grand Challenges, or at least some of them. The most pressing challenges are globally interconnected and require global action. Topics like Our modes of energy supply (14), Providing basic resources for increasing global demands (12) and The world becoming more interconnected (4) are the ones most frequently discussed. They also show the need to accept shared responsibility on a global scale, which implies that the EU countries cannot lay back and point to other countries to take action. On the contrary, from a European perspective, European countries are among the major contributors to the drivers of the Grand Challenges and among the major countries affected as well, although the impacts of the Grand Challenges are more widespread globally than the drivers are.

The sixteen clusters identified and discussed above also seem to be the ones that call for policy action most immediately and represent the cases where such action could make a substantial difference if planned and executed in a systemic way.

To face the Grand Challenges to the future of Europe, most of all we need to cope with the global ones. If we make a major contribution to the global ones, we will be better equipped to cope with the challenges that lie ahead for Europe.

What we as Europeans have to face is that our lifestyle and the underlying economic model must be considered the root of fundamental problems with devastating global consequences. Many studies and independent resources have pointed this out before. It is of course not only the European lifestyle but also that of all developed economies. At the same time, the global interconnectedness that seems to make this lifestyle transferable to emerging, lagging and, in the long term, even to undeveloped economies also makes societies vulnerable to shocks in many respects.

Facing the Grand Challenges means to introduce fundamental changes in many areas of our lives and activities, thereby affecting global liaisons as well. Even if radical changes are unrealistic, the changes required in tackling the Grand Challenges will be felt by every European citizen. Policy-makers are in a crucial role as these changes will not occur without fundamental and coordinated policy measures in almost every policy area.

Furthermore, it becomes clear that the scope of these Grand Challenges is in essence societal. We need to take this into account when we talk about policy action, for example in the area of research, technology and innovation policy – in the respective work packages of the VERA project and beyond. We especially need to consider what the impact of that societal scope is with regard to the systemic character of handling the Grand Challenges.

Text Analysis and Discussion with “ERA Thinkers”

The second set of tasks performed was to synthesise the existing insights on trends, drivers and key dimensions of change in European RTDI governance. A computer-assisted analysis helped to characterise the body of discourse on ERA in a systematic and quantitative manner. The analysis of text data on ERA was expected to allow interpretations and descriptions of the attitudes, structures, values and norms that currently dominate STI governance. In view of the large quantities of data in textual form, text analysis provided an important means of discovering obscured meanings and unveiling hidden relationships. The computer-assisted analysis took as a point of reference a pre-understanding of ERA constituencies gained through literature review. Following the digitisation of the entire corpus, linguistic analysis software was used for cleaning and formatting, unitising and indexing. The development of categories and dictionaries, as well meaningful associations, relied on qualitative analysis techniques.

Quantitative text-analysis software allowed to produce an aggregation of unit-level coding. Statistical and network analysis software was used to highlight frequencies, trends, comparisons, networks and maps of relevant factors influencing STI governance.

Subsequent interviews with ERA “thinkers” served to obtain additional types of information (i.e. narratives, accounts, fronts, stories and myths).

Relevant factors identified by means of discourse and interview analysis provided the basis for a so-called key-factor workshop with key stakeholders. The insights on potential key factors were synthesised into a background document.

Based on these insights, VERA developed scenarios on the evolution of the European Research Area. VERA’s uniqueness is grounded in the systematic knowledge base it creates, for example, by stocktaking exercises such as the one on Grand Challenges described above. They are publicly accessible and intended to be used widely. At the same time, the results of these exercises feed the scenario process, the subsequent assessment of the scenarios, and the exploration of strategic options. Another distinct feature of VERA is that it pays particular attention to the assessment and policy implications of the scenarios, which will help to make scenario results useful for policy-making and thinking about the future of ERA.

