Posts Tagged ‘universities’

EFP Brief No. 256: F212.org Online Platform. Imagining the Future through Social Media as a Tool for Social Innovation

Friday, December 6th, 2013

F212.org is a virtual think tank of university students interested in sharing ideas on how to face main future challenges. It describes the results of a comparative study about the images of the future found among young students from Haaga Helia University of Applied Science (Finland) Tamkang University (Taiwan); and University of Alicante (Spain).

The Study of Images of the Future

The studies focused on images of the future date back to the second half of the twentieth century and have their origins in the fields of sociology and psychology. After the growing interest in this area which arose during the early 1990s, the study about images of the future –and more specifically about images of the future among young people– has consolidated within the framework of social sciences in general and, particularly, in the context of Sociology during the late 1990s and the first years of the twenty-first century.

According to Polak’s definition, “an image of the future is made of associated memories and expectations. It is a set of long-range goals which stress the infinite possibilities open to a person. Thus, an image of the future can be defined as a mental construction dealing with possible states. It is composed of a mixture of conceptions, beliefs, and desires, as well as observations and knowledge about the present. This affects a person’s choice both consciously and unconsciously and is derived from both reality and from imagination. It ultimately steers one’s decision-making and actions”. Therefore, the reflection about the expected impact of these images on the determination of our present actions and our attitude towards the future allows us to see the need for a systematic approach to study such images.

Nevertheless, the research into such images carried out during last century tended to be relatively sporadic and never had a predominant role in the context of futures research. As far as Sociology in particular is concerned, many works which attempt to identify and explain the concerns most commonly found among this population segment basically seek to answer the following question: how do young people expect their future to be?

However, it is far from easy to find studies where the approach consists in trying to find an answer to the question: what do young people want for their future? Therefore, there is arguably a lack of new approaches which can integrate aspirational parameters and enable a greater involvement of youths in the process of defining alternatives for the future.

For this reason, public and private institutions are now apparently taking a greater interest in identifying and understanding citizens’ expectations and wishes, which has led them to promote actions in line with the new paradigms of Social Innovation and Open Innovation that provide a more active, direct and continuous citizenship in governance, close to the concept of participatory democracy. In fact, this is something which currently seems much more feasible than not so long ago thanks to aspects such as technology development, the spreading of internet access and the increasingly high popularity of social online networks.

Therefore it is perfectly feasible to complement the descriptive approach to a ‘diagnosis of the future’ with images of the future and creative proposals directly defined and developed by young people, giving voice and prominence to them thanks to:

  1. the proliferation of communication channels that allow for immediate and continuous feedback (2.0 platforms, social networks) with the user/citizen; and
  2. the development of ‘participatory’ foresight methodologies in both institutional and private sectors.

The conceptual basis behind this approach leads participants to consider themselves as key actors in the task of defining their own future –through an active participation in the construction of shared images of the future. It could consequently prove much more motivating for young people to interact within these processes if participants are given some space to share and create.

Tool Set for the Future

The project presented here is based on a previous study (Guillo, 2013) which involved a total of 56 university students from the Haaga Helia University of Applied Science (Helsinki, Finland) and the University of Alicante (Alicante, Spain).

Based on the overall results and on the feedback provided not only by participants but also by the students and teachers involved, it was possible to highlight the following 4 points with the aim of achieving an improvement in subsequent studies:

  • Hard-to-understand / answer questionnaires: the students found the process hard to complete (too many categories and questions) and sometimes even confusing.
  • Lack of interaction: the platform suffered from a lack of technological tools, which always make it easier for users to interact with one another.
  • Overlap between groups: the selected categories proved useful to organise the responses to some extent but participants found numerous overlaps between the topics discussed in every category.
  • Hard to analyse: the scenario format gave us (as researchers) very valuable material to analyse. Nevertheless, a more precise way to express expectations, fears and wishes about the future is badly needed to improve interaction.

Taking into account the 4 points mentioned above, a new study was designed which included three significant changes with respect to the previous one, all of them oriented to improve users’ experience within www.f212.org:

Removing the division into categories: the categories from the previous study (economy, culture, politics, ecosystem, security) were abandoned in order to build an easy-to-complete questionnaire. Since the information-collecting tool was going to be an online survey (embedded in the platform), it became essential to provide a short, clear and quick-to-answer questionnaire.

Changing narrative scenarios by keywords: In this case, the change also had to do with the difficulty found by participants when completing the process. Therefore, a decision was made to replace the initial idea of describing a future scenario (150 words) with the choice of keywords to describe their future scenario (10 words). This would additionally allow us not only to process participants’ responses much faster –almost in real time– but also to update the tag clouds inserted in the platform, which could largely improve the level of interaction within the platform too.

Using a clearer language: the feedback received from the previous study led us to modify the instructions given for the completion of the different questionnaires –using a more straightforward language. Various levels of information were offered, including more detailed information (tutorials and FAQs) in case users needed a higher degree of detail.

Thus, the design of our new study started by restructuring the platform in the following sections:

  1. RATINGSFeelings about the future in 2030. Participants were asked the question “are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?” in this section. This allowed them to position themselves in terms of pessimism/optimism, on a scale from 10 (totally optimistic) to 0 (totally pessimistic). Three different dimensions were taking into account: World (global level), Country (national level) and Myself (personal level).

 

  1. FORECASTS – Probable future in 10 words.Participants had to write a maximum of 10 words about the main features which, in their opinion, will characterise the world in 2030.

 

  1. SKILLS – Self-evaluate your references about the future in 2030.The ratings and forecasts given by participants were subjected to self-evaluation through these three questions (to be answered on a scale from 0,  the worst,  to 10, the best):
    • Are you concerned about the future?
    • To what extent are you prepared to face the future?
    • What is your level of knowledge about global change processes?

    Participants were additionally asked to complement their self-evaluations by naming some of the sources (books, webpages, magazines, journals, etc.) that they usually consult and on which their visions of the future are based.

  1. WISHES – Future you want in 10 words.In this section, participants had to write a maximum of 10 words about the main features that, in their opinion, should characterise the world in 2030.

 

  1. IDEAS – Open Discussions.This section was included as a meeting place to share creative ideas on how to face future challenges.A total of 378 university students (between 20 and 32 years old) took part in this study by accessing the open platform.

Images of the Future of Spanish, Taiwanese and Finnish Students

RATINGS – How do you feel about the future in 2030?

A remarkable difference exists in the images of the future found at a national level among the participants from Spain (median 4), Taiwan (6) and Finland (7). In the case of Spain, the differences become even more evident when comparing the three levels considered: global (7), national (4) and personal (7). However, such results should actually “come as no surprise” within the current context of social and economic crisis in Spain, which also shows a high degree of inconsistency as far as images of the future are concerned. Another interesting finding is the widespread high degree of optimism with regard to the personal level (7).

FORECASTS – The probable future in 10 words: Females show more optimism

Seeking to make the platform as interactive as possible, tag clouds were generated with the participants’ responses in this section. These tag clouds – including the 50 words with the highest repetition frequency among respondents- were available online, and a allowed us to draw some general conclusions:

− High consensus on the key factors that define the probable future by 2030. The words which show a higher repetition frequency were technology, globalisation, competitiveness, artificial, connected, energy, ecology and war. These words can be regarded as part of the main speech about the future, presented in the general, mass media as part of a globally shared image of the probable future.

− Females show more optimism than males. A marked difference could be perceived in the degree of optimism shown by females and males among participants from Spain and Taiwan (and also among those from Finland, though to a lesser extent). That is why participants from Spain and Taiwan show a higher repetition frequency in words such as opportunities, hope and ecology.

SKILLS – Self-evaluate your references about the future in 2030_ Homogeneous use of TV as information source

The results in this section show a high level of preparation and knowledge, along with a lack of diversity in the sources considered (mainly TV and general-information newspapers). On the whole, participants from Spain, Taiwan and Finland see themselves as ‘experts’ in the topics under discussion: the median is 5 or higher in every case. Nevertheless, when asked about the kind of sources that they usually resort to, only a few of them mention access to specialised journals, reports, databases, etc. Information availability also helps us understand the aforementioned conclusion about the globally shared image of the probable future.

One important finding when comparing across countries is that participants from Finland showed the worst self-evaluations, a point below self-evaluations of participants from Spain. These results contrast with the overall Education results observed in both countries during the last years.

WISHES – The future you want in 10 words: Different perceptions on ‘Love’ and ‘Community’

Significant differences regarding how they describe their probable futures. Words like technology, global and connected, which had a strong weight in Forecasts, are now losing repetition frequency. This can be interpreted as reflecting an attitude of rejection towards today’s ‘hyper-connected’ world (a shared vision for the probable future). On the contrary, words like opportunities or work have a stronger weight in these desired futures, which can be explained by young people’s professional aspirations.

A lack of specific, creative terms to describe the desired future. On the whole, no breaking ideas are found in the words given by the students. Thus, the most often repeated words within this section are equality, peace, respect, ecology or freedom, which, in our opinion, form part of what can be described as a utopian and very broad vision about the society of the future. This lack of specific and breaking ideas can also be related to the fact that young people find it hard to visualise all the possibilities ahead of them.

Few differences between males and females. The biggest visible difference between males and females refers to the word love (whereas no males mention this word as part of their desired future, it stands out as one of the words with the most weight among females).

Few differences between countries. The most interesting finding in this respect is the word communal, only present among Finnish respondents. In the cases of Spain and Taiwan, despite the appearance of words such as equality or peace –which clearly suggest an idea of cooperation with one another in their meaning– the complete absence of this specific word seems very meaningful to us, and could be interpreted as a weak signal regarding social life in the countries represented.

Online Participatory Foresight Processes

The comparison between the results obtained in this study and those from the previous experience (Guillo, 2013) leads us to highlight the findings below:

  • Simplicity encourages participation. A decision was made to remove the division into categories in our study this time, which made it easier and faster for respondents to complete the whole process. This resulted in a much higher participation: 378 respondents (as opposed to 56 in the previous study).
  • More interaction means enriching our own images of the future. Respondents consider the possibility of exchanging ideas about the future with young people who have different cultural backgrounds very interesting. Thus, the international connection with other students from different parts of the worlds was seen as an extremely positive factor. Moreover, the integration of the section Ideas makes it possible for them to directly interact with other correspondents, which was also highlighted as a very positive point (more than 300 replies were registered in the open discussions started in this section).
  • Motivation is a key point. Two different mechanisms were designed for the purpose of involving people in the platform. One of them was the development of future workshops, where students received explanations on the basics of futures thinking and were encouraged to participate in the process. The other mechanism was the creation of a brief presentation, available on the platform and easy to use for e-mail communications. In this sense, a higher degree of participation was found among the students who took part in futures workshops and were personally motivated to sign up for the platform.
  • A more straightforward language and better design elements help understand large amounts of data. Technologically speaking, tag clouds were the best way available for us to show the results from Forecasts and Wishes to respondents. These graphs allowed users to have a slight –but also very clear– idea about the image of the future generally shown by respondents. The same approach was applied to other aspects of the platform, such as the design of the slide presentation and the presentation dossier or the instructions contained in every section of the platform, among other things.

As a general conclusion, it could be stated that improving interaction tools, designing better communication elements and opening the platform to an international university-student context have all had a strong positive impact on this study. Thus, the results collected in www.f212.org helped us achieve a better understanding of the mechanisms behind social media involvement.

