Posts Tagged ‘scenarios’

EFP Brief No. 252: Egypt’s Water Security – Future Vision 2030 Using Delphi Method

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

This study was an activity within the framework of Egypt’s Vision 2030 project carried out by the Center for Future Studies in the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center. Using Delphi Method, the study aims at identifying, analyzing and foreseeing potentials of Egypt’s water security as ground to thinking of pilot solutions aimed at evading problems and crisis as well as developing a set of procedures whereby Egypt’s water security is attained.

Increasing Gap between Water Supply and Demand

The Nile stands as Egypt’s main source of water whereby it secures 80% of Egypt’s water yield per year-according to the 1959 Nile Agreement, Egypt’s fixed quota of Nile water comes to 55.5 billion m3/year. In Egypt, water security tops the national agenda whereby studies reveal that estimations of available water and water needs for different purposes are heading towards an increasing gap between water supply and demand, not only because of the anticipated increase of water demand, but also due to the impact of other factors on the available quantity of Nile water. The study at hand contributes to foreseeing the future of Egyptian water security, by analyzing the impact of varied factors influencing Egypt’s water security in terms of the political, economic, environmental, hydrological, legal and strategic aspects,  developing an integrated vision, and forming a new approach for further research in this area and providing comprehensive knowledge.

Combining Forecasting and Delphi

The study applied the “Delphi Technique” – an important qualitative tool of future studies – which relies on collective intelligence and scientific forecasts, by deriving knowledge from a group of experts, directing them to consensus on aspects of the issue at hand, and providing verifications for the relatively extreme positions. This technique was used to identify the main factors of uncertainty that will affect the future of Egypt’s water security, and to forecast potentials of these uncertainty factors, their different expected impacts, and proposed recommendations. A Delphi web site was developed allowing access to 25 experts in the areas of water, economic and political science.

The study also used forecasting (futures analysis) which does not seek foreseeing or planning the future, but rather conducts a set of conditional forecasts or scenarios assuming either the reality or desired ones. Hence, the research does not conclude to achieving any of the aforementioned scenarios but aims at allowing societal players to learn about the requirements of achieving one of the desired scenarios according to their relevant preference in order to work on giving it precedence over other alternative scenarios.

Main Factors Affecting Water Security

Based on the theoretical review of the issue of Egypt’s water security, the most important factors affecting Egypt’s water security were identified by applying Delphi Technique as follows:

  1. Relations between countries of the Nile basin towards either cooperation or struggle:

The regional hydrological system of the Nile basin lacks a comprehensive legal or institutional framework deemed acceptable by all Nile countries because of their conflicting outlook on the legitimacy of the existing agreements and international conventions – the 1929 and 1959 Agreements in specific. Accordingly, countries of the Nile sources divide the River Nile’s water according to the area of River Nile basin passing through the given country, and the contribution of each country to the river’s water yield. However, Egypt and Sudan refuse reviewing the distribution of water quotas in the Nile basin based on calls for justice and equity.

Additionally, some of the Nile basin source countries are calling for enforcing the principle of international water sale on the Nile basin system including that Egypt and Sudan, pay financial compensation in return for their water quotas if they wish to maintain them, while Egypt and Sudan refuse this principle on the ground that water is a socio-economic commodity that should not be subjected to market mechanisms.

On another level, countries of the Nile basin sources reject the condition of advance notification when developing water projects or taking water measures within their national borders, which is seen as necessary by Egypt and Sudan.

  1. Impact of external powers:

External powers, mainly USA and Israel play a crucial role in affecting international water interactions in the Nile basin, and carry out a motivating role for struggle. In this regard, Israel adopts two main strategies: “Quota based system” considering projects involving water that eventually aims that Israel receives fixed water quota from the Nile and “Seizure Strategy” which implies surrounding the Egyptian policy and using water as a pressure card against Egypt and Sudan. European countries, specially Italy, Holland and some Asian countries particularly Japan are playing a motivating role for water cooperation in the Nile basin putting down inclinations towards water related conflicts by providing financial and technical support for a number of water related projects in the Nile countries.

  1. The impact of the separation of South Sudan:

Opinions vary on the impact of south Sudan separation on Egypt’s water security. Some opinions perceive minimum negative impact resulting from the separation on the Egyptian water yield from the Nile and others are seriously concerned about the potential impacts.

  1. Shifts to irrigated agriculture and minimizing pressure on the blue water:

All countries of the Nile sources wish to follow Egypt’s footsteps in terms of cultivating spacious irrigated agricultural areas. However, this type of agriculture requires costly technical expertise. In this context, funding and technical assistance provided through investors, local, regional or international entities might have a hidden agenda for helping poor citizens of the Nile countries, destabilizing some countries and creating tension in a manner that impacts development plans.

  1. Change in the economic:

As a main feature of the Nile basin countries- except Egypt- extreme poverty reflects on the capabilities in terms of providing water related infrastructure. According to 2007 World Bank data, Burundi had the lowest GDP (US$0.97 billion) among Nile Basin countries, whereas annual GDP per capita growth rate was highest in Ethiopia and Sudan at 8.4% and 7.7% respectively. Egypt comes next with a growth rate of 5.2%. Nevertheless, GDP per capita share decreased in Burundi by 0.3% and in Eritrea by 2.3%.

  1. Water reservoirs or control utilities:

If dams are constructed to serve as reservoirs, it is necessary to ensure that the stored water affects Egypt’s water quota in the long term.

