Eye of Europe – The Research and Innovation foresight community

As a Coordination and Support Action funded by the EU, project “Eye of Europe” aims to enhance the integration of foresight practices into Research and Innovation (R&I) policy making across Europe. Ultimately, the project envisions a more cohesive and influential R&I foresight community that contributes significantly, as a collective intelligence, to shaping and guiding policy decisions.

To this end, Eye of Europe builds on existing initiatives and experiences to foster knowledge-sharing between foresight practitioners and policy makers, attract domain experts in foresight endeavours, and engage a broader audience in futures thinking. Nurturing futures4europe.eu as the online home for the community and running various face-to-face events with different stakeholders will underpin these ambitions.

The project runs between November 2023 – October 2026 and relies, methodologically, on the following building blocks:

  • Futures4Europe.eu as the online hub for the R&I foresight community in Europe:
    The existing platform will be upgraded to better accommodate the interests of various stakeholders such as foresight experts, beneficiaries, domain experts, and an active audience. It will operate on multiple integration levels, from mapping organizations and experts to sharing foresight results and capabilities. Moreover, it will act as the communication gateway for ongoing foresight activities, events, educational and inspirational materials. More on the platform here.
  • Sharing of practices:
    This entails mapping institutions engaged in R&I foresight activities, promoting mutual learning through interactive formats, developing shared visions for the future of foresight in R&I policy within the European Research Area (ERA), fostering exchanges among the foresight in R&I policy community through conferences, encouraging dialogues between futurist/expert communities, academics and policy practitioners.
  • Running foresight pilots:
    Conducting a series of pilot workshops and online consultations with diverse formats, methodologies, and participants. This involves identifying topics of common interest within the European Research Area (ERA), where foresight perspectives offer added value, designing and implementing tailored pilot foresight activities involving various stakeholders, harnessing lessons learnt and feeding them into the platform and other dissemination channels.
  • Boosting futures literacy: 
    The project encourages meaningful engagement with diverse audiences, from foresight professionals, researchers, policy-makers to various futures sensitive profiles (e.g. entrepreneurs, journalists, artists) and the wider civil society. The project will provide guides, methodology toolboxes, and training modules for R&I foresight and futures literacy. Prospectiva will help create diverse content for futures literacy, such as conversational podcasts and multimedia materials on foresight methods and outcomes.
  • Fueling the public discourse around futures: 
    Fostering the foresight community via the online platform Futures4Europe, social media and a dedicated newsletter. In addition to highlighting the project’s own initiatives, Eye of Europe will also promote foresight content developed in other projects, showcasing a diverse range of perspectives and insights within the foresight field. The quarterly newsletter will feature various content types like interviews, project updates, and foresight-related articles. Social media, particularly futures4europe’s LinkedIn page, will be used to engage professional communities and wider audiences.

Eye of Europe leverages the experience of 18 partners across Europe coming from all walks of foresight expertise and practice:

Futures Garden – creating fictional artifacts through speculative design

Futures Garden aims at creating inspiring alternative future scenarios through the use of fictional future artifacts that invite to reflection and debate. The pilot project coordinated by Institutul de Prospectiva was carried out in 2024 and addressed two themes:

“Dealing with future selves” explores new ways of being, individually and collectively, examines new practices and technologies that enhance self-reflection and sharing of emotions, which help shape our choices in life and nurture a renewed sense of togetherness.

“Extending human perception to new scales” explores the richness of non-human intelligences, expanding our attention and appreciation for their unique sensory worlds, their “umwelt” – what they “feel” and how they “think”. In doing so it departs from the human-centric worldview towards a deeper understanding and celebration of life on Earth.

The project unfolded along several phases, depicted in the figure below and then further described:

  • Horizon scanning:

Identifying and curating cutting-edge concepts, theories, practices and technologies that may reshape our notion of futures selves and of extended human perception, by diving into literature from various fields (e.g. psychology, biology, epigenetics, biotechnology, neuroscience, cultural theory, spirituality). These content items were then used as a selection or in combination, depending on the concept design ideas in the speculative design phase.
The full results of the horizon scanning are available in the report Foresight literature review brief

  • Speculative Design:

Transforming selected briefs, together with design agencies NORMALS and Modem, into thought-provoking future artifacts in the form of short movies – Inwards and Symbiotic – which render the imagined future scenarios more tangible, immersive and engaging.