 

 

Authors: Mario Guillo (PhD Candidate)    mario.guillo@ua.es

Dr. Enric Bas                           bas@ua.es

Sponsors: FUTURLAB – University of Alicante

FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science & Technology

Type: International think tank
Organizer: FUTURLAB – University of Alicante, Mario Guillo, mario.guillo@ua.es www.futurlab.es
Duration: 2011-2012
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2030
Date of Brief: October 2013

Download EFP Brief No. 256_F212.org Online Platform

Sources and References

  • Guillo, Futures, Communication and Social Innovation: Using Participatory Foresight and Social Media Platforms as tools for evaluating images of the future among young people, Eur J Futures Res (2013) 15:17. DOI 10.1007/s40309-013-0017-2
  • Reinhardt, (ed.) United Dreams of Europe, Primus Verlag, Darmsdat, 2011.
  • Bas, Future Visions of the Spanish Society, in: U. Reinhardt, G. Roos, (eds.) Future Expectations for Europe, Primus Verlag, Darmsdat, (2008) 214-231.
  • Ono, Learning from young people’s image of the future: a case study in Taiwan and the US, Futures, 35 (7) (2003) 737-758.
  • Rubin, The images of the future of young Finnish people, Sarja/Series, Turku, 1998.

EPF Brief No. 242: Quality and Leadership for Romanian Higher Education

Friday, December 21st, 2012

The project “Quality and Leadership for Romanian Higher Education” (QLHE) aimed to elaborate a vision of Romanian higher education in 2025 and a strategy consisting of specific policy guidelines to achieve it. Based on a large participatory foresight exercise, the project sought to contribute to improving the strategic management of universities and achieving a wide national consensus on the development of the Romanian higher education system.

Transforming the Higher Education System

The project was to help transform the framework of Romanian higher education, as it has been repeatedly stated that the system lacks a vision and long-term strategy. The Presidential Commission on Education issued a report claiming that “education in Romania is ineffective, irrelevant, and low in quality”. The whole reform process has been incoherent, ineffective and has lacked a long-term, shared vision of the future. Therefore, the education system was in urgent need of change. The transformation had to be endorsed by the academic community, policymakers, stakeholders and public opinion. In order to achieve broad consensus, the project carried out a foresight exercise – a large participatory exercise involving a substantial number of people from various target groups and a wide range of ideas, possible future scenarios, solutions, policy options etc.

The higher education system has been repeatedly evaluated as homogeneous, lacking diversity, outdated and out of tune with the realities of the dynamic and interconnected world around it. Prior to developing and achieving the final results, the project carried out activities to analyse the context and identify the major challenges and drivers of change in order to generate a clear and encompassing view of the environment, its needs, the existing obstacles and the potential opportunities. Panels of experts elaborated a series of studies concerning the analysis of the current state of Romania’s universities in relation to various aspects of society, the existing challenges, and the drivers of change in light of the main features of the Romanian social system. The resulting documents served as a point of reference for the subsequent activities.

Creating a Shared Vision

The goals of the project were to create a shared vision and a set of strategic recommendations for Romanian higher education and, in doing so, to develop the prospective analysis and leadership capacities of key actors through a series of workshops and training sessions on various topics of interest.

Another challenging objective was to develop and sustain a foresight community by creating an environment that would enable the emerging community to interact and exchange opinions. Thus, the project designed a web-based collaborative platform, The Foresight Wiki. The name indicates that the platform uses the wiki technology for developing collaborative websites and Web 2.0 technologies. This allows members of the future studies and foresight communities to write articles that any other member can edit. The platform represents an innovative tool providing a user-friendly interactive setting.

Bucharest Dialogues

The platform was not the only step to advance the development of the foresight community; a series of ten international debates, the Bucharest Dialogues, provided the platform with information and knowledge and gave the participants the opportunity to gain experience in the foresight process. These mutual learning workshops were designed as variations on the Bohm dialogues where experts can get together and discuss fundamental aspects of foresight. The Bucharest Dialogues invited foresight practitioners, managers and policymakers in a setup following David Bohm’s principles of dialogue. During a Bucharest Dialogue, key speakers would represent distinct voices within the foresight community, speaking on a broad, preestablished topic.

Mutual Learning Workshops

Both the Mutual Learning Workshops and the Bucharest Dialogues offered a great opportunity for knowledge, skills transfer and learning by allowing the Romanian experts to closely collaborate with more than one hundred international experts. Among the international experts that participated in the Romanian foresight exercise were representatives of institutions such as Fraunhofer ISI, The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS), European Universities Association or UNESCO-CEPES (the European Centre for Higher Education), which acted as partner institutions, different international institutions, such as SAMI Consulting, UNIDO, and well-known individual experts, such as Murray Turoff, Roxanne Hiltz, Riel Miller, Peter Bishop, Ozcan Saritas, Denis Loveridge, Ziauddin Sardar, Wendy Schulz and others (for a full list of participants, see the ForWiki platform).

Large-scale Participative Approach

The context and the challenges addressed by this project and the objectives pursued were suited for a large-scale, participative, systemic foresight exercise. As mentioned above, such an approach was necessary since the lack of a systemic approach to change in higher education has not only generated a mélange of reforms but, more importantly, has also resulted in the absence of a clear vision of the future bearings of Romanian higher education.

The exercise started with a nomination/co-nomination process to identify the key stakeholders. It went on to combine panel work, workshops and online interaction. All these activities involved hundreds of participants who provided knowledge, feedback and recommendations during every step of the project.

A series of workshops and trainings were organised for the stakeholders. They focused on various topics of interest, such as foresight and strategic planning, public policy elaboration in higher education, public policy analysis, introduction to the Delphi method or critical thinking and helped to develop skills and abilities so that the whole transformation would actually occur from within the system and would represent a sustainable process, accepted and widely supported by the stakeholders. All these events were chaired by outstanding international experts.

The whole process highlighted interactivity and focused on sharing experience and new knowledge in an international context. One of the key features of the process was empowering stakeholders to contribute to a shared vision. There were two International Advisory Board meetings, international surveys, and various workshops and trainings facilitated by foresight experts. All the outputs were widely disseminated and constantly tested beyond the initial groups with the help of focus groups and a number of online surveys. At the same time, all results were presented to all participants and stakeholders in an appealing way, using films, attractive websites and platforms.

Following a bottom-up approach, the process started with expert panel analyses, which served as a starting point for the creation of four success scenarios on Romanian higher education in 2025. They were used as frameworks for the transformation of the system and expressed the most relevant and desired changes: University of Life and Jobs, Knowledge Constellation, Atheneum and Blue Ocean.

The scenario building was a vast process that combined three renowned and thoroughly tested methods: World Café, Cards and Integral Matrix Analysis. The scenario workshop was designed as a collaborative process in which the members of the expert panels and the invited stakeholders worked in a World Café setting with more than 70 participants. The participants and stakeholders “played” with the main concepts provided by the previously elaborated documents. They used cards and extracted
the most creative ideas. The goal was to outline a final vision for the higher education system, which was tested and altered in order to meet the requirements and desires of the community.

Elphi Platform

The project was innovative not only in carrying out the first foresight exercise on higher education in Romania but also in creating an adapted version of a Delphi questionnaire tailored to the needs of the Romanian higher education context. The questionnaire was provided on the online platform Elphi, which gave the stakeholders the opportunity to actively participate and in the shaping of the Romanian higher education strategy. A large number of respondents from academic, business, social
and policymaking environments participated. They analysed a series of policy proposals that had previously been drafted by nine different panels of experts in relevant areas. Experts were invited to provide arguments and dynamic rankings; their feedback was essential to improving the initial proposals in order to yield the most desirable policy proposals, adapted to the realities of Romanian higher education, while at the same time being future-oriented and bold enough to spur transformation.
The online platform was innovative in introducing a system of dynamically ranking arguments, providing respondents with an opportunity to refine their views and reach a final consensus. The involvement of a large number of experts also legitimised the recommended policies. Later on, these policies formed the core of the White Paper on Romanian Higher Education in 2015, the strategy document whose recommendations charted the first steps to be made towards the 2025 vision.

Measures of Change

The White Paper was to support the vision by suggesting concrete measures and policy proposals for change, designed for the medium term (2011-2015) and for immediate implementation. The first step in formulating the White Paper was to elaborate a series of policies that were tested and initially integrated into a Green Paper on Romanian Higher Education in 2015 by a group of experts – an intermediate step in developing the White Paper. The Green Paper proposed an approach in waves, in which the interest expressed by individual universities constituted the premise of transformations. According to this proposal, the process of transformation should be supported by financial assistance throughout a transition phase and strongly oriented towards autonomy, leadership and responsibility. Romanian higher education is currently perceived as an administrative service, with the state having the right to intervene in the universities’ internal affairs. Thus, university autonomy is weak and subject to administrative, fiscal and financial restrictions. As a potentially significant opportunity, participating universities should be offered the option to change their legal status. Universities must maintain their public interest status, but, at the same time, enjoy economic and fiscal freedoms specific to educational and research services.

The Green Paper was a consultative document; a large online consultation was opened around the key statements, and several university rectors and vice-rectors were interviewed. The integration of the opinions and comments expressed during this process by over 300 respondents supported the development of the White Paper.

Personalisation, Diversification, and Transparency as New Values

The vision and the White Paper were the products of a broad and complex process whose first stages were described in the sections above. Reflecting the success scenario elaborated by stakeholders, the 2025 vision document describes a future of Romanian higher education based on the values of personalisation, diversification and transparency. In short, the three principles describe the desired changes the system should undergo. Personalisation means more options for students in terms of flexible educational pathways that can be fit to their individual plans for the future. Diversity means institutional structures and a systemic configuration that allow for distinct trajectories for institutions with different missions and goals. Transparency highlights the importance of comprehensive, relevant and easily accessible information about the education system while working towards a reputation system for universities.

Innovative Aspects

In Romania, using the foresight methodology to build a vision of the higher education system and develop strategic recommendations (White Paper) represented an innovative approach. The Romanian higher education foresight exercise was the second national foresight process in this country. Such a toolkit had never been used in higher education before and, as such, it represented a major challenge to the team implementing it.

The foresight exercise was the preferred methodology because the project strove to go beyond the limits of common expertise and the traditional policymaking process in Romania, which had led to inconsistent higher education strategies. Moreover, the need for a systemic approach was implicit in the complexity of an education system that engages a variety of actors and their relationships and eventually influences the life of every citizen. Another innovative aspect was the use and adaptation of the online roundless Delphi, which was adjusted to the specific needs of the project and led to the creation of the Elphi platform.

Reform Approaches Find Society’s Consent

The process and the results were designed to raise awareness about the fact that the Romanian higher education system needs to be changed and that Romanian society supports this transformation. By participating in the process, a variety of actors and stakeholders legitimised the vision document and the strategy-setting White Paper. These two documents, together with the
workshops, training sessions, dialogues and debates organised throughout the three years of the project, set out an appropriate framework for the transformation of higher education. They supported a long-term vision designed to draw the picture of a desirable future, generate and stimulate forward-looking thinking about future challenges, provide the basis for decision-making in the present, and mobilise individual and collective action.

Although these ideas, solutions and policies were embraced by the key actors and stakeholders in the education system, the actual transformation of course requires more than visionary documents or the will of the actors involved. While, to date, there has been no official commitment to carry through with the proposed changes in law, a number of follow-up projects are currently empowering the universities in accordance with the principles set out in the vision (improving the system’s transparency, encouraging the collaboration of universities, and capacity-building for differentiation).

Download EPF Brief No. 242_Quality and Leadership for Romanian Higher Education.

 

Sources and References

Andreescu, L., Curaj, A., Gheorghiu, R. (2011): Unleashing individualization. Challenges for Personalization in Tertiary Education, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on the Management of Technological Changes, ed. C.

Rusu, Greece, Alexandroupoli: Democritus University of Thrace.

Andreescu, L., Gheorghiu, R., Proteasa, V., Curaj, A. (2012): Institutional Diversification and Homogeneity in Romanian Higher Education: The Larger Picture, in Curaj, A. et al. (eds.): European Higher Education at the Crossroads, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York, London: Springer, pp. 863-885

Andreescu, L., Gheorghiu, R., Zulean, M., Curaj, A. (2012): Systemic Foresight for Romanian Higher Education, in Curaj, A. et al. (eds.): European Higher Education at the Crossroads, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York, London: Springer, pp. 995-1017

Andreescu, L., Gheorghiu, R., Zulean, M., Curaj, A. (2012): Understanding Normative Foresight Outcomes: Scenario
Development and the ‘Veil of Ignorance’ Effect, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, available online 26 October
2012 ISSN 0040-1625, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2012.09.013. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162512002399)

www.edu2025.ro, last accessed 17 September 2012.

www.forwiki.eu, last accessed 17 September 2012.

