Posts Tagged ‘regional development’

EFP Brief No. 260: Building Regional Foresight in Antofagasta, Chile

Friday, March 25th, 2016

The foresight programme was part of a broader joint project, which had an overall objective to enhance innovation-driven sustainable economic development of the Antofagasta region. The main purposes of the foresight project were 1) improving the foresight capability in the region, especially for the partner organisations, 2) enhancing collaboration between the industry, government and research organisations and 3) supporting the creation of a strategic research agenda for the region on a topic chosen by the partner organisations.

Pact for Regional Development and Innovation in Antofagasta Region

In March 2008, various public and private actors signed the “Pact for Regional Development and Innovation in Antofagasta Region” answering to the challenge of regional economic development. The main objectives of the agreement are to generate economic growth and equality, generate better jobs, and pave a path towards a sustainable development in the region. Those who signed the pact recognize that this can be achieved only by increasing human capacities in the region, particularly in organizations that support research, development and innovation activities.

Chilean Foreign Ministry selected Finland as one of six countries to be studied in the “Like-Minded Countries Project”, which started in 2005. Especially the transformation of the Finnish economy from a resource-driven economy into knowledge-driven economy was considered a source of inspiration to Chilean national and regional aspiration. Chile considers Finland as a prime global example on how resource-driven economies can develop into knowledge-driven economies when development strategies and policies are correctly selected. Eventually Chile will exhaust its natural resources, as did Finland, in the case of copper. Antofagasta region will need to develop significant alternative industries.

Extreme risk area for ecological changes

In addition to the structural economic shifts, Antofagasta Region is an extreme risk area for ecological changes. Global climate change and contamination from the mining activities have had a high and lasting effect especially in the regional water supplies. Melting glaciers and overuse of groundwater will require a significant redesign of water use and many other aspects that affect the environment. However, responding to the challenges, the region will need to rely on foreign expertise.

A collaborative project called “Innovation Capacity in the Antofagasta Region” was set up in 2011 between Mining Technological and Scientific Research Centre CICITEM in Chile and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland with the aim of transferring international best practices to strengthen the capacity of CICITEM to support economic, social and environmental devel-opment in the region. The main objectives for the pro-ject were:

  • Capacity building in the field of institutional leadership and knowledge management, innovation culture, and innovation capabilities.
  • Create self-sustained innovation capacity at CICITEM.
  • Capability to create strategic vision for the re-gional innovation activities and facilitate joint innovation activities in the mining cluster.

Foresight activities were an integral part of the project. They were aimed to increase the foresight capability of CICITEM and other regional actors by conducting a collaborative foresight exercise between industry and regional stakeholders and demonstrating how fore-sight can promote regional co-operation. The activities included gathering training material, designing fore-sight approaches suitable for the region, holding a foresight training and conducting a foresight pilot called “Water in Antofagasta 2040”.

Enhancing Foresight Capabilities

The foresight activities consisted of two parts. The first was a hands-on training on futures thinking and the methods of foresight. This was done as a three-day workshop in Antofagasta. A learning package with glossary was distributed beforehand to the participants, and a website was set up to facilitate communication and exchange of information. The workshop included brief presentations by VTT experts on key methods such as scenarios, roadmapping and Delphi, as well as exercises, where the participants had a chance to briefly test the methods with key issues of the region. The workshop ended with a group work of planning a foresight project that could be implemented in the region.

Based on the group work results a topic of “Water in Antofagasta 2040” was chosen for a foresight pilot project in a planning meeting between VTT and CICITEM. The topic was chosen based on its importance and relevance for different stakeholders. In addition to planning meetings, the activities of the foresight pilot project included scenario and roadmapping work that consisted of a conference, two stakeholder workshops, a stakeholder survey, interviews with mining companies and a reflection discussion with the CICITEM experts.

VTT experts provided guidance and support for the process, but the main emphasis was on learning by doing for the CICITEM experts. In addition to people from VTT and CICITEM, the process also included researchers from the local universities, representatives from local SMEs, government officials and mining companies.

