Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

EFP Brief No. 255: RIF Research & Innovation Futures

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

RIF explores possible future ways of doing and organising research in order to inspire fresh thinking among research stakeholders about underlying potentials and looming risks in the present.

Drivers for New Ways of Doing Research

RIF was setting out from the observation that current ways of doing and organising research are experiencing a number of new phenomena, challenges and tensions such as:

  • Increasing demand for public participation in defining research priorities
  • Demand for early economic exploitation of research findings and subsequent protection of intellectual property right
  • Increasing call for creation of socially robust knowledge
  • Emergence of diversity of knowledge claims challenging the monopoly of “science” such as the Rise of citizens scientists
  • New technologies changing science practises such as big data, computer simulation, researcher social networks and e-publishing
  • Call for open access to research findings
  • Established publishing modes challenged by new players
  • Institutional diversification and change of established division of roles
  • Increasing engagement of industry in research activities
  • Turn in Research and Innovation Policy towards mission oriented strategies
  • Established notions of science excellence being contested
  • Increasing relevance of large technical infrastructures
  • Change in the global landscape of research, emergence of new countries leading publications

Tackling Tensions of Future Research Governance

In view of this background the RIF Foresight exercise defined the following objectives:

  • Systematize knowledge of the emerging patterns, trends and drivers of change of ways of doing and organising research.
  • Develop medium-term explorative scenarios of possible future models of doing and organising research in our knowledge societies at a time horizon 2020
  • Anticipate and assess possible challenges and tensions resulting from these scenarios
  • Develop long-term transformative scenarios of alternative development paths of the way we will do and organize research and innovation in our societies at a time horizon of about 2030
  • Identify policy issues and strategic options for the actors and stakeholders affected, as resulting from the two types of scenarios
  • Create an open debate between different communities contributing to knowledge dynamics from their respective perspectives and explore room for joint action.

Explorative and Transformative Scenarios

The core element of the RIF methodology is a two stage scenario process as shown in figure 1.

bild1

In a first stage the RIF team identified current trends and drivers of research practices and organisation through an in-depth stocktaking of literature, forward looking studies and strategy documents (Schaper-Rinkel et al. 2012). In a next step RIF set up a scenario process involving around 70 stakeholders with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives within three interactive scenario workshops:

In the first workshop participants developed “explorative scenarios” with a mid-term time horizon by extrapolating today’s trends and drivers (c.f. RIF 2012). Out of these explorative scenarios they identified a set of tensions, junctures and dilemmas that could be emerging in the mid-term if current dynamics continue (c.f. figure 2).

The explorative scenario workshop comprised the following interactive methods:

 

  • plenary discussion and multi-criteria assessment for the selection of core trends
  • facilitated group brainstorming for projection of the selected factors into the mid-term future
  • open-space session for the final identification of tensions (c.f. figure 2)
  • self-organised group work for elaboration of the tensions

bild2

In the second transformative scenario workshop the RIF team and a few selected external participants with a background in the most relevant issues brought forward by the preceding workshop developed the “nuclei of change” from the previous workshop into draft transformative scenarios within plenary and group brainstorming sessions.

The third scenario workshop was dedicated to validation and enrichment of the transformative scenario drafts. A world café format enabled a constructive and structured futures’ dialogue:

On each world café table the team had placed a characteristic image and short descriptive paragraph for one transformative scenario draft. In group sessions of ca. half an hour participants commented on the drafts and enriched the scenarios. Several rounds were carried out so each participant was able to comment on at least two scenarios. One table had been reserved in case participants proposed additional scenarios, which was indeed the case when an entirely new wild card scenario was proposed by one of the participants.

In the second session participants relating to the four stakeholder groups science, policy, civil society and industry worked in separate groups. In a first step they defined their core strategic objectives with respect to research. Secondly, they assessed opportunities and threats for these targets for all six scenarios.

The RIF project has now arrived at the midterm of its duration. The next two workpackages will be dedicated to stakeholder debate on policy implications and strategic options emerging from the scenarios. For this purpose several participatory foresight workshops will be held. Some of these strategic conversations will be crosscutting while others will address specific stakeholder groups that are facing particularly relevant strategic issues according to the scenario analysis.

Broad Stakeholder Participation

The RIF team selected the participants of the Foresight exercise on the basis of a stakeholder analysis using (among others) the stakeholder classification scheme developed by Mitchell et al (1997). Representatives from the following institutional backgrounds participated in the workshops:

 

  • University based researchers (Professors, PhDs, students)
  • University administration
  • Research funding agencies
  • Foundations active in research funding
  • Regional policy agencies
  • Public research organisations
  • Research Ministries (national and EU level)
  • Large companies
  • SMEs
  • Science shops
  • Citzens’ science activists
  • Scientific journal editors
  • Science quality control agencies
  • Industrial associations
  • Trade unions
  • Health organisations
  • International researcher networks
  • Large research infrastructures

 

The majority of the participants came from different European countries representing some organisations from regional, national and European level but also from other continents and international organisations. RIF achieved a good balance between female and male participants.

From Slow Science to Competition 2.0

The RIF project is still on-going. Currently, the scenario report containing the explorative and transformative scenarios emerging from the stakeholder process is being finalised. The insights generated by the stocktaking and draft scenario building are available and summarised below.

The stocktaking (Schaper-Rinkel et al. 2012) pointed out six core dimensions of change in ways of doing and organising research:

  • Digitalization and virtualisation
  • Cooperation & Participation
  • Access
  • Impact
  • Globalisation & Internationalisation

Within these dimensions the analysis revealed the following tensions:

  • open science versus commodification of research
  • short-term project-orientation versus long-term development of new forms of research
  • abundance of scientific information versus shortage of individually manageable and reliable information
  • research collaboration versus competition for research funding
  • collaborative research versus individual incentives
  • diversity in research versus quality standards
  • scientific excellence that is associated with value-free, curiosity-driven research versus research that is relevant to contributing to societal needs
  • diversity versus uniformity
  • research efficiency versus foundational breakthroughs
  • diverse epistemic cultures in providing knowledge for decision-making

The foresight process outlined above generated seven transformative scenario drafts within the first two workshops:

Scenario I: Open Research Landscape

European research is coordinated by “Open Research Platforms (ORP)” where different types of globally connected actors align their funding activities. Each ORP runs an open knowledge sharing WIKI platform where researchers integrate their findings. The new gate-keepers of scientific quality are science & society social networks. University performance is judged by their contribution to the ORPs success.