Authors: Susanne Giesecke         Susanne.Giesecke@ait.ac.at

Philine Warnke             Philine.Warnke@ait.ac.at

Effie Amanatidou           effie.amanatidou@mbs.ac.uk

Sponsors: European Commission, DG Research, Social Sciences and Humanities Programme
Type: Multiple issue brief
Organizer: Fraunhofer Gesellschaft – ISI, Karlsruhe Germany, Stephanie Daimer, Stephanie.Daimer@isi.fraunhofer.de
Duration: 2012-2014
Budget: € 1,940,000
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: Decemeber 2012

Download EFP Brief No 251_VERA

Sources and References

References

The Lund Declaration (incl. its addendum), July 2009; available for download at

http://www.vr.se/download/18.7dac901212646d84fd38000336/ Lund_Declaration.pdf

Links to further results of the VERA project at http://www.eravisions.eu

The inventory contains 726 individual Grand Challenges named by the 67 screened FLAs. It has been submitted in an independent report and can be downloaded at http://vera.dev.zsi.at/stocktaking/list

EFP Brief No. 247: Delphi-based Foresight for a Strategic Research Agenda on the Future of European Manufacturing

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

This follow-up brief recapitulates the foresight exercise of the “Manufacturing Visions – Integrating Diverse Perspectives into Pan-European Foresight (ManVis)” project. Six years after the project was concluded, we look back with the purpose of extracting key lessons learned. We ask what the mid-term and long-term implications of this foresight exercise are, specifically how effectively the Delphi method was deployed to examine a wide spectrum of aspects underpinning the future trajectory of European manufacturing with a particular emphasis on the elaboration of scenarios that provide a broad basis for public discussion on the future of European manufacturing. This follow-up brief draws particularly on the lessons learnt from the organisers’ perspective.

Creating a Vision of the Future of European Manufacturing

The central purpose of the ManVis project was to inform a continuous process of policy development to enhance the competitiveness of the European manufacturing industries through a structured foresight exercise. In particular, the ManVis project was expected to contribute to completing the picture of the socio-economic dimensions that shape the technology dynamics in European manufacturing industries.

The policy relevance of the ManVis project was essentially linked to its role as one of the central strategic foresight studies in which the preparation of a more detailed Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), aimed at paving the way for the definition of research priorities to be implemented via the EU’s future RTD Framework Programmes, was anchored. The ManVis foresight was launched in response and complementary to the results obtained from previous foresight exercises and empirical surveys indicating that manufacturing in Europe needed to strengthen its innovation capacity in an environment where manufacturing is increasingly being relocated to locations outside Europe. Together with the FuTMaN (“Future of Manufacturing in Europe 2015-2020 – The Challenge for Sustainable Development”) project, the ManVis project was a central pillar of the Manufuture European Technology Platform, composed of high-ranking representatives of European industry and the scientific community, that was initiated in December 2004 with the explicit purpose of elaborating specific technology roadmaps, both horizontal and sectoral, to define the priorities for the first calls for proposals of EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

In sum, the ManVis project addressed the following questions:

(a) Which technologies will be relevant to European manufacturing?

(b) What role will European manufacturing play in a more competitive world?

(c) Is European manufacturing prepared to meet the challenges of knowledge-based manufacturing?

(d) Which visions and challenges emerge for European manufacturing?

The ManVis Foresight Approach:
Delphi and Demand-side Scenarios

Delphi is a long-established methodology to create consensus among a wide range of opinions as a basis for developing an informed view on visions and alternatives in the setting of priorities in controversial or complex fields of science and technology policy. The ManVis Delphi survey collected the views of more than 3,000 manufacturing experts in 22 European countries as well as those of stakeholders and overseas experts that were collected during workshops and through interviews.

The Delphi survey covered developments of all relevant aspects of manufacturing from technological dynamics to organisational concerns and issues related to sector-specific developments. In parallel to the survey, scenarios on the future development of the demand side of manufacturing were elaborated.

Flexible Automation Instead of Unmanned Factory

The following key messages on technological dynamics in European manufacturing were derived from the ManVis Delphi survey:

(a) Micro-electromechanical devices, smart materials and products using nano-coatings represent long-term developments of new types of products with the potential to disrupt markets.

(b) New manufacturing technology principles, such as bottom-up manufacturing technologies are only expected in the long run. Manufacturing technologies using biotechnologies to create and manipulate inorganic material and products, such as nano-manufacturing, should be on the long-term “radar” of RTD policy.

(c) Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) as well as flexible organisation and automation strategies combined in reconfigurable manufacturing systems supporting flexible business strategies are important topics on the short-term research agenda. However, as a particular aspect, the experts surveyed viewed the unmanned factory with skepticism. Instead, they forecast that humans working with flexible automation solutions will play an important role in creating flexibility.

(d) Only long-term automation visions comprise human-machine interfaces such as man-machine speech recognition, self-learning systems and co-bots.