  1. Impact of climate change on water of Nile basin:

The most important climate changes affecting the Nile’s water are increasing temperatures which  will cause rising rates of evaporation, and changes in the rates, locations and seasons of water fall will cause the loss of quantities of rain that were to be used in agriculture and human consumption in the northern coast.

  1. Political stability of the Nile basin countries:

Continuous or aggravated forms and indicators of domestic instability in the Nile basin countries will push them to adopt struggle based foreign policies. It is projected that countries of the Nile basin sources will resort to adopting aggressive foreign policies towards both mouth and stream countries-Egypt and Sudan-every now and then. This is in an effort to divert the domestic public opinion away from internal problems and failures suffered in each country relatively.

Egyptian Water Security Scenarios

Given the aforementioned main factors affecting Egypt’s water security, the future of water in the Nile basin will likely be shaped according to three alternative scenarios as follows.

Business as Usual Scenario

The current situation of struggle relations between Egypt and the Nile Basin Countries, will continue but will not escalate to war because of political expertise,  and countries of the Nile basin maintain a reasonable margin of rationality with their neighbours. Furthermore, the domestic political, economic and social circumstances of the Nile basin countries will not permit potential escalation of conflicts.

According to the outcomes of Delphi survey, a change in the current situation of cooperation or struggle regarding water is unlikely (there were no sharp deviations regarding the potential full cooperation or struggles that may escalate to war over water), where 46%, 38% and 50% is the probability of increasing the normal yield of Nile water before 2030 via cooperation where Egypt develops projects in the Ethiopian Plateau, Equatorial Lakes Plateau and Bahr el Ghazal. But the probability of reaching an agreement on some of the conflict areas by amending the existing legal agreements of the Nile basin countries is 48%.

Also, lack of current sufficient funding will affect the ability of benefiting from green water and relieving the pressure off blue water in Nile Basin countries. And in light of the outcomes of Delphi survey, Egypt’s probability of developing projects -in cooperation with donor international organizations-aimed at assisting other countries in benefiting from green water is 49%, 52% and 53% respectively in the Ethiopian, Equatorial Plateaus and Bahr el Ghazal.

It is unlikely that the basin countries will experience an economic boom on the short term, since economic development requires stable political regimes and local, regional and international capital, capacity building, technical calibres and improvement of institutions and laws.

There is low probability of an impact from the separation of south Sudan on Egypt’s yield of the Nile water, as the new State will be bound by all past conventions related to the River Nile. Needless to mention, South Sudan is advantaged with abundant rain which spares it the need for this water. According to Delphi Survey, the probability of a relevant impact on Egypt’s Nile water supply is 45%.

It is likely that climate changes will continue without an impact on the normal yield of Nile water in Egypt, at least during the coming twenty years. According to a study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2004, there is limited confidence regarding changes in amount and direction of rainfall on the future on the Nile basin countries. Based on the survey results, the probability that climate changes will move the rain belt far from the Ethiopian, Equatorial Lakes Plateaus or Baher Al Gazal are 40%, 35% and 44% respectively.

Optimistic Scenario (Regional Cooperation)

This is the scenario of optimization of available opportunities for developing shared water resources and building a regional water system capable of securing the needs of the region’s countries without undermining the fixed historical and legal rights of some of the countries.

This scenario involves the potential of expanding cooperation areas among Nile basin countries within the Nile Basin Initiative, which includes all ten Nile basin countries, provides an institutional framework for collective cooperation, receives governmental and political support, and pays great attention to projects and mechanisms aimed at building mutual trust among basin countries, as well as capacity building and training projects.

There is an increased possibility of establishing water related projects in collaboration with the basin countries via building and connecting dams on a unified electricity network in those countries, aimed at generating power for agriculture and industrial production purposes rather than storing water and assist in regulating water supply to Egypt. Survey results indicate that probability of completing Gongli Canal is 56%, in addition to the possibility of redirecting Congo River to benefit from its water is 60%.

Pessimistic Scenario (Conflict)

This scenario is based on the possibility that variables motivating struggle will lead to raising chances of conflict of national interests in the Nile basin countries to an extend of inter struggle. The struggle inclination might rise given the following variables:1) A strong and sharp inclination of the Nile basin sources countries towards enforcing the principle of “selling Nile water” to the two countries of the mouth and stream will cause an eruption of international water struggle and wars among the countries.2) Escalated role of the external motivating powers for Nile-Nile struggle based on the following considerations:

Israel will play a motivating role for water struggle in the Nile basin in addition to the indirect role of the USA, where it will work on besieging and pulling the parties of Egyptian policy, on the regional level, in a way that serves coining the American power on the political and strategic levels in preparation for an effective Israeli role.

Countries of the upper Nile basin will seek to constitute external coalitions aimed at changing the current situation; these are mainly Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Separation of south Sudan will be at the expense of projects dedicated to exploiting the wasted Nile water in the Egyptian and joint upper parts, such as the Gongli Canal project.

The political tensions in the Ethiopian Plateau will negatively affect the Egyptian water yield as well as failure to implement any proposed projects. According to the survey, the probability of the eruption of a civil war (due to ethnicity, religion, political or tribal affiliation) in the Ethiopian Plateau and bearing an impact on water projects and management is 53% and 57% respectively.