Scenario II Divided Science Kingdom

The research landscape is divided between two extremes: strictly governed publicly-funded research applying traditional quality criteria versus an open “knowledge parliament” where knowledge claims and funding opportunities are continuously negotiated. Universities are highly diversified according to the two realms

Scenario III: Grand Challenges for real

European research and innovation is strictly organized around Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) that develop solutions for key societal challenges through large scale socio-technical research and experimentation aligning diverse actors and knowledge types. Large shares of public budgets are used to finance the KICs in a coordinated manner. This happens in a period of reduced economic growth in Europe, where higher priority is given to other dimensions of quality of life.

Scenario IV: Tailored Research

The research landscape is coordinated through a fully tailored system of functions fulfilled by highly specialised actors that share revenues according to market rules. At the top of the pyramid, Research Assembling Organisations (RAOs) integrate the contributions of second and third tier research service providers into systemic solutions. A few actors define the rules of interaction and control access to research results and resources. Science is viewed as one of the key enablers for winning the global competition race.

Scenario V: Slow Science

A dedicated group of scientists, also known as “slow science community”, is orienting re-search towards societal and policy needs and placing high emphasis on work-life balance and on making the results of their research work effective in practice. The community is locally rooted, globally connected and funded by bottom-up crowd-funding from diverse sources.

Scenario VI: Competition 2.0 – European public research divided

Driven by business pressure, the Europe’s emphasis is on innovation-oriented research with a focus on improving mid-term global competitiveness. Independent basic research has almost vanished and struggles for funding from public sources.

Scenario X Happiness 2030

To reach the ambitious requirements of wellbeing and happiness until 2030, by 2020 a fully distributed research system based on virtual open science communities, micro-funding and real science markets emerges. Virtual communities grow stronger due to shared methods and processes, affordable tools and applications, as well as to ambitious young talents working and striving for societal reputation. Social science entrepreneurs are climbing up the ladder of success and foster bottom‑up innovation.

These scenario drafts are now being consolidated on the basis of the input from the third workshop which is documented in RIF 2012. The full scenario report will be available soon after.

Changing Value System in Research & Innovation

It is too early yet to draw definite conclusions and policy implications from the RIF foresight exercise. Already now it becomes clear however that longstanding certainties are becoming volatile and the future of research will pose major challenges to decision makers on all levels and institutional backgrounds. The lively debates around the “policy table” in the Vienna world cafe on pros and cons of the various scenarios revealed several valuable strategic questions for policy making today. Accordingly we expect the emergence of a number of relevant policy implications from the strategic debate within the two next work packages:

  • Scenario implication assessment (WP3)
  • Strategic options for society and policy (WP4).

The scenario report will present a consolidated version of the scenarios based on the inputs from the third workshop.

Authors: Philine Warnke                         philine.warnke@ait.ac.at
Sponsors: European Commission DG RTD Science in Society
Type: European level  thematic exercise
Organizer: Matthias Weber, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, and matthias.weber@ait.ac.at
Duration: 2011-2013
Budget: € 860 ,000
Time Horizon: 2020/2030
Date of Brief: January 2013

Download EFP Brief 255_RIF Research and Innovation Futures

Sources and References

More information on the RIF project including all reports for download can be found at: http://www.rif2030.eu/

Amanatidou, E., Cox, D., Saritas, O. (2012): RIF Deliverable 4.1: Stakeholders in the STI System.

Mitchell, R. K., Agle, B. R. and Wood, D. J. (1997), ‘Toward a Theory of Stakeholder Identification and Salience: Defining the Principle of Who and What Really Counts’, The Academy of Management Review, 22 (4), 853–886.

Schaper-Rinkel, P., Weber, M., Wasserbacher, D., van Oost, E., Ordonez-Matamores, G., Krooi, M., Hölsgens, R. Nieminen, M., Peltonen, A. 2012: RIF Deliverable 1.1 Stocktaking Report.

RIF 2012: Research in Europe 2030: Documentation of the RIF Vienna World Café. http://www.rif2030.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/RIF-Docu-World-cafe-Vienna_final.pdf

(Links for further information, references used, etc.)

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

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

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

The Redesign of STI Policies and Institutions

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

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

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

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

The Conceptual and Empirical Drivers of Policy Changes

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

Limits of the Linear Model

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

Turning to Customized Production

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

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

Endemic Uncertainty

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

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

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

Specialisation of Argentina’s Production

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

Planning in STI Under the New Rationale for Intervention

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

Institutional development of the national STI system

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

Policy Focalization

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

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

STI Policy Designed to Strengthen the Production Model

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

Authors: Miguel Lengyel           mlengyel@flacso.org.ar

Maria Blanca Pesado bpesado@flacso.org.ar

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

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

Sources and References

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

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

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

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

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

EFP Brief No. 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. 244: Survey of Future Market Research and Innovation Needs

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

This brief presents the results of a survey conducted as part of the WBC-INCO.NET project initiative to support innovation capacities in the Western Balkans region. The WBC-INCO.NET project seeks to promote the bi-regional dialogue on science and technology between the EC, the member states and the Western Balkan countries. The survey aimed to pinpoint both present and likely future research and market needs as well as identify possibilities for collaboration in the region.

Future Research and Market Needs for the Western Balkans Region

This brief presents the results of a survey conducted as part of the WBC-INCO.NET project initiative to support innovation capacities in the Western Balkans region. WBC-INCO.NET partners from the Western Balkans include research and policy stakeholders from the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYRo Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244). The survey aimed to pinpoint both present and likely future research and market needs as well as identify possibilities for collaboration in the region.

The findings of the survey will support other activities that together will provide a clear overview of the region’s current situation and future needs in regard to innovation. These activities should help to prepare an action plan for further cooperation in innovation between the Western Balkan countries (WBC) and serve to establish closer cooperation between research and innovation stakeholders in the region (i.e. publicly funded researchers and innovative companies). This should include expertise from the industrial sectors and the fields of innovation management and market entry. It should also involve exploring EU programmes, other than FP7, and supporting programmes of other institutions that are directed toward increasing innovation in the WBC.

Survey among Stakeholders

Two questionnaires were jointly designed by the European Commission JRC-IPTS (Seville) and the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences (Croatia). The questionnaires addressed market and research stakeholders, including selected firms and entrepreneurial researchers, and aimed to identify current and future research and innovation needs in order to support the design of a joint action plan towards 2030.

The methodology employed consisted of five phases:

  1. Initially, a literature review on innovation was conducted to identify important aspects that would have to be taken into account when designing the questionnaires. The selected aspects were:
  2. i) Importance of different stakeholders in the innovation process.
  3. ii) Specific actions that can improve regional cooperation as well as innovation.

iii)   Factors necessary to stimulate regional cooperation divided in human resources, entrepreneurship infrastructure, expert assistance and cooperation between industry and research, fiscal and financial obstacles, and national and local regulations.

