Posts Tagged ‘technological innovation’

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:

Mobility

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

Energy

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      jaap.vandervlies@tno.nl

Drs. G.G.C. Mulder      guus.mulder@tno.nl

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. 236: Assessing Dutch Defence Needs Follow-up

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Under the influence of (inter)national technological, political and economic developments, the Dutch defence industry is increasingly intertwined with and developing towards a civilian industry. Consequently, the political responsibilities, atti-tudes and criteria are changing for both the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Economic Affairs. An analysis of the Dutch defence industry helped to determine the main opportunities for innovation in the industry and to identify the com-plementary technological competences needed to make the most of them. A strategic vision, including options for innova-tion policy, was developed as well. In this follow-up brief, we reiterate the background, approach and results of the initial foresight study and describe its impact in the years to follow.

Transition of Defence

Historically, “defence” supports national strategy, in which nations have built their own forces, defence industry and knowledge infrastructure. Consequently, within nations there arose a demand driven chain with a solid and confidential relationship between the parties in a closed chain, also discerning the industry from ‘civil’ industries. However, technological, political and economic developments in the last twenty years are changing defence radically. Issues such as the end of the Cold War, decreasing budgets, international cooperation, international organization of forces, industries and knowledge infrastructure, growing use of civil technologies, civil industries and civil markets, ‘the war on terrorism’, and homeland defence have entered the stage. Consequently, the political responsibilities, attitudes and measurements are changing for both the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, while the defence industry and knowledge infrastructure is increasingly intertwined and developing towards a civil industry and knowledge infrastructure. This critical transition of the defence chain demands timely strategic information and a vision to anticipate effectively. For ministries this means a clear view on responsibilities, effective investment strategies for a capable future force and an effective industry and innovation policy. The defence industry increasingly has to deter-mine their most favourable innovative possibilities.

Developing a New Strategic Vision

As a result, the ministries wanted to assess four is-sues/developments and formed working groups to prepare the strategy. Four groups were formed to

– Inventory the relevant international developments,

– determine success factors of international cooperation in procurement,

– determine priority technological areas for the defence industry which are for interest for the domestic market, and

– policy instruments to strengthen the strategic vision.

The third question concerning the identification of priority technological areas was the core issue in this project and divided into four sub questions:

  1. What are the current strengths of the Dutch defence industry?
  2. What are international opportunities for innovation in the defence market?

Structural Approach Based on Clusters

The challenge of the exercise was to systematically translate the four sub questions into perspectives on technological clusters or innovation opportunities. This makes the outcomes comparable. Every perspective was analysed and then translated into a codified taxonomy of technologies developed by the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG); this WEAG-classification on defence technologies is generally accepted within the defence sector. This taxonomy includes technology, products and intelligence or as they are called ‘underpinning technologies’, ‘systems-related technologies’ and ‘military assessments, equipment and functions’.

Additionally, the WEAG-classes were checked for interrelation such that priority clusters are formed and interpreted, which seem to combine specific technologies with products and intelligence. Finally, these priority clusters are compared such that a final reflection is made from the four different perspectives (see figure 1).

For determining the strengths of the defence industry, companies were analysed and a computer aided workshop including the industry was organized (Group Decision Room). The innovative opportunities were inventoried based on desk re-search and interviews with leading parties. Future needs of the military forces were inventoried and weighted based on al-ready planned investments by the Ministry of Defence. Finally, the civil market was assessed by experts based on most relevant societal challenges.

Below the analysis on current strengths is elaborated. For foresight purposes, the results on innovative opportunities are also included.

Outcomes: New Paradigm of Effectiveness

Military operations are increasingly operations other than war, such as peace operations, foreign humanitarian assistance and other military support to civil authorities. Consequently, governments turned their focus on the ultimate goal of ‘effect-based [security] operations’. In practice, effect-based operations imply a joint and combined cooperation between different armies and forces resulting in a transformation of a plat-form-centric force into a network-centric force. The term “network-centric warfare” or “network enabled operations” broadly describes the combination of emerging tactics, techniques, and procedures that a fully or even partially networked force can employ to create a decisive advantage. On the whole, the defence sector still innovates on platforms, weaponry and increasingly on intelligence. Figure 3 below shows all innovation themes which are on the agenda of the defence sector.