Based on the Delphi Survey outcomes, the probability of increased Nile basin countries’ demand for Blue water for agricultural, industrial, drinking, tourism, and fish wealth purposes by 2030 in the Ethiopian, Equatorial Plateaus and Bahr El Gazal Region are 60%, 61% and 59% respectively. As for the probability that those countries construct dams or other projects in the Ethiopian, Equatorial Plateaus and Bahr El Gazal Region-to meet the increased demand for water -that will eventual-ly affect Egypt’s Nile water quota by 2030 are 63%, 59% and 54% respectively.

Cooperation for Water Security

  1. Cooperation among the Nile Basin Countries

Regional cooperation should depend on balancing the distribution of benefits and duties in the context of a cooperative Win-Win Approach, which will eventually lead to optimizing the benefits among all Nile countries enabling a relevant improvement and development.

  1. Endorsing the Soft and Diplomatic Instruments

This ensures avoiding the struggle scenario, and can be supported by developing the mutual dependency mechanism between Egypt and Ethiopia via joint projects where Egypt provides the technical expertise in irrigation currently being provided by Israel.

  1. Enhancing Cooperation between Egypt and Sudan

The mutual dependency mechanism between Egypt and Sudan, in light of separation, can be achieved through establishing strong ties with both north and south via joint cooperation in agriculture, power production, health, education and industrial projects in addition to military. This entails developing railways, river naval lines and unified electricity networks, and that Egypt grants southern citizens all advantages equal to Sudanese citizens in terms of education, work, residence, and entry into Egypt, and redrafting the projects to exploit wasted water in the upper Nile in Bahr El Gabal, Bahr El Gazal, and Mashar Swamps situated in south Sudan.

  1. Benefiting from Green Water

This entails that Egypt: cooperates with the international donor organizations for developing projects in the source countries, transfers agriculture technologies to all Nile basin countries by availing technically qualified irrigation and agriculture engineers, and developing rain harvest technologies and introducing selected seeds and chemical fertilizers.

  1. Creating a social, economic, political observatory

This should be in charge of monitoring changes immediately, analysing indicators and presenting relevant plans. In the event of any internal political tensions in the Nile basin countries, Egypt should adopt a neutral position, stimulate mediations in ethnic and border conflicts taking place in the Great Lakes and African Horn regions to evade the potential sensitivities that might emerge due to aligning with any of the conflicting parties.

  1. Egypt’s Role in Developing Economies

It is recommended that Egypt carries out development projects in Nile Basin countries and cooperates with international organizations in areas of improving health care, and eradicating Endemic diseases that affect public health and consequently productivity.

  1. Forecasting the Impact of Climate Changes

Developing a local model for forecasting the impact of climate change on the Nile basin water yield, in cooperation with the British Meteorology Office.

Authors: Dr. Nisreen Lahham

Dr. Mohamed Saleh

Sahar Sayed Sabry

Sponsors: Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC)
Type: National Technology Foresight Exercise based on desk research and expert opinion.
Organizer: Dr. Nisreen Lahham, Executive Manager, Center for Future Studies,
Duration: 2009 – 2010
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: August 2011

Download EFP Brief No. 252_Egypt’s Water Security

Sources and References

Ayman Alsayed Abdul Wahhab (editor), “River Nile Basin: Cooperation opportunities and problems” (Cairo, Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, 2009).

Mohammad Salman Taye`a, Water Security in the Arab Gulf in a Changing World: between Prerequisites of National Interest and Addressing External Threats, Middle East papers, National Center for Middle East Studies, Vol. 38 October 2007.

Atlas of international agreements on fresh waters, UNEP, FAO, and Oregon University, 2002.

H.J.Brans (ed.), The Scarcity of Water: Emerging Legal and Policy Issues, London, The Hague, Boston, Kluwer International, International Environmental Law and Policy Issues, 1997, 21-39.

Theodore J. Gordon, The Delphi Method, future research methodology – V2.0, AC/UNU Millennium Project.

World Bank, World Development Indicators, Washington, 2007


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

Philine Warnke   

Effie Amanatidou 

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

Download EFP Brief No 251_VERA

Sources and References


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

Links to further results of the VERA project at

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

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

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

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

Creating a Vision of the Future of European Manufacturing

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

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

In sum, the ManVis project addressed the following questions:

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

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

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

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

The ManVis Foresight Approach:
Delphi and Demand-side Scenarios

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

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

Flexible Automation Instead of Unmanned Factory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Integrating Non-technological Aspects

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

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

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

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

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

Direct and Indirect Achievements of the ManVis Foresight

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

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

Effective Dissemination of the Results under Budget Constraints

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

Reaching the Policy Level

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

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

Learning about the Manufacturing Research Needs of the New Member States

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

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

Contributions to EU Enlargement

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

Authors: Dirk Johann   

Elisabetta Marinelli

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

Download EPF Brief No. 247_ManVis_Follow-up

Sources and References

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

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

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

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

Link to the original Foresight Brief No. 53 “European Manufacturing Visions – ManVis 2020”:

EFP Brief No. 238: Research Agenda Dutch Mobility System, Energy System and Built Environment 2040

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Scenario forecasts for the Dutch mobility system, energy system and built environment in 2040 were performed to investigate which knowledge TNO should develop to support and stimulate future innovation in these fields. Three scenario studies were conducted to investigate the Dutch built environment, the Dutch energy system and the Dutch mobility system. The results serve to strengthen the TNO strategy statement.