The full movies will become available for the wider public in June 2024.
The teasers below give a glimpse into this creative work:
Inwards teaser: https://vimeo.com/887304151
Symbiotic teaser: https://vimeo.com/887303461

  • Citizen and Policy Engagement:

Reflecting on the various societal implications of the speculative scenarios, gathering diverse perspectives and insights from EU citizens and policymakers. This phase involved a series of eight workshops, conducted between late November and early December 2023.

  • Sharing with the wider public:

Presenting on dedicated website futuresgarden.eu the project journey and outcomes, so that audiences from all around Europe and the world can engage with this inspiring work

The final report of the project showcases the work carried out in Futures Garden, describing each step and associated outcomes.

***

Futures Garden initiated by the EU Policy Lab
Commissioned by the DG for Research & Innovation through the Foresight on Demand framework contract
Supported by the European Commission

Partners:
Austrian Institute of Technology
Fraunhofer ISI
Futures2all
Futurlab
Institutul de Prospectiva (Lead of pilot project)
Modem
Normals

Eye of Europe sets sail

November 2023 saw the official launch of the EU-funded project Eye of Europe – The research and innovation foresight community. For the next three years, this project will nurture the European R&I foresight community, bringing together practitioners, experts, policymakers and foresight enthusiasts alike.

Leveraging the experience of 18 partners across Europe coming from all walks of foresight expertise and practice, the project will integrate mutual learning and sharing of practices among foresight practitioners and R&I policy-makers, mobilise diverse stakeholders in joint pilot activities, and engage an active, broad audience in deliberating and shaping future imaginaries.

Eye of Europe will continue the work undertaken by its predecessor, ‘FOD European R&I Foresight and public engagement for Horizon Europe’. More specifically, the online platform futures4europe launched in early 2023 will carry on its function as the heart of the foresight community, undergoing further upgrades towards mapping organisations and experts and sharing foresight results and capabilities, as well as an amplifier for current foresight activities and events.

Read more about the project.

Dealing with future selves & Extending human perception to new scales – join the online workshop

When foresight meets speculative design, the result is not only cinematic and poetic, but also more tangible and potent in the way it paints potential futures. Project Futures Garden is warmly inviting you to engage with two fictional artifacts that showcase thought provoking future scenarios regarding “Dealing with future selves” and “Extending human perception to new scales”.

Join us for an immersive and interactive experience!

Registration link: https://futures-garden-human-perception-identity.eventbrite.de

Date and time: Dec 7th 2023, 14:00 – 16:30 CET

The Artifacts:

INWARDS

The film Inwards invites us to explore new practices and technologies that enhance self-reflection and sharing of emotions, thus helping shape our choices in life and nurture a renewed sense of togetherness.

>> Watch the teaser: https://vimeo.com/887304151

SYMBIOTIC

The film Symbiotic invites us to explore new ways of inhabiting the perception of other intelligent beings, to embody their experience, their sensory world, their “umwelt” – what they “feel” and how they “think”.

>> Watch the teaser: https://vimeo.com/887303461

Stories, including those about potential futures, can bind and bond us in communion. They renew us, because when we imagine the future we invariably transform our present, our current thoughts and emotions. Give yourself this treat on Thursday, December 7th 2023.

Who Should Attend?

  • EU citizens interested in reflecting on and discussing future fictional artifacts, thus fostering new ideas and attitudes that may reshape their present lives and their future
  • Policymakers looking for fresh perspectives derived from future scenarios
  • Futurists, designers, and behavioral scientists exploring the power of citizen engagement in molding future imaginaries

Our report published by the European Commission: Science, technology and innovation for ecosystem performance: accelerating sustainability transitions

This report presents the results of a study on S&T&I for 2050: science, technology and innovation for ecosystem performance – accelerating sustainability transitions. The aim was to identify, map and assess future scientific and technological developments that can radically improve or threaten ecosystem performance.

