Posts Tagged ‘services’

EFP Brief No. 217: Sectoral Innovation Foresight: The Sectors

Friday, May 25th, 2012

This brief continues the coverage of the Sectoral Innovation Foresight of Brief no. 216 by taking a closer look at seven out of the nine sectors that were explored in the project as part of the Europe INNOVA initiative: automotive, food and drink, knowledge-intensive services, aerospace, and wholesale and retail. The foresight study aimed to identify potential policy issues and challenges of the future. The emphasis was put on developments that could possibly have a disruptive effect on the sectors under consideration, on the one hand, and on developments that are likely to be of cross-sectoral relevance to innovation, on the other.

Sectoral Futures

The scenarios developed offered a variety of different futures with quite divergent impacts on the competitive landscape, technological progress, environment and society. The scenarios aimed to guide policymakers in considering specific scenarios but were also an attempt to prepare them for more than one possible future. This also helped gauge the extent to which policies maintain flexibility (‘robust strategies’) or focus on one single scenario (‘focused strategies’).

Including the full results for each of the nine sectors would be an impossible task within the format of this foresight brief. Short summaries of the nine sectors will be presented instead. For some sectors short, summaries of the scenarios are included, for others only the key drivers are presented. The complete results are available in the nine sectoral foresight reports, which can be downloaded from the website (see references at the end).

Automotive

The automotive industry has been hard hit by the economic crisis. This has had a strong impact on its future strategic orientation and has triggered the transformation of the sector. Driving factors such as technical advances in developing power train technologies, new manufacturing strategies, market saturation, regulation, energy prices, and mobility behaviour have been considered to be significant.

From a future-oriented perspective, the following four drivers can be considered as particularly influential: (1) income (customers may have more or less relative income available in the future), (2) energy storage (we may see breakthrough innovations with respect to cost and capacity in relation to this crucial component of alternative power train technologies or only incremental innovations), (3) mobility behaviour (we can think of a differentiation of individual mobility or may see a reduction and substitution by public transport), and (4) regulation (ranging from radical attempts to incremental regulations). The last driver is pertinent in this respect as it is influenced by policymakers; hence, policy – more or less proactively – has a considerable influence on shaping the future of the automotive industry.

Construction

The construction sector is of considerable economic and strategic importance: the built environment affects almost every economic and leisure activity. The outputs of the construction sector affect our landscape, our environment, our living and working conditions – and will continue to do so for generations to come. It provides more employment than any other sector. And, more than any other sector, construction accounts for the use of raw materials and production of waste.

The following trends and drivers resulted as being particularly influential, yet uncertain, in the 10-15 years to come: (1) the conditions for the financing of investment (Will there be sufficient public and private financing available?); (2) sustainability (Will sustainability be market or regulation driven?); (3) the role of the public sector (Will public procurement be price-based or performance-based? Will the public sector act as a regulator or as a business operator?); (4) user-driven design (mass production vs. customisation, passive vs. interactive); and (5) labour (Will there be a shortage of people and skills or a surplus through immigration?).

Food and Drink

Currently, the picture of the food and drink industry as well as consumer choices seems to be mixed. Interests range from preferences for natural and minimally processed foods and drinks over specialised, fortified and high-tech nutrition to a diversity of convenience and fast foods. Many different factors, such as economic prosperity, ecological consciousness, environmental problems, food safety concerns, importance of health, technological progress, acceptance of new technology and economic prosperity, can have an influence on the direction of consumer and industry choices.

The scenarios derived from the following trends considered as generally fixed within a short- to mid-term time frame: the increase in global population, a decline of population in many EU countries due to lower birth rates, an increase in life expectancy in EU countries (aging society), and increases in scientific and technological knowledge and possibilities. In addition, the following parameters were considered to vary across the different scenarios and account for their differences: economic prosperity (on a world, country and individual scale), ecological consciousness, environmental problems (occurrences like droughts, floods, extreme weather that could negatively affect food production), food safety concerns (higher vs. lower concerns within society), importance of health (high interest in healthy living vs. rather low interest leading to problems like obesity) and last, technological progress as a function of socio-economic factors that lead to the real application of knowledge and possibilities.

Scenario 1: ‘Business as usual’. This is the reference scenario that depicts the current diversity and huge differences in the food and drink industry ranging from highly fortified and functional food over the trend of natural and organic products to fast food and food with no considerable nutritional value or even harmful ingredients. This scenario does not score high on overall innovativeness, although some sectors (e.g. functional food) will have great potential while others more or less continue their way of only small and incremental improvements in the future.

Scenario 2: ‘Going natural’. This scenario depicts the growing tendency towards less food processing and food products perceived as natural by consumers. Much innovation potential, such as the utilisation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) or nanoparticles in food production as well as other high-tech experiments, is found in areas generally not popular with the consumer. But also conventional ‘fast food’ considered unhealthy will be replaced more and more by other fast alternatives such as salads or fruit. Here, innovations mainly lie in finding ways to process food with healthier ingredients (e.g. natural food additives) or improved testing and process automation. A growing consumer concern over the environment and ethics (e.g. animal rights, fair trade etc.) are driving factors. This scenario is more likely under conditions of higher economic prosperity and greater concern over health issues. But it can also become more likely if the perception of ‘industrial food’ and industrial food producers becomes more negative.

Scenario 3: ‘Cheap and convenient’: This scenario reflects a situation where general prosperity as well as the interest in health, future and innovation declines. Contradictory information about nutritional health benefits as well as scientific fraud combined with higher budget consciousness leads to a growing disinterest of consumers in healthy nutrition. Budget (for some involuntarily), fastness, convenience and indulgence are major drivers. Resources for innovation are rather scarce, and companies are mostly interested in cost reduction.