From these key messages the following implications were derived for the role of manufacturing research in combining the long-term horizon in technology trajectories with the short-term needs of firms to innovate successfully: Basic manufacturing research needs to prepare for new challenges, whereas applied manufacturing research should focus on the adaptation and transformation of existing technologies and organisational processes. Considering the functions of manufacturing research, it has been suggested that these key messages on future technology dynamics be discussed using the concept of the combined science-technology cycle of innovation (see Figure 1).
bild1

Figure 1: Manufacturing-related technologies on the sci-ence-technology cycle for macro innovations (Source: ManVis Report No. 3, Delphi interpretation report)

Integrating Non-technological Aspects

The ManVis Delphi survey covered many aspects of knowledge-based manufacturing related to the working environment. In particular, organisational concerns as they are linked to new challenges of product development were examined. In one of the interviews conducted for this follow-up, however, one of the organisers of the foresight process highlighted that – although the ManVis project was considered a “creative pool” for the construction of the Manufuture platform – contributors to the platform were skeptical concerning several of the organisational challenges. This was explained by a lack of interest in issues of work organisation at the company level, in particular on part of the predominantly larger industrial firms represented on the platform (SMEs were not represented). In addition, the organisers stated that the ManVis foresight contributed greatly to the integration of non-technological aspects in the debate on the future drivers shaping technological dynamics and on the demand for skills and competencies.

Furthermore, the interviewee argued that the Delphi results had the intended wide-ranging impact because the survey did not focus on sector issues alone. Although this impact was important in consolidating the field of manufacturing research, the foresight results were not followed up by more in-depth indicator-based (e.g. patents) research with a greater focus on sectoral issues. This was, however, not considered a methodological constraint but rather a weakness in following up on the Delphi results.

In addition, the organisers mentioned two methodological aspects as particularly important in shaping the results of the Delphi survey:

(a) The organisers’ interventions during several workshops at the national level, held to prepare the Delphi survey, played a central role in condensing the themes and elaborating the Delphi statements. As in any Delphi survey, the heterogeneity of the participants assured the validity of the results. In particular, the responses to the survey highlighted the facilitator’s role in coordinating the pool of heterogeneous expertise coming from a great diversity of technological and non-technological fields during the initial workshop, at which a list of 100 statements on a wide range of manufacturing topics was generated, as very important for the final outcome of the Delphi process.

(b) With regard to the stability of the responses to obtain a consensus among the participating experts, the summary feedback of aggregated responses of the second round did not generate any significant new changes. Under efficiency considerations, it could therefore be argued that the survey administration could have used statistical methods to analyse the data from the first round to assess whether any subsequent rounds were needed and, if not, terminate data collection after the first round.

Direct and Indirect Achievements of the ManVis Foresight

The ManVis Delphi survey results provided a broad basis for public discussion on the future of manufacturing in Europe. In particular, by complementing previous foresight studies intended to improve the self-understanding of the European manufacturing industry, it constituted an important pillar in the development of a strategic manufacturing research agenda at the European level. Several of the issues that were highlighted by ManVis, such as the need to explore the implications of user-driven innovation for manufacturing systems, were taken up in FP6.

Beyond its intended effects, the ManVis foresight also had some important unintended effects such as making a central contribution to the definition of research needs of the new member states that joined the European Union during the 2004 enlargement. Another central achievement of the ManVis foresight process was also an unintended side effect, namely to involve these new member states in the development of a Strategic Research Agenda on manufacturing in Europe.

Effective Dissemination of the Results under Budget Constraints

Since the financial budget for dissemination activities was cut significantly during the negotiation phase with the European Commission, the ManVis dissemination approach was under strain from the beginning of the project. Nevertheless, the project reported the results of the foresight to a wide audience of industry and governmental stakeholders at the Bled Conference in October 2005. This conference, which would not have been realised without the national resources of the Slovenian ManVis partner, provided a strong signal of interest in and relevance of identifying the manufacturing research needs in the new eastern member states.

Reaching the Policy Level

The ManVis key messages have been disseminated at the policy level to a wide set of stakeholders and actors of the European Commission, the member states, and industry. During the interviews for this follow-up brief, the communication with European policymakers was described as very good and the interaction with the EC as very supportive, in particular with regard to the central goal of feeding the results of the foresight exercise into key European initiatives such as the Manufuture European Technology Platform.