 

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

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

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

Powerhouse of the Knowledge Economy

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

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

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

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

The Success Scenario Process

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

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

Five Success Dimensions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Progress Made

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

Ranking Improved

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

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

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

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

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

Innovation Manchester Network

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

From ‘Knowledge Capital’ to ‘Innovation System’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources and References

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

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

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

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

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

EFP Brief No. 193: Building Foresight Capacities for the Modernisation of the Russian Economy

Monday, September 19th, 2011

The efficiency of the national innovation system in Russia is the key issue in the transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy. The President’s programme of technological modernisation of industries announced in 2010 envisages a set of systemic policy measures aimed at bridging the gaps between key stakeholders, i.e. business, R&D institutions, universities and government. S&T foresight is considered as one of the key instruments to identify national S&T priorities and formulate a long-term perspective for S&T development and innovation in Russia.

Russian Innovation System Needs Boost

The Russian national innovation system (NIS) has been facing problems hampering the transfer of R&D results to the real economy. Despite increasing public R&D funding, the output measured in the number of international publications and their citation, the innovation activities of industrial enterprises and the technology balance of payment have been deteriorating. The share of non-budgetary R&D funding in Russia is much less compared to more developed countries, network communications between major NIS stakeholders are underdeveloped and business participation in the formulation of the national R&D agenda is very limited. All this results in a rather low level of R&D investment performance.

In recent years, the Russian government has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at increasing NIS efficiency, and foresight methods are considered as one of the key tools for orienting the technological modernisation of the national economy.

The crisis of 2008-2009 has sensitised the Russian business community to issues concerning the longer-term prospects of the future development. In this environment, the broad discussion of foresight results has triggered a burst of interest in forward-looking activities in Russia – both at the government level and in many large companies. Government and business representatives have started to perceive foresight exercises as a practical instrument for setting strategic goals and discovering alternative pathways to achieve them.

Among the latest major steps to enhance productivity of Russian enterprises are several government initiatives:

  • Creation of a system of technology platforms
  • Innovation programmes for the largest Russian companies fully or partly owned by the state
  • Plans to establish a world-class innovation cluster in Skolkovo (Moscow suburban area)
  • Promotion of development institutes (Russian Venture Corporation, Rusnano and others)

All of the above-mentioned initiatives to a greater or lesser extent are based on the results of previous nation-wide foresight exercises, including the two cycles of selecting national S&T priorities and critical technologies in 2006 and 2011 as well as the large-scale S&T foresight projects covering all major areas of research, including a national S&T Delphi survey and the recent study of prospective S&T clusters promising the highest social and economic return.

The post-crisis realities highlighted a need for more detailed analyses of prospective S&T studies with particular attention to be paid to the practical orientation of the national S&T system and bridging the gap between the major components of the Russian triple helix: S&T, business and the government (Figure 1).

Identifying Future Demand for Goods & Services

Completed Foresight Activities

Technological modernisation is one of the most important issues on the political agenda in Russia today. That is why the federal authorities responsible for innovation development have initiated a system of activities to facilitate innovation processes in industries and bridge the gaps between research institutions, universities and businesses. The key actors in this process are the Government Commission on High-Technology and Innovation, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

In 2006, the Russian president approved two lists of eight S&T priorities and 34 critical technologies, respectively, based on which R&D funding was distributed among the government’s major S&T related programmes. In 2009, the Ministry of Education and Science initiated a process of revising national critical technologies, as part of the regular revision of the national S&T priorities, employing the methodological approaches developed in 2008. Compared to the 2006 lists, the revised ones could draw on a much broader basis: the National S&T Delphi allowed to identify the future demand for goods and services to be supported by technological development.

In addition, experts analysed the national system of social and economic goals, which were formulated in the Concept of the National Socio-economic Development 2020 as well as in a number of other major strategic documents of the Russian Federation. The major government bodies, state academies of sciences and largest state-owned corporations submitted their proposals for revising the national S&T priorities and critical technologies, which were analysed in expert groups composed of leading Russian researchers, industrialists and government officials.

Based on the results of the surveys and discussions, the expert panel drew up a list of prospective innovative goods and services involving new technologies. The technology areas promising the most innovative potential were identified and compiled in revised lists of S&T priorities and critical technologies that were approved by the Russian president in July 2011. Altogether six S&T priorities in the civil sector were formulated:

  1. Nanoindustry
  2. Information and communication
  3. Life sciences
  4. Rational use of nature
  5. Energy
  6. Transportation and aerospace

The revised list of critical technologies consists of 25 items. A detailed “passport” was developed for each one containing a brief description of the particular technology, the subject area, the areas of practical application, level of development in Russia compared with the world leaders in the field, production capacities, and an assessment of the global and national markets for innovative products and services related to the technology in question.

The main instrument for the practical implementation of the S&T priorities and critical technologies is the Federal Goal-oriented Programme “R&D in Priority Fields of the S&T Complex of Russia (2007-2013)”, which is complemented by other federal programmes of this kind, such as the “Federal Space Programme in Russia (2006-2015)”, “Programme for Civil Aviation (2002-2015)”, “National Technological Base (2007-2011)” as well as by a number of sectoral and regional programmes.

New Round of Foresight Exercises

The revised S&T priorities and critical technologies provided the starting point for another national S&T foresight exercise with a horizon of 2030, which concentrated on the most promising technology areas while drawing on a number of sector-specific studies. Several hundred experts for every area identified prospective technological clusters with the highest expected social and economic return. The clusters were studied in terms of the following issues:

  • R&D in Russia compared to the world best in the field
  • Major impact
  • Resources required to achieve competitive status in particular clusters, including personnel, R&D expenditure, fixed assets etc.
  • Feasibility of implementing major innovative projects in the next 15 years
  • Potential market size

The main output of the S&T foresight study was to identify the most important trends of S&T development by 2030 as well as emerging and rapidly growing S&T areas. Analysis of the future prospects of the most promising innovative clusters allowed pinpointing those segments of the high-technology markets where Russia can expect to successfully strengthen its competitive advantages.

The participants developed pilot technology roadmaps for two of those clusters (“Catalysts for socially oriented applications” and “Tissue engineering and bioartificial organs”). The roadmaps included demonstration procedures for building a long-term vision and identifying alternative trajectories to achieve the roadmap objectives.

Public-Private Partnership for Innovation Projects

The foresight results led to proposing a number of large-scale innovation projects to be funded as part of public-private partnership programmes, allowed identifying key areas of research to be financed by the Federal Goal-oriented Programme “R&D in Priority Fields of the S&T Complex of Russia (2007-2013)”, provided a basis for formulating measures to build S&T capacities (funding, human resources, etc.) and for analysing potential S&T policy instruments to be introduced.

In the key areas singled out, S&T policy intervention focused on restructuring the public R&D sector, introducing mechanisms to evaluate research, monitoring and evaluating S&T and innovation policy implementation, elaborating efficient, result-oriented mechanisms of R&D funding, including planning of basic research, and building institutions to support R&D and innovation.

Building a Complex National System of S&T Foresight

Based on the results of the last five years, the Ministry of Education and Science has developed a framework for the next round of S&T foresight to be implemented in 2011-2013. This cycle will cover a wide range of activities aimed at increasing innovation activities in Russia and concentrating resources on the most promising S&T areas with respect to particular market segments and innovative products and services. The foresight will cover all areas of S&T and a number of sectors where new technologies can be expected to have the greatest effect (Figure 2).

The major principles of the emerging foresight system include integrating foresight into the S&T policy agenda and equipping policy-makers with practical instruments to facilitate innovation development in Russia. In other words, the new system should follow the fully-fledged foresight approach.

The foresight programme contains several major components:

  • Foresight of key areas of future basic research
  • Macroeconomic scenarios and modelling of principal macroeconomic indicators
  • Development of complex models to forecast indicators of S&T, innovation and educational development
  • Foresight of future demand for S&T related competences and a skilled workforce in S&T and high-tech sectors
  • Development of a series of roadmaps for key sectors of the economy and the most promising groups of products and services
  • Development of a complex S&T and innovation foresight system

The methodological basis for the above-mentioned activities will include a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods: horizon scanning, bibliometric and patent analysis, statistical models, expert surveys, literature reviews and many others.

It will be important not only to identify the key challenges facing the Russian national innovation system but also to assess global trends of S&T development and, if necessary, to revise the national S&T and innovation capacities to promote the technological modernisation of the Russian economy.

Encouraging Businesses to Innovate

The foresight activities will also cover the two principal instruments initiated by the Government Commission on High-Technology and Innovation: creation of technology platforms and elaboration of “compulsory” programmes for innovation in large companies fully or partly owned by the state. The main goal of these initiatives is encouraging business to innovate and bridge the gaps between industrial enterprises, research units and universities. It is supposed that facilitating the dialog between S&T and businesses will lead to closer cooperation and the formulation of a national research agenda better tailored to the real needs of the economy.

Each technology platform is required to develop a set of strategic documents, including a technology roadmap and a research agenda, and is expected to incorporate foresight results in the process. These strategic documents will provide the basis for adjusting the national R&D effort to the needs of businesses and will be used for identifying promising research projects, which are to be funded through federal programmes and supported through innovation-oriented public procurement practices.

The list of 28 technology platforms has been approved by the Governmental Commission on High-Technology and Innovation.

The innovation programmes that the largest state-owned companies are required to develop also envisage foresight-related activities. The companies’ programmes are supposed to represent a corporate vision of innovation activities with a ten-year horizon. The ambitious goal is to increase competitiveness in local and global markets and improve economic performance according to key indicators within this time frame by means of technological modernisation and radically increasing R&D efforts (e.g., via closer collaboration with universities and other R&D organisations in particular).

Foresight Elements Disseminate into All Levels of Innovation Activities

The newly designed S&T and innovation policy instruments in Russia include foresight tools as an integral part of their approach. The largest state-owned companies are required to include foresight activities into their programmes of innovation. Every technology platform has to develop a vision and a roadmap indicating the main technology-related milestones, barriers and risks. The Skolkovo Foundation has initiated foresight studies aimed at identifying key technology areas to be supported.

Leading Russian technical universities have established a network of foresight centres to build new capacities. This process is supported through the federal programme for the development of universities’ innovation infrastructure. The network will also monitor technology trends in particular areas and support a more systemic involvement of private businesses in foresight studies, thus bridging the gap between key NIS stakeholders.

Authors: Alexander Sokolov                          sokolov@hse.ru

Anna Poznyak                                 apoznyak@hse.ru

Sponsors: Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation
Type: National exercise
Organiser: Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, www.mon.gov.ru
Duration: 2011-2013 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2030 Date of Brief: June 2011

 

Download EFP Brief No. 193_Building Foresight in Russia

 

EFP Brief No. 160: Future Jobs and Skills in the EU

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The renewed Lisbon strategy stresses the need for Europe to place more emphasis on anticipating skill needs. Globalisation, technological change and demographic developments (including ageing and migration) pose huge challenges in that respect, comprising both risks and opportunities. At the same time, a lack of information on future skill needs has been a long-standing concern in Europe. With specific targets set in the Lisbon strategy, the need for regular forward-looking assessments has gained momentum. Subsequently, this resulted in the recent New Skills for New Jobs initiative by the European Commission, and related European projects aimed at identifying future job and skills needs using quantitative modelling approaches. While having advantages of robustness, stakeholders as well as the European Commission identified a clear need for complementary, more qualitative forward-looking analysis. Consequently, the European Commission (DG EMPL) earlier this year commissioned a series of 17 future-oriented sector studies (Horizon 2020) on innovation, skills and jobs following a qualitative methodology. The final results of these studies will become available in spring 2009, and will be followed by a number of other initiatives over the year to come and beyond.