Scenario 4: ‘High-tech nutrition’: In this scenario, technological progress is fast and developments from different disciplines, from biotechnology to material science, influence innovations in food and drink manufacturing. The consumers tend to increasingly accept novel technologies in the area of food and drink. Health improvement beyond healthy nutrition only stands in the centre of interest. It is considered to be achievable only through advanced technological modifications of food and drink products, which even result in medicinal food.

Scenario 5: ‘Emergency’: This scenario depicts a situation where some of the basic requirements of food security (availability and accessibility) are in jeopardy and the main goal for solutions and innovations lies in getting enough food. The ‘emergency’ scenario is certainly a kind of worst case scenario, but if sustainability were to be neglected, this could become a realistic outcome.

In the principal, technological possibilities in the area of food and drink production is high and even growing. The major challenge, however, lies in bringing these possibilities in line with consumer interests, solving current challenges and fostering the developments towards desirable futures while also stimulating culinary diversity and protecting culinary traditions.

Knowledge-intensive Services

The growth of knowledge-intensive services (KIS), including knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS), has been fuelled by the application of new technologies and changes in demand. The application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is the most important technology driver of growth in KIBS. The application of ICTs creates new service opportunities but also provides new ways to provide services to clients and enhances the range of service firms. Demand-side drivers of KIBS growth include a higher degree of specialisation and division of labour in the economy, which leads to an increasing demand for external expertise and an increasing degree of outsourcing. In addition, internationalisation opens up new markets for service firms and facilitates international off-shoring.

Based on these drivers, the scenarios of the future development of KIBS are sketched along two dimensions: (1) the degree knowledge can be codified, which is key to automated service provision and scale advantages; (2) the stability and fluidity of the business environment, which allows or hampers outsourcing, internationalisation, entrepreneurship and the emergence of new players. Combinations of the two drivers result in four scenarios.

Aerospace

Future developments in the sector are particularly influenced by demand drivers and technology development. Demand drivers differ between aeronautics and space, with demand for aeronautics particularly shaped by expected growth in air travel, which in turn depends on economic growth and fuel prices. Space, on the other hand, is still a largely regulated sector dominated by public demand, making public demand and regulation key demand drivers. Future demand for space applications is largely based on addressing societal challenges, such as security issues, monitoring and managing transport as well as land, water and air resources. Generally, regulation is the largest source of uncertainty, primarily affecting future demand in aeronautics, for example through an emission trading system, but also in the space sector, with regulation touching on liability issues and space tourism.

Key uncertainty factors that have a high impact and account for differences between the scenarios are the availability and price of energy, the level of economic growth and geopolitical uncertainties. These factors were identified as posing the biggest future uncertainties for the sector.

Scenario 1: ‘Global green aerospace’: This scenario describes a peaceful, highly globalised world in 2040 that has successfully taken steps toward an energy transition assuring a secure energy supply at reasonable but increasing prices. Business people but also private individuals enjoy the freedom of being able to travel frequently and far away. Terrorism is not a major threat obstructing air travel. This leads to a flourishing aeronautics and space sector. New technologies and smart regulation lead to radical improvements in aircraft efficiency and emissions while the space sector allows monitoring and tackling many societal issues, such as climate change, environmental resources and mobility. Furthermore, free access to space and a global judicial system for space also allow the sector to flourish commercially.

Scenario 2: ‘Regional aerospace’: This scenario describes a world in 2040 with strong regional power hubs and limited ties between them. No global agreement on climate change has been reached, blocking a smooth transition to renewable alternatives. Access to fossil fuels hence remains important and shapes international relations. This combination of realpolitik and protectionist tendencies leads to slow economic growth and rising energy prices, with large regional differences based on access to oil/gas resources. Europe tries to lead the way but struggles with strong international competitors. While still able to travel globally, people choose to take holiday trips within Europe, largely for economic reasons. With increasing rivalry between global power hubs, access to space becomes more difficult in this climate.

Scenario 3: ‘Zero-sum games’: A rapid energy scarcity leads to highly fluctuating energy prices and interruptions in supply. Globalisation, thriving on cheap energy and transport, comes to a halt with severe economic adjustment processes. International holiday trips are reduced sharply with people adjusting their consumption patterns to a changed economic environment. Countries seek their interests in protectionist policies leading to a downward spiral and breakdown of multilateral institutions. Trade conflicts become the norm with resulting conflicts for access to natural resources. Security expenditure rises steeply at the expense of other policies, such as the environment. European integration is at stake. Overall, this is an unfavourable scenario with regions competing on a zero-sum basis leading to a deteriorating economic and social environment.

Textiles and Clothing

The European textiles and clothing (T/C) sector is undergoing two main simultaneous developments: the move from a labour-intensive, low-technology sector to a knowledge-intensive industry and the ongoing relocation of production out of Europe. While new technological opportunities for the T/C sector are emerging, the move to a knowledge-based sector is still at an early stage and major challenges need to be addressed.

A number of main drivers of change have been identified, including both technological drivers as well as demand-side drivers. Out of these technological drivers, intelligent clothing and smart materials are considered to be of outstanding importance. Findings in other technologies, including ICT and nanotechnology, are of growing importance and increasingly incorporated into textiles and clothing products as well. New production methods are another main technological driver, enabling the T/C sector to reduce the still high share of rather low-skilled manual labour, reduce the amount of energy and raw materials used, and increase the flexibility and quality of production processes. These new products and production methods are complemented by the more frequent use of e-commerce and other interactive technologies, offering a wide range of new business models. On the demand side, changes in consumer behaviour are driven by demographic changes, an increasing consumer awareness of factors affecting health and sustainability, and consumers’ attitudes towards counterfeit goods.

As these drivers are of varying importance to either the clothing or the technical textiles subsector, two sets of scenarios were developed, each illustrating three different developments of the two subsectors within the next five to ten years in Europe.