Four-layer Framework

Although the foresight activities were mainly aimed at increasing the foresight capability in the region, they contributed also to the creation of new knowledge about alternative futures and to the networking between key actors in the regional innovation system. Based on the process and existing foresight literature, we developed a multi-layer framework for analysing these contributions of the process. The layers describe the level in which foresight contributes: landscape, innovation system, organisation and individual. We describe the main findings from the process using the layers as a structure.

1.Landscape layer: connecting to the global context

Although the overall focus of the project was on enhancing the innovation capacity of the Antofagasta region, it was important to understand the developments in the global level: how the region is connected to the rest of Chile and the world, how global developments influence the region and how that might change. The aim was to help the participants to see the region as part of a larger, global system and come up with the pathways to increase the capacities of the region to find its niche in the global market.

2.Innovation system layer: building shared vision

The foresight activities were part of a larger process which aimed to enhance the innovation capacity of the region. Their role was to support the joint strategy formulation and the creation of a shared vision for the region. During the process different perceptions to the proposed foresight project topics were explored through stakeholder analysis. Anticipating the different expectations of stakeholders helped choose a suitably controversial topic that would be interesting and beneficial for all the stakeholder groups, which in turn would aid in committing the stakeholders to the foresight process.

3.Organisational layer: building organisational future-orientation

CICITEM researchers were closely involved in the design and implementation of the foresight activities. This resulted in new ideas about the role of CICITEM and its mission. As the organisation was fairly small and young, the foresight pilot project influenced the social dynamics within the organisation. Not every researcher at CICITEM saw the benefit of the project and some were reluctant to participate. Thus there was a risk of creating an “in” group of persons more heavily involved in the process. What is needed in a situation like this are “bridge builders” between the “foresighters” and the “reluctants”. This is a good example of how a foresight process is connected to the organisational dynamics, even though the focus might be on enhancing the innovation system.

4.Individual layer: learning by doing

The foresight activities aimed to give the skills to do foresight via “learning by doing”. This includes the specific methods, but also experience in scoping, designing, implementing and documenting the foresight process. A CICITEM researcher commented during the final reflection, that he learned how to bring the ideas high up in the sky down to earth and make them actionable. In addition to specific skills and methods, the process enhanced the capability for future-oriented thinking by challenging existing worldviews and mind-sets and understanding others’ viewpoints and perceptions.

Individuals are the Key

We can draw the following implications for policy making:

  1. Design with multiple layers in mind; especially individual

For practitioners designing and conducting foresight the layers provide a checklist on the effect and influence of foresight. In our experience the layers help design foresight exercises that 1) are relevant and interesting to the individuals involved, 2) contribute to the capabilities of the organisation, 3) shape the system to enable the desired future and 4) capture the most recent advances and create new knowledge on the topic. We especially want to emphasise the individual layer, since effects of foresight are often not thought about on the level of individuals participating in the process. However, individuals are the key to creating a change within an organisation and subsequently on the innovation system. This can be a consequence of changing mindsets and worldviews through learning.

  1. Take into account that the nature of foresight effect varies from layer to layer

The layers emphasise different foresight contributions. On the landscape and system layers there is a bigger emphasis on the knowledge produced, whereas the individual and the organisational layer put more emphasis on the capabilities gained during the process. This is because the focus of knowledge is usually on the developments in the operational environment and the users of that knowledge are individual members of an organisation. Therefore the content and effects of the foresight exercise gain more attention on the innovation system and landscape layers, whereas the learning i.e. gaining of capabilities during the process is seen as important especially on the organisational and individual layers.

Foresight, however, contributes to knowledge also on the individual layer and to capabilities on the landscape layer. On the landscape layer the capability of the society as a whole to adapt to changes might be enhanced by foresight. On the individual layer, the knowledge produced is tied to the learning process and may include the translation of alternative futures to own worldviews, reflection on the perspectives of other participants and the interpretation of trends and weak signals to the day-to-day life. The layers thus provide alternative views to the knowledge, capabilities and relations created in a foresight project.

