Wiring up multiple layers of innovation ecosystems: Contemplations from Personal Health Systems Foresight
Many foresight exercises have been undertaken with the aim of improving the performance of innovation ecosystems. These ecosystems extend across different layers including the organisational, sectoral, regional, national and international dimensions. The interconnectedness of these layers has not have received much attention in foresight literature and practise. However, both the development and diffusion of innovations are subject to framework conditions not only within, but also across, multiple layers of innovation ecosystems.
The design and management of foresight exercises are thus liable to addressing and serving these different layers — especially when the goal is to improve the performance and impact of such “interconnected and interdependent systems”. This paper develops further the concept of ‘multi-layered foresight’ by addressing multiple layers of innovation ecosystems in foresight design and management. We explore the implications of applying this type of foresight on improving systemic understanding, enhancing stakeholder networking and developing innovation capacities across the layers of ecosystems. The theoretical underpinnings are tested through a case study of the ‘Personal Health Systems (PHS) Foresight’ project. This project explored international future developments in the health sector, which is characterised by multiple disciplines, communities of practise, technologies, and geographical contexts. In the case of PHS the emerging innovation ecosystems are often conditioned by fragmented development communities, major barriers to market development, and duplication of efforts. The project combined analytical, social networking, online envisioning and scenario building methods to address complexity and create impact in multiple layers. Possible futures for personal health systems were explored through intense dialogues with stakeholders and a desirable future state was sketched through the success scenario methodology. The implications and strategic issues for different groups of stakeholders were outlined, enabling these stakeholders to articulate their efforts as part of a broader agenda at the multiple layers of innovation ecosystems.