Identifying Dutch Research Priorities for Future Mobility, Energy and Built Environment

Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO is an independent research organisation whose expertise and research make an important contribution to the competitiveness of companies and organisations, to the economy and to the quality of society as a whole. It’s activities are split into seven thematic domains; healthy living, industrial innovation, defence, safety and security, energy, transport and mobility, built environment and information society.

 TNO needs to update it’s strategy every four years to announce which societal issues it will address in their next strategy period and how it will apply the funds which are administered by the Dutch government. In order to formulate a strategy that is robust for future developments TNO used scenario planning in order to test its strategy against multiple possible future

Creating a Shared Vision

The objective of the scenario study is threefold:

1) to find what knowledge should be developed to deal with future challenges,

2) to test the TNO strategy against future scenario’s

3) to find the most important factors influencing the development of technologies in mobility, energy and the built environment and

4) to create a shared vision on future development amongst the participants.

Scenario Method

For the future forecast TNO applied a scenario method which is based on the original work of Kees van der Heijden for Shell (Heijden, 1996). For each of the three subjects a separate study was performed, consisting of a series of three workshops. Within these workshops the participants identified the main uncertainties in the future developments in the respective fields. Subsequently, these fields were clustered and scored for importance and level of uncertainty. Based on the two most important/uncertain uncertainties the participants developed four scenarios to describe the possible future outcomes.

In the scenario process an average of 25 TNO specialists per subject participated in the scenario development process. Selection of participants was based on coverage of all relevant expertise within the subject, furthermore participants were selected for their ability to overview developments in the entire field. Specialist were available on: key (emergent) technologies, finance, economy, policy, rules and regulations and international relations.


Clusters of Uncertainties

In the first workshop the participants were asked to name the most uncertain factors which would determine the future developments in energy, mobility and the built environment. The results were clustered into 6-15 clusters of uncertainties. Which clusters of uncertainties were most influential and uncertain was determined by popular vote and discussion.

For each subject the project the following major uncertainties were identified:


Strong governmental control vs. market driven and an individual society vs. a collective society.


Governmental control vs. market driven and lack of international cooperation vs. strong international cooperation.

Built environment

An individual risk prone society vs. a collective risk averse society and spread low economic growth vs. concentrated high economic growth.

Within the projects the experts developed two or four scenarios in group discussions. These scenarios are based on the two uncertainties that are considered most uncertain/influential for the subject. In the following sections the results of the scenario studies for the three subjects will be discussed separately. First the scenarios are described, then aspects which are relevant for all different scenarios or vary between scenarios are discussed and finally a draft technological research agenda is compiled.

Mobility: Four Scenarios Discussing the Shades of Governmental Control and Societal Involvement

Scenario I: Driven by individualism, the government limits is effort to a small number of activities that protect the rights of its citizens. The government facilitates market activities by providing a stable environment for economic growth. The scenario shows high economic competition, with a European home-market.

Scenario II: The government is strict, yet righteous. The government uses her influence through laws and setting norms and standards that are based on firm societal support. – after all, these are made in the public interest. Laws and regulations are firmly maintained.

Scenario III: The government has a minor role, market forces are trusted upon to ensure innovation. This way people can vote with their wallets.

Scenario IV: The influence of the government on societal issues is limited. Society is too complex and interests too divers to find a common ground for governmental action. Collective values are shared by joining communities that share our values and warrant your interest.


Mobility in the Context of the Four Scenarios

The developments in the mobility system are very uncertain. All scenarios are equally conceivable. Therefore, a strategy should be developed that is able to cope with different future developments.

Future developments in transport are highly dependent on the available infrastructure, vehicle- and fuel developments and the effect transport has on the environment and society.

All scenarios point to mobility that is concentrated on roads. Congestion will be a lasting problem. External effects are tackled with technological solutions.

Biofuels, hydrogen and electricity will play a more important role in mobility.


Scenario Specific Findings

  • In some scenarios a European network of high-speed rail connections is developed.
  • Solutions to congestion are scenario specific: optimisation of infrastructure usage, transport services or smart logistics.
  • Also solution to externalities are scenario specific, ranging from efficient driving mechanisms to capture of pollutants.
  • Transport- and travel volume are scenario dependent and depend on price. This price may increase, because of internalisation of external cost and high fuel prices, or drop because of more fuel efficient techniques.
  • The degree to which biofuels, hydrogen and electricity will play a more important role in mobility is dependent on the role of the government.

For TNO’S future Technological Research Agenda these findings imply that further knowledge is needed about:

  • Energy efficient vehicles;
  • Alternative driving mechanisms;
  • ITS systems for:
    • Managing mobility issues
    • Managing traffic
      • Communication between vehicles for increased safety and traffic flow enhancement;
    • Impact assessment of infrastructure;
    • Robust infrastructure;
    • Reliability of infrastructure;

Energy: Two Scenarios Discussing the Shades of Governmental Control and International Cooperation

Scenario I: Countries form a collective to face the global challenges, such as climate change. The national government firmly takes the initiative for bringing (sustainable) change.

Scenario II: : International governments and organizations are suspicious of each other. Countries compete for available energy sources. The national government is reactive and aimed at facilitating change processes initiated by industries and NGO’s.

Energy in the Context of the Two Scenarios

The entire built environment will be transformed to become energy neutral. More energy production will take place locally with solar (pv and warmth), Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) and geothermic energy.

Fossil fuels will remain an important source of energy. Whereas, biofuels and hydrogen will only play a small role in the Dutch energy system.