  1. Use the layers to structure the effects of foresight

A foresight process might have different emphasis on which layer is seen as the most important, but often foresight contributes to all layers, either by design or unintentionally. However, what is more important than the individual layers is the movement of focus across the layers. Looking at the layer “above” and ”below” aids in understanding what the layer consists of and what it is a part of. For example, an innovation system is embedded in the inter-systemic developments of the landscape layer, and consists of different organisations, which in part consist of individuals. The layers demonstrate that there is more to foresight than just the immediate tangible outcomes. A successful foresight process might change the capacity of an organisation or a community to anticipate the future and through that even create a regional transformation.

 

Table 1. Description of layers and the contribution of foresight

Layer Description Foresight effects
Landscape The external developments that affect the innovation systems but are hardly affected by any single measure Anticipating global developments, trends and/or wild cards, and enhancing future-orientation of the society
Innovation system The structure and dynamics of  intertwined innovation sub-systems consisting of organisations Increasing the capacity to reconfigure the innovation system to respond to future developments by exploring alternative futures and supporting networking between stakeholders
Organisation The organisational culture and allocation of resources Creating organisational future-orientation and triggering the creation of organisational responses to the anticipated changes in the operational environment
Individual Individual capacities and capabilities Enhancing future-oriented thinking and increasing capacities and capabilities related to anticipating possible futures

 

 

Authors: Mikko Dufva                  mikko.dufva@vtt.fi

Totti Könnölä                totti.konnola@if-institute.org

Raija Koivisto                 raija.koivisto@vtt.fi

Sponsors: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Type: Regional foresight exercise
Organizer: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Juha Oksanen, juha.oksanen@vtt.fi
Duration: 2011 – 2013
Budget: € 470,000
Time Horizon: 2040
Date of Brief: March 2016

Download EFP Brief 2016: Building Regional Foresight in Antofagasta, Chile

Sources and References

VTT & CICITEM, 2015. Desafios de innovación en la Región de Antofagasta / Innovation capacity in Antofagasta Region.

Dufva, M., Könnölä, T. & Koivisto, R. 2015. Multi-layered foresight: Lessons from regional foresight in Chile. Futures, 73, 100-111.

EFP Brief No. 246: Foresight and STI Strategy Development in an Emerging Economy: The Case of Vietnam

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

With the purpose of supporting the definition of the Science and Technology Strategy 2011 – 2020 by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam, a novel approach to policy and strategy development was introduced, combining foresight techniques alongside traditional strategy programming tools. This novel approach is considered useful for application in developing countries with strong planning traditions.

Challenges to STI Policy Definitions in a Developing Country

Vietnam has one of the fastest evolving economies among developing countries. GDP growth was around 7% in the last decade and should continue growing if the country moves beyond the current model based on low labour costs and intensive capital investment. In spite of advances, strengthening competitiveness and productivity presents a key challenge. In social terms, poverty decreased from 58% (1993) to 14% (2008), indicating the capacity of the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. There remains, however, a large and increasing income gap. Advances in education and health have been important, but problems of coverage and quality associated to the services provided also remain as challenges.

Recognising the importance of science, technology and innovation (STI) as instruments of development, Vietnam has given them high priority and has defined and implemented corresponding policies and strategies for several years. The process followed an approach consistent with the country’s political context, i.e. based on a strong planning culture, a top-down policy approach and weak monitoring and evaluation systems.

The outcomes of this approach have been mixed. Demanding policies and strategies were defined but had a varying degree of success in terms of extent and quality of implementation and impact.

Recognising the challenges imposed by today’s accelerated technological change, the growing complexity of research and innovation, and obvious limitations of traditional approaches used in policy and strategy formulation, Vietnam requested support from UNIDO to formulate the 2011/2020 STI strategy and better meet its development goals.