  1. iv) Likely outcomes of enhanced regional cooperation.
  2. The first questionnaire was submitted to selected firms in the WB region.
  3. Building on the results of the first questionnaire with the aim to compare them, a second questionnaire was sent to research stakeholders in the region.
  4. A statistical analysis was conducted for both questionnaires and the results were crosschecked.
  5. The results were circulated within the consortia for final refinements.

It must be emphasised that the findings indicate only  potential needs in the region, which need to be refined by further analysis and discussed with industry, research and regional stakeholders, for instance in a workshop for this purpose.

The response rate of the industry questionnaire was low: only 20 firms replied, which nevertheless allowed the team to perform some analyses. The response rate of the researcher questionnaire was higher.

Interesting Results of the Industry Survey

The respondents were asked to assess the importance of 14 stakeholders for firms’ innovation capacities.

Top Three Stakeholders

As the top three stakeholders, the respondents identified:

  1. Employees in the respondents’ enterprise or enterprise group
  2. Professional and industrial associations
  3. Universities and colleges
Bottom Three Stakeholders

The bottom three stakeholders were:

  1. Cluster networks
  2. Suppliers and customers from the WBC region
  3. Venture capital firms/angel investors
Interesting Results of the Researcher Survey

Figure 1 (below) compares the proportion of researchers that ranked various factors influencing university-industry collaborations as highly important. A majority of the researchers assessed all the factors as more important in the future than today, which suggests that the researchers feel that other barriers need to be overcome in the short-term.

Figure 1. Important factors for university-industry cooperation today and 2030
244_bild1

Industry and Research: Diverging Views on the Needs for Research and Innovation

Based on the results of the surveys in the field of research, the following points can be highlighted:

  • The most important actions to improve cooperation between business and research in the region, both in the present and in the future are (1) more funding for knowledge/technology transfer activities and expert consultations and (2) more funding for collaborative research between universities and businesses.
  • Whilst state and local regulations as well as expert assistance seem critical for innovative performance today, investment in human resources and infrastructure emerge as crucial to enhance cooperation in the future.
  • The analysis of the questionnaire administered to both research and business stakeholders reflects disagreement as to which potential outcomes of enhanced regional innovation collaboration are to be considered more relevant. The only outcome that both equally perceive as important is access to new markets. This suggests the need to build both more awareness of new opportunities and (new) capabilities in the region. To this end, improved communication, including the respective infrastructure (e.g. ICT), and mobility seem to be critical.
  • The answers industry and researchers give when asked about the most important actions to improve regional innovation activities differ substantially. The three actions least important to industry are among those actions that the participating researchers considered most important:
    • common programmes for mobility of personnel in the region between universities and business to establish cooperation between science and industry,
    • a consistent legal framework aimed at facilitating foreign direct investments in the WB region, and
    • the progressive liberalisation and mutual opening of the service market within the WB region.

The only action that business and researchers both perceive as important (ranking third for both of them) is developing regional initiatives for large infrastructural projects. Such an outcome highlights the need for enhanced communication and understanding between these two groups of stakeholders in order to achieve a joint agenda.

  • Finally, of the research topics identified by industry as important to trigger regional innovation through collaboration, the ones that the researchers also appear to be interested in are
    • the environment,
    • information management systems: monitoring through ICTs and the automation of information management systems, artificial intelligence and agent-based software and
    • new approaches and frameworks to enhance foreign direct investment and cross-regional investments in the region.

Diverging Views  between Industry and Research

Hot Policy Topics:
Need for More Technology Transfer

A strong divergence between the views of industry and research in terms of present and future actions as well as areas for collaboration has emerged. This call for policy measures aims at improving communication between the two groups of stakeholders to facilitate the move towards a common agenda.

Presently, a strong need is also felt for policies that provide more funding for knowledge/technology transfer activities and expert consultations as well as collaborative research between universities and businesses.

Action Needed: Improving Innovation Capacities

This exercise is part of a wider project that aims at defining a long-term strategy for scientific collaboration within the Western Balkan countries and between them and Europe.

The critical issues that emerged in the survey call for further analysis and discussion. In particular, it is suggested that industry and the research community gather to discuss the following aspects:

  • Investments in knowledge and technology sharing, expert consultations and collaborative research
  • Decrease in regulation
  • Strengthening of human resources
  • Improvements in infrastructure (including ICT)
  • Building of awareness of innovation benefits
  • Fostering of mobility
  • Enhancement of communication between different stakeholders
Shaping the Future: Critical Factors

This project was part of the larger WBC-INCO.NET project, which ultimately will develop a joint action plan for the WBC. The results will feed directly into the process at three levels:

  1. The development of a common vision for the WBC: This vision should set the longer-term objective(s), which are to be defined by authoritative experts in the field and endorsed politically.
  2. The translation of the vision into a strategic research agenda (SRA), which entails specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based (SMART) objectives. The strategic research agenda should make the vision operational and link the implementation of the vision’s objectives with existing competences in Europe (or in the region) and new ones to be developed.
  3. The implementation of the SRA: All participating public authorities should gear their programs and funding towards the implementation of the SRA in a coherent manner. The full toolbox of public research instruments should be explored and used to implement the individual joint programming initiatives. Regular monitoring and evaluation of progress against the SMART objectives should be ensured and the results reported to the political level.
Authors: Cristiano Cagninc         cagnin@cgee.org.br

Elisabetta Marinelli       Elisabetta.Marinelli@ec.europa.eu

Sponsors: European Commission
Type: Quantitative survey

(The survey was conducted as part of the WBC-INCO.NET project)

Organizer: EC – Joint Research Centre – Institute of Prospective Technological Studies
Duration: 2008-2012
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: July 2012

Download EFP Brief No. 244_Research and Innovation Needs in the Western Balkan Countries

Sources and References

For sources and references see the WBC-INCO.NET website:

http://wbc-inco.net/

The brief is based on the report by IPTS in collaboration with IVO-PILAR:

http://wbc-inco.net/object/document/7423

EFP Brief No. 239: Corporate Foresight – A Delphi Study

Friday, December 21st, 2012

The purpose of this paper is to provide new impetus to the design of strategy and innovation processes in companies. Its intention is to contribute to the discussion of methods of future studies and thereby to increase the practical relevance of future research in businesses. To this end, the specific requirements that these methods have to meet in order to be applicable in companies are presented and recommendations given both for companies and the profession of future research.

 

Looking into the Future: Methods of Future Studies

In every business, there is the need to gain insight into future trends to be able to respond to forthcoming challenges, but it is impossible to identify such trends without attempting to look into the future. As fantastic as it may seem, the application of the methods of future studies actually makes this look into the future possible. However, the use of the methods is often perceived as incompatible with the current workflow. Therefore, this study is primarily concerned with the question of how the methods of future studies can be best applied in business environments.