Wholesale and Retail Trade

The scenarios developed for the retail sector followed the rationale that retailers are the link between consumers, on the one side, and a wide range of actors, on the other, including wholesalers, suppliers, logistics services, providers of payment systems, advertising and marketing agencies, construction services, waste industry and recycling services. The following drivers and trends were considered the most important ones having a high impact: diversification of lifestyles, transportation costs, regulation and the structure of the sector (further market concentration versus a more diverse landscape of retail and wholesale services).

Scenario 1: ‘Big boxes everywhere & green big boxes everywhere’: In this scenario, discounters, supermarkets, hypermarkets and the retail chains are omnipresent. Production and distribution are efficient and the high competition between retail chains forces the retailers to lower costs. Because of the limited number of retail chains the diversity of goods is limited. On the outskirts of towns, large supermarkets target car owners. Retailers are entirely in the lead in terms of what they offer in their ‘big boxes’ and they define what producers have to produce. Retailers are focused on providing relatively low-cost options, achieving economies of scale and offering bundled products and services. The chains develop their own brands while some trusted brands have survived and prospered.

Scenario 2: ‘Local markets – connected through the web’: In this scenario, local markets are strongly based on products produced locally. Because of strategies to reduce environmental impact and ensure continued economic support of farmers and local communities everywhere, local communities in Europe are interested in direct trade with developing countries. There is more local community-based trade between communities in different parts of the world aimed at bypassing established retail supply chains. At the same time, these local markets are linked through web-based networks, establishing a worldwide community of local market actors with the goal of optimising logistics, sharing knowledge on crafts, green production and cooperation. Brands are less powerful, but labels that ensure high environmental and social standards are more influential.

Scenario 3: ‘The digital consumer’: In this scenario, the common internal market for e-commerce is fully realised and shopping takes place through e-commerce. Online shopping and physical shops are combined in various ways: Companies present their products online and organise settings where consuming and shopping is embedded in spectacular events. Tools for virtual experience have been developed, and consumers can learn about products from the experience of interacting with objects, people and the environment. Producers of niche products are expected to benefit from this scenario because they get easy access to consumers and can use the new opportunities provided by social networks.

Scenario 4: ‘The rise of lifestyle stores and malls’: Providing more customer choice to meet changing lifestyle preferences is the defining driver in the ‘lifestyle store’ scenario. In this scenario, people are mainly searching for a stimulating shopping experience. This could be provided by everything from an ‘on-site eco-farmers’ market to a blend of high-tech entertainment and shopping facilities. Lifestyle shopping malls can include one or more buildings forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers and service providers that represent the special lifestyle. The lifestyle-oriented agglomeration of producers and customers offers new market perspectives for specialised producers and services providers that would otherwise not have access to a sufficient quantity of partners and potential clients.

Scenario 5: ‘The supermarket as a public good’: This scenario may arise if values in regard to shopping radically change the retail and wholesale landscape. In this scenario, the main kind of distribution is a type of supermarket that is owned by society not by any individual or company. It pursues democratic values and gives more freedom of choice to the consumer – but also assigns them more responsibilities. Its operations are geared not primarily toward maximising profits but toward fulfilling ethical values and supporting the reshaping of society towards more sustainability and societal soundness. This kind of supermarket could serve the key collective function of providing a place of social integration at the local level. It could lead to more socially and ecologically conscious consumption and force all companies along the supply chain to ensure transparency.

Authors: Annelieke van der Giessen     annelieke.vandergiessen@tno.nl
Sponsors: European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry
Type: Foresight study as part of Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch
Organiser: AIT, TNO with support from other partners in the Sectoral Innovation Watch consortium
Duration: 2008-2010 Budget: 336,000 € Time Horizon: 2020 (2040) Date of Brief: Mar 2012  

Download EFP Brief No. 217_Sectoral Innovation Foresight-Sectors

Sources and References

This foresight brief is based on the sectoral foresight reports from Sectoral Innovation Watch. All nine sectoral foresight reports can be downloaded here: http://www.europe-innova.eu/web/guest/publications/europe-innova-projects-publications

EFP Brief No. 216: Sectoral Innovation Foresight: The Challenges

Friday, May 25th, 2012

The Sectoral Innovation Foresight was part of the Sectoral Innovation Watch (SIW) project within the Europe INNOVA initiative. The foresight study aimed at exploring future developments in nine different sectors in order to identify potential policy issues and challenges of the future. The emphasis was put on developments that could possibly have a disruptive effect on the nine sectors under consideration, on the one hand, and on developments that are likely to be of cross-sectoral relevance to innovation, on the other.

Foresight on Sectoral Innovation Challenges

The Sectoral Innovation Foresight was part of the Sectoral Innovation Watch (SIW) project within the Europe INNOVA initiative. Europe INNOVA was launched by the European Commission’s Directorate General Enterprise and Industry as a laboratory for the development and testing of new tools and instruments in support of innovation with the goal of helping innovative enterprises innovate faster and better. It brought together public and private innovation support providers, such as innovation agencies, technology transfer offices, business incubators, financing intermediaries, cluster organisations and others. SIW aimed at monitoring and analysing trends and challenges. Detailed insights into sectoral innovation performance are crucial for the development of effective innovation policy at regional, national and European levels.

The foresight on sectoral innovation challenges aimed to integrate foresight exercises to understand the dynamics of sectoral systems of innovation. The concept of sectoral systems of innovation and production (Malerba 2002) seeks to provide a multidimensional, integrated and dynamic view of sectors. A sectoral system involves not only a specific knowledge base, technologies, inputs and demands that determine its development, both trends and trend-breaking developments are also drivers of sectoral change. The interactions of the sectoral actors (individuals, organisations, networks, institutions at various levels of aggregation) are shaped by institutions and by drivers of change. Undergoing change and transformation through the co-evolution of its various elements, a sectoral system is affected by science and technology drivers and demand-side drivers as well.