Based on literature review, the project team developed three perspectives on future relations between humans and nature and humans’ role in the flourishing of planetary ecosystems. Drawing in addition on a two-round Dynamic Argumentative Delphi survey on the most dynamic scientific and technological developments, six cased studies on core sustainability issues explored the three perspectives. Reflections on implications for R&I policies in the context of the European Green Deal conclude each case study.

The report can be downloaded in our Resources section.

The project team was composed by: 

The project “S&T&I FOR 2050. Science, Technology and Innovation for Ecosystem Performance – Accelerating Sustainability Transitions” was conducted on behalf of the European Commission. 

Check out our webinar – Foresight for entrepreneurial minds

In a nutshell, foresight is a structured conversation about potential futures. Foresight tools and concepts can be employed in different future-sensitive settings, and entrepreneurial discovery and business innovation can certainly benefit from this practice.

This webinar addresses students with entrepreneurial ambitions and facilitators who may guide them in the process of generating ideas that take into account future opportunities and challenges, whether they are already emerging or are barely discernable in the present.

The webinar is available here.

It is part of our work in project FOReSiGHTFlexibility and Resilience in Digital Transformation and Intelligent Automation – Advanced Skills and Tools for Academia and Entrepreneurs.

Enjoy!

Read our new paper: “Transhumanist revolutions”

Mass media from around the world is constantly heralding new scientific and technological breakthroughs that bring upon the promise of healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives: partially restoring the sight of blind people with the aid of artificial retinas, restoring partial movement of previously non-responsive limbs by linking a paralyzed person’s brain to a computer chip, artificial bones, skin, blood, along with more controversial endeavors: editing the human genome through gene-splitting techniques, stem cells primed to promote regeneration, cryogenics and many, many others. The transhumanist movement regards breakthroughs like these as springboards not only to healing people, but to changing and improving humanity. Thanks to scientific developments in converging technologies such as biotechnology, neurotechnology, information technology and nanotechnology, humanity may be on the cusp of an enhancement revolution. 

Our new paper proposes 12 scenarios informed by transhumanism, portraying futures in which the human condition – our bodies, functions, and lives – and the features of societies are fundamentally transformed by technology. We propose these narratives as exploratory scenarios, describing futures where both positive and negative consequences are palpable. They are not normative, outlining a vision of the future deemed desirable. We invite readers to regard them as devices for imagining the future and debating the future. 

You can read more on the context and download the full paper here

Read our new paper: “Data as representation”

What is data? How is data relevant for human and natural ecosystems? The answers depend on the perspective – in a recent paper we propose three scenarios, going from techno-optimism, to equal species recognition, to the philosophy of biocentrism.

In brief, the scenarios are:

  • To the maxx – in which the technological trends of the early 2020s (pattern recognition through AI, greener and FAIR data, digital twins etc.) have reached maximal expansion. In this scenario, science supplies data and algorithms for decision-making, but scientific techno-optimism is confronted with the challenge of understanding and of justifying decisions.
  • Radical responsibility – in which a social technology (equal recognition through a system of rights) is extended to virtually all beings, human and nonhuman. Here, science is enlisted in support of bringing in the perspectives of different species but is confronted with the challenge of integrating these perspectives into broad models accepted by all.
  • We, the life – in which the driving force is a new level of consciousness gained by a growing number of biocentric scientists. Humanity relies on them to inspire ethically grounded worldviews, influencing the design of socio-techno-environmental systems.

Access the full paper here.

Science, technology, and innovation (STI) for ecosystem performance: Accelerating Sustainability transitions

Human performance has long been a dominant pursuit and driver of progress in science, technology and innovation (STI). As notions of performance are still guiding STI research, discussions on its nature are relevant and shape STI directions. Human needs and performance are inextricably linked to challenges related to the health of the planet. Considering that, a debate is warranted to shift the attention from human performance to a more inclusive performance of flourishing ecosystems. 