In sum, the outcomes of the Manvis project served to bring manufacturing experts with different national and professional backgrounds together to discuss the visions and the possible paths for securing the future of manufacturing in Europe. The results of the ManVis project have been fed into the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme.

Learning about the Manufacturing Research Needs of the New Member States

It was reported during one interview with the organisers of the foresight that a central achievement of the ManVis project was to involve the new member states in the development of a Strategic Manufacturing Research Agenda at this particular time. While the EC only had partial knowledge about key institutions and actors shaping policy development processes in areas related to manufacturing, it was an important indirect achievement of the ManVis foresight initiative to involve many experts and policy stakeholders from the new member states in defining and assessing the manufacturing research needs at the European level. In this sense, the networking effect, particularly during the Delphi preparation workshops, was highly appreciated by European policy stakeholders because they provided a unique opportunity to get acquainted and build strong relationships with key experts from these countries and to use the foresight initiative to define priorities for the first calls for proposals for the upcoming Seventh Framework Programme.

In this sense, the direct involvement of the new member states in the definition of research topics to be supported was stated as one of the most important, yet unplanned and indirect, contributions of the ManVis foresight process. The research topics thus identified are considered to have real industrial relevance and the potential to produce measurable impacts in terms of marketable products and services or more efficient manufacturing methods in the context of the catch-up process that these countries are undergoing.

Contributions to EU Enlargement

The ManVis foresight process made an important contribution to completing the picture of technology dynamics in manufacturing. At the particular time of realisation, i.e. in the aftermath of the 2004 EU enlargement, the Delphi survey not only set out several possible trajectories for developments of future manufacturing processes and policy scenarios, but it also helped to define the R&D position of 22 EU countries. In the context of the shifting comparative advantages due to the salary increases to be expected particularly in the new member states, the ManVis foresight provided an important platform to learn about manufacturing research priority topics and the adaptations needed at the level of companies and innovation systems. Beyond the identification of research needs, a concrete achievement of the ManVis foresight lies in the strong integration of key stakeholders from both public policy and industry of the new member states in the long-term planning of European research funding for manufacturing.

Authors: Dirk Johann             dirk.johann.fl@ait.ac.at

Elisabetta Marinelli   elisabetta.marinelli@ec.europa.eu

Sponsors: European Commission (Directorate General Research)
Type: International foresight activity (Specific Support Action) covering the enlarged European Union, focusing on the thematic area of manufacturing
Geographic coverage: Europe
Organizer: Fraunhofer ISI Karlsruhe, OPTI,  JRC-IPTS, Cambridge University, IVF Sweden and national correspondents in 22 European countries
Duration: 2003 – 2006
Budget: € 1,500,000
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: July 2012

Download EPF Brief No. 247_ManVis_Follow-up

Sources and References

Dreher, C. et al. (2005), ManVis Report No. 3 – Delphi Interpretation Report, Deliverable D15, Contract No. NMP2-CT-2003-507139-MANVIS

Dreher, C. et al. (2005), ManVis Report No. 6 – Manufacturing Visions – Policy Summary and Recommendations, Deliverable D17, Contract No NMP2-CT-2003-507139-MANVIS

European Commission (2006), Manufuture Strategic Research Agenda – Assuring the Future of Manufacturing in Europe – Report of the High-level Group, European Commission, Directorate-General for Research: Brussels

Jung-Erceg, P. K. Pandza, H. Armbruster, C. Dreher (2007), “Absorptive Capacity in European Manufacturing: A Delphi Study”, Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 107, 1, 37-51

Link to the original Foresight Brief No. 53 “European Manufacturing Visions – ManVis 2020”: http://www.foresight-platform.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/EFMN-Brief-No.-53-European-Manufacturing-Visions-ManVis-2020.pdf

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

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

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

Visions for Horizon 2020 – from Copenhagen Research Forum

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

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

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

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

The CRF Process

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

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

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

The process comprised several steps and organisational roles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key CRF Recommendations for Each Societal Challenge

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

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

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


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

Excellence,Cross-disciplinarity and Simplicity

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

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

Strategic Partnerships as Tools for Organising Cross-disciplinary Collaboration?

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

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

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

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

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

The CRF report was followed up by a ‘CRF II’ process during which the chairship of CRF put together a set of recommendations for the implementation of Horizon 2020 in light of the CRF report. The resulting paper (Højgaard, L. et al. [2012a]) focuses on recommendations for implementing measures to promote excellence, cross-disciplinarity, simplicity and impact. The recommendations for implementation along with the CRF report can be found at the CRF homepage (crf2012.org).