In recent years, a growing number of projects on sectoral innovation systems and on foresight concepts and activities have been initiated while a growing body of literature has been published. However, the two areas remained unconnected. Within the Sectoral Innovation Watch, the connection between these areas has now been made. The aim was to develop methods of sectoral innovation foresight for the development of a future-oriented innovation policy by identifying key drivers, emerging markets and requirements.

Foresight, in the way it was understood in SIW, is not about predicting the future, but follows the approach of ‘thinking, debating and shaping the future’ (European Commission 2002). It thus aims at sketching different reasonable variants of possible future developments (‘scenarios’), the associated challenges, underlying driving forces and options for dealing with them. In order to achieve this, the foresight approach must look beyond current trends (which are nevertheless an important input) and, in particular, into qualitative trend breaks that can give rise to qualitatively different future development paths in the sectors under study. It is when these qualitative trend breaks are superposed that major changes in both innovation and markets can happen.

This foresight exercise intended to look beyond time horizons that can be addressed by simply extrapolating current trends. In other words, to look sufficiently ahead for major changes to happen while at the same time staying sufficiently close to the present to remain relevant to decision-making during the next couple of years. While for some fast-changing sectors this may imply a three- to five-year time horizon (e.g. biotechnology), for others (e.g. construction) a ten-year time horizon may be more appropriate.

The nine sectors under study in the Sectoral Innovation Watch were:

  • biotechnology,
  • electrical and optical equipment,
  • automotive,
  • space and aeronautics,
  • construction,
  • wholesale and retail trade,
  • knowledge intensive services,
  • food and drink,
  • and textiles.

Enhancing Innovation and Competitiveness

The main objectives of the sectoral foresight exercise can be summarised as follows:

  • Explore and identify the main drivers of change in the nine sectors under study. These drivers will be both internal and external to the sectors, with several of them being of a crosscutting nature.
  • Identify and assess key future developments (i.e. main drivers, innovation trajectories, emerging markets, necessary co-developments, etc.). The emphasis is put on likely future innovation themes and emerging markets, more specifically also on the requirements and impacts that these innovation issues and emerging markets raise in terms of skills requirements, organisational, institutional and structural changes in the sectors concerned.
  • Develop scenario sketches for the sectors under study that capture the major uncertainties ahead of us.
  • Highlight key policy issues for the future, with a view to enhancing the innovation performance and competitiveness of firms operating in these sectors.

A Sectoral Perspective on Foresight

Foresight aims at sketching different reasonable variants of possible future developments, the associated challenges, underlying driving forces and options for dealing with them. In order to achieve this, the foresight approach looks at driving forces, captured for instance in trends and trend breaks. Recognizing the fact that future developments are by their very nature uncertain and open to value judgement, foresight covers activities to think the future, debate the future and shape the future. It is thus not a tool for predicting the future but a process that seeks to develop shared problem perceptions, make differences in expectations explicit and identify needs (and options) for action.

Thinking, debating and shaping the future of different but interlinked sectors is crucial today because innovation is a collectively shaped, distributed, and path-dependent process. Thinking, debating and shaping the future of sectoral systems has to embed the sector developments in contextual developments.

Innovation at the sectoral level depends to a large extent on the developments within the innovation system, but it is also driven by developments in its environment, like for instance changes in science and technology. To explore future patterns of innovation, it is thus necessary to investigate these contextual developments as well as corresponding developments within a sectoral innovation system.

For the purpose of the sectoral foresight exercise, the main building blocks of sectoral systems of innovation and production have been adjusted in order to integrate them with the foresight approach. This has led to a simple pattern of analysis, along the lines of which the sectoral foresights will be structured. The essence of this approach can be captured by the subsequent building blocks (see Figure 1, next page):

  • Drivers, i.e. emerging trends and trend breaks in S&T developments, of expected demand – both internal and external to the sectors under study – that are likely to exert a major influence on emerging innovation themes. Broader crosscutting developments/trends (e.g. the extent to which globalisation affects a sector) are also taken into account.
  • Innovation themes, which are seen as the results of the interplay of S&T developments and changes in expected demand.
  • Emerging markets, which can achieve significance if an innovation theme evolves successfully, i.e. if potential barriers can be overcome and enablers be strengthened.
  • Co-developments in and around a sectoral innovation system; they can serve as enablers of and barriers to innovation. They can even be essential in order to allow markets to emerge. Such co-developments reflect the aforementioned building blocks of sectoral innovation systems.

For the purposes of this exercise, we will refer specifically to

  • organisational changes at the firm level,
  • firm strategies for dealing with emerging drivers
  • skills requirements needed, for instance, to absorb S&T developments,
  • structural changes, i.e. changing configurations of actors in a sector,
  • institutional change, i.e. changes in the ‘rules of the game’ determining the interactions between the actors.

In addition to these four building blocks, the co-evolutionary dynamics of innovation and change in a sector are captured by way of scenarios. Scenarios are to be understood as plausible and at the same time challenging combinations of these building blocks in a future-oriented perspective. Due to the uncertainties associated with contextual developments as well as with all other elements of the innovation system analysis, it is essential to think in terms of several, qualitatively different scenarios of the future, especially if a time horizon is chosen that goes beyond the scope of extrapolating current trends and aims at qualitative changes. In particular, the interplay of different drivers and their mutual reinforcement can give rise to major, even disruptive changes in sectoral innovation systems, with major implications for firm strategies as well as public policy.

The SIW foresight exercise was implemented in four main steps and the results of these steps were integrated in nine sectoral foresight reports:

State of the Art Analysis

For each sector a review of secondary sources on foresight was carried out. This review covered, in particular, the situational analysis, the analysis of drivers of change, as well as a first view on innovation themes. The nine interim sector papers served as input to the workshop on ‘Sectoral innovation foresight: key drivers, innovation themes & emerging markets’ that took place on 23-24 June 2009 in Brussels.