Scenario specific findings

  • The degree to which societal costs are included in the price for fossil fuels is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control.
  • The choice for climate change mitigation or adaptation is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control and international cooperation.
  • The degree to which local energy systems are developed collectively or independently is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control.
  • The emergence of a international smart grid and large scale energy storage capacity is largely dependent on the degree of international cooperation.
  • The large scale deployment of carbon capture and storage is largely dependent on the degree of international cooperation.
  • The substitution of oil by coal of gas is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control

Accordingly, in the energy sector, TNO will need knowledge to boost their Technological Research Agenda. Knowledge is needed about:

  • ways to include new technology in existing products;
  • insulation;
  • separate transport systems for inside and outside cities;
  • preparing the electricity network for larger fluctuations in supply and demand;
  • large scale storage of electricity and warmth;
  • small scale storage of electricity and warmth;
  • how to deal with the interaction between local networks, national networks and international networks of electricity, gas, warmth and CO2;
  • implementation of renewable energy systems;
  • mass-production of renewable energy systems.

Built environment: Four Scenarios Discussing the Shades of Collectiveness and Economic Prosperity

Scenario I: It is a self-service economy. Small government has prevailed. The economy is in a recession, especially in cities, resulting in more regional economic activity.

Scenario II: People strive for individual gain, and are willing to take risks. The Netherlands is a flourishing and innovative country. The economic growth is concentrated around the Randstad and a limited number of other cities.

Scenario III: People are more dependent on each other because of the fragile economic situation.

Scenario IV: Economic prosperity leads to collective appreciation of wellbeing.

Built Environment in the Context of the Four Scenarios

End consumers will get more influence in the building process. Buildings will have to become more adaptable during the different phases of life and individual needs. Elderly people will become a more important target group.

Scenario specific findings

Dense urban environments and intensive land use are themes which are important in the two scenarios with a concentration of economic activity in the Randstad area. In order to tackle the aspects identified in the scenarios, TNO will need knowledge with regard to the Technological Research Agenda on:

  • ways to increase flexibility in the use of buildings;
  • conceptual building methods;
  • re-use of building materials;
  • social-, construction-, traffic- and fire safety;
  • ways to become climate proof;
  • closure of material cycles (urban mining);
  • virtual building;
  • technologies for local energy generation and storage;
  • the effects of climate change;
  • intensive land use.

TNO Strategy Update Every Four Years

In order to formulate a strategy that is robust for future developments TNO used scenario planning in order to test its strategy against multiple possible future. TNO needs to update it’s strategy every four years to announce which societal issues it will address in their next strategy period and how it will apply the funds which are administered by the Dutch government.


Authors: Dr. J. van der Vlies

Drs. G.G.C. Mulder

Sponsors: Dr. H.M.E. Miedema
Type: National foresight exercise, single issue
Organizer: Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO
Duration: Feb-Sept 2009 Budget: 35 kEuro Time Horizon: 2040 Date of Brief: March 2011  


Download EFP Brief No. 238_Dutch Research Agenda.

Sources and References

Heijden (1996), Scenarios – The art of strategic conversation, second edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2005, West Sussex.

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

Lukasz Nazarko

Joanicjusz Nazarko

Joanna Ejdys

Katarzyna Halicka

Urszula Glinska

Alicja Gudanowska

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

Joanicjusz Nazarko

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. 233: A Foresight Approach to Reshape Bogota’s Food Supply and Security Master Plan

Friday, December 21st, 2012

This forward looking exercise suggests a new approach to better structure Bogota’s fruit, vegetable and tuber supply chain by reviewing and reinforcing certain strategies stated in the Food Supply and Security Master Plan (FSSMP) in order to promote actions by the public sector and the stakeholders involved in this supply chain.

Food Supply at Affordable Prices

Bogota’s fruit, vegetable and tuber supply chain involves multiple actors, business models and interests, which are not yet aligned and can hardly be coordinated without both public and private involvement. In 2003, the City of Bogotá commissioned the CPTCIPEC Consortium to conduct a diagnostic study of the food supply chain system and the nutrition of the city’s inhabitants. This study served as input to the Food Supply and Security Master Plan (FSSMP) in 2006. From a nutritional perspective, it identified significant gaps in the intake of some foods, in particular fruits and vegetables, compared to an ideal diet. Concerning the operation of the supply system, it suggested eliminating massive product loss along the supply chain to increase the offer of these foods and reduce the number of middlemen in food markets as a means of lowering prices and making the products more affordable to the general public.

Logistics and Virtual Trade Platforms to Increase Food Supply

The FSSMP suggested the creation of a new food supply system that facilitates direct exchange among producers and retailers. The new organisation would be bolstered by introducing a virtual trade platform for products, a regional network of food consolidation centres and five logistics platforms in Bogota whose main role would be to facilitate cross-docking operations rather than product storage. Therefore, the FSSMP suggested to undertake efforts to establish groups of producers (supply) and retailers (demand) and advance the design and construction (or implementation) of a logistics and e-commerce platform. Despite all efforts, it has been difficult to convince producers and retailers to shift from traditional supply chains to the new scheme proposed in the FSSMP.

A Foresight Approach to Review FSSMP Strategies

New advances in logistics strategy and the first results of implementing the FSSMP show a lack of effectiveness of the strategies originally stated. Therefore, the current study reviewed the initial statements in the FSSMP based on a foresight approach. The foresight methodology used in this study consisted of five stages: pre-foresight, recruiting, generation, action and renewal (Miles, 2002; Popper, 2008b). First, the Master Plan served as input to define the objectives and scope of the exercise. Then, stakeholders and their relationships were identified. Later, system dynamics (SD) was used to model product, information and money flows along the fruit, vegetable and tuber supply chain.