EFMN Brief No. 160_Future Jobs and Skills

EFP Brief No. 148: Transregional Foresight to Improve and Coordinate Regional Innovation Strategies in Europe

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Empowering the strategic development of Europe’s regions is a critical requirement for transforming the EU into a competitive knowledge-based economy. To this end, regional decision-makers need to be enabled to design and implement better RTDI policies, and also to benefit from a better coordination of regional, national and EU policies. By developing and testing a new model of transregional foresight, the ForTransRIS project supports this aim. It thus contributes to the improvement of regional innovation strategies (RIS) through a transregional perspective. The transregional foresight model to upgrade RIS is tested in the five partner regions taking the issue of transregional knowledge and technology transfer as a concrete case.

The Role of Regions in Increasing EU Competitiveness

The systematic regional application of foresight and related approaches both in the public and the private sector is increasing in importance because the regions have a vital role to play
in the EU’s drive to develop a common European Research Area (ERA). EU goals include achieving the 3% of GDP target for investment in research, technological development and
innovation (RTDI) set by the European Council (Barcelona 2002) and the optimisation of research programmes and priorities envisaged by the Commission (Green Paper on New Perspectives
for the ERA, 2007). In this context, empowering the strategic development of Europe’s regions is a critical requirement for transforming the EU into a competitive knowledge-based economy.

Foresight exercises appropriately adapted to distinct regional conditions and capabilities can effectively aid decision-makers in designing and implementing better RTDI policies and investment
strategies. They support regional authorities in continuously reviewing and developing the institutional features, strategic capacities, and the organisational skills and expertise
to design and implement research and innovation policies that can increase the regions’ competitiveness. This is important not only for the regions’ own economic well-being but also
because of the cohesion ‘risk’ it could pose for the European Community if some regions remain marginal in terms of knowledge-based activities. An additional contribution to a more competitive EU is achieved when the strategies in the different regions are developed in a way that leads to an overall optimisation of programmes and priorities in the EU, at and across governance levels.

Benefits of Applying Foresight  for Regional RTDI Policy Making

A comprehensive uptake and application of foresight and related tools (such as technology assessment, evaluation, benchmarking etc.) is needed so that decision-makers can master the mounting pressures to deliver tailored and futureoriented RTDI policies. The advances made in this respect have encouraged policy-makers in some territories to use the tools more systematically to produce customised intelligence and know-how, thereby facilitating innovation and learning processes in their economic systems and societies. In so doing, they benefited from

  • the timely identification of new science and technology developments and possible areas of their beneficial application in all policy fields;
  • the elaboration of a solid information base for RTDI policy-making, taking into account the general context as well as good practice from elsewhere;
  • the formulation of policies explicitly aimed at stimulating science and technology and its application integrated in the innovation systems;
  • the effective introduction of a user perspective on the application of science and technology for economic growth and social enhancement.

The strength of a foresight approach to RTDI policy-making stems from bringing together specialised technical expertise (both technology expertise and foresight process know-how), diverse, distributed local know-how and broad participation of stakeholders. The complexity of the policy challenges requires technological expertise; local knowledge and broad stakeholder participation serve to feed and anchor expert deliberation and ensure the relevance of such expertise to the outcomes and the implementation of the foresight exercise; the process know-how ensures that successful strategies are formed as a result of the comprehensive collaboration of all these different resources.

The project aimed to raise awareness among decision-makers in Europe’s regions and encourage them to benefit from the knowledge and experience that can be gained by applying foresight in their own regions. Participants were regional policy makers and development agencies from Navarra (Spain), StuttThe policy-makers thus need to move from the traditional topdown, reactive approach to one that is proactive, participative, evidence-based and uses transparent methods in finding solutions to the modern policy challenges. The new approach embraces foresight and related tools not only to gain access to difficult-to-acquire strategic information for decision-making but also as socio-economic mobilisation tools to raise awareness and create consensus around promising solutions.

The strategic know-how generated in this way is crucial at two levels:

  • enterprises rely on business and economic intelligence in order to define future business models and to generate common visions and activities with innovation partners (e.g. in ‘business ecosystems’ or clusters) based on the permanent and worldwide competition for the future;
  • innovation policies rely on policy intelligence that enables all actors to develop shared visions and long-term commitment between the triple helix stakeholders (university – industry – public actors) in the innovation system.

Successfully linking strategic knowledge on both levels will lead to better economic decisions, which in turn lead to increased and sustained business and regional competitiveness. This challenge necessitates the tailored application of foresight exercises on all decision-making levels, from European, national to (trans-)regional, cluster and individual company levels.

Especially the regional level with its specific abilities and potential should be taken stock of to align governance levels both horizontally and vertically. To do so, there is a need for more systematic regional foresight applications. Thus, further progress is needed in various respects to facilitate the use of foresight approaches on the regional level by 1) adapting foresight methods and related tools, 2) adapting and tailoring the implementation of foresight exercises, 3) positioning regional foresight exercises in the respective policy context and, finally, 4) improving regional foresight exercises through transregional cooperation.

The ForTransRIS Project – Transregional Foresight to Improve Regional RTDI Policies

The FP6-funded project ForTransRIS, which ran from January 2007 to December 2008, concretely tackles the aspects outlined above and especially deals with improving regional foresight exercises through transregional cooperation. The project aimed to raise awareness among decision-makers in Europe’s regions and encourage them to benefit from the knowledge and experience that can be gained by applying foresight in their own regions. Participants were regional policy makers and development agencies from Navarra (Spain), Stuttgart(Germany), Brittany (France), Stockholm (Sweden) and Liguria (Italy), supported by foresight expert partners in each region.
The ForTransRIS project developed and tested an approach to improve regional decision-making by applying regional foresight in a transregional perspective (see graph below). The transregional foresight exercise was developed building on the experiences and needs of the participating regions and aiming to enhance the individual regional innovation strategies as well as the general ability to apply foresight for regional RTDI decision-making by way of this cooperation.
As a first step, the overall approach on how to conduct individual foresight exercises on the regional level and then further elaborate and transfer the results to a joint transregional level was developed. It was decided to test the approach by applying it to the field of knowledge and technology transfer and its ability to enhance regional innovation and competitiveness. Approaching this issue from the regional and transregional dimension was expected to be especially useful because of the high innovation benefits that all actors can gain by cooperating within and across regions. In the ForTransRIS project, transregional knowledge and technology transfer (TKT) was defined as “the process through which the scientific and technical knowledge (either tacit or codified), generated in one organization (source), is exploited economically by a firm by means of a complex interaction and cooperation between the source and the firm and, usually, other players.”

148_bild1

Once the structure of the exercise had been set up, an analysis of the five regional innovation systems was carried out by the regional partners. They conducted desk research and interviews with all relevant regional innovation systems actors by using a structured questionnaire to identify the innovation needs, barriers and future aspirations as seen by the stakeholders. In addition, opportunities and challenges for knowledge and technology transfer within and among regions were identified, which (can) result from and facilitate transregional cooperation. In a next step, the foresight experts synthesised and compiled the regional analyses into a smaller number of drivers to find out which issues are most relevant for each region and at the same time most promising to be dealt with on a transregional level.

The drivers were categorised into the following groups:
– economic system,
– RTDI policies,
– knowledge system,
– human resources, and
– social issues.

The regional actors then evaluated the drivers during a workshop according to their future relevance and probability of occurrence. Then, each region developed a vision based on these drivers about how knowledge transfer should look like in the region in the future. Based on these visions, the evaluation results and the input from the regional analyses, the most relevant aspects for developing transregional scenarios were identified. The most relevant aspects the scenarios built upon are

– a fragmented vs. integrated governance system;
– the degree of propensity to business risk and innovation
among the regional innovation stakeholders.

By combining these opposite situations for the two aspects, four scenarios give different pictures of what the future could look like depending on the development of the drivers. In order to facilitate the analysis, only two scenarios were elaborated in more detail: the ‘stormy’ scenario, which can be
seen as the extrapolation of today’s situation based on the enhancement of its negative features; and the ‘sunny’ scenario, which can be seen as the most favourable framework for TKT (optimal scenario). The other possible scenarios, ‘rainy’ and ‘cloudy’, describe intermediate situations. They might be a transient state in the evolutionary process from ‘stormy’ to ‘sunny’, or, realistically, the
most likely situations when systematic strategic cooperation between the different regional actors fails to be established. The main issues affecting TKT considered in the scenarios are the following:

  1. SMEs’ business models (related to product/process innovation; approach to market; internationalisation)
  2.  SMEs’ ways of networking and interactions with knowledge providers (ways, tools, trust)
  3.   Human resources: training and management policies and attraction of talents to a region
  4. Start-ups (by researchers, women, young people)
  5. Entrepreneurship of universities and public research organisations (entrepreneurial spirit, responsiveness to SMEs’ needs, quality of research)
  6. Regulations especially for intellectual property rights and standards (for environment, communications, administrative procedures etc.)
  7. Infrastructures at European scale (transportation, communication etc.)
  8. Structure of the European market
  9. RTDI policies of governments (EU, national, regional) and tools to adequately implement them
  10. Territorial identification (citizens, institutions), social and political culture, consumption patterns (sustainability)
  11. Competitive position of regional firms against new rivals from emerging countries

The scenarios display what knowledge and technology transfer within and among the regions could look like and how it might be facilitated by transregional activities in the future. They can be used to raise awareness among regional stakeholders concerning which future state they deem preferable and discuss what can be done to achieve it. In ForTransRIS, this was done during scenario validation
workshops in each partner region. There, it was discussed if the scenarios were indeed feasible for the region and which issues were most relevant. The most relevant issues from each region were then matched to find out which issues were most relevant for all regions.

The three issues identified were:

– new business models for SMEs,
– networking, and
– entrepreneurial attitudes of public research.

During a transregional panel workshop attended by stakeholders from all partner regions and complemented by external experts and stakeholders from other regions, these issues were discussed and further elaborated (main characteristics, possible transregional actions, …) as a basis for the roadmap development to follow. The foresight experts in the project then used the scenarios,
the input from the regional scenario validation workshops and the outcome from the transregional workshop to develop a roadmap for each of the three issues. The roadmaps display how each region can improve its innovation system by drawing on the knowledge of other regions and by cooperating on knowledge and technology transfer issues. This aims to guide the regions towards the implementation of joint actions in these fields. In parallel to the implementation of the transregional foresight exercise, the lessons learned during ForTransRIS and the approach used were synthesised in the ForTransRIS Methodology Guide to enable other regions to benefit from the experiences
made during the project.

Transregional Foresight as a Strategic Policy Resource

The experiences made and the know-how gathered during the ForTransRIS project shows how regional decision-makers can make their regional innovation systems and policies more viable and competitive by applying strategic know-how more frequently and consistently, for example generated by transregional foresight activities. This is especially important in the
increasing global competition for infrastructure, enterprises and highly qualified human resources. Using a tailored set-up for transregional activities enables the participating actors to take stock of the comprehensive knowledge available in other regions, to raise awareness and mobilise all relevant regional stakeholders, to identify the most relevant issues for their concrete regional needs, and thus tailor regional policies and programmes for the benefit of longterm competitiveness and innovativeness of the region. Accordingly, the ForTransRIS approach ensured that the transregional foresight exercise was adapted to the regional needs and expectations and that, in turn, future regional foresight activities can benefit from the transregional experiences as well as the other region’s expertise. Thus, by applying foresight systematically to shape regional policies regional decision-makers will contribute to both the
successful development of their own region and to fostering the coherence and success of European programmes, priorities and policies.