 

Making Strategy Processes More Profitable

The paper intends to give impetus to the discussion about methods both in the discipline of future studies and in businesses considering the specifics of future studies when applied to the business context. The main goal is to set the stage for improvements of the methodological quality of future studies when applied to businesses and to increase the relevance of future studies to businesses. It aims to supplement the discussion of methods in future research and thereby increase the practical relevance of future research in business. These requirements can serve decision-makers in companies and research to plan and evaluate the methods used to make strategy processes more profitable and efficient.

 

Methodological Background of Delphi

The methodology of this study consisted of a literature analysis, an empirical study and the deduction of theoretical and practical implications. The first step to answer the research questions was to examine the theoretical and conceptual background by means of a literature review. Subsequently, an empirical survey in the form of a preliminary and a main study was carried out. The preliminary study consisted of 15 expert interviews. Then a Delphi study was conducted in two rounds. The results of the empirical survey served to derive the requirements that the methods of future studies would have to meet in companies. Recommendations, both for the discipline of future studies and for companies, on how the methods can be modified so as to meet those requirements were described. The research project was based on the mixed-methods approach with an emphasis on qualitative research. In the preliminary and the main study, different qualitative methods were used. In the main study, quantitative data and qualitative data were triangulated.

 

Participants of the Study

A total of 204 experts were invited to participate in the study. Of those invitees, 58 took part in the first round of the consultation and 35 in the second round; 32 participants completed the entire survey. The experts chosen to participate in the survey were required to have wide experience in the use of methods of future studies in businesses. The goal was to involve experts with diverse professional backgrounds. Some experts had an academic background in areas of future studies and innovation management, some came from strategy and innovation departments of both SMEs and global corporations, and others from a background in management consulting and research and development departments.

Problems and Requirements in Applying Methods

The empirical results show that there are specific challenges in applying the methods of future studies in businesses. The methodological design and the implementation of the methods often prove to be difficult. Among the reasons for these problems are lack of knowledge, processes that take too long, limited human and financial resources as well as difficulties in communicating the results. The identification of these problem areas made it possible to derive a set of requirements that the methods of future studies have to meet so as to be applicable to businesses: they have to be easily learnable, transparent, motivational and easily communicable. Further, measurability, the capability to tie in with other methods, the scalability of the method and possibilities for collaboration are important.

Learnability, Transparency and Transferability

The methods have to be learnable with reasonable effort at different skill levels because there is often a lack of methodological knowledge in business settings and a knowledge gap between different hierarchical levels. The results of this study also show that there is not only a lack of knowledge about the necessary methodological steps but also uncertainty about the potential insight to be gained by applying the methods. Therefore, both the concepts of the methods applied and the ways in which they can be implemented have to be transparent. It is further necessary that the methods can be transferred both to and from other fields of application. This need arises from the ever-expanding range of methods, from limited human resources and from the diverse intentions that can motivate the use of the methods.

Motivational Potential, Communicability and Evaluation

The empirical data point to difficulties in motivating the people involved. Since it is crucial to produce and maintain motivation, the methods should satisfy the criteria of being motivational. The communicability of methods is also central in the corporate context. The study shows that there is scepticism about the discipline of future studies and its methods that needs to be addressed. Successful communication can also help to avoid false expectations, which otherwise are often perceived as serious obstacles. Another requirement is the measurability of the process and the outcome. The need arises because many experts believe that it is impossible to verify the outcome of the methods based on “hard data”. The results of the study show that many experts for this reason emphasise the value of the process itself.

Scalability, Flexibility and Collaboration

The empirical data show that the period for the implementation and evaluation of the methods is often perceived as being too long. This suggests that there is a need for temporal scalability. The length of the implementation period, and thus the costs, must be adaptable to the actual situation of the companies. Further, the methods should allow for joint implementation since knowledge from within the company has to be extracted and made explicit. The study reveals hurdles in this process; the involvement of all stakeholders is perceived to be difficult. An essential point of concern is the complexity of the research object, which requires that the chosen methods can be combined. The empirical evidence suggests that stakeholder participation is already used by many, but the potential is not yet exhausted in some places.

 

Overcoming Hurdles through a Joint Process of Methods Development

The study revealed a number of problem areas in the use of the methods. These problems can only be solved through a joint effort on part of the profession of future research and the companies. Focusing on methods only may prevent us from perceiving the limitations but also the opportunities in applying them in certain settings or situations. Therefore, the use of the methods can only be improved if we consider the specific requirements of the companies in question. On the other hand, looking at the operational procedures in a company only may in turn prevent the emergence of new perspectives. Concentration on daily routines may lead to ignorance of the world outside the company and therefore to missing new opportunities.

A joint process of developing and adapting methodology could result in devising methods capable of transferring and integrating knowledge and research results about the future instead of creating an abstract “methodology of future research”. The study allowed to derive suggestions for a potentially successful joint working process.

 

How Can the Hurdles Be Overcome?

The members of the profession need both strong methodological and excellent teaching skills to facilitate the learning of the methods. The methods of future research should be taught in different contexts: in higher education as well as in vocational training and further education programs at various skill levels. Companies should identify the knowledge gaps of their employees in order to address these specifically. In order to achieve transparency, it is necessary to disclose the processes involved and the criteria used for choosing a particular method. To satisfy this requirement in a company, it is possible to focus on internal transparency so that internal company knowledge does not have to be exposed to outsiders.

Practitioners of future studies need to be proficient in interdisciplinary and interface skills to promote the transfer of methods both from and to other fields of application. In addition, an intensive exchange between future studies, related disciplines and companies is very important. Expert knowledge about motivation is needed to motivate those involved in the use of future studies methods. Both the profession of future studies and the companies have to recognise the importance of motivation for the methodological process. Further, companies should enhance social and career-enhancing incentives to motivate employees involved in foresight processes.

The basis for the successful communication of the methods is a high level of expertise and communication skills of the practitioners of future studies. This includes both verbal communication itself and communication about communication formats. In addition, the professional management of expectations and individual communication concepts are important in dealing with stakeholders in the company.

Knowledge about evaluation concepts as used in the profession of future studies is necessary to be able to assess and measure the outcome. Reviewing the steps taken should be a natural part of every project. To be able to do so, businesses need to make structural adjustments such as define responsibilities and plan a budget for foresight processes. To make sure that methods can tie in with each other, it is necessary to be open to experimentation, extend the combination of methods and also to evaluate systematically.