Innovation themes are divided into underlying innovative opportunities, translated in the WEAG-classification and finally clusters are identified. The main clusters are C4I, sensor systems and integrated system design and development.

Information Based Services

The clusters arising from the four perspectives are compared with each other to identify the main clusters. Table 3 below shows the synthesis.

Type 1 clusters can be regarded as broad, strong clusters, with a good industry base and market potential in domestic, inter-national and civil markets. This first type of cluster represents information based services for the Dutch industry. Type 2 clusters cover a couple of interesting niche markets. Finally, type 3 clusters are fragmented but might have some niches.

Original Brief Impact Discussion

In the 2007 brief, some of the impact of the foresight study was already visible and described:

The project was on a highly political trajectory, where the interests of industry and the ministries of Defence and Economic Affairs were intertwined. Also being a part of a broader process and the project delivering the content for just one of four working groups led to intensive discussions within the interdepartmental group before the results could be used as input to the national strategy for the defence industry. This, together with the change of government, considerably prolonged the finalization of the strategy.

About one year after the finalization of the project, the ministries determined their Defence industry strategy. The results of the project were largely integrated into the strategy and therefore had a high impact. The technological priorities stated were fully accepted and provided the backbone to the suggested defence innovation policy. The strategy was discussed in Parliament and will be part of the national policy on the defence industry.

A Follow-up Foresight Study

As noted, the results from the 2006 foresight exercise were integrated in the Dutch Defense Industry Strategy of 2007. However, since 2007 the strategic context in which this industry sector operates has changed significantly. New forms of conflict arise, that demand new kinds of response (e.g. cyberdefense), closer cooperation with coalition partners requires further integration of systems, the financial crisis has had an impact on defense budgets, and finally there is a clear movement to an open and transparent European defense market.

These strategic changes has prompted the Dutch Defense Ministry to evaluate the Defense Industry Strategy that was formulated in 2007. A key part of this evaluation is a follow-up foresight exercise to the foresight exercise of 2006 described earlier in this brief. In the original foresight exercise, research was done on three questions with regards to the Dutch Defense Industry: (1) what is the Dutch Defense Industry good in? (2) What does the market need? (3) What does Dutch Defense need? Questions 1 and 2 were sufficiently answered, but changes in the strategic context require an update to these answers. The answer to 3 was less detailed, and still required a more extensive study.

This follow-up foresight exercise is planned for 2012, and will be performed by the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies and TNO. It aims to examine whether the identified technology clusters are still relevant, whether they need to be adjusted to extended, considering the developments in the last 5 years. The approach is mostly similar to the one of the previous foresight exercise.

Several other forward looking activities in the past 5 years provide key input for the follow-up foresight study, including an exploration to the Dutch Defense force of the future (Dutch Ministry of Defense, 2010), and a NATO study into the future of joint operations (NATO, 2011).

The follow-up foresight study will be shaped along three main topics:

Needs: the future needs of the Dutch defense are investigated, including innovation characteristics of (new) required capacities, attention to the speeding-up of the lifecycle of innovations and capacities, and the role of defense in this lifecycle of capacities and innovations.

Strengths: the strengths of the Dutch defense industry are analyzed using datasets gathered yearly by other organizations using interviews and surveys with industry organizations.

Opportunities: in interviews and focus group sessions the estimates that the Dutch defense industry make about their own future opportunities are analyzed. This analysis is accompanied by an international comparison and a separate analysis by the organizations performing the follow-up foresight exercise.

In a synthesis phase, representatives from ministries, industry and knowledge institutions will be brought together in a workshop session, in which the final conclusions and recommendations of the study will be formulated.