First Foresight Workshop

This first workshop aimed at validating and deepening the findings on drivers and innovation themes but also at exploring first ideas about future sector-level scenarios and associated co-developments. Interim findings were presented and discussed in working groups that dealt specifically with each individual sector as well as with the main crosscutting issues. The discussions with and feedback from the sector experts across Europe helped validate the interim results on key drivers, innovation themes, related emerging markets and associated requirements, and thus contributed to identifying the crucial issues for the future. The first workshop was attended by 60+ key players from the nine sectors, including industry representatives, scientists, foresight experts and policy advisors.

Deepening Findings and Scenario Development

On the basis of the results of the first workshop, the preliminary findings on emerging developments in the sectors were deepened. In particular, this phase evaluated the inputs to the scenario sketches from the first workshop and provided further input for the development of scenarios. Interviews were used to refine the understanding of the role of co-developments for the emergence of markets related to the innovation themes identified.

Second Foresight Workshop

Scenarios played a central role at the second foresight workshop in December 2009. Moreover, cross-sectoral issues were addressed, like, for instance, common drivers of change across sectors or inter-linkages between them. The second workshop also aimed at extracting those issues that – from a forward-looking perspective – are likely to require policy attention. The second workshop was attended by 60+ key players from the nine sectors, including industry representatives, researchers, foresight experts and policy advisors.

Futures Robust Policy Analysis

The finding of commonalities across all sectors reveals what generic factors would be part of the basic pool of drivers to consider when aiming to for policy flexibility (‘robust policy strategies’) in the medium term. This will not reduce uncertainty but can improve preparedness against unforeseen developments while contributing to better policies focused on one single scenario (‘focused strategies’).

In general, there are four main axes that, according to the foresight exercises done, are likely to determine and organise to a large extent the future development of the sectors of interest of the Sectoral Innovation Watch. These are, in no order or priority, general macroeconomic conditions, government policy and intervention, science and technology advances, and the human factor understood as susceptibility of population and democratic systems to broad societal challenges. In addition to these four main axes, other important key organisers of future sectoral developments include energy consumption and pricing and global industrial dynamics.

General Macroeconomic Conditions

The levels of income, aggregated demand and availability of capital are strongly related to macroeconomic growth. Here income must be understood as a factor that affects supply and demand factors. On the supply side, general macroeconomic conditions affect the cost and availability of financing, not only of R&D and innovation but also general investments in infrastructures and production systems. In turn, poor macroeconomic conditions affect employment and overall household income, thus influencing demand for goods and services across an economy. Despite the importance of innovation in the increase in total factor productivity and its effects on growth, the sectors under study are part of a larger industrial ecosystem where typical macroeconomic parameters affected by events beyond the industrial system produce chain reactions across sectors (i.e., the recent financial crisis). Close monitoring of interest rates, trade balances, and overall government expenditure and deficits at the national level must be considered in the design of any sectoral policy.

Government Intervention

Government intervention in the form of regulation is one of the largest sources of uncertainty across all sectors. Its development and stringency along the business cycle is a major moderator of science and technology applications (innovation). Entire sectors (e.g. space) depend to a large extent on public procurement. The empirical analysis of the SIW on the role of regulation to moderate innovation confirms the important role of regulation on innovation performance. Empirical evidence indicates a positive relationship between regulation and innovation.

Science and Technology Developments

The foresight exercise conducted considered a large array of new technologies and innovation efforts likely to influence the direction and rate of growth in all sectors. Any sectoral policy must have a clear consideration of unexploited opportunities and technologies and innovation. An additional factor in this driver is the increasing pace of technological convergence that key enabling technologies bring. The set of foresight reports in the SIW have provided a broad account of current and near future innovations that will transform the sectors of interest to a certain extent.

Human Factor

‘Human factor’ refers to the susceptibility of citizens to very diverse issues that could be technology related or not. Important issues could be sustainability effects of consumption, travel behaviour, lifestyles, value given to health, safety, security, or risk technology perception, etc. Any demand-side policy targeting final or intermediate consumers or users of goods and services must take into account the susceptibility of the target population to a specific issue associated with the technology or innovation of interest.

Global Industrial Dynamics

Global industrial dynamics includes a number of issues that determine the evolution of sectors. These include market structures, market saturation, flexibilisation of supply and demand, availability of skilled labour and the return of the issue of global value chain dominance. In itself, industrial dynamics is a major determinant of the evolution of sectors. Any policy initiative not incorporating clear conceptions of the likely evolution of industrial dynamics in the medium term will have little chance of success.

The five factors described above form part of any robust policy that would ensure sufficient flexibility to face uncertainty and potentially haphazard sectoral developments.

Authors: Annelieke van der Giessen     annelieke.vandergiessen@tno.nl
Sponsors: European Commission, DG Enterprise & Industry
Type: Foresight study as part of Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch
Organizer: AIT, TNO with support from other partners in the Sectoral Innovation Watch consortium
Duration: 2008-2010 Budget: € 336,000 Time Horizon: 2020 (2040) Date of Brief: Mar 2012  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 216_Sectoral Innovation Foresight Overview

Sources and References

This foresight brief is based on several sectoral foresight deliverables from Sectoral Innovation Watch. The two main sources concern:

Montalvo C. and A. van der Giessen (2011) Sectoral Innovation Watch – Synthesis Report, Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch, for DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission, December 2011.