As a result, two scenarios, for five products, are presented that discuss actions by the public sector and reactions to be expected throughout the whole food supply system. Finally, these outcomes are compared to the Master Plan’s objectives and some recommendations are made to improve its implementation. For this exercise, we consulted 247 market storekeepers, 15 experts in the production and trade of fresh products and urban logistics, 5 industry experts, personnel from the Corporación Colombia Internacional (CCI – the trade association of tomato, banana and plantain farmers), 5 managers from the Secretaria de Desarrollo Económico (SDDE) and researchers from MIT-CTL. More specifically, the stakeholders identified in the fruit, vegetable and tuber supply chain are represented in Figure 1:

System Dynamics Inputs: Material, Financial & Information Flows

The metrics of the SD model, such as flows, costs and prices, were defined from secondary sources such as regional and national studies, statistics, polls and governmental reports. Initially, the FSSMP included only material flows and nine scenarios that focused on identifying capacity problems in production, transport, distribution and inflows to Bogota. However, the new SD model developed in this study went further by including, to some extent, the flow of products, money and information of the five most important products (bananas, oranges, potatoes, plantains and tomatoes) in the fruit, vegetable and tuber supply chain.

Material Flow

The actors, represented in boxes, exchange food products. They will send – or ask for – a greater quantity of products through a certain channel depending on supply, demand, prices and costs (Figure 2). Every actor’s purchase and sales prices are determined by adding the previous actor’s costs per unit sold, fixed costs, variable costs, waste costs and expected monthly profit.

Financial Flow

The cash flows represented are costs of transportation, costs of distribution, costs of selection and prices. In addition, delays are depicted as money flows from purchases of middlemen, stores, wholesalers and supermarkets, which are paid in cash (Figure 3). Half of the money from wholesalers’ purchases is given at the moment of product delivery while the remaining half is due one month later. Supermarkets apply a 90-days payment policy to their suppliers, which means that total payment is completed three months after receiving the product.

Information Flow

We observed an exchange of information among stakeholders before the pricing point (represented by a dotted line in Figure 4). There is an exchange of information about purchase prices with the producers, on the one hand, while sales price information flows to the actors forward in the supply chain, on the other. The interaction of actors after price formation produces flows in two senses: information on demand that goes to wholesalers and logistics platforms and information on sales prices that goes to stores and customers.

Scenarios of Producers’ and Storekeepers’ Associations

After identifying these three flows that affect the supply chain under study and including them in the new SD model, eleven new scenarios were defined, but only four were elaborated in the SD model. However, in this work we present only two scenarios for the top five products in order to show the impact of storekeepers’ and producers’ associations. A set of variables in the SD model (tables 1 and 2) was grouped in the following categories: flow changes in distribution channels and variations in product volume, profits and prices. Thus, the model was run to observe the behaviour of these variables for the five selected products.

The first scenario measured the impact of producers’ associations on the supply system (Table 1). It revealed a reduction of transportation costs due to better use of transportation capacity, a wider distribution of products’ consolidation costs since they are divided among all producers and an increase in productivity because producers’ orders are centralised. The producers’ association scenario presents favourable results for the various variables along the supply chain for bananas, oranges and potatoes. However, the variables for plantains and tomatoes show no changes, which is explained by the fact that producers of these products generate enough profits to organise transportation to forward actors in the chain on their own.

The second scenario measured the impact of storekeepers’ associations on the supply chain (Table 2). In this scenario, there are cost reductions in the selection and distribution of products and reductions in sales prices across all five products sold by storekeepers to customers. The main obstacle to achieving an association of storekeepers is the creation of a scheme for stores that allows an agent to delegate the process of sorting fruits and vegetables to the storekeepers selling the products to the final consumers.

Reshaping FSSMP Strategy to Anticipate the Future

This forward looking exercise allowed the SSDE to better understand and implement the FSSMP. The two main scenarios depicted here as well as the SD model for the five products show, to some extent, the relationship between the actors, their interaction, and the structure and performance of Bogotá’s food supply system. The limitations of the model suggest that the food supply in Bogota cannot be studied without considering demand in the rest of the country or the economic feasibility of production. The following conclusions were drawn from the outcomes of this exercise:

1) The priority for products such as bananas and plantains should be to increase production to supply the city instead of reducing prices. The models reveal that the production of these two foods is quite low compared to demand. Nevertheless, food supply of the city should not be considered isolated from demand in the rest of the country.

2) Middlemen and wholesalers do produce value especially in case of products and trade channels with low trade volumes. The study showed that direct supply from producers to stores is more expensive than when other actors are involved. Higher costs arise because of the additional work involved in selecting the products required to replenish the stores. A detailed analysis showed that the cost gap between direct channels and other channels results from the selection costs incurred by stores when
buying directly from producers and from the size of the purchase order to be managed by the seller in-house.

3) Prices tend to even out between different channels. A balance of prices sets in because producers, looking for higher profits, will attempt to supply the channel that represents the highest profit, increasing the products offered through the respective channel. As a result, we can expect this not only to encourage a reduction in prices in this channel but also to reduce or increase existing shortages of products and costs in the other channels accordingly.

