On concepts and methods in horizon scanning: Lessons from initiating policy dialogues on emerging issues
Future-oriented technology analysis methods can play a significant role in enabling early warning signal detection and pro-active policy action which will help to better prepare policy- and decision-makers in today’s complex and inter-dependent environments. This paper analyses the use of different horizon scanning approaches and methods as applied in the Scanning for Emerging Science and Technology Issues project. A comparative analysis is provided as well as a brief evaluation the needs of policy-makers if they are to identify areas in which policy needs to be formulated. This paper suggests that the selection of the best scanning approaches and methods is subject to contextual and content issues. At the same time, there are certain issues which characterise horizon scanning processes, methods and results that should be kept in mind by both practitioners and policy-makers.
The Russian system of state support for small and medium-sized businesses in its scope, forms and methods has reached the level of developed countries. This system set up the basis for the new wave of small businesses foundation, ongoing since 2008. But the continuing increase in the amount of small businesses is going along with reduction in the volume of their activities. The support offsets the lack of space for expansion of SMEs business operations. Zoom, forms and methods of support for SMEs is not adequate structure and institutional framework of the Russian economy.
The current paper aims to present the Scan-4-Light study, which was conducted for the systematic scanning and analysis of the Searchlight newsletters as a rapidly growing collection of articles on trends and topics in development and poverty. Built upon the concept of the systemic foresight methodology, the Scan-4-Light approach involves the integrated use of horizon scanning, network analysis and evolutionary scenarios combined with expert consultations and workshops. The study identified the emerging trends, issues, weak signals and wild cards; created high-value visualisations to emphasize the results and findings; and produced narratives to increase the impact and awareness of the development issues. The Scan-4-Light project has resulted in a large number of specific outputs, providing the views of the Searchlight newsletters' contents at various levels of granularity. It has set out to show how the tools used here can be applied to illustrate the relationships among issues, and how these vary across countries and regions over time, and are linked to various stakeholders and possible solutions to problems. Scan-4-Light demonstrates how foresight tools and techniques can be used for the analysis of complex and uncertain issues, such as development and poverty, in a systemic way. The Scan-4-Light approach can be applied in a number of areas for scanning and identifying emerging trends and issues, and understanding the relationships between systems and solutions. The paper gives evidence that most of the issues, if not all, related to development are not isolated, but interlinked and interconnected. They require more holistic understanding and intervention with an effective collaboration between stakeholders.
Automated identification of new technology trends (trend monitoring, trend hunting, trend watch) is among the hot topics in technology management. Despite many beneficial results in this field, almost no solutions allow users to escape from getting too general or garbage results which make it impossible to identify trends at the stage of weak signals. Lack of attention is paid to automated labeling and merging (for the ‘same’ trends).
Our approach aimed at overcoming such drawbacks is based on the ‘BlackBox’ principle. The concept of a technology trend (TT) is characterized by a complex nature, low formalization level, blurred boundaries, and high degree of domain dependency leading to the need for expert knowledge. For all that, ‘Big Data’ in IT and ‘Genome Editing’ in Healthcare should have some similar features which actually allow us to name both phenomena ‘a TT’. This leads us to an idea of hunting for domain independent ‘external signs’ (trend indicators) while letting a TT itself stay a black box for an observer.
We employ Gartner’s Hype Cycle in our methodology. We build an elaborate ontology of a TT and a system of indicators of TTs ‘presence’ in documents of various genres. The indicators are interrelated with the ontology through linguistic and extra linguistic markers. Both markers and text genres are mapped onto the phases of a technology life cycle. The ontology-driven information extraction (IE) is carried out.
Engineering and industrial design services are closely connected to both an economy’s value and level of employment. While the global market for engineering services is growing steadily, the Russian engineering and industrial design market is very fragmented. Russia began a targeted policy for engineering and industrial design in 2013 to support service providers who were struggling with high interest rates on loans and insufficiently qualified staff. This article reports on this initiative and reflects on its impact.