Weber, M., P. Schaper-Rinkel and M. Butter (2009) Sectoral Innovation Foresight – Introduction to the Interim Report, Task 2, Europe INNOVA Sectoral Innovation Watch, for DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission, July 2009

EFP Brief No. 159: ForeSec: Europe’s Evolving Security

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The objective of ForeSec is to tie together the multiple threads of existing work on the future of European security in an attempt to provide a more coherent guidance, orientation and structure to all future security-related research activities. It aims at enhancing the common understanding of the complex global and societal nature of European security in order to pre-empt novel threats and capture technological opportunities. The project takes a participatory approach in an attempt to facilitate the emergence of a coherent and ho-listic approach to current and future threats and challenges to European security. ForeSec builds a pan-European network around the European security foresight processes and helps foster a societal debate on European security and security research. As this brief is published, ForeSec still has a few months of project work lying ahead. Accordingly, all results presented here are merely intermediate.

EFMN Brief no. 159_ForeSec

EFP Brief No. 158: MONA: A European Roadmap for Photonics and Nanotechnologies

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Photonics and nanotechnologies are highly multi-disciplinary fields and two of the principal enabling technologies for the 21st century. They are key technology drivers for industry sectors such as information technologies, communication, biotechnologies, transport, and manufacturing. Photonics/nanophotonics and nanomaterials/nanotechnologies can benefit from each other in terms of new functions, materials, fabrication processes and applications. The MONA Roadmap identifies potential synergies between photonics/nanophotonics and nanomaterials/nanotechnologies. The challenge of mastering nanoelectronics and nanophotonics science and technologies at an industrial scale is of utmost strategic importance for the competitiveness of the European industry in a global context.

EFMN Brief No. 158_MONA

EFP Brief No. 156: Healthy and Safe Food for the Future – A Technology Foresight Project in Central and Eastern Europe (Futurefood6)

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Futurefood6 is a project developed to assist Central and Eastern European countries in reaching international standards throughout the whole food chain and, in turn, to enhance overall European competitiveness by developing an industry that stands for safety, diversity, sophistication and products of a high quality. It mobilises stakeholders from the food industry, research, academia, the state and public sector, decisionmaking bodies and the public to create a desirable set of future visions for the food industry in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) for 2020.

EFMN Brief No. 156_Futurefood6

EFP Brief No. 155: A Roadmap for the Commercial Development of Medicinal Plants of the Andean Region of South America

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The main objective of the project was to establish a future vision (2020) and define the best means for the production, commercialization and innovation of products on the basis of medicinal plants of the Andean region of South America that would contribute to its social and economic development.

EFMN Brief No. 155_Andean Medicinal Plants

EFP Brief No. 154: Looking Forward in the ICT and Media Industry – Technological and Market Developments

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The project was an activity within the framework contract between the European Parliament and ETAG, the European Technology Assessment Group, to carry out TA studies on behalf of the Parliament’s STOA Panel in view of the growing importance of a European science and technology policy. The purpose of this particular project was to identify current and expected technological and market developments in the field of ICT with an impact on the media industry and to indicate regulatory challenges and requirements stemming from the anticipated changes. The main target group are the Members of the European Parliament; the wider addressee is the interested public.

EFMN Brief No. 154_ICT and Media Industry

EFP Brief No. 153: Extremadura Regional Foresight Exercise

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

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

EFMN Brief No. 153_Extremadura_Foresight

EFP Brief No. 152: Combining ICT and Cognitive Science: Opportunities and Risks

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Many experts think that the technological convergence of previously separated sciences like nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and communication technologies and cognitive sciences will have a deep, long-term impact on society and economy. Key actors in society need to become aware of the challenges linked to converging applications (CA) and take decisions in support of developing them. By analysing CA-related opportunities and risks at a very early stage, we hope to contribute to reducing possible adverse effects in the future.

EFMN Brief No. 152_ICT and Cognitive Science

EFP Brief No. 150: Strategic Capacity Building in Clusters to Enhance Future-oriented Open Innovation Processes

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

For the purpose of increasing and sustaining business and regional long-term competitiveness, information and training modules were developed to enrich cluster development policies with tools that give incentives for and facilitate ‘outward-looking’ (open innovation) and forward-looking (foresight, technology assessment) activities and thus provide strategic guidance for developing future-proof, open innovation processes. After testing the tools in ICT, mechatronics and life sciences clusters, they are now being applied in a trans-regional foresight approach to develop a joint research agenda for clusters in the economically more and more important creative industries.

Regional Cluster Development to Systematically Boost Innovation

In the globalising knowledge economy, regional clusters are increasingly understood – in particular with respect to their ‘non-regional’ dimensions – as local nodes in global knowledge
flows. The Innobarometer 2006 on clusters’ role in facilitating innovation in Europe confirmed that companies situated in clusters are more innovative and competitive than companies outside. In strategically guided and well-managed clusters, the enhanced innovativeness and competitiveness at the firm level finally results in sustainable regional economic development. Thus, policy-makers at all administrative levels use cluster support instruments to systematically boost innovation and competitiveness of both businesses and regions. The cluster concept captures current discussions of managing (regional) innovation systems and open innovation processes at both the regional and business level. At the business level, management professor H. Chesbrough claims a fundamental shift in innovation paradigms from closed to open innovation and advocates collaborative and open innovation strategies and open business models to take the full benefit from collaborating with external partners. More and more, (in particular multinational) enterprises take into account, in addition to internal resources, the competences of external partners to meet the challenges of  ncreased complexity of research, technological development and innovation (RTDI), growing global competition leading to shortened ‘time to market’ etc. Regional clusters as ‘innovative hot spots’ and local nodes in global innovation networks play an important role for companies looking for external partners to form strategic RTDI collaborations. The business strategy of collaborative and open innovation at the micro-level poses considerable challenges for macro-level innovation policy. For example, new complex interactions and relationships emerge and continue to evolve between public
research organisations and industry, which in turn lead to new ways of organising and managing R&D and innovation by all stakeholders in an innovation system. Thus, horizontal and vertical coordination of policies and support of cross-sectional linkages and networks are imperative for systemic and interactive RTDI policy making. In this respect, (trans-) regional cluster development is broadly seen as an adequate and effective instrument to enhance and coordinate knowledge flows and collaboration between regional stakeholders coming from industry, science and public administration.