For the profession of future studies this means that methodological approaches have to be extended with a focus on both internal and external methods of triangulation to create meaningful combinations of methods. In order to make sure that the methods can be implemented collaboratively, existing methodological concepts have to be expanded. Possibilities to collaborate
should be integrated in methods that have been unsuitable for collaboration so far.

Solid knowledge of project management is essential to be able to assure the temporal scalability of the methods. Therefore, practitioners of future studies need to be able to acquire such knowledge during their training. The profession should also actively participate in the discussion of how to adapt the time scale of the methods. A key aspect to improve the handling of methods could be the application of appropriate software solutions.

 

Limits and Areas in Need of Further Research

Whether such a thing as methods of future studies even exists is an issue that is still discussed controversially within the discipline of future studies. The lack of a scientific consensus both on the methodological canon and the classification of methods is responsible for the fact that this study could only provide a limited view on the application of methods of future studies in companies. It is impossible to presume that all participants of the preliminary and the main study would share a common understanding of the term “methods of future research”. Therefore, the range of existing methods is only inadequately presented and quantified.

The sample of this study is subject to restrictions: the fact that the participating experts were selected with a focus on their experience in strategy and foresight processes may potentially distort the picture. The reality of those companies that do not deal with strategy at all is not represented in this study either; hence the need for further research. The companies’ reasons for having only little contact with future studies or no contact at all have to be understood. This would be an addition to the results of the present study and might reflect even better on the individual perspectives of different protagonists.

Download EFP Brief No. 239_Corporate Foresight – A Delphi Study.

 

Sources and References

Ambacher, N. (2012): “Corporate Foresight – A Delphi study on the use of methods of future research, taking into account the needs of industry and research”, Master’s thesis at the Free University of Berlin, Berlin

For more information about the study and its results, please visit the project website: www.delphibefragung.de

EFP Brief No. 232: STRATCLU

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

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

Research & Innovation Programmes Addressing Challenges of the 21st Century

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Ad-hoc Strategy Building to Systematic Learning Cycles

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

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

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

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

MicroTEC Südwest AGENDA 2020+

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roadmaps to Tackle Societal Challenges

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

Taking a Big Step Towards Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth

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

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

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

Download: EFP Brief No. 232_STRATCLU.

Sources and References

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

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

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

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

Web links for more information:

www.microtec-suedwest.de

www.smart-systems-integration.org

www.minamwebportal.eu

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

www.steinbeis-europa.de/rsi.html

www.steinbeis-europa.de/stratclu_en.html

EFP Brief No. 231: FreightVision Austria 2050

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

The project Freight Vision Austria 2050 (FVA2050) aimed at providing a foresight study of freight transport and logistics futures in Austria by 2050. The intention was to explore the future of freight transport and logistics in particular, looking at technological progress and future innovation opportunities. A second aim was to outline a shared vision of an Austrian freight transport system by 2050 that would achieve European as well as national environmental and transport policy targets. The project FVA2050 was structured similarly to the European project FreightVision Europe (FVE 2050). FVA2050 was commissioned by the innovation section of the Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology. The objective was to set priorities and give a synopsis of key technologies and future innovation opportunities.

Coping with Increasing Demand for Freight Transport

Similar to economic growth, demand for freight transport in Europe is expected to double by 2050. As integration of the European internal market progresses and Europe represents one of the most competitive economic regions of the world, export industries all over Europe are expected to grow. This will particularly concern small, export-oriented national economies at the centre of Europe, such as Austria, which are strongly affected by freight transportation. Experts estimate that freight transport will increase across all transport modes.

Rising pressure on infrastructure capacity, an increasing environmental burden and upcoming conflicts over failing to achieve CO2 emission and noise reduction targets are likely. However, from a regional perspective, increase in transport demand might not affect the overall transport network in Austria apart from the main traffic axes. FVA2050 was informed by the general vision of the European Commission for a most competitive and sustainable transport system in Europe. This includes “growing transport and supporting mobility while reaching the 60% CO2 reduction target” (European Commission 2011, p.5). However, priorities from a regional perspective may differ from those defined at the European level. Other environmental policy targets, such as particulate matter or noise and vibration reduction, can be considered equally important.

Most freight transport in ton/kilometres is regional and not long distance freight transport. From a regional perspective, future scenarios revolving around reregionalisation are thus more feasible than scenarios based on internal market integration and globalisation. From a regional point of view, traffic congestion is a problem of infrastructure bottlenecks and not of the overall European transport network. The main challenge here is to coordinate environmental and transport-related policy targets across different policy levels and policy areas.

Stakeholder and Expert-driven Approach

The FVA 2050 project pursued an expert-driven, forwardlooking approach. Stakeholders and experts from different areas relevant to freight transport in Austria participated. Among them, in particular, demand-side actors from transport and logistics companies, but also researchers, NGOs and public administration representatives at the national and the state level (Länder). The aim of FVA 2050 was to explore possible futures of freight transport and logistics in Austria up to 2050. The participating stakeholders and experts outlined a shared vision and, in the process, blueprinted structural change in the freight transportation system to achieve the European CO2 emission targets and other transport and environmental policy objectives, such as minimising road fatalities, abating noise and particulate matter pollution and reducing congestion. Ideas and opinions on how to transform the current freight transport system towards this vision were discussed in detail, particularly ideas concerning technology and innovation pathways towards the future.

Scenarios and Socio-economic Trends and Trend Breaks

In the first workshop, the initial task was to outline framework scenarios describing possible socioeconomic futures that reflect the social and economic environment in which freight transport and logistics activities can be imagined to take place in the future. Four framework scenarios came out of this exercise: two scenarios reflecting current socio-economic trends and two scenarios taking potential trend breaks into account. Drivers, trends and trend breaks were jointly investigated. The experts drafted storylines for socioeconomic scenarios in group exercises and later developed them into coherent future stories:

· Trend scenario “Growth and liberalisation”
· Trend scenario “Growth and regulation trends”
· Trend break scenario “Oil & energy price shocks”
· Trend break scenario “Regionalisation & shrinking”

In the second foresight forum, the participants identified relevant technology and innovation pathways towards the future from a present point of view and perspective. They assessed options and obstacles of technological progress from the present to the future and opportunities for future innovations, considering the socio-technical context embedding and the socio-economic conditions shaping them. The final task of the second foresight workshop was to sketch out a shared vision of a structurally changed freight transport system for Austria that would allow to attain the different policy targets by 2050. The third foresight workshop was dedicated to further specifying the vision of a structurally changed freight transport system by 2050, including the main actions necessary to achieve it. However, in the end, the focus was mainly on technological steps towards this vision.