Authors: Sabine Hafner-Zimmermann (hafner@steinbeis-europa.de), Dr Günter Clar (clar@steinbeis-europa.de), Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum Stuttgart
Sponsors: European Commission (FP6) and participating regional organisations
Type: Transregional exercise
Organizer: Navarra Government, Pamplona, Spain, Mr Rafael Muguerza, rafael.muguerza.eraso@cfnavarra.es
Duration: 2007 – 2008
Budget: € 800,000
Time Horizon: 2018
Date of Brief: September 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 148_Transregional Foresight

 

Sources and References

  • Project website www.fortransris.net
  • For further information, please contact the authors of this brief (hafner@steinbeis-europa.de, clar@steinbeis-europa.de, http://www.steinbeis-europa.de/374.html), or
  • the project co-ordinator Rafael Muguerza (rafael.muguerza.eraso@cfnavarra.es)

EFP Brief No. 146: Germany 2020 New Challenges for a Land on Expedition

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

The brief provides a short overview of a project in which Deutsche Bank Research has combined its own foresight expertise with inputs from the bank’s business strategists and external experts in order to develop scenarios for the future development of the German economy and society against the backdrop of intensifying structural change.

Germany on the Path toward a “Project Economy”

Deutsche Bank and its clients require knowledge about the future for their investment decisions. Deutsche Bank Research provides this “corporate foresight”. A multidisciplinary team develops and applies a wide range of methods to identify longterm macro trends. These foresight results, which are achieved on the basis of structured, process-based, quantitative and qualitative analyses, are fed into discussions with strategic management and clients as well as into public debate on broader economic, societal and political issues. The next two decades will be crucial for determining the path Germany will take over the long-term. Will German society be able to cope with the demographic pressures bearing down on the economy and the state’s finances? Will Germany succeed in redefining its role in the rapidly changing global economy and world order? Will Germany be a leader or a laggard on the road to a knowledge economy? Our first step was to sketch four alternative scenarios outlining how the German economy and society may have developed by the year 2020 (“Expedition Deutschland”, “Wild West”, “Drawbridge Up” and “Skatrunde (Playing Cards) with the Neighbours”). In the second step, we used broadly-based trend analysis to examine which of these four future scenarios is the most plausible.

The “Expedition Deutschland” Scenario – Knowledge and Cooperation Are Critical

The core elements of the “Expedition Deutschland” scenario for 2020 (formulated from the perspective of the year 2020) are the following:

In 2020, the “project economy” delivers 15% of value creation in Germany (in 2007 the figure was about 2%). The “project economy” refers to usually temporary, extraordinarily collaborative
and often global processes of value creation. For many companies, this type of cooperation is in many cases the most efficient way of doing business. This is because product life cycles have shortened further; the breadth and depth of the knowledge necessary for developing and marketing successful products have increased rapidly; successful products are increasingly the result of convergence between different fields of technology and knowledge; and many companies and research institutes are even more strongly specialised in 2020 than they were in 2007. Consequently companies collaborate ever more frequently on joint projects, often in the form of legally and organisationally independent project companies. They delegate specialised employees or parts of their organisation to these projects, invest capital or put their knowledge and networks at their disposal. In this way, companies can respond flexibly to the considerably higher demands on knowledge and rapidity in the global markets while sharing the costs and risks. This is often – but by no means always – their key to success: in 2020, too, collaboration generates considerable personal and strategic tensions. Factors that help to reduce the frictions on the technical side are mature, highly standardised information technologies. The project economy is closely intertwined with the traditional way of doing business. In 2020, many companies are continuing to go it alone with the market launch of their products. Often, though, these same companies cooperate in other markets – for instance the innovation-intensive ones – by taking the project economy approach. Germany’s small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) benefit in particular from the project economy. SMEs can use their advantages of specialisation and organisational flexibility – and are additionally boosted by a renewed surge in start-up activity. Open innovation processes helped to conquer new markets. In 2020, Germany has caught up with its competitors in markets for cutting-edge technology and knowledge-intensive services. Today, innovation is Germany’s core competence, with “Created in Germany” often being first choice, especially in Asia and the Middle East. Some of the main reasons for this success are collaborative innovation as well as intelligent sharing and exchange of knowledge and intellectual property. A project- economy approach to work has proved efficient especially in the early innovative and thus particularly knowledgeintensive phases of value creation. Moreover, many German corporations (and their local and international project companies) have benefited over the past few years from having more closely integrated the generation of “sovereign customers” into their processes. These customers are well networked via interactive forums and have up-to-date knowledge of prices and qualities in the areas that interest them. By contrast, many business investments in long-term research and development will have fallen by the wayside by 2020. They are often poorly adapted to the more short-lived valueadded patterns of today. Knowledge is traded in efficient markets in 2020. Knowledge
about customers, markets and many other topics is valued and traded much more efficiently today than back in 2007. The operators of such knowledge-based services are flourishing. Intellectual property has become a commonly used asset class:
investors may choose from a broad spectrum of topic-oriented patent funds, copyright securitisations etc. Moreover, intellectual capital has swung into the focus of company valuations:
the capital market now takes interest not only in a company’s traditional balance sheet ratios but also its research efficiency, education and training budget, and cooperation ratings.

The young and seasoned minds that house this intellectual capital benefit from efficient learning markets in 2020. Private operators of learning services prosper. Also, the public universities and other educational facilities have become more efficient following a wave of consolidation. Furthermore, they are more strongly involved in the market for modular education and training.

From Direct Regulation to Co-regulation

Government reduces its intervention and there is more coregulation. Co-regulation closely integrates citizens and companies. On the one hand, legitimation problems have motivated the state and still tight fiscal constraints have compelled it to cede part of its mandate to others. On the other, the regulatory issues have become increasingly complex. More than ever before, the state needs to tap the knowledge of citizens and companies to be able to set suitable framework conditions. Regulatory regimes that emerge in this way are more intelligently geared to the needs of business and society. They are more transparent for people and companies alike and ease the struggle into new markets. In general though the state’s abandonment of parts of its mandate has resulted in social transfers now coming with strings attached. In addition, more and more social services (e.g. long-term care) are organised on a private basis. Germany has become a “stakeholder society” based on reciprocal action.

Successful New Middle Class – Low Earners Lose Out

A new middle class emerges in German society by 2020, but the lower periphery falls behind. The middle class celebrates its comeback. The new opportunities for upward social mobility and the higher risk of social decline, both being the consequence of increasingly global and volatile value creation, have clearly shown the middle class the value of knowledge. Many Germans with a mid-range income therefore invest heavily in education – and thus gain qualifications for the demanding, but at the same time well-paying jobs in the project economy.

Well-educated older people also benefit as they are intelligently integrated in the working world in 2020. By contrast, low earners have only limited access to the new learning markets, and young and old alike often have to fear for their livelihoods. International competition has an even more incisive impact on this group than on others. Many low earners are compelled to organise themselves in self-help networks and many have lost their faith in politicians.

Globalisation, Diversification in Energy Supply  and Digitisation Are Other Key Trends

These elements, however, are interrelated with three other aspects of structural change which are already well under way and which, in our view, have rather trend-like characteristics.

Globalisation leads to new centres of gravity in the international value creation chain. 

   Energy supply shows a broader mix and decentralised production. 

       Digitisation enables networked goods flows in the new Internet. 

Given the structural changes outlined here on the way to “Expedition Deutschland”, we expect Germany’s gross domestic product to grow at an average rate of 1.5% per year up to 2020. From a 2007 perspective, these changes will pave the way to extraordinary opportunities for business, society and politics, but also harbour substantial risks. Some key fields of action for business include, for instance, a structured analysis of collaboration options, a more systematic assessment of intangible investments, broader acceptance of new forms of education and training, and an increase in life-long learning activities.

Innovative Methodology to Deal with High Complexity in Scenario Analysis

The guiding question for our scenario analysis is how will structural change have affected the German economy by the year 2020? In order to answer this question, we applied a methodology based on a simple scenario approach. Normally, one identifies the two key drivers to build a “scenario matrix”. Each field in the scenario matrix represents a different combination of attributes (high/high, high/low etc.) of these two drivers, and one scenario is developed from each of their respective interactions (see Figure 1, for an overview of the different elements of our scenario analysis see box on page 4). In addition to these drivers, whose future development is uncertain, there are a number of trend-like drivers – whose future development is comparatively predictable (in the following they are referred to for short as “trends”) – which impact on all four scenarios. These trends show similar developments in all four scenarios.

But our scenario question is multi-faceted; the number of relevant drivers and trends is high. To cope with this complexity without losing too much information, we have advanced the above approach: we have aggregated drivers that are thematically related and whose development is correlated into “dynamics” (the trends, too, are aggregated into “trend-like dynamics”, see the figure Deriving scenarios by reducing complexity). Instead of taking individual drivers, we build the scenario matrix with the two key dynamics. Further information and a discussion of the merits and drawbacks of this approach can be found at www.expeditiondeutschland.de/en.

Nonetheless, through interaction with the other drivers, the trends can develop or impact slightly differently or at a different pace in each scenario. 

In the scenario method these drivers are often referred to as “determinants” and the trends as “premises“.

146_bild1

Concept of the “Most Plausible Scenario”

Classic scenario analysis examines alternative future developments – but without highlighting any one of the depicted scenarios as the most probable scenario. For good reason since the scenario method does not in itself deliver any (or sufficient) indications as to which picture of the future is the most probable.

We are deliberately breaking with tradition of future research here: we identified a number of trends or trend-like dynamics that have an exceptionally strong influence and whose general future development can be predicted particularly reliably. They are driving Germany in the direction of one of our four scenarios and therefore make it particularly plausible. We refer to this scenario as the focus scenario and call it “Expedition Deutschland“. These trends relate to developments in a broad spectrum of fields in business, society and politics as well as in science and technology. They partly reinforce each other, a factor that has further encouraged us to focus on this one scenario.[1]

[1] We have systematically analysed the interactions between many of these trends in the earlier project “Global Growth Centres 2020” (see Bergheim, Stefan (2005), loc. cit.).

Our focus on this scenario should therefore not be seen as a normative statement: our message is not that we are placing this scenario in the spotlight because it is the “most desirable” one in our view. But, despite all the plausibility bonuses derived from our trend analysis in favour of this scenario over the other three, the following needs to be stressed:

Our focus scenario is not a forecast. In 2020, Germany will look only in parts like we have described in our scenario. Rather, there will be a mix of elements of all four (and maybe other possible) scenarios.

Elements of our scenario analysis

“Driver”. Important factor of influence on future structural change in Germany whose future development is difficult to predict.

“Trend” (trend-like driver). Important factor of influence on future structural change in Germany whose future development is reliably predictable.

“Dynamic”. Aggregation of (mostly non-trend-like) drivers which are thematically related and whose development is correlated. The future development of a dynamic as a whole (without drawing on additional information) is difficult to predict.

“Trend-like dynamic”. Aggregation of (mostly trend-like) drivers that are thematically related and whose development is correlated. The future development of a trend dynamic as a whole is reliably predictable.

“Scenario”. An, in itself, consistent picture of the future (in this case of the German economy and society) derived from a

given combination of developments of the dynamics considered (and the expected developments of the trend-like dynamics). “Consistent“ means here that the interaction of the various elements has been taken into account.

“Focus scenario”. The one of our four alternative scenarios for Germany in the year 2020 which we consider to be the most plausible owing to the future impact of some of the above “trends“ and “trend dynamics“.

Our message is that, as far as we can judge today, it appears plausible that Germany is more likely to resemble our focus scenario than the other pictures of the future developed here.

Illustration of the Scenarios

We have developed posters to sum up the content and convey an intuitive image of the key messages of our four scenarios. They depict the behaviour of businesses and citizens (as persons), the market playing field (as environment/terrain) and the regulatory framework (as sky/weather) in 2020. To give an example, here we show the poster for the “Expedition Deutschland” scenario discussed above.