Linking Forward- & Outward-looking Approaches

Both the discussions on open innovation business strategies and on systemic regional innovation policies emphasize the vital role of strategic intelligence for innovation and point to the value added of linking forward-looking and openinnovation-focused approaches.
To develop and implement successfully future-oriented collaborative and open innovation processes, businesses rely on strategic economic and business intelligence in order

  • to generate common visions about longer-term market and
    technological developments,
  • to derive promising new products and services and define
    future business models, and
  • to develop and agree on joint innovation projects with
    external strategic partners.

Thus, in a world of open innovation, future-oriented technology analyses – comprising foresight and technology assessment activities – are decisive for strategic knowledge generation and transferring it into new products and services. The faster and easier businesses gain access to strategic knowledge and integrate it in their company strategy, the more successful they will be. This becomes evident in ‘business ecosystems’ where businesses co-evolve their capabilities around new technologies and jointly design a kind of ‘mass customization’ of new products and services to satisfy individual customer needs and to succeed in the worldwide ‘competition for the future’. Though, many enterprises (in particular SMEs) mostly rely on more easily accessible, short-term market information (e.g. from their clients). They often do not know how to sustainably
realise their full market potential by

  • thinking and acting more in a longer-term perspective and
  • developing strategic alliances and networks.

Due to restricted internal resources, most of them would have to use external strategic knowledge if they realise the need to change their business-as-usual approaches. In this context, strategic cluster support instruments can help these enterprises meet future challenges and support strategic capacity building in the region. Strategic cluster support combines forward- and outward-looking approaches (e.g. in cluster foresight type activities) to facilitate knowledge creation processes contributing to long-term competitiveness and sustainable economic development. Specifically, it

  • promotes knowledge exchange and strategic learning processes between cluster stakeholders in order to create a localised and unique knowledge stock,
  • facilitates cross-cluster, trans-regional and transdisciplinary knowledge flows and strategic business linkages to enrich and refresh the local knowledge pool with external impulses and to leverage complementary assets
    and capabilities of clusters in different regions, and enables cross-cluster policy learning and pursuit of common aspects of strategic cluster policies.

Orchestrating Business and Cluster Strategies

The sustainable success of cluster development depends substantially on the concerted actions of many different actors – multiple levels of government and public agencies, companies, educational and research organisations etc. In this context, it is crucial to develop a common vision and to  implement a cluster strategy that

  • reflects the specific needs of the cluster stakeholders,
  • focuses on the most promising international technology and market development perspectives, and
  • integrates a broad range of (European, national and regional) public policies and private sector activities.

Combining forward- and outward-looking approaches also means

  • to provide the regional stakeholders with strategic longerterm orientation by taking stock of available strategic knowledge from both public (e.g. regional foresight) and private actors (e.g. from corporate foresight or roadmapping activities in large companies) and
  • to align business strategies and longer-term regional cluster strategies.

To summarise, succeeding in linking forward- and outwardlooking approaches and creating a multi-actor, multi-level coherence of strategies and congruent activities means leveraging synergies.  Multiplier effects can be achieved (e.g. bundling forces to boost innovation effectively), and better – because broadly based and mutually strengthening – economic decisions lead to increased and  sustained business and regional competitiveness. These positive impacts can be made sustainable if, in addition to facilitating access to external strategic knowledge, the strategic capacities of the  innovation actors themselves are systematically built up in a way that takes into consideration their different absorptive and knowledge management capabilities.

The Connect2Ideas Approach – Strategic Capacity Building in Clusters

The FP6-funded project Connect2Ideas (June 2006 to May 2008) aimed at fostering trans-national technology transfer – mainly between multinational enterprises (MNEs) and SMEs – by enhancing future- and open-innovation-oriented thinking and acting in SMEs, related business networks and clusters. In this context, the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum (SEZ) developed a series of two consecutive workshops on Strategic Capacity Building & Open Innovation and tested it in three regional clusters in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany with varying open innovation regimes and institutional settings (ICT, mechatronics and life sciences clusters). The strategic experience and knowledge of MNEs, for instance through corporate foresight, strategic planning and open innovation, should be used to improve strategic capacities also in their business environments (clusters, regions and institutions)

  • to overcome mostly short-term orientation by recognising the strategic relevance of future-oriented collaborative and open innovation activities,
  • to develop common visions concerning future trends and challenges (using horizon scanning techniques with a time horizon of ten years) and, based on these results,
  • to derive joint innovation projects aiming at sustainable long-term cooperation.

Target groups and participants were MNEs (e.g. Siemens, IBM, SAP) with deep roots in the region, SMEs, research and education organisations and other regional stakeholders including representatives from public RTDI funding agencies and public administration.
The preparation phase included

  • identifying and mobilising MNEs, company networks and business clusters and
  • analysing in an innovation audit type approach the strengths and weaknesses of the cluster-related innovation system with specific focus on the barriers to open innovation processes.

Common Vision about Trends and Challenges

The first workshops introduced various methods, concepts and approaches to strategic ‘future management’ and then focused on the development of a common vision about future trends
and challenges using specific foresight and TA elements and techniques such as

  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)/ STEEPV (social, technological, economic, environmental, political and values) analyses to identify key global trends
  • and (based on local strengths and weaknesses identified in advance) to discuss common longer-term challenges and opportunities, and impact analyses to assess the impact of the most relevant trends with a specific focus on business perspectives: for instance, future markets (customer needs), business models, innovation and value creation processes, requirements with regard to human resources (qualifications, skills) etc.