The Novel Approach to Policy and Strategy Definition

Responding to the above request, the project developed and applied a novel approach to policy and strategy definition by using foresight as a focusing and policy informing tool, aiming to support, step by step, the preparation of a fully-fledged national STI strategy (UNIDO 2010a) and facilitate the institutional embedding of the foresight and strategy process. Very few cases of foresight exercises are known to focus explicitly on the future shaping of the whole STI system.

The application of the novel approach to shape the STI system requires its components and functions to be explicitly identified. On this basis, it is of crucial importance to ensure, first of all, an effective and efficient operation of the STI system in structural terms (“structural priorities”). More specific priorities can only be tackled if the main STI system functions operate properly.

A second element playing an important role in the context of the definition of policy and strategy are three types of thematic priorities on which to concentrate efforts beyond structural ones: key science domains, technology areas and application fields.

A third element concerns time. Any policy or strategy should target a given time frame, and the targets defined within this horizon should be both challenging and achievable while steps towards defining them need to be clearly defined.

Finally, foresight and STI policy strategy development should be embedded in a comprehensive framework of policy definition.

The approach combines thematically focused and systemic-structural foresight activities, on the one hand, and STI strategy propositions, on the other, implemented in a co-evolutionary manner:   

  • Foresight activities with the purpose of exploring the future development of the STI system at the national level and for specific key technologies, combining exploratory and normative approaches, and devising options and roadmaps for future action.
  • STI strategy propositions to “translate” the findings of foresight into position papers that can be easily fed into the development and formulation of the actual STI strategy. In turn, insights generated in the context of the STI strategy can be fed back into the foresight exercise.

In this approach, foresight activities and the development of the STI policy and strategy are closely intertwined, as shown in Figure 1.

246_bild1

Figure 1: Proposed Methodological Approach

To ensure a timely transfer of the knowledge generated by the foresight activities into the STI strategy development process, interfaces between the two processes must be carefully designed. Cross-membership between the working groups in charge of foresight and strategy development respectively is an important transfer mechanism, as is the preparation of well-fitted and targeted input papers (position papers) to feed strategy development at key points in time. For the application of the novel methodology five phases can be foreseen, as follows:

Phase 1: Analysis, positioning and exploration of the STI system

In this phase, the relative performance of the STI system is analysed, a preliminary SWOT analysis constructed, and the main current policies and strategies assessed in order to capture the country’s present situation. This phase also explores trends related to contextual local and international developments and drivers that are likely to affect the country’s STI system in the coming years; from these trends and drivers, first exploratory scenarios can then be constructed.

 

On top of these exploratory scenarios, a so-called “success scenario” needs to be developed in order to obtain a first normative orientation and a set of criteria to determine what a desirable future for the country’s STI system might look like. The success scenario also provides the basis for specifying criteria for the selection of technology areas to be analysed in more depth later in the process.

The result of this phase is resumed into a first informing position paper”, which is then fed into the strategy team.

Phase 2: Deepening of the exploration of the STI system using Delphi methodology

The second phase deepens the exploration of the STI system by way of a Delphi enquiry, which is used as a means to interact extensively with the expert and stakeholder communities and to collect further inputs and feedback on three main aspects: a) the trends identified, b) the exploratory and success scenarios developed for the STI system together with their main structural characteristics and deficits, and c) main technology areas of importance to the country.

The Delphi can be implemented in four main blocks: a) scenario assessment and perspectives on success in STI, b) national and international context of the STI system, c) structural challenges in the STI system and d) potential technology areas. As Delphi surveys are difficult to carry out in many developing economies, other types of consultative foresight techniques may be used as alternative options.

The assessments from the Delphi can then be analysed and interpreted in the light of the currently envisaged objectives and targets of the national development plan and strategy in order to trigger a debate to what extent there is actually the systemic capacity in place to achieve what has been formulated as targets.

This phase serves as the basis for preparing a second position paper to provide a deepened SWOT analysis of the STI system, together with first views on possible technology areas to focus on in the next module.

