Science, Technology and Innovation Policy for the Future — Potentials and Limits of Foresight Studies
The book gives practical guidance for policy makers, analysts and researchers on how to make the most of the potential of Foresight studies. Based on the concept of evidence-based policy-making, Foresight studies are common practice in many countries and are commonly understood as a supportive tool in designing future-oriented strategies. The book outlines approaches and experiences of integrating such Foresight studies in the making and implementation of science, technology and innovation (STI) policies at different national levels. It delivers insights into practical approaches of developing STI policy measures oriented towards future societal and technological challenges based on evidence drawn from comparable policy measures worldwide. Authors from leading academic institutions, international organizations and national governments provide a sound theoretical foundation and framework as well as checklists and guidelines for leveraging the potential impact of STI policies.
The scope for Foresight studies to contribute to S&T strategy development, at different levels of governance, is growing. But little is known about the actual implementation of the results of Foresight studies, even though these aim to improve innovation capacities and national innovation systems. The design and initiation phase of Foresight studies include the setting of objectives and the identification of themes for the exercise. These activities need to be aligned to the broader perspective and mission of the initiator – and, importantly, to the tendering procedure for launching Foresight activities. At national (and international) level it would be valuable to establish networks and a central database collecting the experiences of these studies, to make them accessible and useful for future Foresight studies. The main focus of such efforts should be on the procedural dimension – learning from the Foresight processes and their organization. Currently Foresight studies are mainly used for detecting future social challenges, potential technological developments, and associated gaps and requirements for immediate, mid-term and long-term measures. Foresight studies also have the potential, we argue, to be used for the assessment of potential policy measure impacts and the identification of the next generation of innovation policy related measures. This new application of Foresight approaches is likely to arise in the near future.
Foresight is often addressed to topics that are in essence complex service systems. Thus, attention to service research can enhance more than just our understanding of Foresight practice. Analysis of features of service systems can provide useful inputs – at least general background, and sometimes absolutely critical elements – for understanding social and organisational dimensions of many of the domains with which the exercises are concerned. Foresight practice can learn from the substantial experience that has accumulated in recent years about service systems, service design, service innovation, and related topics. So far it is only been able to highlight a few of the ways in which Foresight can be informed by service research. A new understanding of Foresight as an alone standing service is endorse able and shows potentials to improve Foresight’s reputation and potential contributions to science, technology and innovation policy.
Integrated roadmaps can be effective instruments for forecasting and planning in the sphere of emerging technologies, as long as certain requirements are fulfilled. These requirements include: (1) the creation of a group of experts who can provide the necessary level of expertise concerning key issues related to the development of the subject area; (2) accumulation of a sufficient background information; (3) establishing an adequate sequence of Foresight methods, integrating those that are more of creative, interactive, expert- and evidence-based methods; (4) Integrating consideration of both market- pull and technology-push approaches, and (5) recognising the different kinds of effects that may be associated with implementing various new technologies. We illustrate this with the case of wastewater treatment. Roadmapping allows for the elaboration of comprehensive innovation strategies, both for short-run time frames (focusing on the commercialization of products with high market readiness), and for longer-term strategies for water sector development. The methodology allows for examining both the direct and indirect effects of the implementation of emerging technologies in the area studied, and makes it possible to outline possible future developments of the technologies considered in related sectors. The main limitation of the method as currently used may be that it is difficult to give sufficient consideration to the indirect effects of using innovative technologies, when we are dealing with fields that feature many interfaces across the economy.
This chapter introduces a systemic model which combines indicators for science, technology and innovation (STI) policy with Foresight approaches. The aim is to build a bridge between the existing information and knowledge base and the potentials for extending this into the longer term which are offered by Foresight studies. STI involve dynamic phenomena which are creating continuously changing conditions and requirements of the national innovation system (NIS) as a whole. Foresight can play an important role in reflecting and providing new insight into ongoing and emerging changes at different levels of this system. This interconnection of Foresight and STI (indicators), contributes to new perspectives on NIS with more explicit use of systems thinking. We consider the major challenges facing both STI indicators and Foresight indicators, and how existing and potential indicators from both spheres can be used to generate inspirations for development of the next generation of STI indicators, and also for future Foresight studies and indicators.
With the growing importance of Foresight in strategic decision-making, there is parallel growth in interest in ways in which we might evaluate Foresight activities and outputs, and thus learn how to improve their effectiveness. But general principles for such evaluation have not yet been formulated. The purpose of this chapter is to identify the basic criteria and methods used in evaluating national Foresight exercises. Reviewing a range of evaluation efforts, it presents some interesting results for specific tasks, themes examined, methods and findings. A key motivation for these evaluations was to provide feedback to national Foresight organizations and identify areas for further development. Evaluation is used to guide Foresight and to learn lessons that can inform future projects (for example, lessons concerning simplifying implementation, involving business and social organizations, recognizing the objectives of participants and the need for better compliance with the methodology). We suggest a general methodology for assessing national Foresight programmes, together with a framework that can be used to improve the comparability of results of Foresight evaluation initiatives in different countries, and even to promote the standardization and upgrading of evaluation procedures.