Future-oriented Open Innovation Processes

Based on the results of the first workshops, the subsequent workshops and follow-up activities focused on the development of joint innovation projects aiming at sustainable longterm cooperation using techniques such as

  • technology watch/scouting to identify existing or wanted technologies in the international business environment,
  • value chain analysis to identify potential international cooperation partners in the respective global value chain and innovation network, and
  • partner search and search for funds to identify potential strategic cooperation partners for the cluster stakeholders including relevant funds (e.g. FP7, CIP, ERDF, national, regional) for subsidising the strategic collaboration.

Success Factors and Outcomes

Critical success factors of the workshop series included the comprehensive preparation in close coordination with the responsible cluster organisations (e.g. preparing a draft SWOT and value chain, motivating the relevant cluster stakeholders, attracting high-reputation external experts for keynote speeches etc.). The quality of the introductory statements of the keynote speakers was also important to stimulate a constructive debate on future trends, specific impacts and open innovation processes. These workshops could only prepare the ground for forward- and outward-looking thinking and acting. Thus, interested cluster actors and stakeholders were provided with ongoing advice and assistance for implementation. The pilot workshops in Baden-Wuerttemberg contributed to increasing the strategic capacity at the firm level as well as at the level of regional economies and decision-makers:

  • They provided a basis for collaborative innovation projects with regional and international partners in the specific cluster and regional value chain (e.g. in the context of the German ‘Excellence Cluster’ competition).
  • The involved ministry decided to continue the workshop series in the framework of its participative regional innovation and new cluster policy. In this respect, the workshops
    served as a trigger for further cluster foresight activities in Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Outlook:
From Connect2Ideas to CReATE

The Connect2Ideas approach highlights the fact that strategic guidance enriches traditional regional RTDI policy instruments by generating a creative atmosphere and a seedbed for ongoing learning processes. Thus, it provides – independent of different local open innovation regimes and   institutional settings – a genuine value added – both for businesses and cluster policies. The Strategic Capacity Building & Open Innovation workshops demonstrate how linking forward-looking and openinnovation- focused approaches can support strategic capacity building in clusters and thus enhance future-oriented open innovation processes at the business and regional levels:

  • Businesses overcome their mostly short-term orientation by recognising the strategic relevance of longer-term perspectives and collaboration with external partners.
  • Regional RTDI policy-makers take into account the specific needs of the cluster stakeholders with respect to future challenges and opportunities, and, on this base, create long-term, sustainable competitiveness perspectives and framework conditions for the innovation systems.
  • Aligning future-oriented business strategies and longerterm regional cluster strategies lead to better, broadly based and mutually strengthening innovation processes contributing to increased and sustained competitiveness.

Based on the Connect2Ideas experience and in the context of the German (national) ‘Excellence Cluster’ competition, SEZ developed specific training modules for facilitating and improving
strategic cluster development at multiple levels:

  • cluster level: developing a common vision and strategy for the cluster and defining an action agenda that reflects the unique needs and capacities as well as the most promising international technology and market development perspectives;
  • ‘sub-cluster’ level: refining the cluster strategy, adopting the strategy and agenda to the specific needs and capacities of the respective ‘sub-cluster’ network and implementing concrete joint actions;
  • single firm level: training in future-oriented strategic innovation management results in an endogenous base for competitive, business specific roadmaps and strategies.

This triad in developing innovation-related strategies in clusters leads to aligned innovation processes and therefore increases the impact of coordinated RTDI actions. To avoid negative rigidity
and lock-in effects and to create a climate conducive to visionary, out-of-the-box thinking, the knowledge exchange with external partners is an important element in all strategy processes. In this respect, SEZ took up the Connect2Ideas approach and elaborated for the FP7-funded ‘Regions of Knowledge’ project CReATE (March 2008 to October 2010) a methodology to develop a trans-regional joint research agenda for clusters in creative industries sectors. Creative industries already contribute substantially to economic value creation and employment, and their importance is expected to grow further. So far, however, only some regions benefit from the economic stimuli of creative industries. In addition, enterprises in this sector highly depend on transregional and trans-disciplinary collaboration. Addressing both issues, CReATE aims at boosting the sector as a whole in Europe, especially by stimulating future-oriented open innovation processes between the  takeholders of creative industries clusters. The CReATE methodology uses a modified Connect2Ideas approach to define research priority areas decisive for the future innovativeness and competitiveness of the clusters. Agreeing first on regional priority areas (based both on regional excellence and ‘aspirations’), a trans-regional joint research agenda will be elaborated in a coordinated process of interlinked regional and trans-regional phases. By integrating the broad spectrum of stakeholders (including funding bodies), regional and trans-regional project ideas will be developed. The impact aimed for is to improve the innovativeness and international competitiveness of the creative industries in the participating regions, but also to stimulate growth beyond them in the EU. Processes of learning from and dissemination of the approach and findings beyond the project frame will be secured by tailored training workshops on future-oriented strategy development for companies and cluster managers.

 

Authors: Dr Björn Sautter sautter@steinbeis-europa.de
Dr Günter Clar clar@steinbeis-europa.de
Sponsors: European Commission (FP6/FP7), DG ENTR / DG RTD; regional bodies and enterprises
Type: Cluster foresight exercise
Organizer: Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum, Stuttgart, Germany (responsible for the project parts described in this brief)
Duration: 2006 – 2010
Budget: € 370,000
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: Septmeber 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 150_Open Innovation

Sources and References

Project website Connect2Ideas: www.connect2ideas.com
Project website CReATE: www.lets-create.eu
For further information, please contact
Dr Bjoern Sautter (sautter@steinbeis-europa.de), or
Dr Guenter Clar (clar@steinbeis-europa.de)
http://www.steinbeis-europa.de/340.html