Phase 3: Exploring key technology innovation systems

This phase takes a limited number (5-6) of promising technology areas as its starting point. Based on suggestions from the second position paper and close interaction with the STI strategy drafting team, these areas can be defined with a view to achieving important socio-economic development goals. Apart from identifying and assessing key technologies in these areas, this analysis aims at exploring the systemic requirements that the area-specific STI systems in which these key technologies are embedded have to meet in order to ensure their successful development and application.

The key technology (4 to 5 per area) analysis can be based mainly on panel work and possibly on interviews with additional key experts. Depending on a country’s specific situation, criteria for the selection of key technologies could be, for instance, their relevance to industrial application and to the positioning of the country in international production networks, the relative strength of the country in this key technology or the potential to become an autonomous leader in this key technology as contrasted with being dependent on critical imports.

A third position paper takes into account the findings of this phase and elaborates on the opportunities and requirements in a selected set of key technology innovation systems

Phase 4: Vision and roadmap for STI systems

This phase moves from the analytical and exploratory perspectives adopted in the previous phases towards a more normative perspective on what a desirable future of the STI system could look like, and what steps may be needed to get there.

The panels established in the previous step develop visionary outlooks for the key technology innovation systems they have been dealing with. Building on the insights on requirements for key technology innovation systems, they sketch how these systems should look like within a given time horizon. Similarly, a previously established crosscutting panel should work on a vision at the level of the STI system.

Some harmonisation of the different visions is achieved by a joint workshop of the different panels because the STI system visions should build on sector visions and the sector visions should be framed by the STI system vision. The different visions can finally be compiled in a single document.

A final and fourth position paper can then be prepared to feed the visionary and roadmap-related elements into the policy and strategy development process.

Phase 5: Future-oriented agreements and their implementation

The final phase of the process deals with the conclusion of concrete agreements between actors and stakeholders to undertake specific joint action in line with the STI policy and strategy developed. This phase is already about making first steps towards the implementation of the strategy.

Application of the Novel Approach to the 2011 – 2020 Vietnamese STI Strategy

The main results of the application of this novel approach to the Vietnamese case, between 2010 and 2011 can be resumed as follows:

Phase 1: A STI system and policy diagnosis was obtained (UNIDO 2010b), and a trend analysis and scenarios completed (UNIDO 2010c). A first position paper informed the strategy drafting team on the main results of this phase, emphasising the internal trends and challenges to Vietnam.

Phase 2: A Delphi inquiry was conducted by e-mail, which received little response and was not used for further analysis. This situation restricted the exploration of key technology areas and technology innovation systems to be undertaken in Phase 3, but did lead to their discussion in the strategy panels as reflected in the first draft of the strategy prepared by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam (MOST) in mid-2011.

Considering the above limitations, position paper 2 put its emphasis on exploring the possibility of realising a success scenario and provided guidelines on how to achieve it.

Further considering that a draft strategy had already been developed by this time, position paper 3 provided inputs that would allow to better embed it into the Five-year National Development Plan (NDP) (2011–2015) that was being prompted for approval.

Position paper 4 identified key STI inputs needed to advance prioritised economic and social sectors, based on a set of priorities put forward in the draft version of the STI strategy of September 2011. The main idea of this position paper was to ensure that the STI strategy would be embedded in the NDP, drawing on the “vision” that had been constructed as part of the latter.

MOST adopted the STI Strategy in April 2012 with some of the limitations that were characteristic of previous strategies, such as its still too general character and lack of more specifically targeted priorities. Nonetheless, the novel approach to policy and strategy definition introduced in the project did incorporate several elements of importance into the final version of the document.

Parallel Foresight and Policy Design Process Most Promising

The social and economic developments that have taken place in Vietnam in the past years have provided a facilitating framework for a novel approach to STI decision-making, combining foresight tools with traditional programming methods.

The rather strong cultural context for policy definitions in Vietnam has limited the full application of the adopted methodological approach, but the process served as a powerful learning technique in the institutions dealing with policy and strategy.

Because of the complexity in the definition of public policies in fostering and strengthening indigenous capabilities to use, adapt, modify or create technologies and scientific knowledge, a parallel foresight and policy design process seems to be one of the most promising approaches to improve decision-making processes in developing countries.

