Foresight Must Extend its Remit
On the 30th January 2014 the HSE hosted an international seminar on methods and practices to evaluate the effect of foresight research in Russia and the EU. It was organised by ISSEK, the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge.
The seminar, which was opened by the director of the International Department of the Russian Ministry of Science and Education, Yevgeny Ugrinovich and the Head of Science and Technology of the EU representation in Russia, Richard Burger, was timed to coincide with the end of the ERA.Net project of the 7th EU framework science and technology development programme (7PП).
The main aim of the project was to bring Russian and European scientific research together. An innovation contest was a feature as were the projects drawing in the main funding organisations from the 7PП EU and associated countries and Russia. Using foresight research methods, a long term programme was devised for cooperation in science and technology and possible scenarios for the development of that cooperation were formulated.
The HSE foresight centre ISSEK, the EC research centre, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS), and the Austrian Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI, Austria) conducted a large scale survey in which they set out coordinates for research cooperation in four key areas - medicine and health, nanotechnology, climate change, social and human sciences. They drew up technological roadmaps for these key areas. Four seminars were devoted to discussing cooperation priorities - two in Brussels and two at ISSEK in Moscow on nanotechnology and climate change. At this recent seminar Alexander Sokolov, Director of the HSE Foresight Centre and Karel-Herman Hageman, JRC-IPTS Research Fellow and Manfred Spiesberger, ZSI Project Leader talked in detail about how the foresight survey went and about the ensuing evaluation of its future effects.
The determining criteria for evaluating foresight is the extent to which its results are used in devising various policy measures.
The chairman of the Russian government recently confirmed that the results of the huge-scale Russian foresight research were reflected in the long-term prognosis for science and technology development for Russia 2030 - a document prepared with the help of HSE experts. Integrating work with key participants of innovation systems supported by developed strategies plays a significant role in strengthening the effectiveness of foresight research. In the Russian case these processes are being realised as part of the formation of a national system of technological forecasting.
Researchers from Finland, Hungary, Romania, Turkey and Britain spoke at the seminar about the aspects of foresight in planning the all-European programme (particularly as regards the new EU Framework programme on technology and innovation development ‘Horizon 2020’) and also on the level of national systems.
The Finnish researcher spoke about the possibilities and experiences of making foresight an integrated part of the process of government decision making. The Romanian researcher gave a paper which provoked a deal of interest as he explained how his country had developed major foresight research in spite of limited resources. Participants remarked that in most cases foresight research is commissioned by governments and government departments, as in Britain where alongside government science programmes the department of Health has shown major interest. This sharpens debate about what the priorities for foresight research should be. There is a danger of just sticking to the ‘safe areas’ where foresight has already enjoyed success.
Irina Kuklina, the Director of the Analytical centre for International science and technology and education programmes was emphatic that tying foresight research to government programmes puts it at risk of becoming an instrument of government rather than a tool to influence policy making. She insisted, ‘We must look ahead, and beyond the limits of current policy’.
The participants of the seminar all agreed that it is vital to include universities, independent think tanks and the private sector in foresight research. They should also take into account the experience of other countries when organising projects in Russia and consider the results in a global context. The speakers paid particular attention to examining the strategy of monitoring the results of research in Russia and the EU to make sure that they are applied effectively.
The fact that 2014 is the Year of Science in Russia and the EU will strengthen cooperation between Russia and the EU and associated countries in 7PП. The ERA.Net RUS project will be replaced by the ERA.Net RUS Plus initiative which will include funding a row of joint projects in four selected key areas and in supporting innovation.Oleg Seregin, HSE News Portal
This May, HSE and the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI, Republic of Korea) signed a cooperation agreement on science and advanced technology research. This agreement was signed by Leonid Gokhberg, HSE First Vice Rector, Director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, and Dr. Hwang-Hee Cho, STEPI President.
Following years of study and work in South America and Europe, Rafael Popper joined HSE Moscow as Professor of Foresight and STI Governance in January 2018. In addition to his job at HSE, he is Principal Scientist in Business, Innovation and Foresight at a world leading research and technology organization (RTO) called VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. With a PhD on 21st Century Foresight from the University of Manchester, Popper has built a career on wide-ranging research of issues in foresight and STI policy. In a recent interview with the HSE News Service, he spoke in depth about his research interests, philosophy on teaching, collaboration across HSE and his love of languages, among other topics.
Leonid Gokhberg, HSE First Vice Rector, Director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, spoke on his first steps in academia, working with foreign researchers, on foresight research as well as shared his thoughts on HSE research development.
On November 7, HSE hosted a delegation from the Jülich Research Centre in Germany. Scholars from both countries came together to discuss joint research opportunities, including transformation of energy systems for sustainable development; future studies of energy technologies, including foresight studies; and methodological issues related to big data analysis and modelling.
Policymakers are increasingly turning to foresight techniques for guidance when addressing the wide array of problems and challenges arising in their work. A new book co-edited by Leonid Gokhberg, Dirk Meissner, and Alexander Sokolov from the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK), attempts to add another dimension – namely, opportunities – that can come from proper application of foresight techniques. Deploying Foresight for Policy and Strategy Makers: Creating Opportunities Through Public Policies and Corporate Strategies in Science, Technology and Innovation (Springer, 2016) features essays by more than a dozen scholars on various aspects of foresight application in today’s policy environment.
How dangerous is the ‘beaten track’ effect in discussions on Russia’s science and technology (S&T) development? Is it enough to master new technologies without changing the institutions for the country to successfully enter global markets? Alexander Chulok, Deputy Director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge Foresight Centre, commented on the key topics of a recent online discussion on ‘Russia’s place on the global technology map’, on the Russian science and technology website STRF.ru which attracted a wide range of pundits.
What should Russia’s policy be on Science and Technology? What do Russian and international foresight research results show? How is international cooperation in science developing? These are among the questions which will be discussed at the 5th annual international research conference on Foresight and STI Policy at HSE on 18th - 20th November.
On September 24, 2015, a delegation of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (MOST) visited HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK). With the goal to identify perspective areas of cooperation, researchers of HSE and MOST delegates shared their unique fields of expertise and discussed key trends and instruments of Taiwan’s and Russia’s state policy on international cooperation in science, technology, and industrial innovation. During the visit, Dr. Yi-Bing Lin, Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, gave an interview to the HSE news portal, in which he cited Karl Marx’s theory, while talking about big data and futures studies.
David Sarpong recently joined the HSE Research Laboratory for Science and Technology Studies as a senior research fellow. In this interview with the HSE News Service, he shares his first impressions of Moscow and HSE, as well as his expectations for the future.
The annual foresight courses which have been running at Manchester University since 1999 are considered some of the most prestigious and important for researchers of the future. In July 2015 two researchers at the Foresight Centre at ISSEK who have been students on the courses themselves have been invited this year to come and teach.