Andrea Ricci and Matthias Weber have just published a new article, “Beyond the horizon: Foresight in support of the preparation of the European Union’s future policy in research & innovation”, which talks about Europe’s future with science, innovation and digitisation, in the book Re:thinking Europe: Positions on Shaping an Idea (edited by the Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development).
The article asks how European research and innovation framework programmes, and R&I policy more generally, can contribute to the well-being of Europeans. While it was once thought that innovation was a worthwhile goal in and of itself, it is now clear that research and innovation must reflect societal and political needs. This, however, is complicated by uncertainty, due to socioeconomic, geopolitical and technological volatility as well as a lack of clarity regarding the overarching purpose of R&I. One way of addressing these issues is to look at future scenarios to find possible opportunities, which can facilitate priority setting.
The authors set out seven pairs of context scenarios, outlining what “perserverance” (or “business as usual”) and “change” (actively moving towards “the future we want”) will entail for climate change, urbanisation, health, security and other societal challenges that we are currently facing. Four transitions that would prioritise quality of life and safeguard the survival of the species, but which would also involve major organisational, institutional, social and political changes, are then put forward, as ways to best meet these challenges and change suboptimal outcomes into positive ones.
Read about the BOHEMIA study, which used foresight to recommend R&I policy priorities