In order to reinforce the strategies and recommendations stated in the initial FSSMP and respond to the reality of food supply in Bogota, it is highly recommended

1) to acknowledge the diversity of stakeholders along the supply chain and develop operational or contractual schemes that allow to align efforts and deal with risks;

2) to tackle problems in the fruits and vegetables supply chain by individual product since each product responds to different dynamics of supply and demand;

3) to further develop and improve the SD model as a tool to collect and analyse information regarding the food supply system and further pursue the different research initiatives to accomplish the objectives stated in the Food Supply and Security Master Plan (FSSMP).

Download EFP Brief No. 233_Reshaping Bogota’s Food Supply and Security Master Plan.

Sources and References

Alimenta Bogota Program (2009a): Plan Maestro de Abastecimiento – SDDE. Recuperado el 17 de Febrero de 2011, de Plan Maestro de Abastecimiento – SDDE:

Bogota Program (2009b); Biblioteca | Caracterizaciones. Recuperado el 18 de Febrero de 2011, de Plan Maestro de Abastecimiento:

Miles, I. (2002): Appraisal of Alternative Methods and Procedures for Producing Regional Foresight.

Popper, R. (2008b): How are foresight methods selected? Foresight 10 (6): 62-89.

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,

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

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., last accessed 9 November 2012., last accessed 9 November 2012.

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

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

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

Emerging Technologies
Pose New Threats to Security

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

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

Three Pillars of the Project

FESTOS had three pillars:

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

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

Technology Scanning

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

Determining the Nature and Severity of Threats

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

Scenario Development

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

Control and Prevention

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


 Top Technology Threats and Threat Scenarios

Three Types of Potential Threats

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

Ten New Top Priority Threats

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

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

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

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

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

Four Scenarios for Threat Assessment

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

Scenario 1: Cyber-insects Attack!

Swarms of cyber-insects attack people and animals.

Scenario 2: The Genetic Blackmailers

Individual DNA is misused for purposes of extortion.

Scenario 3: At the Flea Market

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

Scenario 4: We’ll Change Your Mind…

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

Conflict between Security and Freedom of Research

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

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

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


Policy Conclusions

Continuation of Horizon Scanning of Emerging Technologies

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

Academic Freedom in Democratic Societies and “Knowledge Control”

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

Ethical Control and Codes of Conduct

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

Project Assessment, Social Responsibility and Security by Design

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

Networking: the Role of the State and the EU

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

The Role of Education

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

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

Bottom-up vs. Top-down Approaches of Control

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

FESTOS Consortium

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

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

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

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

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

EFP Consulting (UK) Ltd, UK

Authors: Burkhard Auffermann

Aharon Hauptman

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

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

Sources and References


EFP Brief No. 222: The Future of Learning: A Foresight Study on New Ways to Learn New Skills for Future Jobs

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

The Future of Learning (FoL) project aimed to advance the state of the art by developing a range of new and imaginative visions on initial and lifelong learning in Europe by 2025. The foresight project elaborates on six major challenges for future learning. These include multicultural integration, early school leaving, talent development, improving the transition from school to work, re-skilling and re-entry into the labour market. These challenges were elaborated as scenarios and illustrated through six different personas.

Challenges to the EU Labour Market

Europe will be confronted with new challenges arising from the changes in the labour market in the coming decade. Ageing, globalisation, migration and technology will be key drivers of change. By 2020, 16 million more jobs in the EU will require high qualifications while the number of low-skilled jobs will decline by about 12 million. The ageing of European societies means that large numbers of workers will start to retire in the coming years. Labour shortages are expected in many sectors. Dealing with these anticipated shortages and enhancing Europe’s global competitiveness while improving productivity and innovation will require a massive investment in the advancement of skills and competences of Europe’s workforce.

Many jobs will be profoundly affected by global developments and policy decisions. Key global developments include outsourcing and offshoring, which change the number, content and nature of job functions. The broad trends towards sustainable development across Europe and the world will significantly change – in the face of future energy shortages and the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the types of products produced and services rendered as well as the way in which they are produced.

All these developments are taking place in the context of a (financial) crisis that has swept the world since mid-2008 and which is unprecedented in both its size and its effects on production and trade. Depending on the nature and duration of the crisis, the effects on employment will be profound, especially in the manufacturing sectors but with possible knock-on effects on jobs in the public sector as well.

New technologies (information and communication technologies (ICT), biotech, manufacturing) will play a major role in shaping future labour markets. They also pose major challenges for Europe’s education and training systems. ICT will need to play a role in providing education more efficiently as teachers will start to retire in large numbers in the near future. ICT will also allow education and training to become much more effective by enabling new teaching and learning methods and changing the roles of teachers and learners.

Public policies at national and EU levels will be of key importance to support the transition of the labour market towards a very different situation by the year 2025.

Creative Visioning of Innovative Learning

The Foresight on Learning, Innovation and Creativity (FORLIC) project aims to advance the state of the art in learning foresight by developing a range of new and imaginative visions on the key components of creative and innovative learning in Europe by 2020. The foresight project focuses on emergent skills and competences, related changes in roles of teachers and learners in the learning process, implications for the education and training system, the role of ICT as an enabler of change, certification and accreditation, and policy implications.