146_bild2

Authors: Jan Hofmann  jan-p.hofmann@db.com; Ingo Rollwagen   ingo.rollwagen@db.com; Stefan Schneider     stefan-b.schneider@db.com
Sponsors: n.a
Type: n.a
Organizer: Deutsche Bank Research
Duration: 2006 – 2008
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2020
Date of Brief: January 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 146_Germany 2020

Sources and References

  • expeditiondeutschland.de/en
  • dbresearch.de

EFP Brief No. 141: Research, Technology and Innovation Policy in Vienna

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

In 2006, the City of Vienna initiated a far-reaching, open strategy process on the orientation of its future research, technology and innovation (RTI) policy. The aim was to develop, in a participatory process, a comprehensive strategic framework and concrete proposals for municipal RTI policy actions until the year 2015. By then, Vienna is aiming to be among Europe’s leading metropolitan areas in research, technology and innovation, as the hub of a network of research locations in the Central European Region (CENTROPE). The objectives, challenges and fields for action to be tackled in order to reach this position were translated into a set of concrete measures, some of which are to be started in 2008.

Vienna as a Centre of Science and Research in Central Europe

Vienna is the key centre for science and research in Austria as well as in the wider central European area to which it belongs. With its “twin capital” Bratislava being only 60 km away, it occupies a unique position in Central Europe. As mirrored in international benchmarks, the Austrian innovation system has gone through a phase of fast growth of R&D expenditures and internationalisation. Austria is increasingly recognised as one of the leading European countries in research. Austria has accomplished major structural reforms, affecting universities as well as research funding bodies, many of which are located in Vienna. Simultanously, several Austrian regions have initiated or reinforced their RTI policies. Vienna already launched an active RTI policy in the early nineties and was now confronted with the necessity to revisit the institutional and RTI policy landscape.

At the same time, new challenges were identified that would have to be tackled in order to keep pace with the international developments in science, technology and innovation, with new employment patterns and with the need to further upgrade research and innovation performance. In 2006, it was therefore decided to initiate a process of strategic debate, bringing the growing number of diverse actors together in an open and selfcritical debate.

Systems Research in the Urban Area: Groundwork for RTI Policy

The strategy process was built on solid ground. In addition to a number of specific studies, it drew on the results of the largescale research programme “Systems Research in the Urban Area” that provided the analytical groundwork and took first exploratory steps towards identifying future challenges to the RTI policy of the City of Vienna. The results of the programme later on served to fuel the debates in the different expert panels in the strategy process phase. The goal of this comprehensive research programme was to identify scientifically founded observations and analyses to underpin the development of an integrated, future-oriented urban research and innovation policy.
Initiatives in this urban policy area were expected to contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of firms in the city, thus fostering the socio-economic development of the Vienna metropolitan area by giving those impulses a regional government can specifically provide. Central to the research programme was the combination of different perspectives on the current situation of the urban innovation system.

Strategic Development in Four Scenarios

The preliminary results from the various analyses from different perspectives were brought together during a forwardlooking integration phase in spring 2006, i.e. before the start of the actual strategy process. In this phase, four scenarios were developed, which served as a backdrop for later elaborating elements of an RTI policy strategy for the city of Vienna. The essence of these four scenarios is captured in their titles:

  • Innovative niches: application potential of science
    and technology;
  • Fast second mover: exploitation in the focus;
  • Multi-centric excellence: leveraging complementarities;
  • Excellence4me: Vienna as a centre of science.

From Fragmentation to Strategic Action: “Wien denkt Zukunft“

Following this preparatory phase, which was initially not even intended to lead to a participatory strategy process, the main phase of the project “Wien denkt Zukunft” started in November 2006 with a major kick-off event attended by over 500 participants. The title “Wien denkt Zukunft” is actually a wordplay, which is not fully captured by the English translation “Vienna Looks to the Future – knowledge means change“. Over the following twelve
months, a broad participative debate on RTI policy strategies for the city was conducted. Many players coming from various units of the municipality, from universities and other research institutions,
from the education sector, and from (high-tech) business contributed to the process. The discussion was intended to develop a comprehensive strategy and vision for municipal RTI policies by both identifying areas for action and implementing adequate policy measures until the year 2015. The figure below shows the course of the described process:

141_bild1

Inspired by the preparatory research, four core themes were identified on which experts panels focused their work (see Figure 1):

  • RTI in business;
  • Research priorities and knowledge transfer;
  • Science and society;
  • Urban development for research.

Each of the panels was chaired by a leading actor in urban RTI policy, coming either from a municipal department in charge of research agendas or from a public research funding agency in charge of research agendas, in order to ensure the ownership and link with current policy initiatives. In addition, four crosscutting topics were included in the work of all panels:

  • Gender aspects;
  •  Human resources;
  • EU-policy;
  • Networking.

Viennese RTI Strategy Goes Public

The process started with a kick-off event (opening session) at City Hall with prominent proponents from politics, academia and business and several hundred participants. After the opening session, the panels established themselves and each panel met between three and five times over the following months. In addition, regular inter-panel meetings and meetings with the supporters were held throughout the whole period. A website served to document the discussion and also offered the public an opportunity to contribute to the process with own ideas and proposals throughout the whole period. The participatory nature of the strategic process is demonstrated by involving more then 100 players from various areas in the panelwork. Additionally, major public events were organized at the beginning, half-way through and at the end of the process in order to gather further input from a broad range of stakeholders, complemented by interactive tools made available on the accompanying website (www.wiendenktzukunft.at).

Identifying Ambitious Objectives

One of the goals of the strategy process was to identify targets and objectives for optimising the process of research and innovation with the help of the multi-level RTI policy measures used in Vienna. The identified targets and objectives for developing the RTI strategy for the city can be summarized as follows:

  • increase Vienna’s research expenditures to 4% of the gross city product;
  • 22,000 individuals employed in the R&D sector;
  • 800 companies engaged in R&D;
  • 20% of the population having a university degree;
  • 200 SMEs taking part in projects of the EU’s Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7);
  • rate of female researchers in the business sector is to increase by 100 per cent.

Five Main Challenges

A cross-panel analysis revealed five main challenges that would need to be tackled over the coming six to ten years:

  • Making effective use of the potential for research, technology and innovation by creating adequate conditions for young people, irrespective of their origins, to pursue a successful career as scientists and researchers.
  • Enhancing RTI quality and visibility with respect to international competition for investors.
  • Embedding RTI into society: providing space and occasions for public discussion about RTI, its opportunities and challenges.
  • Accelerating the dynamics in RTI by creating adequate infrastructure.
  • Integrating Vienna RTI within European networks and strengthening co-operation within the CENTROPE region in order to create a common RTI area that will successfully compete in Europe and in the world.

Addressing the Challenges

Within its jurisdiction, the City of Vienna can provide stimuli for achieving the identified goals. Options for translating these goals into specific measures can be conceived along the lines of the main determinants of innovation ranging from push factors in the area of science (e.g. R&D subsidies, selective subsidies complementary to national subsidies), through acceleration of the transfer process (selective measures such as licensing initiatives, venture capital), to pull factors in the area of socio-economic demand or application potential on the demand side.

141_bild2

Bearing in mind this broad spectrum of options, the RTI process “Wien denkt Zukunft” identified five key fields for action on which the City of Vienna will concentrate its RTI policy in the next years:

  • Human resources – Bright Minds for Vienna: The goal of activities in this field is to make better use of the city’s enormous human resource potential. Various activities will serve to improve the prospects and conditions for highly qualified young scientists, with a special focus on gender issues and populations that have been neglected in the past (e.g. university graduates with a migration background).
  • Key areas – profile and relevance: Specific thematic areas that are both relevant and visible are to be supported, building in particular on the existing key areas of life sciences, information and communication technology and creative industries. In addition, the development of a number of new avenues of research and innovation is being promoted.
  • Research and the city – communication, learning and public awareness: The three terms form a catchphrase to express the serious interest in strengthening the critical public dialogue about RTI, both within Vienna and on the international stage. By means of a new set of measures called “Vienna research in dialogue”, a critical and continuous exchange of knowledge about RTI with the citizenry is to be fostered.
  • Vienna as a hothouse for research and innovation – facilitating new developments. Further improvement of working conditions for scientists and creative individuals are called for by providing local networks as breeding grounds for invention and creativity.
  • A European location for research and innovation – Vienna as a hub for international networks: Vienna is to be established as the centre of international research networks, and of networks in the CENTROPE region in particular. In this context, Vienna’s network-based location of research and innovation will be further strengthened.

The Schedule for 2008

Based on the objectives, challenges and measures identified during the strategic process “Wien denkt Zukunft”, several concrete proposals for new projects or initiatives were developed in the five fields of action. Six of these projects have been prioritised (“kick-off projects”) and are likely to be implemented in the coming two to three years (see Figure 2). For the year 2008, the initial three projects have been endowed with approximately 14 million euros.

  • Under the title of a “Keynote Programme” for the specific fields of research in the humanities, the social and cultural sciences (on the side of the already well established programmes for life sciences, information technologies and the creative industries) will be actively promoted. One of the first calls in this area was scheduled to start March 31.
  • Expansion of the “Research and the City” campaign. Under the slogan “Vienna research in dialogue”, the City will address essential contemporary and future issues in the field of science, research and technology. Communication between the various special interest groups and organisations will be encouraged and strengthened.
  • In revising the City of Vienna business promotion principles – “ZIT 08plus” – more attention will be given to crosscutting issues of RTI policies, such as promoting innovation in the service sector, encouraging research cooperation and gender mainstreaming.
Authors: Barbara Grunewald                                            barbara.grunewald@arcs.ac.at

Matthias Weber                                              matthias.weber@arcs.ac.at

Sponsors: City of Vienna
Type: Urban participative process, Focus on RTI
Organizer: Municipal Department MA 27, Christian Wurm  christian.wurm@wien.gv.at; www.magwien.gv.at/forschung
Duration: 2006-2007
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2015
Date of Brief: March 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 141_ RTI Policy in Vienna

Sources and References

More Information is available at :

  •  http://www.wiendenktzukunft.at
  • wiendenktzukunft.at/downloads/strategie_lang.pdf
  • wiendenktzukunft.at/downloads/strategie_kurz.pdf

An English summary is available at:

  • http://www.wiendenktzukunft.at/downloads/strategie_eng lish.pdf

For information concerning “Systems Research in the Urban

Area” visit

  • innovationspolitik-wien.ac.at

EFP Brief No. 139: Future Prospects of Care Facilities and Services for the Dependent Elderly in France

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Following the submission of an initial report in July 2005 on the evolution of illness related to old age and estimations of the number of accommodations available for the dependent elderly, the French minister in charge of elderly affairs asked the Strategic Analysis Centre to further consider how to provide and finance the care of dependent persons until 2025. Relying on a single quantitative scenario, the report proposes a global strategy turning on several key principles: a preference for in-home care and supplying treatment in a welcoming environment, reliance on technological and social innovation, the qualitative improvement of establishments housing the most dependent persons and the use of new regulatory tools in order to promote performance and a better territorial distribution.

Creating a Free Choice Scenario

For economic and social reasons, the French government is willing to give the elderly a freedom of choice regarding
healthcare and accommodations. Such a policy requires the simultaneous and complementary development of services
designed to care for the elderly in their own homes as well as access to retirement homes. A policy to that end has been launched in the framework of the first “Ageing and Solidarity” plan, which includes a significant attempt to increase availability of all the types of care for the dependent elderly. Efficient investment implies an extensive
study of a balanced scenario including the development of a global offer covering all types of home and institutional
care. In this respect, the minister in charge of elderly affairs asked the Strategic Analysis Centre to

  • establish the number of additional rooms in homes for dependant elderly (EHPAD1) needed from 2010-2015 and an estimation for the year 2025,
  • anticipate the number of home care assistants required in these two time horizons,
  • analyse the geographical distribution and propose guidelines for better EHPAD accommodations,
  • examine issues related to financing and ensuring an even geographical distribution.

