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Development of methodology and tools for long-term strategic foresight of science, technology and innovation

2006

Over recent years, as the transition to the economics of knowledge has intensified, demand for studies in the area of foresight of socio-economic and S&T development has also increased. At the same time, these studies have become more integrated and incorporated new fields of activity. Analysis of modern approaches to S&T foresight and the defining of S&T priorities indicate the implementation of many programs that use a system of foresight methods. These programs have led to a new approach known as foresight that has demonstrated substantially greater efficiency compared with traditional methods.

Increased attention to foresight, noted in all developed countries over the last several years, has been caused by the fact that deep and comprehensive foresight of global S&T development has become the crucial requirement for building an effective national innovation policy. The main characteristic of the method is the fact that it incorporates major factors which play a significant role in economic, social and scientific areas. It aims to determine the availability of the required resources, the nature of the necessary interaction between the entrepreneurship sector and the state, the condition of the research infrastructure, compliance of legal groundwork with the scale and nature of S&T and organization related problems as well as the most likely schedule for their solution.

To conduct such a deep and detailed analysis, it is necessary to look at the professional and general experience of hundreds of experts – to find them, to select the most qualified ones and those capable of independent unbiased evaluations, to get them interested in the work and set the right tasks, and then to carefully process the results, transform them into an information instrument that can be used to make executive decisions. The modern methodology used by foresight is aimed at solving these problems.

The research provided a means for critical explanation of the methodological foundations and for studying how it is used in other countries. Foresight methodology incorporates a large number of existing methods and simultaneously is a holistic academic discipline devoted to the most efficient forward looking methods. We believe that this methodology may make an important contribution to boosting the efficiency of S&T policy along with determining the key areas of S&T development that will ensure the formation of a new quality of the Russian economy that corresponds to the modern stage of world economic development.

Our analysis demonstrates that foresight projects are an effective practical tool that substantially increases decision-making efficiency at national, sectoral and regional levels, taking into consideration a variety of factors of various natures and determining the results of their joint actions.

Modern foresight approaches are boiled down to the organization of a systematic evaluation of the long-term prospects for S&T, economy and society to determine the strategic areas for research and technologies that will have the largest social and economic effect.

At this stage, when Russia is rapidly integrating into the global economy, it is important to know for sure the country’s current positions and capabilities as well as the place of Russia in the coming decades depending on the chosen way of further development. Therefore one of the principal tasks is extending the range of research devoted to choosing national S&T priorities and the evaluation of their impact on both the economy and society.

We have worked out a guide for applying foresight methods to the long-term strategic S&T and innovation foresight as well as proposals for specific methods used at major stages to develop a complex foresight of technological development in the long-run that may become strong foundation for the establishment of methodological approaches to realize the national foresight program in Russia. 

Intensive use of the foresight methodology in various areas would contribute to a greater justification of solutions aimed at improving the competitive ability of the Russian economy, accelerated economic growth based on high technology and provide practical solutions to the most important medium and long-term socio-economic problems.