The main mission of FVA 2050 was to identify relevant priorities for the upcoming process of setting the national technology research agenda for research and innovation funding. A final, rather normative exercise allowed to define more radical technological steps. The incremental key technology and innovation opportunities initially identified by an explorative method were thus complemented by a range of blue-sky and out-of-the-box technology and far horizon innovation opportunities. The foresight exercise created a vision for a structurally changed Austrian freight transport system by 2050 and drafted a range of socio-economic framework scenarios.

Finally, the major outcomes were a synopsis and a prospective assessment of key technologies and future innovation opportunities up to 2050 and beyond. Around 80 experts and stakeholders of the Austrian freight transport system participated in FVA 2050, an average of 30 participants in each workshop. The foresight was implemented by a consortium of six partners: the AIT Departments Foresight & Policy Development and Mobility, the Department of Logistics at the University of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria and the Department of Production Logistics Management at the University of Economics and Business in Vienna. ProgTrans AG from Switzerland delivered a transport demand outlook for 2050. Transver Gmbh delivered an environmental impact assessment referring to the transport demand trends of ProgTrans AG. Most partners had already been involved in the European funded foresight FreightVision Europe (2007–2009).

They were thus invited to propose a similar forwardlooking and foresight activity for Freight Transport and Logistics 2050 and beyond in Austria. The Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology (bmvit), the two major Austrian funding agencies (FFG, AWS) and the two major national rail and road infrastructure operators (OEBB, ASFINAG) assisted the foresight. They were all involved in an advisory board.

Shift to Rail versus Electrification of Road Transport

The foresight study Freight Vision Austria 2050 was performed during three large stakeholder workshops. Most of the stakeholders participated in all three workshops, which gave the exercise a particular continuity. Prior to each workshop a discussion paper was drafted by the consortium members and distributed among the participants. This discussion paper was based on desk analyses and outcomes of the preceding workshops.

The future dialogue started with an intensive discussion of the transport demand outlook presented at the first workshop. The prognosis anticipated a doubling of freight transport demand by 2050. This growth in freight transport demand can be expected to lead to a relevant increase in transport activities across all transport modes. An increasing shift to rail transport and even a bigger increase in road transport is estimated. Inland waterway transport is expected to remain at moderate levels due to exterior infrastructure.

The transport demand outlook and the projections of freight transport activities by 2050 were discussed controversially. On the one hand, the experts agreed that a significant increase in transport could be expected to come with economic growth. On the other hand, the experts questioned the anticipated doubling of trans-European freight transport, pointing out that a return to a regionalisation of production networks and supply chains could change the trend. However, the outlook gave definite alert that freight transport is expected to increase until 2050. Particularly on the main axes, transport infrastructure capacities in Austria may not at all be prepared to accommodate such growth.

The rather controversial discussion in the beginning motivated the preparation of four distinct socio-economic framework scenarios. At first, storylines were developed and elaborated into coherent stories of potential socioeconomic futures. In a second step, the scenarios were discussed regarding their overall feasibility. For example, the scenario on growth and liberalisation was assessed as less feasible than initially expected. The experts did not perceive it to be an option to leave freight transport futures to liberal markets alone; regulation and public policy were considered just as necessary to cope with increasing freight transport demand. Thus the second trend scenario on growth and regulation was seen as more feasible than the first scenario of full market liberalisation.

The experts anticipated a future of European freight transport where the primacy of the “free movement of goods” should no longer be interpreted as free choice among all means of transport along all European transport infrastructure axes. The Zurich Process for cross-alpine freight transport (CAFT) – a cooperation between the transport ministers of the alpine member states – was an example mentioned in this context. The experts pointed out that they explicitly expect a trans-European initiative to push the road to rail shift in the future.

Rising Oil Price as Moderate Driver towards New Technologies

Even more interesting was the dialogue regarding the two trend-breaking scenarios. The first of these socioeconomic scenarios was rather similar to trend break scenarios in other transport-related foresight exercises. None of the experts rated an oil price increase as a shock event but as a moderate driver towards technological alternatives such as the electrification of road transport or alternatively fuelled vehicles. Another discussion focussed on a return of regionalisation and local production networks. Instead of more European market integration, the shrinking of the internal market was seen as a potential socioeconomic future triggered by increasing global protectionism and global economic conflicts. By comparison, in 2009, such a socio-economic framework had not at all been envisioned in FreightVision Europe 2050.

In the second foresight workshop, the discussion focussed on relevant environmental and transport policy targets for freight transport futures. It was difficult to come to a conclusion. Although there are strong trends toward harmonising environmental and transport policy targets in the European multilevel governance system, there is obviously still an open debate whether these objectives ought to be seen as a planning horizon or as guidelines for the future. Policy targets at one policy level may conflict with policy targets at other levels. The involved stakeholder and expert group decided to take European policy targets in addition to national targets as a frame of reference while addressing this frame in a rather general way based on a shared vision of how to shape the Austrian freight transport system by 2050 (structural change) by taking into account an increase in freight transport demand by 30-40% by that time.

Towards a “Network of Networks”

As the core of this foresight process, a shared vision of the Austrian freight transport system in 2050 was blueprinted. The participants illustrated their ideas and visions in a group exercise and further discussed their ideas and expectations for the future. All illustrations were integrated in a single shared vision scenario. A European transport network will be achieved by 2050. European legislation will serve to drive and harmonise environmental and transport regulations. However, a single European transport network is expected to be achieved as a network of networks with a European main axes infrastructure network at its core, but tightly connected with inter-regional, regional and urban mobility networks. Communication and information technologies will progress and allow to more closely connect these networks while allowing for many alternative mobility patterns for travelling and transporting goods. In a far-distant perspective, private sector mobility and transport might decline since European industries can be expected to more strongly revolve around knowledge-based services.

In 2050, freight transport at medium (up to 300 km) and long distance (above 300 km) will be fully intermodal, with a considerable shift to rail transport. European infrastructure axes for all transport modes will be integrated into one single corridor network. Road transport (below 300 km) will be widely electrified with large numbers of charging stations providing the necessary infrastructure. However, electrification of road transport may not be feasible for heavy duty transport. Last-mile transport will still be mainly road-based and rely on individual transport modes. Automated systems and pipe networks are expected to be deployed in urban areas.

Logistics in 2050 will be organised rather centrally under strict rules and requirements set at the European level. Third parties are going to organise logistics in crossregional or regional and urban distribution networks. Large interregional distribution centres will be established on a European scale. Tri- and bimodal hubs will be situated along the main transport corridors near manufacturing sites and will profit from information and communication concentration and renewable energy clusters (smart grids). Significantly improved freight demand management will reduce empty and half-full trips; this will include alternative modes of operation, for instance so-called milk runs for circular distribution.