Authors: Brenneche, Nicolaj Tofte                   ntb.lpf@cbs.dk

Højgaard, Liselotte      liselotte.hoejgaard@regionh.dk

Sponsors: Capital Region of Denmark

Technical University of Denmark

University of Copenhagen

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

Contact: Anne Line Mikkelsen, amik@adm.dtu.dk

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

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

Sources and References

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

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

Both are available at www.crf2012.org.

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. 211: Towards Transformative Innovation Priorities

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

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

National Innovation Priorities Addressed

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

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

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

Categorising Future Research & Innovation Priorities

In the synthesis the categories will be used as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Converging Topics

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

Signals of Socio-economic Change

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

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

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

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

Application Domains

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

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

“Grand Challenges”

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

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

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

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

Towards Socio-technical Breakthrough

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

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

Conclusions for the Innovation Union

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

Transition Arenas Must Not Be Isolated

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

Cultural Diversity Matters

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

Defining and Implementing Transformative Priorities Requires Participatory Processes

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

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

Download EFP Brief No. 211_Towards Transformative Innovation Priorities

Sources and References

National forward-looking activities covered:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EFP Brief 199: SANDERA – The Future Impact of Security and Defence Policies on the European Research Area

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

SANDERA (The Future Impact of Security and Defence Policies on the European Research Area) explored the future relationship between two critical policy domains: namely, the EU strategy to move towards the European Research Area (ERA) and those EU policies focused on the security of the European citizen in the world. More particularly, SANDERA investigated the possible future relationship between the ERA and defence research and innovation policy.

How Can We Reduce Urban Resource Consumption?

In Sustainable Urban Metabolism for Europe (SUME), the concept of urban metabolism is explicitly applied to the organisation of space for the first time, demonstrating the impact of urban form on resource flows by analysing the spatial distri­bution of population and jobs, the transport system and urban building technology. This is per­formed in a long-term scenario approach, projecting the urban development perspectives of seven European urban agglomerations. For four of these agglomerations, a spatially explicit metabolism model has been developed and applied.

Urban forms have evolved throughout history and can be changed substantial­ly only over longer periods and/or through dynamic restructuring. In search of opportunities to reduce urban resource consumption, the SUME project estimates the potential for transforming urban building and spatial structures by 2050 by applying alternative spatial development pol­icies for a given demographic and economic development path. Urban agglomerations in Europe show extremely different spatial patterns: some are com­pact and confined; many are fragmented and spread out. Urban transport systems are of very different qualities: some featuring attractive, well-integrated public transport provision while others strongly rely on individual transport. Technical building standards also vary widely, often depending on the period of construction, and add to the resource impact of a wide range of climatic conditions. All these differences are included in the term ‘urban form’ as it is used here.

Approach 1: The given urban form, in all its variations, is taken as a starting point for long-term urban development scenarios by 2050 in order to analyse the future potential of resource-effi­cient transformation. Demographic and economic development dynamics are, of course, the main parameters influencing the potential to change a given urban form.

Approach 2: The spatial urban metabolism model allows for systematic simula­tions of the functional relations between socio-economic developments and their consequences on the urban metabolism.

Approach 3: Since cities are built step-by-step, with larger or smaller develop­ment projects changing the existing structures, it is important to understand the projects’ individual contributions to the improvement of the overall performance of a city/agglomeration in terms of resource consumption. The Metabolic Im­pact Assessment (MIA) is a novel methodology to evaluate the effect of proposed urban deve­lopment projects on the metabolism of a city. It is a decision-support tool geared toward analysing and understanding the complex metabolic consequences of new urban projects or urban plans, e.g. in terms of energy flows associated with the project, for heating, cooling and transport.

Approach 4: Urban agglomerations’ development processes are very complex. Many factors intersect to generate the spatial pattern that we see in the built environment today. Hence, the processes, actors and their respective rationales were under scrutiny in the SUME project as well. ‘Producers’ of the urban fabric, such as landowners, developers and investors, are im­portant players, but they are not the only actors who matter; ‘consumers’ are also crucial. This group in­cludes individuals and companies who use buildings and spaces in cities, not just the inhabi­tants of homes and offices, but also visitors to the city, whether for work, shopping or recreation.