Conclusions

The foresight exercise described in the original brief had a high level of impact in a specific area: the Dutch Defense Industry Strategy. The study results have proven to be useful in formulating a defense industry strategy by the relevant ministries. This usefulness is further illustrated by the fact that a follow-up study was requested and has been initiated, which is expected to provide input for an update to the defense industry strategy.

Authors: Bas van Schoonhoven                                   bas.vanschoonhoven@tno.nl

Annelieke van der Giessen                 annelieke.vandergiessen@tno.nl

 
Sponsors: Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Dutch Ministry of Defence  
Type: Single foresight exercise  
Geographic coverage: National (Netherlands)
Organizer: TNO – The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (www.tno.nl)
Duration: Jan/Jul 2006 Budget: € 150,000 Time Horizon: 2015    
Date of original brief: Oct. 2007     Date of follow-up brief: Oct. 2012    

 

Download EFP Brief No. 236_Assessing Dutch Defence Needs_Follow-up.

Sources and References

Butter, M, J.H.A. Hoogendoorn, A. Rensma and A. van der Giessen (2006), “The Dutch Defence Outlook”, TNO.

Hoogendoorn J.H.A., Rensma A., Butter M., van der Giessen A., (2007), “Opportunities in Innovation for the Dutch Defence Industry”, EFMN Foresight Brief No. 120, available online at
http://www.foresight-platform.eu/briefs-resources/

(Dutch) Dutch Ministry of Defense, 2010, Eindrapport – Verkenningen: Houvast voor de krijgsmacht van de toekomst
http://www.defensie.nl/actueel/nieuws/2010/03/29/46153012/strategische_verkenningen_bij_defensie_afgerond

NATO, 2011, Joint Operations 2030 – Final Report
http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA545152

EFP Brief No. 167: The World in 2025

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

DG Research’s Directorate for Science, Economy and Society in collaboration with the Bureau of European Policy Advisers launched a foresight exercise on “The World in 2025”, which resulted in a report published in January 2009.

The World to Come – Global Trends & Disruptions

The report “The World in 2025” highlights the main trends up to 2025 (demography, urbanisation, macro-economic projections, education, science and culture) and underlines the pressures on natural resources and the new production-consumption patterns while attempting to identify the so-called “wild cards”. The role for European foresight and forward-looking activities are presented focussing on a multi-polar world and beyond technological innovation. The report has benefited from the discussions of the group of experts set up by the European Commission in 2008 (see box below).

It has taken stock of the most recent publications in the field of foresight and forward-looking activities and includes most of the reflections of different Commission Directorates-General.

Group of Experts & Scenario Process

DG Research’s Directorate for Science, Economy and Society in collaboration with the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) launched a foresight expert group on “The World in 2025”, which met on five occasions in 2008 and 2009.

The objectives of this group were, first, to assess and measure global trends over recent decades to serve as a basis for forward projections while distinguishing the different major economies and regions, including the European Union, and identifying the main economic, geopolitical, environmental and societal relationships and interconnections.

Secondly, the group was asked to generate and analyse alternative (even disruptive) scenarios of world trends up to 2025 based on specified assumptions about economic, political, social, environmental and technological developments in order to assess their consequences for the EU and to examine which policy responses could be appropriate.

“The World in 2025” group was composed of experts with a profound understanding of global challenges and developments as well as a solid knowledge of foresight in specific countries or regions. Group members included representatives from think tanks, universities, industry, the European Commission and governmental bodies. Meeting five times in 2008 and 2009, the group produced two publications: one collects the experts’ individual contributions and the other called ‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and Socio-ecological Transition’ highlights the conclusions.

The experts identified principal trends, tensions and transitions while highlighting strategies that may help policy stakeholders make informed decisions. They also say that competition for natural resources and shifts in wealth, industrial production and populations may lead to tensions over natural resources (food, energy, water and minerals), migration and urbanisation.

