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Russia — Brazil Summer School on Foresight & STI Policy

From June 15 to 19, 2015, the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK) held a joint summer school with Brazil’s Center for Strategic Studies and Management in Science, Technology and Innovation (CGEE). The aim of the summer school was to explore areas for collaboration  for both countries and institutions in the field of Foresight and STI policy following an earlier memorandum of understanding signed between CGEE and HSE.

Ozcan Saritas, Leading Research Fellow at the HSE ISSEK Laboratory for Science and Technology Studies, was interviewed by the HSE news service about the summer school.

Why was it important to hold this summer school?

It was important in the sense that we are working with Brazil, which is one of the BRICS countries. This means that we have similar opportunities and challenges and a similar level of economic development. When we look at the Brazilian innovation system, priorities, industrial sectors and their challenges, we see a good fit between the development agendas of the two countries. We thought that we could explore areas of interest and develop common approaches to the challenges we face today. Some of those challenges, of course, are global, which can give us some opportunities for collaboration internationally. Some of those challenges are related to BRICS countries, so we can develop some tools and methods to deal with those.

Could you say a few words about the potential areas of collaboration?

Following intensive discussions through the week by looking at the scope of research, recent and on-going projects, methodological approaches and methods, main clients and partners, two areas emerged which would  be taken forward for future collaboration.

One of those areas is related to Foresight and STI policy, more specifically ‘prioritization’ that is particularly important for countries with limited resources which should be allocated in the most critical areas identified in an evidence-based process informed by a long-term vision. During the discussions on prioritization, several tools emerged to be useful. For example, CGEE is engaged in portfolio analysis, which was one of the strengths of the Brazilian colleagues. They use portfolio methods for combining Foresight, innovation indices and decision analysis. This analysis helps to evaluate the impacts of Foresight on innovation indicators, identify gaps in innovation strategies and provide input for Foresight to improve the innovation system. Planning future qualitative and quantitative scenarios was considered to be another area for cooperation.  We are particularly interested in exploring opportunities for quantitative scenarios to look into future markets, future products and technologies by using numerical data and seeing how things may evolve and go in different directions, so that we can model alternative scenarios and develop strategies. An ideal follow-up for scenario activities is the use of roadmapping for technologies and strategies. This method is used to make those strategies and policies actually happen. What kind of strategies are needed in the long, medium and short term and how different priority areas can be connected with different markets, products, technologies, research and development – it gives us an entire pathway for application. This is an area where the HSE has clear strengths and can offer advice for Brazil.

The summer school has created a base for an experimental collaboration. This is important, taking into account that Brazil and Russia have specific similarities, including similarities in institutions, challenges and ways to deal with them. We see a lot of commonalities and a lot of opportunities to exchange knowledge and information. Hopefully, we will make it happen.

The second main area of activity for future collaboration relates to trends monitoring. Trends are critical in understanding the dynamics of present and emerging future developments. We would like to understand how things are changing – in society, technology, economy, environmental policy, values and cultures. Particularly technology trends are of interest both for Russia and Brazil. The key questions are how to respond to those changes through new science, technology and innovation; and how to address those emerging challenges and issues so that we can develop policy and strategy instruments to exploit or mitigate the impacts of those trends. We have been working with so some readily available tools for this – VantagePoint, for example, and are also developing our own tools and algorithms at the Institute. During the summer school, Brazilian colleagues also demonstrated the tools they are using. Analysing trends is a mutual interest. Discussions were held on the possibility of issuing global and BRICS oriented trendletters. CGEE also has developed a useful databases for collecting information about R&D capacity in Brazil. This was considered to be useful for testing some methods and approaches like network analysis.

What are some of the outcomes of the summer school and your plans going forward?

As a future activity, both sides agreed to set an agenda for collaboration in the next couple of years. For instance, ideas were developed to design some common processes, or procedures, which can be used for monitoring trends. A joint trends observatory is planned so that a joint system for monitoring trends can be generated and shared with wider audiences. These may include mainly global trends, as well as trends in BRICS countries.

Overall, the summer school has created a base for an experimental collaboration. This is important, taking into account that Brazil and Russia have specific similarities, including similarities in institutions, challenges and ways to deal with them. For example, what CGEE does and what we do at HSE ISSEK is very similar in terms of giving advice to government institutions, working with leading companies, the topics we work on, and the tools and methods we use. We see a lot of commonalities and a lot of opportunities to exchange knowledge and information. Hopefully, we will make it happen.

When do you think the trends observatory will be set up?

That is one of our priorities. One of the key activities of our institute is monitoring global technology trends. We are broadening this to cover not only technology trends, but also to look into social and economic trends and all other trends that can be observed in different spheres of our life, because all of them will have some implications on science, technology and innovation. We want to understand how demography is changing, how education system is developing, what are the issues related to health, and how behaviour of society is shifting. We would like to develop some strategic responses to all of these. The Brazilians are also concerned with the same things. This issue goes far beyond technologies; this is a systemic problem, which require systemic solutions. This would be one of the first items on the agenda for collaboration.

Will there be a special team at HSE for collaboration?

Collaboration agenda will be discussed by the existing relevant teams at our Institute. For example, we have a team of people already working on trends monitoring. This group will take the lead on this topic. We will engage other colleagues in different phases of this process, for example, colleagues who work on data analysis or patent analysis will take part in the identification of trends. They are working with databases or with other kinds of statistical information where we can extract some further trends. Our colleagues from Brazil will have their own team.

We are at the experimental stage for a collaboration, but following the summer school both side are very positive. There are common interests and intentions and a lot to learn from each other.

Experts from the Center for Strategic Studies and Management in Science, Technology and Innovation (CGEE) in Brazil also reflected on the workshop and shared their thoughts on plans for continuing collaboration.

Marcio de Miranda Santos, Executive Director of CGEE

CGEE and HSE are actually conducting a number of projects together. What we are going to do is combine the expertise that we have in both institutions and make the best use of it in terms of improving processes in each of the two institutions. I see a bright future in terms of developing and implementing things that would even further improve the chance of having an impact in informing decision making in science, technology and innovation.

Cristiano Hugo Cagnin, Leading Scientist on Future Studies Activities at CGEE

One idea that came along in one of the group discussions is that during the first six months we could educate one another in terms of processes, methodologies and tools. After this period, we could start integrating different tools and applying them in joint practical work or research. Our collaboration may thus involve practical work and research work as well as joint publications.

There is also room for involving students, and this may be interesting from HSE’s perspective. It’s good when young scholars can join research projects; it’s a way towards embedding forward-looking practices and thinking into formal education. At CGEE, we work with undergraduate students in our projects with this idea in mind.

Eduardo do Couto e Silva, STI Project Portfolio Analyst at CGEE

What we are trying to do is to think about global problems and the things connected with the relationship between the two countries. Because everything happens on a global scale nowadays, you have to go internationally to learn more and to exchange ideas. People come from different forms of training. So when you exchange ideas with people trained in a different way, you learn from them. This is a good start for international collaboration.

Prepared by Maria Besova

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