Project Approach: From Scenarios to Personae Creation

The FoL project involved a number of different activities:

  • Desk research: reviewing relevant foresight studies on learning, ICT, skills and competences, and innovation and creativity.
  • Vision building: organizing a series of online expert and stakeholder consultations and workshops for development of visions on the future of learning.
  • Scenario development: elaborating and assessing a range of scenarios illustrating key challenges identified in the visions in a variety of audio-visual and multimedia formats.
  • Developing policy recommendations: identifying strategic issues for policymakers on new ways to learn new skills for future jobs.
  • Dissemination: disseminating visions and scenarios on relevant online platforms; integrating results of all contributions in a final report synthesising visions, scenarios and key strategic issues.

The review of relevant foresights used a range of different materials including information from the European Foresight Monitoring project (EFMN) and the European Foresight Platform (EFP).

A number of different methods were used in vision building. One was a group concept mapping study undertaken by the Open University (Stoyanov et al., 2010). This method generates, clusters and rates different aspects of possible educational, technological, economic and scientific futures.

The results were used to develop a range of scenarios for initial and for lifelong learning. These scenarios were elaborated as personas illustrating a learning issue or challenge. Initially nine personas were developed (Figure 1).

The personas were used to discuss a range of issues on the future of learning through a series of online expert and stakeholder consultations. These consultations were held through the Future of Learning LinkedIn group. The group had been set up for the purpose and counted over 1100 members. The consultations involved a series of qualitative online discussions and quantitative surveys that served as inputs for elaborating the challenges and personas. Further inputs were obtained through an expert workshop.

The result of this process is a set of visions on creative and innovative learning, which can be employed for scenario-building and illustrating specific challenges. In the process, personas were used to make sure that the scenarios were concrete and embedded within a specific learning context. Different media were employed and some creativity applied in describing the persona and scenarios. An example of a persona illustrating the theme of early school leaving is given in Figure 2 below:

Figure 1: Early School Leaving

A set of policy recommendations suited to tackle the challenges was developed. Finally, six of the nine personas representing key challenges were elaborated into animated video clips, available on YouTube and on the project website.

Figure 2: Overview of Personas


Vision on the Future of Learning

The overall vision based on the group concept mapping, the online stakeholder and expert consultations, and the workshops is that personalisation, collaboration and informalisation (informal learning) will be key trends at the core of learning in the future. These terms are not new in education and training, but they will become the central guiding principle for organising learning and teaching in the future. The central learning paradigm is thus characterised by lifelong and life-wide learning and shaped by the ubiquity of ICT. At the same time, due to fast advances in technology and structural changes in European labour markets related to demographic change, globalisation and immigration, generic and transversal skills are becoming more important. These skills should help citizens to become lifelong learners who flexibly respond to change, are able to pro-actively develop their competences and thrive in collaborative learning and working environments.

New skills. The increased pace of change will bring new skills and competences to the fore, in particular generic, transversal and cross-cutting skills, which will enable citizens to flexibly and proactively respond to change and to seize and benefit from lifelong learning opportunities. Problem-solving, reflection, creativity, critical thinking, learning to learn, risk-taking, collaboration and entrepreneurship will become key competences for a successful life in the European society of the future. While mathematical, verbal, scientific and digital literacy will remain key building blocks for successful participation in society, it will become increasingly important for citizens to have a better understanding and awareness of the natural and social environment in which they live. This will lead to a new focus on nature and health, on the one hand, and on civic competences, on the other.

New learning patterns. With the emergence of lifelong and life-wide learning as the central learning paradigm for the future, learning strategies and pedagogical approaches will undergo drastic changes. With the evolution of ICT, personalised learning and individual mentoring will become a reality. Teachers/trainers will need to be trained to exploit the available resources and tools to support tailor-made learning pathways and experiences that are motivating and engaging while being efficient, relevant and challenging at the same time. Along with changing pedagogies, assessment strategies and curricula will need to change, and, most importantly, traditional education and training institutions – schools and universities, vocational and adult training providers – will need to reposition themselves in the emerging learning landscape. They will need to experiment with new formats and strategies for learning and teaching to be able to offer relevant, effective and high quality learning experiences in the future. In particular, they will need to respond more flexibly to individual learners’ needs and changing labour market requirements.

Initial education will have to address challenges of inclusion of an increasingly diverse population, to ensure participation by all, address the problem of early school leaving, and to foster a wide range of different talents. Lifelong education and training will need to address issues of matching qualifications to labour market requirements, of labour market reintegration to improve labour market participation, and of re-skilling in the face of rapidly changing job content and new technologies. These challenges are elaborated in six key personas (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Challenges and Personas


Download: EFP Brief No. 222_Future of Learning

Authors: Govert Gijsbers             

Bas van Schoonhoven    

Sponsors: JRC-IPTS in collaboration with European Commission DG Education and Culture
Type: European foresight exercise
Organizer: Future of Learning Consortium (TNO, Open University of the Netherlands, Atticmedia)

Contact: Govert Gijsbers,

Duration: 2009-2011
Budget: € 160,000
Time Horizon: 2025
Date of Brief: February 2012

Sources and References

For ongoing discussions, visit the FoL project website at

To see the persona animations, visit the project YouTube channel: Forlic2020 on:…4229.9318.0.10045.…0.0.

Redecker, C. M. Leis, M. Leendertse, Y. Punie, G. Gijsbers, P. Kirschner, S. Stoyanov, and B. Hoogveld. 2011. The Future of Learning: Preparing for Change. Sevilla: JRC-IPTS.

Stoyanov, S., B. Hoogveld and P. Kirschner (2010). Mapping Major Changes to Education and Training in 2025. JRC Technical Note JRC59079,