Another main exercise in the foresight FVA2050 was to sketch a list of technology trends in the near (2020), medium (2035) and distant future (2050). The main areas discussed in the transport-related technology and innovation debate were:
· Intelligent transport systems
· Green freight and logistics
· Intermodal freight transportation
· Innovative infrastructure technologies

In these areas, particular technology and innovation pathways were assessed. Communication and information technologies as well as alternative vehicles and new materials were introduced as enabling technologies.

Smart Technologies to Improve Capacity, Greening and Safety

From 2020 to 2035, supply and transport chains will be further “smartened” by ICT. Information management systems will enable systems that calculate ecological impact. Between 2035 and 2050, most infrastructure and freight vehicles will be equipped with communication modules enabling real-time multimodal transport information. Autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle systems are expected to increase capacity and safety by platooning. A similar revolution like the container will provide new opportunities for intermodal transport with swap bodies to serve the European internal market. Automated harbour and hinterland transport, including vertical and horizontal loading systems, is expected to allow 24-hour operation. A European transport network will include a Europe-wide network of intermodal transport hubs. Transport infrastructure will be connected to energy infrastructure as a smart mobility/energy grid. In a distant perspective, from 2035, distributive intelligence in command and control will give rise to decentralised robot systems: smart objects, pipe networks and other simple track systems.

New Alternatives for Distances above 300 km

One of the key questions raised in FVA 2050 was if electrification of road freight transport might also be viable at medium and long distances in the future – a measure that is thought to play a significant role in achieving future European CO2 emission reduction targets. Experts believe that a shift to rail freight transport for distances above 300 km and even below 300 km for regional distribution will be a significant option in the long term. However, additional measures are required, for instance, regional rail/road distribution centres serving the first and last mile by an electric fleet. This has direct implications for future mobility and transport as well as transport-related technology and innovation policies.

Download the brief: EFP Brief No. 231_FreightVision Austria 2050.

Sources and References

COM(2011) 144: White Paper. Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0144:FIN:EN:PDF

Seibt, C., Rath, B., Wilhelmer, D., Zajicek, J., Toplak, W., Hofmann-Porkopczyk, H., Starkl, F., Bauer, G., Stefan, K., Schmiele, J. (2012): Freight Vision Austria 2050. Final Report. AIT Report No. 42, Vienna, see www.ait.ac.at/fva2050

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

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

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

Powerhouse of the Knowledge Economy

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

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

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

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

The Success Scenario Process

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

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

Five Success Dimensions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Progress Made

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

Ranking Improved

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

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

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

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

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

Innovation Manchester Network

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

From ‘Knowledge Capital’ to ‘Innovation System’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources and References

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

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

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

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

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

EFP Brief No. 212: Tech Mining

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The main purpose of the exercise is the development of new methods to discover patterns that new technologies follow and the opportunities they offer for innovation. This brief attempts to foster a new understanding of the mechanisms generating innovations. It presents a methodology to identify future technology opportunities based on text mining of scientific and technological databases. Assisting priority or agenda setting, the method could be useful for technology managers and corporate decision-makers in planning and allocating R&D resources.

New Methods to Anticipate Opportunities around Technologies

The analysis of new technologies has been of interest for many years. The increase in disruptive innovations and scientific research in recent years is driving institutions and also companies to develop methodologies for identifying technologies of the future. However, it is necessary to develop methods suitable for discovering the patterns according to which these technologies are likely to evolve. This will make it possible to convert them into opportunities for innovation as an essential prerequisite for maintaining competitiveness in the long-term.

Scientific and specifically patents databases are generally regarded as precursors of future or ongoing technological developments. Therefore, the analysis of such databases should enable identifying certain technology gaps that potentially could be transformed into opportunities.

Against this background, the project “How to anticipate opportunities around technologies” moves towards understanding the mechanisms generating innovations.

This exercise was designed and launched in light of the need to foster and accelerate scientific and technological innovation. Scientific publications and patent records are analysed as the empirical basis of the study. Experts are then asked to comment on the results of the analysis. The methodology applied to monitor new technologies uses the tech-mining approach and a combination of quantitative analysis and expert knowledge.

We will demonstrate how this instrument allows anticipating opportunities around technologies drawing on examples from two different industrial sectors. The methodology has been developed working with data from two different technological fields in order to compare and validate results. The two technology fields are waste recycling and “non-woven” textiles and their applications.

The project is running from 2010 until the end of 2012. The application to the waste recycling sector is financed through the SAIOTEK programme of the Basque Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.

Quantitative Databases and Qualitative Knowledge

The exercise deals with the identification of opportunities based on scientific articles and patent information, using quantitative methods to process the information and expert knowledge for assessing it. The main goal is to identify the most important factors influencing the development of a new technology and to understand the mechanisms generating innovation.

The project team is comprised of researchers from the Industrial Engineering and Management Departments of the two technical universities University of the Basque Country and The University of Valencia and the R&D centre TECNALIA. The collaborating R&D centre has been granted the right to make first use of this research.  

Tapping into the Scientific Knowledge Base

The exercise is divided into two phases. In Phase I, the technologies were defined in order to analyse the scientific knowledge in the respective technology field and outline the technology landscape using the knowledge contained in articles and patents databases. We applied the tech-mining approach in the first step, then used a cross-correlation matrix and finally performed principal component analyses (PCA). This resulted in visualisations of the technology sectors where it is possible to determine gaps around technologies. Figure 1 shows the characteristics of the scientific information analysed for the waste recycling sector.

Assessing Emerging Technologies

In Phase II, we will use qualitative techniques in order to assess the potential for the emerging technology gaps found. These interim results will be discussed with the experts (“bottom up”) to identify potential opportunities. The R&D centre will contribute upon request. They will play a key role particularly in identifying opportunities in the last phase. Previous works in this field were considered as well (see references).

The Tech-mining Methodology

The foresight method developed in this analysis is innovative because it combines qualitative knowledge and quantitative data allowing the conclusions from the individual analysis to converge into a variety of industrial scenarios. Figure 2 shows an outline of the methodology. It retrieves and downloads the information on these two sectors using the Derwent Patents and Environmental Abstracts databases. The downloaded information is analysed using text mining techniques.

In recent years, text mining has been an expanding area. The introduction of natural language techniques that use semantic algorithms combined with the most advanced statistical techniques, such as multivariate analysis or cluster analysis, have become powerful tools for discovering and visualising the knowledge contained in scientific literature.

Identifying Innovative Investment Opportunities

Phase I of the project has been completed; the major socio-economic trends have been identified and the results disseminated as a paper to the international community exemplifying the analysis for the waste recycling sector. At this point in the project, the main findings, for instance on new technologies in waste recycling, can already be utilised by innovative companies.