A first report was elaborated in 2005 with quantitative forecasts including various scenarios of home and institutional care capacities. The second report, published in June 2006, proposes a single scenario, including an estimation of the requested workforce, taking societal and financial aspects into account.

Developing the Scenarios and Political Options

Studying the ageing society implies taking different variables into account such as demography, healthcare improvement, the development of people’s behaviour and also various political options.

In addition to the Strategic Analysis Centre’s staff, the National Institute of Economic Statistics (INSEE), the National Solidarity Fund for Autonomy (CNSA), the health ministry’s department of statistics (DREES) and other central administration resources were solicited for this exercise.

First Report: an Extensive Quantitative Analysis

The first report aimed at exploring possible scenarios for the development of the number of accommodations available for the dependent elderly (EHPAD) for the years 2010, 2015 and 2025. This exercise required the following sequence of calculations:

  • elderly population growth,
  • the development of the prevalence of dependency within this population,
  • the consequences in terms of demand for home and institutional care,
  • achievable supply of accommodations and workforce in this sector.

As a result, five scenarios were adopted to reflect different balances between home and institutional care. In addition, each of these scenarios was developed based on two different dependency rates and for three time-horizons.

In order to calculate the respective workforces that would be required for home and institutional care in each case, the team also had to envisage different levels of assistance.

Second Report: Further Exploration of a Single  Scenario and Elaboration of Recommendations

The second report was elaborated by a group of 60 experts from various local and national institutions, universities, hospitals and associations. Their work also relied on the results of an ethnological study carried out in three different homes for dependent elderly.

First, the group conducted an in-depth analysis of a single scenario by distinguishing different levels of dependency and types of skills required for health care and assistance. The results were used to predict the development of the labour market in this sector until 2025.

Workshops were then organised in order to arrive at recommendations on how to conceive future homes for dependent elderly and optimise the financing of national and local schemes addressing the ageing population.

More Intensive Institutional
Care for the Most Dependent

Demographic development is reasonably predictable. The following chart gives a projection of the number of dependent elderly aged 75 and older:

x 1000

2005 2010 2015 2025 2030
High projection 682 741 808 920 1 017
Low projection 657 691 732 805    855

Source: Insee Destinie, projections Drees-Insee

The first report established five possible scenarios in order to capture the broadest possible range of impacts of population ageing on the caring system:

  • Scenario 1 assumed that the current distribution between home care and institutional care would remain constant, thus predicting an increased need for places in rest homes and other care institutions.
  • Scenario 2 and 3 planned for an increased recourse to home care: for all elderly, irrespective of the level of dependency prevalence (sc. 2), and for all elderly with the exception of the most dependent (sc. 3). These two scenarios led to a reduced need for specialised accommodations.
  • Scenarios 4 and 5 envisaged an increasing recourse to institutional care: for all elderly in scenario 4; for the most dependent only in scenario 5. Scenarios 2 and 4 were abandoned as too extreme, whereas scenario 3 was chosen as the most efficient and socially satisfactory framework for the future development of the French elderly care scheme.

Forecasts on Needs for Accom- modations and Human Resources

In this scenario, the rate of the most dependent elderly benefiting from institutional care is expected to reach 67% by 2010 and then be stabilised. Simultaneously, the rate of less dependent elderly who benefit from home care is expected to rise progressively.

This scenario thus assumes two consequences in terms of accommodations and human resources:

  • intensified care in specialised institutions and
  • more dense and diversified types of home care.
Needs for Specialised Facilities

Consequently, with the projected institutional care rates, the report recommends increasing the number of places in specialised facilities up to 680 000 in 2010 – among them 610 000 for the elderly aged 75 and older – and to stabilise this number after 2010.

The following targets for the distribution of places for the 75+ population show that, even within the institutional care solution, priority is given to temporary, flexible care solutions.

  2010 2015 2025
Little medicalised accommodations 90 000 90 000 90 000
EHPAD 420 000 402 000 392 000
Long-stay hospital accommodations 60 000 60 000 60 000
Temporary accommoda-

tions

40 000 58 000 68 000
Total 610 000 610 000 610 000

Reaching these targets implies various actions: a sustained effort to create new places by 2010, but also withdrawing licences from obsolete structures and converting some nonspecialised accommodations into EHPAD.

Increased Need for Institutional and Home Care Personnel

The population in specialised institutions can thus be expected to increase by 2010 and be comparatively more dependent than it currently is. These two trends justify the need for a drastic increase in personnel in these institutions. The report team has chosen to rely on two projections in terms of supervision rates (number of staff per 100 residents):

  • a low projection: from 57.4 in 2003 to 75.7 in 2025,
  • a high projection: from 57.4 in 2003 to 81.4 in 2025.

As regards home care, the growing share of elderly people who would benefit from this solution implies that the need for staff in the medical, paramedical and social home care sector will also clearly increase.

In the current situation, each dependent person benefits from an average assistance volume of 150 hours per month (the calculation is based on the French dependence allocation distribution). The report team suggests increasing this average volume by 55% by 2025. It must be noted that these projections are based on the assumption that the help currently received by the elderly from their relatives will remain constant, which is all but certain.

Need for institutional and home care staff 2005-2025:

2005 2010 2015 2025
Low institutional care projection
Institut.-care staff 233 400 279 900 296 700 315 500
Home-care staff 375 600 415 500 501 400 739 500
Total 608 900 695 400 798 100 1 055 000
High institutional care projection
Institut.-care staff 233 400 290 000 313 800 333 000
Home-care staff 375 600 415 500 501 400 739 500
Total 608 900 705 500 815 200 1 072 500

In terms of job creation, in total, 342 000 to 360 000 positions will be available in this sector over the next ten years, which represents 4,6% of all available positions in the French economy (this includes net creations and replacements after retirement). Net job creation in the elderly care sector alone can be expected to account for 11% of new jobs in France over the same period.

Guidelines for Better EHPAD Accommodations:
Diversification and Territorial Distribution

The Social Background to the Free Choice Scenario

The target population (aged 85+, 2015-2020) forms a very different social group from today’s elderly. The current babyboomers are more individualistic; they have developed an identity of active (and exigent) consumers, are geographically and professionally mobile and are used to actively deciding upon matters affecting the course of their lives. These features will have to be taken into account in drawing up tomorrow’s care system and the care accommodations it is to provide. This system and the related accommodations will have to – answer a broad diversity of needs and thus provide an equally broad diversity of adapted services and – take into account a diversity of life territories, values and cultures, and thus be equitably distributed geographically to allow the elderly to maintain their life habits.

An EHPAD should ultimately provide its residents with all needed services and assistance, while being a true living place in the full sense of the word. This includes several objectives, which have some technical impacts.

Supporting a Project for Life and Maintaining Social Life
  • Project for life: EHPAD should be conceived so as to allow the residents to further develop and not to simply “end their lives”. This includes preserving their freedom in terms of time and space organisation, favouring creativity and encouraging autonomy.
  • Social life: Residents should be encouraged and supported in the perpetuation of their social life through the preservation of family links. This means that exchanges between the residents and the exterior should be encouraged

(vicinity, city, village etc.)

EHPAD’s Projected Features to Answer these Needs

Localisation elements

  • The geographical distribution of EHPADs should allow residents to remain in the vicinity of their former place of residence in order to facilitate preserving their family and social links.
  • EHPAD’s localisation should ensure a social openness: opportunities for the residents to leave the facility and have access to a city or village.

Technical features

  • Space organization in EHPAD should provide the residents with private, intimate spaces as well as with community spaces.
  • Specific features of the accommodations should allow a customisation of individual living quarters (mobile walls, Internet connections etc.)

Organisational features

  • Security and health norms should be intelligently adapted in order to provide the residents with all necessary services and care while infringing as little as possible upon their liberty.
  • A provision of diversified services should allow the residents to be provided with any needed service (medical and non-medical).

 

Dual Policy Challenge:
Services Synergy & Balanced  Geographical Distribution

The overall financing need over the 2006-2025 period is estimated at a total between 14-29 billion €. This would represent around 1.1% of GDP in 2010, 1.2% in 2015 and 1.5% in 2025.  This financial effort is considered not to be insurmountable, on two conditions: that savings are made in other domains in order to alleviate the burden on the social security resources and that an efficient redistribution is conducted between the hospital sector and the dedicated elderly care system.

Ensuring Sufficient Care Personnel

Professional Staff

A specific effort will have to be made to make medical, paramedical and social professions in the elderly care sector more attractive than they are today and to ensure an efficient balance between childcare, hospital care and elderly care staff.

Support to Involved Relatives

Several European states provide financial and fiscal incentives to relatives who reduce their working hours or even suspend their own careers to take care of a parent. In particular, France could follow the example of the German system where the social security system comes up for the social security contributions of people who have stopped working to take care of an elderly person.

Rethinking Programming and Efficiency

Proposing diversified care services while maintaining a fair geographical and cost distribution implies two levels of action:

  • Evaluating and programming at the national level in order to take inventory of the global needs and appreciate the relative financial burdens that have to be assumed locally. The team suggests that all involved actors adopt a unified evaluation methodology, which means rethinking the whole current social aid system. The state would have to shoulder a share of necessary start-up investments to ensure that the restructuring is initiated not only in the wealthier regions but rather equitably throughout the whole territory
  • Transferring a larger share of responsibilities (if not all of them) for elderly care to the French départements (sub-regional administrative level). As local administrations, they would be in a better position to adapt the services offered to local needs and specificities. In this respect, the report team suggests that a better synergy between all types of services be organized, for instance, by allowing EHPADs to manage, through new regulatory rules, the coordination between private and public, medical, paramedical and social services.

The Follow-up

The report was made public in late June 2006 at the same time as the government’s ‘Solidarité Grand Age’ plan, which it heavily draws upon. The plan concerns the 2007-2012 period and is projected to cost the French social security system 2.7 billion €. While most of sector’s representatives have overall welcomed this plan, the related financial allocation was viewed as underestimated.

Authors: Hugo Thenint – Louis Lengrand et Associés (LL&A)                hugo@ll-a.fr
Sponsors: French minister of social security, elderly, disability and family affairs
Type: National – but includes case studies on other countries
Organizer: The Strategic Analysis Centre (former Commissariat au plan)
Duration: 2005-2006
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2025
Date of Brief: April 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 139_ Elderly Care in France

Sources and References

Strategic analysis centre: http://www.strategie.gouv.fr/article.php3?id_article=277
La documentation française (first report): http://www.ladocumentationfrancaise.fr/rapports-publics/054000490/index.shtml

EFP Brief No. 136: Policy Options for the Improvement of the European Patent System

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

The purpose of the project “Policy options for the improvement of the European patent system” has been to assess whether the European patent system adequately fulfils its purpose of stimulating social and economic welfare through the enhancement of technological innovation, and to investigate if improvements can be made. It was commissioned by The European Parliament’s STOA panel (Scientific Technology Options Assessment) from the European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG) and carried out on its behalf by the Danish Board of Technology. The main target group, therefore, was the Members of the European Parliament.

The European Patent System under Pressure

Since October 2005, a group of five European scientific institutes (ETAG) has been providing scientific services for the European Parliament’s STOA panel on social, environmental and economic aspects of new technological and scientific developments. Inspired by a report from the Danish Board of Technology about the future of the European patent system, the STOA panel commissioned an assessment of the current strengthening and expansion of the patent system in order to identify key challenges and ways of dealing with them.

Combined Expertises

A working group was first established, comprising three legal and three economic experts, hands-on experience from the European Patent Office (EPO) as well as a rapporteur. This combination of expertise has been applied in order to bring together insights from these two disciplines, both of which are central to current debates about the workings of the patent system but whose knowledge is rarely combined in this way. The task of the group was to write a report with the following objectives:

  • to analyse the historical and present impact of the European patent system on innovation and diffusion of knowledge,
  •  to identify current key trends in the patent system,
  • to identify the challenges these trends present,
  • to point to policy options that may meet these challenges and, in the process, improve the functioning of the European patent system.

