The work of the European Foresight team of the Knowledge for Growth (KfG) Unit of JRC-IPTS centres on the provision of forward looking intelligence to support decision making and enhancing the use of Foresight as an instrument for policy making in Europe.
The focus of our activities is increasingly on more policy-relevant foresight application and methodology development, particularly by developing approaches to the early identification of emerging issues that will have an impact on European policies.We are also broadening our scope beyond research and innovation policy to a more general application of Future-Oriented Technology Analysis (FTA), including application of combined qualitative foresight and quantitative modelling approaches.
European Foresight Business in Short
A fundamental premise of the European Foresight activities is that future-oriented thinking is a necessary policy response component to the environment of accelerated socio-economic and technological changes.
Therefore, future-oriented technology analyses (FTA) and studies (including strategic Foresight, forecasting and technology assessment) are embedded in the activities undertaken by the European Foresight team to deepen the understanding of changing challenges and opportunities.
This is done to enable policy makers to look into the future in order to identify and choose among policy options, rooted in numbers whenever feasible, as well as to shape long-term policies and actions.
Moreover, the accumulated expertise and the neutrality of JRC-IPTS distinguish it from other EU organisations involved in foresight and FTA.
This allows JRC-IPTS to increasingly become a prominent partner within different Framework Programme consortia.
JRC-IPTS has also become a natural central node in leveraging a platform for mutual learning as well as knowledge development and sharing by bringing together widely recognised experts and stakeholders in general.
The European Foresight team has for a number of years worked in close partnership with DG RTD. This relationship will continue, but an increasing range of partners and collaborations is being developed as the team moves towards the application of FTA in other policy realms, particularly in the integration of different policies.
What is Foresight?
In essence, Foresight provides a framework for a group of people concerned with common issues at stake (e.g. future of EU manufacturing, R&D and innovation priorities, transport and mobility, etc.) to jointly think about the future in a structured and constructive way.
Foresight provides a number of tools to support participants (i.e. policy makers, experts and other stakeholders) to develop visions of the future and pathways towards these visions. Foresight is more and more perceived as a valuable policy instrument complementing more classical steering approaches, such as direct financial incentives.
Foresight for ERA?
While increasingly moving towards evidence-based policy making on research policies and interactions with innovation and education policies as well as the transnational dimension of policies, the European Foresight team also has a strong footprint in the further consolidation of ERA.
Foresight involves systematic attempts to look into longer-term future of science and technologies and their potential impacts on society with a view of identifying the areas of scientific research and technological development likely to influence change and produce the greatest economic, environmental and social benefits for the future (10-25 years).
The successful realisation of the European Research Area (ERA) will require open coordination of visions of the future of science, technology and society, which can be achieved through cooperative Foresight.
This is critical to build a structure aiming at the coordination of research activities and the convergence of research and innovation policies, at national and EU levels.
In this regard the European Foresight team is working to establish a robust process to support Joint Programming, which represents an important advance in improving research cooperation within Europe, and in enhancing the efficiency and impact of national public research funding.
It does so by providing a mechanism for effective partnership between those involved in the development and implementation of national research programmes in Member States.
Foresight can support the development of a vision and its translation into a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), a process which needs to be politically endorsed.
It does so by mobilizing stakeholders to participate in the process and through common vision building and priority-setting processes. Foresight also builds a basis for the implementation of the SRA by engaging and networking the European R&D community between Member States.