Each expert produced an individual contribution to the discussions and, collectively, they generated a set of indicative scenarios for the world in 2025. The experts covered a wide range of issues, including demography, migration, urbanisation, cohesion, macro-economics and trade, employment, services, environment and climate change, energy, access to resources, education, research, technology, innovation, economic governance, defence, security and intercultural dialogue.

The key messages concern the main challenges to be faced in the next fifteen years, the main drivers that could impact on the future, the main strengths and weaknesses of Europe by 2025 and finally the wild cards that may radically change the different situations that are foreseen.

Europe to Face Marginalization

The report “The World in 2025” underlines the major future trends: geopolitical transformations in terms of population, economic development, international trade and poverty. It elucidates the tensions – natural resources (food, energy, water and minerals), migration and urbanisation – and draws transitional pathways towards a new production and consumption model, new rural-urban dynamics and a new gender and intergenerational balance.

Shift towards Asia

By the year 2025, the centres of gravity, wealth and industrial production may shift towards Asia, and the United States and Europe could likewise lose their scientific and technological edge over Asia. India and China could account for approximately 20% of the world’s research and development (R&D), that is more than double their current share.

Within 16 years, the world population will reach eight billion, the experts in the report say. Some 97% of world population growth will occur in developing countries. The analysis of demographic growth for 2025 indicates that the European population will only constitute 6.5% of the world population.

Scarcity of Natural Resources

Increased population, according to the expert group, may lead to greater scarcity of natural resources and impact the environment. This can result in tension and shifts in production and consumption patterns and the availability of natural resources.

From these demographic and resource challenges, the report sees a new ‘socio-ecological’ production and consumption model arising. New technologies (renewable energy sources, capture and storage of CO2, nuclear power, hydrogen and fuel cells) as well as changes in social behaviour, supported by economic incentives, will contribute to a reduction in energy consumption (better house insulation, replacement of environmentally damaging cars with greener options, and increased use of public transport).

The report says that while numerous scientific and technological advances will give rise to controversies in society, Europe, with its wealth of various debate and participative governance experiences, is well equipped to manage them and involve civil society in research. Global access to knowledge, though, together with the development of joint global standards and the rapid worldwide diffusion of new technologies will have a great impact on Europe’s future welfare.

It is assumed that by 2025 Europe will be specialized in exporting high-tech products. Although the specific products are currently still unknown, they can be expected to benefit from the rapid growth in Asia whose growth will probably be accompanied by an increasing inequality in the purchasing power of the population. “The increase of the population is already a good indication of the future opportunities of the market, of the consumer aspirations that have not been covered, better than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

Potential Conflicts, Threats and Wild Cards

The report also points to the possibility of future social conflicts emerging in Europe around scientific and technological advancements in areas like cognitive sciences, nanotechnology, security technologies, genetic manipulation, synthetic biology and others.

Among the unforeseeable turbulences that could shape the next two decades, the report identifies seven “wild cards”:

  1. Persistence of the financial and economic crisis beyond 2010.
  2. A major war (for the years 2010-2020 of strong turbulence).
  3. A technological disaster that could influence the choices of priorities of governments (e.g. a nuclear accident like Chernobyl blocking the nuclear option for many years).
  4. Pandemics with devastating effects.
  5. The collapse of a major urban area in a developing country.
  6. The blocking of the European Union as a result of the difficulties of establishing new economic governance and political decision mechanisms;
  7. A breakthrough in the field of renewable energy production;
  8. A new wave of technological innovations and a new rapid growth cycle driven by emerging countries;
  9. Sudden or even brutal acceleration of the (nonlinear) impacts of climate change;
  10. Progress in the adoption of a world governance system due to the extent of the problems to be dealt with and to the pressure of public opinion.

What Experts Recommend to EU Policy Makers

Key RTD Areas

The EU should struggle for maintaining its leadership in key RTD areas, such as technologies of energy saving, research into sustainable development and climate change, health and the containment of diseases, food safety and security in general.