The analysis provided by the report and the policy options presented as a result draw on existing knowledge from legal and economic experts as well as on input from various stakeholders and peer reviewers. The group met five times to discuss the report contents and drafts prepared by the rapporteur assigned to the project. In between these meetings, various drafts of the report were exchanged and commented on through email communication.
A preliminary draft of the background analysis was presented and debated with MEP’s at a workshop at the European Parliament in November 2006. In attendance were 12 independent and more patent experts and stakeholders, all invited to present policy options and debate them with MEP’s and the working group. These contributions played an important role in compiling the report and writing the final draft. Furthermore, an interim version of the full report was commented on by several workshop speakers and peer reviewed by economic and legal experts. A final draft of the report was presented and debated at the European Parliament in June 2007 with MEP’s and various stakeholders.

Balancing Inventor’s Rights  with Societal Concerns

The fundamental premise of the report is that the primary purpose of a patent system is to enhance social and economic welfare by stimulating innovation and diffusion of knowledge. Balancing the exclusive rights of a patent granted to inventors with the overall societal concern of wider economic growth and social welfare is fundamental, because the reward offered to inventors in the form of exclusive rights provides the incentive to innovate, but if the reward is too excessive, it might hamper innovation and the distribution of knowledge. The trends and challenges identified by the working group all relate more or less to this balance.

Important Trends Influencing the Balance  of the European Patent System

1. Increasing number of inventions

New windows of opportunity have been opened by R&D in a number of technical fields, which individuals, firms and other organizations seize upon in order to produce an increasing numbers of inventions, which then require patent protection. Technological fields such as electrical engineering/electronics and biotechnology/pharmaceuticals have contributed greatly to this trend. Also nanotechnologies are set to repeat the explosion formerly seen by biotechnologies, which have made patent protection available in fields not previously appearing on the patenting scene.

2. New inventors

New inventors not formerly involved in patenting, such as universities, are appearing. This is the result of science, especially academic science, emerging as a fertile ground for inventions. Also countries that did not use the patent system before now tend to use the patent system more. For example the number of patent applications from China and India are growing fast and seem on the verge of catching up with the Korean patent office, where the patent portfolio of applicants is already as large as that of well-established European countries.

 3. Newly patentable subject matters

Science-based inventions contribute to the growth of patent applications to the extent that many of the new subject matters have been added in order to make room for science-based inventions. Most notably, this has occurred with gene-related patents.

4. Increasing demand for patent protection

Firms and other organizations that engage in inventive activity nowadays have a higher propensity than before to look for patent protection for “assertive” and “defensive” reasons. The explanation for this is that companies and not-for-profit research institutions are often worried about the possibility of other organizations ending up monopolizing a new technological field through patenting and, as a result, pushing them to pursue strategic patenting activities to guard against that potential monopoly.

Challenges Facing the  European Patent System

From the assessment of key trends, the report identifies a range of challenges:

1. Coping with a rapidly increasing demand for patent rights without compromising the quality

Overall, the total number of patent applications is putting strain on the system and causing problems for patent examiners. Potentially, this pressure will mount further as, for instance, the increase in the number of countries engaged in inventive activities means the filing of more applications at the EPO. As a result, although it is difficult to document, the quality of patents is reported to be declining. The main challenge is to prevent this from happening within the European patent system.

2. Ensuring that too broad patents are not issued in Europe

The speed at which new subject matter and science-based inventions are introduced in the patent system makes it harder to assess the patentability requirements, especially the state of the art, and thus to determine whether the claimed invention is novel and involves an inventive step. An overall result is that too broad patents are occasionally granted and one of the effects is that innovation is hampered as other inventors are unable to work around the patents. The main challenge is to ensure that too broad patents are not issued within the European patent system.

3.  Alleviating the effects of patent thickets

The growth of patents in complex technologies, which require the assemblage of a multitude of inventions to move forward, has in certain areas, such as electronics, resulted in a particular form of patent behaviour. Defensive and strategic patenting has, for instance, resulted in patent thickets in some sectors, the consequences of which are generally undesirable in terms of creating too many, possibly overlapping patents, which can crowd a technological field and make it difficult and costly to navigate through. The main challenge is to alleviate the effects of patent thickets within the European patent system.

4.  Freeing company resources from trading patent rights and licensing

More companies are patenting and the effect is that a greater number of companies have to spend more time and effort on trading rights and licensing. Such resources may have been better used to innovate thus the main challenge is to ensure that companies are not forced to deal excessively with patenting and licensing and are ‘freed up’ to concentrate more on innovation.

5. Ensuring an increased level of transparency and political engagement

Increased interest in the system has resulted partly from the trends about emergent technologies and new inventors appearing and partly from a more general shift in emphasis toward issues of “governance”. The main challenge is to ensure that the European patent system is as transparent as possible and that the involvement of more experts, politicians and stakeholders in the future development of the system is secured.

Working Group Recommendations

The working group concludes that, left unchecked, the trends identified will have a damaging effect on the European patent system and may result in a negative impact on economic and social welfare. The working group developed the following policy options to meet the challenges:

1.Insertion of the economic mission of the patent system in the European Patent Convention

The recommendation on insertion of the economic mission of the patent system in the European Patent Convention involves the introduction of a preamble into the legislation. This insertion would state in clear terms what the purpose of the legislation is, namely to promote social and economic welfare. A suggestion for the wording of the preamble is as follows:

“The granting of patents serves the purpose of enhancing social and economic welfare by means of encouraging inventions and their diffusion. The protection provided by patents should be sufficient to ensure proper incentives to inventors. This should imply that patents should be granted in a proportionate and transparent manner, so as to ensure legal certainty”.

The preamble should be placed in the European Patent Convention and if the European Union is able to come forward with a community patent that same preamble is proposed to be included in the community patent legislation. The effect of a preamble with regard to, for instance, emerging technologies would be to guide legislators and to ensure the legislator considers whether the application of the patent system to an emergent technology makes sense from the point of view of the economic mission of the patent system.

2.Enhancing governance within the European patent system

The policy options under the governance heading are concerned with issues such as transparency and participation in activities related to the European patent system. One of the main challenges to be met regarding the debate about the future of the European patent system is ensuring an increased level of transparency and political accountability. First and foremost, this involves strengthening the role and expertise of the European Parliament in this field, given that it is a critical participant in these sorts of discussions. The other main challenge is trying to accommodate the rise in public interest and wish for involvement of civil society at large in matters concerning the European patent system.

The first recommendation of the working group is to establish a standing committee within the European Parliament that is dedicated to patent matters in order to formalize an internal structure within the European Parliament that will enhance its awareness of European patent issues.

The second recommendation is to establish an external advisory body to examine the impact of the European patent system on the innovative sector and other sets of interests in society. The findings it gathers and views it expresses will be part of a formalized dialogue with the European Parliament and, specifically, its standing committee on patents. This sort of body would be composed of experts in law, economics and patent-related matters. An involvement of various practitioners and stakeholders, such as consumer groups, is highly recommended.

Finally, the working group recommends the establishment of a more participatory environment within the EPO and the Commission by including more stakeholders, scientists, NGOs and consumers in the ongoing debate about the design of the European patent system.

3.Improving quality aspects in regard to patentability  standards and patent granting procedures

In order to strengthen the patent system and create stronger patents, the report recommends to look at two aspects: (i) the way in which patent offices apply the given standards for patentability and (ii) raising the standards themselves. Looking at the standards concerns the question of what is an invention and when is it valuable enough to be granted a patent. The report suggests taking a closer look at the concept of ‘inventive step’ to see if it is still fulfilling the function it is meant to have and concentrate on the concept of ‘who is a person skilled in the art’. Specific suggestions are listed in the report and include e.g. the introduction of quality management mechanisms in order to promote and monitor that consistent and predictable decisions are taken and to increase the awareness about the fact that patent offices are there to serve the general public interest and not the specific interests of applicants.

4.Dealing with emerging technologies

The patenting of emerging technologies gives rise to special concerns about patent quality in regard to both the patent system and the individual patent. The quality problem at the system level is about setting the standards for patents and deciding on what is going to be considered patentable subject matter and what is not. At the executive level (i.e. the EPO), the quality problem relating to emerging technologies deals with applications of patent standards in individual cases. The special problems in emerging technologies in this regard are that prior art can be limited and hard to find for an examiner. In order to avoid these sorts of problems, the report suggests bolstering the executive level by allocating additional resources to EPO examiners to better assess prior art and avoid too broad patents being granted, and finally, to ensure ongoing deliberations between politicians, experts and stakeholders on what is patentable and what is not.

5. Increasing access to patented inventions

Patents that crowd the market create a patent thicket that makes it difficult for an inventor to enter the market. In order to overcome a patent thicket, negotiations will have to be started with each and every patent owner in order to obtain a legitimate access to the patents and to obtain the necessary licences. The report suggests two different measures, which would facilitate access to patented technology. One is the license of right, which is a legal mechanism by which a patent holder voluntarily chooses to give general access to anyone willing to pay a certain license. The other possibility suggested is to facilitate access to a web of patents by the establishment of collective rights management models such as patent pools and clearinghouses. The report recommends further investigation of these models, especially in view of current EU competition law.

6.Facilitating defensive publications

The report recommends that the European patent system be geared more towards an increased use of publication of inventions rather than patenting per se. Both companies and not-forprofit research institutions are often worried about the possibility that other organizations will end up monopolizing a new technological field through patenting, which may push them to pursue strategic patenting activities to guard against that potential monopoly. But strategic patenting is a costly way to prevent monopolization. The publication of scientific results may achieve the same effect for free. Such a process is referred to as “defensive publishing”. And, in fact, firms for a long time have used defensive publishing in industry areas such as software. In cases when an inventor decides to defensively publish rather than patent, he gives up the potential of exclusive rights. In return though, a freedom to use the invention is secured for that inventor, and for others. For this kind of defensive publishing to be effective, publications must be made readily accessible to examiners so as to provide a helpful additional source of information, including the prior art. It is recommended therefore, that measures be introduced to facilitate the practice of defensive publications within the European patent system.

Authors: Bjørn Bedsted                                         bb@tekno.dk

Signe Skibstrup Blach                            ssb@tekno.dk

Sponsors: The European Parliament’s panel for Scientific Technology Options Assessment (STOA)
Type: A European technology assessment/foresight project with the purpose of proposing policy options for the improvement of the European patent system.
Organizer: The Danish Board of Technology/ETAG      www.tekno.dk and www.itas.fzk.de/etag Contacts: Bjørn Bedsted, Signe Skibstrup Blach (e-mail see above)
Duration: 2006-2007
Budget: 135,000€
Time Horizon: 2007
Date of Brief: February. 2008

 

Download: EFMN Brief No. 136_ European Patent System

Sources and References

The Danish Board of Technology: www.tekno.dk STOA (the report is available for download under “final studies”): www.europarl.europa.eu/stoa/default_en.htm ETAG: www.itas.fzk.de/etag/
The members of the group were: Mr. Robin COWAN, Professor of economics, BETA, Université Louis Pasteur and UNUMERIT, Universteit Maastricht; Mr. Wim Van der EIJK, Principal Director International Legal Affairs and Patent law, EPO; Mr. Francesco LISSONI, Professor of Applied Economics, University of Brescia; Mr. Peter LOTZ, Head of Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy, Copenhagen Business School; Mrs. Geertrui Van OVERWALLE, Professor of IP Law, University of Leuven, Belgium; Mr. Jens SCHOVSBO, Professor, University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law and Mr. Matthew ELSMORE (rapporteur), Assistant Professor, Aarhus Business School-University of Aarhus.
The project and the report were coordinated by Bjørn Bedsted, project manager with the Danish Board of Technology. The project was supervised by Mr. Philippe Busquin, MEP and Chairman of the STOA panel.