SUME Principles for Resource-efficient Development

In the SUME project, two different storylines are at the core of the two urban development scenarios elaborated for seven cities: a baseline, the so called BASE scenario, understood as a continuation of the urban develop­ment policies supporting past spatial development trends; and a SUME scenario, defined as a path of sustainable spatial development. The ‘scope for action’ referred to in this project involves the choice between these two scenarios, meaning whether or not the SUME principles are applied in urban development over an extended period. The SUME scenarios are geared toward improving urban resource efficiency and are guided by the so-called ‘four SUME princi­ples’ for future urban development:

  • Principle 1: Spatially focused densification

Promoting a minimum density standard for any new quarter and redevelopment of existing low-density quarters in areas with attractive, high-level public transport

  • Principle 2: High-density development only with access to high-quality public transport

Focusing new high-density developments exclusively in areas close to public transport networks (especially those with job and service functions)

  • Principle 3: Functional mix in urban quarters

Providing a mix of functions (i.e. residential, jobs and services) in close proximity to each other at the local level, allowing for short-distance access

  • Principle 4: Combination of urban and building (object) reconstruction

Improving the thermal quality of buildings and using the opportunity to improve the spatial qualities of urban quarters

It seems clear that the importance and potential impact of each of the four principles depends on the current urban form of the respective city. The varying range of potential future improve­ments in terms of land use and energy consumption is analysed in the subsequent case studies of cities presented below.

Increase in Space, Decrease in Economic Growth

Comparing the urban development scenarios shows that there is a great potential to influence urban form over time if a consistent set of policies is applied. The scenarios also display that the differential between the policy sets adds up and becomes resource-relevant over time.

The BASE scenarios show a substantial expansion of the so-called Urban Morphological Zones (UMZs)[1] for the fast growing cities, ranging from growth by 24% in AthensUMZ to 30% in MarseilleUMZ, 41% and 47% in MunichUMZ and StockholmUMZ to 54% in ViennaUMZ. These results are due to population increase, a proportional growth of jobs and a continuing increase in per capita floor space consumption. Based on empirical evi­dence of the past, it has been assumed here that the historical trend of floor space increase will continue in a stable eco­nomic development, but the per capita growth will slow down compared to past decades.

From this ‘baseline’ of expected development, the so-called SUME scenarios demonstrate a develop­ment path that should result in lower resource consumption (land use, energy, materials) and could be reasonably achieved through concerted urban development policy packages. SUME scenarios focus on inner-city development, high-level public transport axes and more compact development on the fringes of the existing UMZ.

[1] The continuously built-up area of an agglomeration, as defined by UN-Habitat (200 m maximum distance between buildings, based on the CORINE land-cover data).

The potential effects are substantial: the expan­sion of the agglomerations analysed can be avoided altogether in OportoUMZ and NewcastleUMZ, which is also due to their small demographic development, but also in dynamic cities such as AthensUMZ and MarseilleUMZ. The fastest growing agglomerations in the group are MunichUMZ, StockholmUMZ and ViennaUMZ where the expansion by 2050 could be reduced significantly to 13%, 20% and 14% respectively.

The results of the two spatial development scenarios for four of the cities were used as input for the spatially disaggregated modelling of energy flows based on the spatial distribution of jobs and residents, localisation of services and central functions, and fast lines of public transport.

Reducing Today’s Energy Demand

Table 1 gives an overview of the main results for the agglomeration aggregates for both the building and the transport model. It shows the final state of development in 2050 and compares the per capita energy demand figures for hea­ting and transport in the BASE and SUME scenarios. The main results show that today’s energy demand can be reduced by 60% to 80%, varying between cities and scenarios. In general, a SUME-scenario-type agglom­eration development will reduce energy consumption between 10% and 40% by the year 2050 compared to the BASE scenario.

The results demonstrate that, even in a future agglomeration development using all available technological improvements, there is a large differential between a BASE- and a SUME-type development: A higher replacement or renovation rate of buildings and a better spatial focus of new developments with respect to public transport accessibility will reduce energy con­sumption by 30 to 40%. Only in special situations like in Oporto, where relatively small changes are anticipated for both components, i.e. buildings and transport, will the differ­ential between the BASE and SUME scenarios be less than 10%.