Europe Must Not Fall Behind in R&D

Experts suggest that Europe become a model based on emphasizing quality of life, which might involve maintaining global access to knowledge and guaranteeing or contributing to establishing international standards in science and technology. “To ensure access to knowledge through the global networks also means to be attractive for the researchers and the investment that comes from the outside”, the report points out.

From ‘Brain-drain’ to ‘Brain-circulation’

There will be a switch from ‘brain drain’ to ‘brain circulation’, and young researchers will be moving to various regions of the world, which will become educational and scientific centres. It is estimated that in 2025 there will be 645,000 Chinese students and 300,000 Indian students outside their countries. In turn, the number of European students that transfer to these two countries can also be expected to grow.

Effective Governance

Europe needs good policy in order to retain its traditionally strong position in developing cutting-edge innovation that goes beyond incremental improvements of existing technology. It will be essential that some key governance issues are solved. For instance:

  1. Set a new 3% target. One in which the EU member states commit themselves to spending 1% of GDP from public funds for research and 2% for higher education by 2020. Its implementation will be under the full control of the national governments.
  2. Consider the “Grand Challenges” – a term denoting major social problems that cannot be solved in a reasonable time, under acceptable social conditions, without a strong coordinated input requiring both technological and non-technological innovation and, at times, advances in scientific understanding. In a way, the central issue is the other side of the coin of the previous one. Can resources, not just in terms of research but also procurement and other investments, be shifted across European stakeholders to more productive “societal uses” to influence not only the pace but also the direction of technical change and innovation?
  3. Create a strong coordination between research and innovation policies in order to orient innovative activities towards the needs of society. A stage gate approach is suggested, including adequate provision for innovative procurement and pre-commercial procurement practices.
  4. Discuss European versus national research policy approaches. The global financial crisis represents a window of opportunity for more radical reflections on the relationship between Community and national research policies. As fiscal pressures mount in each member state, the question of increasing the efficiency of national research funding agencies and of higher education and public research funding is likely to be raised in coming months and years in many countries.

The opportunities for further deployment of new Community instruments will only be realized if they can demonstrate their particular value for Europe in terms of administrative flexibility and best practice governance. Only then will they play a central role in structuring a new, post-crisis augmented European Research Area (ERA).

Will the Looming Crisis Be Averted in Time?

If issues of effective governance at EU level are not addressed as ones of absolute priority, the crisis shock might actually go the other way: increasingly questioning the value of Community research and leading to a future ERA that is much more based on the member states’ national efforts at attracting research talent within their own borders.

Outlook: Socio-economics & Humanities Re-considered

The stimulating contributions and discussions of this expert group have paved the way for a broad debate at European and world level. This prospective analysis contributes to understanding, anticipating and better shaping future policy and strategy developments in the European Union.

Forward-looking approaches help in building shared visions of the future European challenges and evaluating the impacts of alternative policies. A qualitative and participatory method (‘foresight’) combined with quantitative and operational methods (‘forecast’) allows better long-term policies to develop, like the post-2010 European strategy and the European research and innovation policies. Through its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) with its ‘socio-economic sciences and humanities’ theme, the European Union is funding forward-looking activities with around EUR 30 million.

Authors: Anette Braun                 braun_a@vdi.de

Axel Zweck                   zweck@vdi.de

            Sponsors: European Commission – DG Research – Directorate L – Science, Economy and Society Unit L2 – Research in the Economic, Social Sciences and Humanities – Prospective
Type: European/international – covering issues from a European or even global perspective
Organizer: European Commission – DG Research – Directorate L  – Science, Economy and Society Unit L2 – Research in the Economic, Social Sciences and Humanities – Prospective
Duration: 2008 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: Dec. 2009

 

Download EFP Brief No. 167_The World in 2025

Sources and References

Based on the report ‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and socio-ecological transition’ (Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2009) and information from the European Commission.

‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and socio-ecological transition’ report is available at

http://ec.europa.eu/research/social-sciences/pdf/report-the-world-in-2025_en.pdf and

http://ec.europa.eu/research/social-sciences/pdf/the-world-in-2025-report_en.pdf