In this context, the vision of the project “S&T&I FOR 2050. Science, Technology and Innovation for Ecosystem Performance – Accelerating Sustainability Transitions” was driven by the desire for STI efforts to place ecosystem performance on par with human performance. This broadens the focus of STI to encompass multiple conceptualisations of human-nature relations and to contribute to sustainability transitions.

The project’s overarching goal was to identify and map future scientific and technological developments, which can radically improve ecosystem performance. In doing so, it provided reflections on the 2nd strategic plan of Horizon Europe (HE), in its broad direction to support the Sustainable Development Goals.

The study was conducted along several phases:

  • Based on literature review, the project team developed three perspectives on future relations between humans and nature and humans’ role in the flourishing of planetary ecosystems.
  • A two-round Dynamic Argumentative Delphi (DAD) explored the most dynamic scientific and technological developments.
  • Drawing in on the three perspectives and the results of the DAD survey, six case studies on core sustainability issues explored the three perspectives. Reflections on implications for R&I policies in the context of the European Green Deal conclude each case study.

The final report of the project was published by the European Commission and is available here.

Institutul de Prospectiva brought a number of contributions to this project:

  • Carried out the two-round Dynamic Argumentative Delphi survey, between December 2021 and February 2022. The survey engaged over 600 experts globally in enriching, assessing and prioritizing STI directions in terms of their potential to contribute to the capability of planetary ecosystems to flourish from now to 2050. The full report of the survey is available here.
    • a synthetic report highlighting: the most promising STI directions, considering their potential to contribute to the capability of planetary ecosystems to flourish from now to 2050; and the potential significant harms that STI could inflict on the capability of planetary ecosystems to flourish from now to 2050. The synthetic report is available here.
  • Elaborated the case study “Data as representation, which proposes three scenarios on the way data is understood and used in relation to the human and natural ecosystems by 2050. The final aim is to suggest the implications for the way R&I is organized and its challenges in each scenario. The case study is available here.
  • Elaborated the case study “Soil to Soul, which proposes three scenarios exploring human-soils relations. As sense-making devices, these scenarios discuss how different ontologies of soils shape different actions, be them soil management practices in agriculture contexts or Research and Innovation (R&I) practices. The case study is available here.

The project “S&T&I FOR 2050. Science, Technology and Innovation for Ecosystem Performance – Accelerating Sustainability Transitions” was conducted on behalf of the European Commission. The project team comprises experts from the following organizations: Austrian Institute of Technology (lead), Institutul de Prospectiva , Fraunhofer ISI , Insight Foresight Institute (IFI), ISINNOVA , Visionary Analytics .

Vision and scenario building for 2035 – Fishing and aquaculture in Romania

Institutul de Prospectiva is supporting the Ministry of Agriculture in Romania in its current efforts to build its sectoral strategy for fishing and aquaculture for the period 2023-2030. The activity is part of an effort involving the World Bank and its partners in supporting the strategic capacity of different ministries in Romania.

The project relies on a foresight methodology that involves a number of co-creation workshops with stakeholders in the sector. The first two workshops in a series of four were organized in April 2022 and were aimed at co-creating a vision for fishing and aquaculture in 2035.

The workshop engaged participants in a seven steps process, as follows:

  • Building a common understanding of the current societal/consumer behaviors and attitudes (level of fish and seafood consumption, types of products consumed, preference for local products, expectations regarding traceability, environmental concerns etc.);
  • Assessing the evolution of societal/consumer expectations by 2035 (on the same parameters as above);
  • Mapping the current fishing and aquaculture system, in terms if strengths and weaknesses;
  • Sketching the inertial future scenario of the fishing and aquaculture sector in Romania, meaning the likely scenario for 2035 in the absence of corrective policy interventions;
  • Identifying future opportunities that would allow the system to progress towards more desirable scenarios than the inertial scenario;
  • Collaboratively developing normative scenarios, capitalizing on selected opportunities;
  • Based on the normative scenarios, extracting the main components of a future vision for 2035, together with the most important areas of transformation leading to such vision.

The results of this co-creation workshops are presented in this report:

Based on these outcomes, stakeholders will be further engaged in two road-mapping workshops to be held in May 2022.