Authors: Carlos Aguirre-Bastos   csaguirreb@gmail.com

Matthias Weber            matthias.weber@ait.ac.at

Sponsors: United Nations Industrial Development Organization, National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategic Studies, Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam
Type: National foresight exercise
Organizer: UNIDO and AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
Duration: 2010 – 2011
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: December 2012

Download EPF Brief No. 246_Foresight and STI Strategy Development for Vietnam

Sources and References

UNIDO (2010 a) Inception Report – Doc. STI-WP0-MOD2-001-v7-010610; 01 June 2010 (prepared by Matthias Weber)

UNIDO (2010 b) The Science, Technology and Innovation System and Policy Analysis – Doc. STI-wp1-MOD3-001-V.4-020610; 02 June 2010 (prepared by Carlos Aguirre-Bastos)

UNIDO (2010c) Trend Analysis and Scenario Development of the Vietnamese STI System – Doc. STI-WP1-MOD5- 012-V.1 – 151210 (prepared by José Miguel Fernandez Güell)

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. 235: Nanotechnology for Podlaskie 2020

Friday, December 21st, 2012

The general purpose of the project was to elaborate a strategy of nanotechnology development up to 2020 based on the desired priority directions of the Polish Podlaskie province development oriented towards the application of nanotechnologies and the identification of the key nanotechnology research trajectories.

Nanotechnology to Boost Disadvated Region

The project Technological foresight NT FOR Podlaskie 2020. Regional strategy of nanotechnology development was granted the financial support from the EU Operational Program „Innovative Economy 2007-2013” (Priority 1: „Research and development of new technologies”, Measure 1.1.: „Support for scientific research for the building of knowledge based economy”, Sub-measure 1.1.1: „Research projects with the use of foresight method”.)

The project is an attempt of breakthrough technologies promotion in situation when the development of the traditional sectors does not contribute to regional growth. It is located in one of the least economically developed regions of Poland (and of the European Union) with a low level of population’s economic welfare, little business competitiveness and low innovation intensity in the spheres of technology, processes and products. The project is based on the feed forward logic which assumes that the future changes of the environment will be effectively forestalled owing to the project results. This should allow the region to chart the development trajectory which doesn’t imitate others but heads in the direction where the leaders will be in the future. The assumed goals of the programme are:

  • elaborate a strategy of nanotechnology development in Podlaskie province till 2020
  • identify and mapp critical nanotechnologies up to 2020
  • identify the most important factors influencing the development of nanotechnologies
  • put forward scenarios of nanotechnology development
  • stimulate the process of regional vision building between the key stakeholders.

Nanotech Research Defined by Six Panels

Six panels defined the research priorities for the project:

  1. Nanotechnologies in Podlaskie economy (RF1)
  2. Nanotechnology research for Podlaskie developement (RF2)
  3. Key factors of nanotechnology development (RF3)

In addition to the three content-oriented panels another three focusses on methodologies: STEEPVL and SWOT panel (SSP), Technology mapping and Key technologies panel (TMKTP), Scenarios and Roadmapping panel (SRP) (figure 1).

The results of the six panels are integrated by the Key Research Team (KRT) which is also a platform of interaction and knowledge transfer between the panels.

From STEEPVL Analysis to Strategy

The methodology of the project is based on the intuitive logics school of scenario construction and comprises the following research methods and techniques: STEEPVL analysis, SWOT analysis, technology maping, key technologies, scenario method, roadmapping (figure 2). The main research methods are supported by brainstorming, moderated discussion and bibliometrics.

The selection of methods and techniques was conditioned by the aim of the project, planned funds, research duration and availability of data – both quantitative and qualitative.

One of the innovative elements of the project is the implementation of the concept of triangulation to experts’ recruitment in the aspect of researcher triangulation, data triangulation and theoretical triangulation.

Researcher triangulation was manifested in the project by the involvement of experts representing varied professional background, sex and age. Special attention was paid to the recruitment of women and young people (under 35) (min. 30%).