In principle, Metabolic Impact Assessment (MIA) can be applied to different types of planning proposals: policies, programmes, plans and projects. However, within the scope of the SUME project, it was applied to detailed plans of large urban development projects. It has been recognised that at more strategic levels, MIA’s application will be more complex and demanding. At a local level, data is more easily identified and the analysis becomes more objective.

Within the general objective of SUME to analyse the impacts of urban form on resource use, the application of MIA has focused on specific components of urban metabolism, namely energy, land use, water and materials. Moreover, in each case study some limitations of data have caused further restrictions.

The four case studies in the European cities of Vienna, Stockholm, Oporto and Newcastle demonstrate the application of the new method: Metabolic Impact Assessment (MIA). The case studies show the impact of projects, compare them with the performance of alternative projects and of the relevant districts within the agglomeration. Applying MIA can lay the ground­work for improving planning proposals in key aspects of urban metabolism and also contri­bute to the necessary assessment of alternative locations for such projects within the urban fa­bric. MIA shows that it is essential to include the impacts of urban development projects regar­ding infrastructure needs and transport in the agglomeration context because a) unexpected effects in other sections of the complex transport network can be detected and b) underuse of existing infrastructure in certain districts can be determined. Both of these aspects potentially lead to substantial project modifications.

Guidelines for Developing New and Existing Quarters

To improve the metabolic performance of a city or agglomeration, urban spatial development strategies should focus on the application of the four SUME principles for developing new and rebuilding existing quarters. This would be an ongoing process with a clear strategic orienta­tion:

  • Containment at the level of agglomerations: reduce urban expansion to a min­imum, keep travel distances low, provide for good spatial access to public transport routes and attractive service there. Currently most growth happens in the spaces be­tween transport axes in areas out of reach of attractive public transport.
  • Spatially focused densification in low-density urban outskirts: this is a key strategy in growing cities to avoid expansion and improve transport service quality.
  • Locate services and offices at transport nodes and allow for a mix of functions at the neighbourhood level: the busiest nodes of agglomerations’ public transport systems are attractive for office and service space, and most advantageous for the location of jobs with excellent access to public transport. On a neighbourhood scale, it is also important to have a functional mix within each of the urban regions’ neighbourhoods to provide for services and access to daily supplies at short distances.
  • Improve agglomerations’ public transport systems: some urban regions have com­paratively high densities, but do not provide well-developed public transport systems – there exists a great potential for improvements, particularly at the agglomeration level.

Urban development policy packages need to be oriented towards the following:

  • All urban growth and the life-cycle turnover of built structures should be used as potential to improve the existing urban form, both in terms of spatial structures and object qualities. Urban growth in this sense is not an enemy to sustainable develop­ment but can be a partner in getting there.
  • Larger urban development projects can be located and serviced with infrastructure in such a way that they improve the overall performance of a whole area of a city/agglom­eration (see MIA).
  • At the level of users/developers, all ongoing relocation and renovation activities have the potential to improve urban form if location, building standards and functional distribution (residential, services, jobs) are taken into account constantly and systematically.
  • Renovation and building rehabilitation programmes for urban quarters should reach be­yond improving thermal qualities only, to include raising inner-city attrac­tiveness (green spaces, pedestrian/bicycle mobility, services) and putting metabolism-relevant technology in place (e.g. smart city initiatives, production of renewable energy).

In order to follow these strategic recommendations, it will be essential to develop a cross-sectoral approach in urban development, integrating urban planning, housing policies, energy policies, infrastructure provision and transport policies. Such integrated, coherent approaches for the development of new and existing urban quarters, however, are hardly found nowadays. This shortcoming presents the greatest challenge in restructuring European cities along sustainable and resource-efficient lines

Authors: Christof Schremmer                        schremmer@oir.at

Barbara Saringer-Bory                    saringer@oir.at

Ursula Mollay                                  mollay@oir.at

Sponsors: FP7 Collaborative Research Project; Area 6.2.1.5 – Urban development ENV.2007.2.1.5.1 – Urban metabolism and resource optimisation in the urban fabric, collaborative research project
Type: Single issue brief
Organizer: ÖIR, Austrian Institute for Regional Studies and Spatial Planning, Project coordinator, www.oir.at
Duration: 2008-2011 Budget: 3.6m € Time Horizon: 2050 Date of Brief: Mai 2012  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 199_SANDERA

Sources and References

For information and downloads on the SUME project and its findings, please visit: http://www.sume.at/