Foresight has become important in Russia, including identification of National S&T priorities and Critical technologies, and three cycles of the National S&T Foresight being performed during the last decade to guide development of S&T and innovation policies. The chapter shows that Foresight in Russia has evolved from being just one on information source for S&T and innovation policy, towards a full-scale instrument for addressing key issues of these policies. Foresight work and its impacts on major policy challenges and instruments – including development of human resources, bridging the gap between business, R&D and the state, increasing efficiency of budget R&D funding, stimulating innovation – are discussed in light of the Russian experience. Particular attention is paid to Foresight's actual and potential role in developing and implementing such new policy initiatives as the National long-term R&D programme; Technology platforms; Innovation programmes for state-owned companies; and building a system of National Research Universities
Foresight is a powerful tool that is frequently applied in response to major challenges facing science, technology, and innovation policy. With the use of Foresight studies, policy makers give a clear indication to the science, technology, and innovation community that policy making is considering a bottom-up approach rather than a purely top-down one. Foresight exercises go beyond simple predictions to become anticipatory intelligence, based on a wide diversity of viewpoints, and knowledge sources. Due to the varying nature and characteristics of Foresight studies, there is no “one indicator that fits all” – different motivations and objectives, different methods and techniques, imply different outputs and outcomes. Hence the indicators we use to describe the studies may take on different meanings – even quantitative indicators can require a great deal of interpretation. Furthermore, the longer-term impacts of the work cannot be assessed in the immediate aftermath of the work. But while many indicators are tailor-made for specific Foresight studies, and are not necessarily fully comparable with those of other different Foresight studies, it is possible to learn from experience and use the indicators and indicator frameworks of earlier Foresight exercises in later ones.
This paper presents evidence suggesting that countries that continuously conduct Foresight studies, and that integrate the results systematically in policy making and the development of supporting measures and programs, perform clearly better in the national innovative performance than other countries. In retrospect, the Foresight studies are also generally considered as something positive in most countries, with evaluations of these studies shows them to have had a significant impact on the structure of innovation, technology and science policy. For instance, the results of Foresight studies are frequently used to establish research and development priorities and to design R&D programmes. The correlational analysis and the evaluation studies thus together suggest that Foresight studies do have a supportive function and role on the innovation culture and awareness for innovation in a country.
Based on the ideas of systems thinking, the Systemic Foresight Methodology (SFM) proposes a framework for designing and implementing Foresight activities. This framework recognises the complexities that emerge due to multifaceted interplays between the Social, Technological, Economic, Ecological, Political and Value (STEEPV) systems. To conducting Foresight systemically, we need to undertake a set of ‘systemic’ thought experiments, in which systems (e.g. human and social systems, industrial/sectoral systems, and innovation systems) are understood and modelled, and hopefully intervened in, for a successful change programme. These experiments are conducted in a series of iterative phases that we label (1) Intelligence (scoping, surveying and scanning phase) (2) Imagination (creative and diverging phase), (3) Integration (ordering and converging phase), (4) Interpretation (strategy phase), (5) Intervention (action phase), and (6) Impact (evaluation phase); (7) an Interaction phase (participation) goes on throughout the activity. The paper describes each of the phases and proposes a set of quantitative and qualitative methods, which can be combined to form research, policy, technology, and innovation paths. The ideas discussed in the light of two Systemic Foresight cases, dealing with Higher Education and Renewable Energy sectors. SFM was used to provide a methodological orientation for these the Foresight exercises, where a variety of methods were selected and combined in line with the objectives of and available resources for the Foresight exercises.
Governments believe in the effectiveness of public funding to support innovation support, in part, because of the positive conclusions of impact analyses of such programs. Industry typically claims that it would not have innovated (or innovated so rapidly) without the motivation of continued public support. Given that public support for innovation is available in all countries, industry can be expected to take advantage of these support programs on a global basis. A globally coordinated approach towards public support of industrial innovation is problematic, given the global competition for investment in innovation activities by countries. Contemporary innovation is covering and partially integrating many different fields — management areas at company level, governance and policy fields in the public sector. “Innovation policy” is a misleading term: coherent and consistent policy to support the creation and acceptance of innovation is better understood as “policy for innovation”, with the emphasis on more systemic policy measures.
Science, technology and innovation (STI) policies are topics that has been much written about in the last decades. However until today no common understanding has been articulated on what these policy fields are and how they are correlated in daily practice of policy making. The book thus pursuits a completely new approach, which goes much beyond existing practices. For the first time the concept of evidence based science, technology and innovation policy making is elaborated and put into context with Foresight studies. Foresight studies are commonly understood as a measure supporting governments, public agencies and companies in designing future oriented strategies. The editorial book brings together contributions from leading international scientists, representatives of national governments and international organisations like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Nanotechnology applications are proliferating, though the number commercialised is far outstripped by those under development. This chapter presents an approach to identifying the most promising nanoindustry product groups, the technological breakthroughs associated with these, and prospects for emergence of nanotechnology markets. In the Russian context, it suggested that significant niches in these nanotechnology markets can be established, by making an measured choice of priorities and focusing efforts on achieving these. Acting upon such priorities requires coordinated efforts from key actors throughout the life cycle of nanoproducts – from development to commercialization, not just in the research phase. We argue that the effectiveness of the measures that are taken will depend on the extent to which recommendations based on Foresight studies are taken on board in management decisions affecting the nascent nanoindustry's scientific, technological, and market development.