Data triangulation was achieved by involving experts representing different institutions as well as by drawing information about the factors shaping nanotechnology development via experts’ opinions verified by the existing published works (reports, books, publications, Internet sources on nanotechnologies).

Theoretical triangulation consisted in the involvement of experts representing different research fields, but still salient to the nanotechnology development in Podlaskie province.

Other innovative element of the project was the application of the two-dimensional assessment of STEEPVL factors taking into account (1) the influence and importance of factors and (2) the application of factor analysis in order to reduce the number of considered factors that shape the nanotechnology development.

Great attention in the project was paid to the development of technology mapping methodology, to the identification and the assessment of wild cards methodology and to roadmapping methodology.

Scenarios of Nanotechnology Development in Podlaskie Province

 

As a result of the conducted sequence of procedures four scenarios of nanotechnology development in Podlaskie province were developed. They were constructed along two axes, one of which related to the level of R&D in the region and the other to the level of collaboration among the actors from business, science and administration spheres (fig. 3).

Basic characteristics of the produced scenarios are presented in table 1. Further in the process, each scenario was enriched with a detailed description of the remaining 19 STEEPVL factors. Short descriptive visions were also written in each of the four cases.

  1. Megatrends

Scenarios formulation was preceded by a detailed characteristics of megatrends influencing the nanotechnology development. Following megatrends were identified:

  • technological progress,
  • ageing population,
  • increasing importance of alternative energy sources,
  • intensified activity of the states in the realm of security,
  • new patterns of social inequality,
  • shaping of the new economy,

All megatrends were further divided into branching trends.

  1. Priority technology groups

Additionally, seven priority technology groups for the Podlaskie region were identified by the experts:

  • nanomaterials and nanosurfaces in medical equipment (T20),
  • composite materials for dentist fillings (T17),
  • powder technologies in plastic, paint and varnish production (T31),
  • surface nanotechnologies in biomedicine (T21),
  • nanotechnology for cutting instruments and wood processing (T3),
  • nanotechnology for specialised textiles (T24),
  • nano-structuring of metals (T38).

The leading project experts attempted to embed the priority nanotechnologies into four scenarios by assessing the chances of each technology’s development in the context of a particular scenario. The results of that exercise are presented in fig. 4.

According to experts’ opinions in conditions of high R&D potential for nanotechnology and effective regional collaboration of business, science and administration, very high chances of development have five out of seven technologies, namely: powder technologies in plastic, paint and varnish production (T31), composite materials for dentist fillings (T17), surface nanotechnologies in biomedicine (T21), nanotechnology for cutting instruments and wood processing (T3), nanomaterials and nanosurfaces in medical equipment (T20). In S2 scenario high chances of development have only nanotechnologies for specialised textiles (T24). The situation in S2 and S3 scenarios changes fundamentally as there are no nanotechnologies of high chances of development.

For each identified key technology a roadmap of its development was elaborated comprising layers such as: resources, R&D, technology and applications.

Increasing R&D and Strengthening the Network

Technology foresight NT FOR PODLASKIE 2020. Regional strategy of nanotechnology development has allowed to identify the most important factors of the nanotechnology development in the region. In the course of the project, the participating experts identified key technologies that might contribute to creating a competitive advantage of the province. The scenarios presented will be the basis for developing the roadmaps of nanotechnology development and eventually for formulating a regional strategy to that end.
 
As the results of the project have shown so far, increasing the region’s R&D potential and strengthening the networks of entrepreneurs, scientists and authorities would create an environment most conducive to the development of nanotechnology in Podlaskie province. These two key factors therefore will be the vital elementsof the nanotechnology development strategy to be formulated at a later stage. The strategy, according to the project organisers, will set the direction for the introduction of nanotechnology into the economy of Podlaskie province and provide a sound proposal for a path towards the sustainable development of the region.
Authors: Anna Kononiuk a.kononiuk@pb.edu.pl