One of the analyses was to determine the year in which the descriptor appeared for the first time (see Figure 3). The results allowed us to assess the new terms, such as “detritivores” or “allelopathy” in 2009, which belong to the biotechnological field. These terms, which we call weak signals, only appear once or twice.

Biotechnological terms surfaced as we mined titles and terms in abstract in databases for 2010. These particular trends are also recognisable within the International Patent Classification IPCs for this period.

We are working on creating multiple technological maps. For example, there have been several analyses of the patent applications downloaded from the Derwent database. Figure 3 shows a result obtained after the cross-correlation of the individuals (patents) in a two dimensional space according to similarity of the International Patent Classification limited to four digits, ergo according to their technological contents. IPC is used to assign them to a similar technology group. Then we used the maps to identify patent clusters and areas where patents are lacking. The green ellipses drawn in Figure 3 represent the gaps where there are no patents.

In a further step, we screened and investigated the patents adjacent to each gap to determine the meaning of the patent gaps. The objective was to analyse the emergence of each gap and evaluate certain indicators that we expected to tell us whether the gap represents a technologically valuable area or not.

Qualitative indicators were defined such that the density of the gap measures the average number of claim items of adjacent patents and the half-life of the patents in the vicinity of the gap while allowing to evaluate the documents on patents on the gap borders in terms of how they relate to the most up-to-date keywords.

In order to establish a methodology to analyse the emerging technologies, we determined the year when the keywords, i.e. the descriptor, appeared for first time, as mentioned above. It is possible to classify these keywords into two types: keywords of emerging or declining frequency. By comparing, we can contrast the number of keywords by years between the different gaps. In essence, this procedure allowed us to measure emerging technologies through the keywords found in the patents surrounding the gap.

In the field of non-wovens, the tech-mining methodology allowed us to identify several emerging technology trends, among others the increasing use of nanotechnologies in the patented inventions.

During Phase II, we will validate the methodology. An advance in research requires the participation of experts in the field of waste recycling and non-woven textiles who can assess the articles in terms of newly found references. The opinion of the experts about the potential impact of newly identified technologies will allow us to determine the most innovative areas of work.

Bio- and Nanotechnology Innovations for Waste Recycling and Non-woven Sectors

The main contribution of this study to research policy is that it provides a methodology to identify new and emerging technologies leading to innovations. An institutional policy encouraging the tendencies identified should be able to increase regional competitiveness.

Our analyses support decision-making through understanding how innovations are generated, enabling decision-makers to anticipate and address the challenges identified and the emerging weak signals. Furthermore, once the project is completed, we will have applied our method to two practical cases from the waste recycling and non-woven sectors. With these examples, we want to demonstrate how the methodology suggested can be applied to anticipate opportunities.

The method could be particularly useful for technology managers and corporate decision-makers in order to plan and allocate R&D resources. Governments and regional development agencies could also use it to improve innovation policies in terms of planning and decision-making.

However, in many cases, new technologies are a necessary but not a sufficient condition for successful innovations. A wide range of non-technical factors are relevant as well (demand, regulations etc.). For successful implementation, it will be necessary to identify the innovation pathways.

We believe that in a context of increasing uncertainty and financial constraints, these results show that foresight methodologies such as tech-mining offer a positive return on investment for policy and decision-makers.

Authors: Rosa Mª Rio-Belver1     rosamaria.rio@ehu.es

Ernesto Cilleruelo2       ernesto.cilleruelo@ehu.es

Fernando Palop3          fpalop@ingenio.upv.es

Sponsors: Departamento de Industria, Innovación, comercio y turismo – Basque Government – Programa SAIOTEK
Type: Sectoral forward looking analysis
Organizer: 1University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, C/ Nieves Cano 12, SP-01006 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

2University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Almed. Urquijo s/n, SP-48030 Bilbao, Spain

3Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Camino de Vera s/n, SP-46022 Valencia, Spain

Duration: 2010-2011 Budget: 45,000 € Time Horizon: 2012 Date of Brief: March 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 212_Tech_Mining

Sources and References

Cozzens, S.; Gatchair, S.; Kang, J.; Kim, K.; Lee, H.J. ; Ordoñez, G.; Porter, A. (2010): Emerging Technologies: quantitative identification and measurement. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 22 (3): 361-376.

Belver, R.; Carrasco, E. (2007) Tools for strategic business decisions: Technology maps. The 4th International Scientific Conference “Business and Management.Vilnius, Lithuania 5-6 October. Selected Papers. Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Publishing House “Technika”, 2007, 299-303.

Huang, L.; Porter, A.; Guo, Y. (2009): Exploring a Systematic Technology Forecasting Approach for New & Emerging Sciences & Technologies: A Case Study of Nano-enhanced Biosensors, in Proceedings of the Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy. Georgia Tech University, Atlanta, USA, 2–3 October.

Lee, S.; Yoon, B.; Park, Y. (2009): An Approach to Discovering New Technology Opportunities: Keyword-based Patent Map Approach. Technovation 29: 481–497. doi:10.1016/j.technovation.2008.10.006

Porter, A.; Newman, N. (2011): Mining external R&D. Technovation 31 (4): 171-176, doi: 10.1016/j.technovation.2011.01.001

Porter, A.; Kongthon, A.; Chyi, L. (2002): Research Profiling: Improving the Literature Review. Scientometrics 53 (3): 351–370. doi:10.1023/A:1014873029258

Rio, R.; Cilleruelo, E. (2010): Discovering technologies using techmining: the case of waste recycling. The 6th International Scientific Conference “Business and Management 2010. Vilnius, Lithuania 13-14 May. Selected Papers. Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Publishing House “Technika”, Vilnius, 2010, 950-955.. doi:10.3846/bm.2010.127

Rio, R.; Larrañaga, J.; Elizagarate, F. (2008): Patentalava. Dynamics of Innovation Strategies and their Relationship with the Evolution of Patents. The Alava province case, in The 5th International Scientific Conference “Business and Management”. Vilnius, Lithuania, 5–6 October. Selected papers. Vilnius: Technika, 475–480.

Yun, Y.; Akers, L.; Klose, T.; Barcelon, C. (2008): Text Mining and Visualization Tools – Impressions of Emerging Capabilities, World Patent Information 30: 280–293. doi:10.1016/j.wpi.2008.01.007

Zhu, D.; Porter, A. L. (2002): Automated Extraction and Visualization of Information for Technological Intelligence and Forecasting, Technological Forecasting and Social Change 69: 495–506. doi:10.1016/S0040-1625(01)00157-3

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