Lukasz Nazarko l.nazarko@pb.edu.pl

Joanicjusz Nazarko j.nazarko@pb.edu.pl

Joanna Ejdys j.ejdys@pb.edu.pl

Katarzyna Halicka k.halicka@pb.edu.pl

Urszula Glinska u.glinska@pb.edu.pl

Alicja Gudanowska a.gudanowska@pb.edu.pl

Sponsors: European Regional Development Fund, Operational Program „Innovative Economy 2007-2013”

Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Polish Republic

Type: regional/technological foresight exercise
Organizer: Bialystok University of Technology

Joanna Ejdys j.ejdys@pb.edu.pl

Joanicjusz Nazarko j.nazarko@pb.edu.pl

Duration: Apr 2009-Jun 2013 Budget: 588,256 € Time Horizon: 2020 Date of Brief: Aug. 2012  

Download: EFP Brief No. 235_Nanotechnology for Podlaskie 2020.

Sources and References

Feasibility study of Technology foresight „NT FOR Podlaskie 2020”. Regional strategy of nanotechnology developement [Studium wykonalności projektu Foresight technologicznyNT FOR Podlaskie 2020”. Regionalna strategia rozwoju nanotechnologii], Białystok 2008.

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. 153: Extremadura Regional Foresight Exercise

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The Extremadura region has carried out the first regional foresight exercise to help devise a global strategy for the socio-economic
development of the region so as to enhance economic growth. The main agents involved in regional development set out to plan a desirable
future for the region and clearly define investment priorities. The Extremaduran foresight exercise aimed at projecting the position
of key sectors and technologies in the context of future international trends.

EFMN Brief No. 153_Extremadura_Foresight

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

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

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

Europe’s Agrifuture Challenges

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

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

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

Terms of Reference

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

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

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

A Creative Disruption Approach

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

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

 

Agro-Food Sector Bound to Change

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

Decentralised Adaptation

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

Early Warning System

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

Overcoming the Barriers towards  a Knowledge-based Biosociety

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

New System of Education  and Knowledge Diffusion

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

A Case for Action

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

Download: EFMN Brief No. 142_ Agrifutures in Europe

Further Reading

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

EFP Brief No. 129: Rural Areas: One of the Most Important Challenges for Europe

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

This brief presents an overview of major trends and policy options for rural areas. A number of social, technological, economic, environmental and political trends as well as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats will be highlighted, followed by ten major policy options in view of two traditional and conflicting objectives: rural socio-economic development and countryside protection.

EFMN Brief No. 129_Rural_Areas

EFP Brief No. 127: Malta’s Futures for Higher and Further Education

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

The main aim of this initiative was to promote more long-term futures and evidence-based approaches to governance, strategies, and policy development in the higher and further education in Malta under the aegis of the INTERREG IIIC FUTURREG Project. The FUTURREG Project (2005 – 2007) was designed to ensure that regional policies and regional development organisations were informed by high-quality futures tools and participatory processes with significant long-term impacts. This particular FUTURREG subproject/exercise focused on an urgent need to build up the strategic and organizational capacities of institutions in the higher and further education sector and to support them in using futures approaches and foresight tools in developing their strategies in Malta. The results of this work are being used by the Maltese National Commission for Higher Education to define a framework for futureoriented higher and further education strategies using futures approaches.

EFMN Brief No. 127_Education_in_Malta

EFP Brief No. 124: Foresight to Strengthen a Regional Innovation Strategy – the Case of Lower Silesia

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

The UPRIS foresight exercise built upon the Regional Innovation Strategy (RIS) of the Lower Silesia region in Poland. The foresight complemented RIS with a broader based and longer-term know-how for sustainable regional development. It was a participative process involving panels of experts and regional stakeholders, which were to discuss future challenges facing Lower Silesia and possible options for meeting them. The panels elaborated normative scenarios, which served as a basis for developing an action plan for RIS and a plan for trans-regional cooperation. In this way, a cornerstone was laid down for sound, well informed and future-oriented policy-making in Lower Silesia.

EFMN Brief No. 124_Foresight_Lower_Silesia