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.

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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

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 .

Conference on the Future of Europe

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a unique and timely opportunity for European citizens to debate on Europe’s challenges and priorities.

The Conference is placed under the authority of the three institutions, represented by the President of the European Parliament, the President of the Council and the President of the European Commission, acting as its Joint Presidency.

A key component of this conference are the citizen panels discussing different topics and put forward their proposals. The citizens are representative in terms of geographic origin, gender, age, socioeconomic background and/or level of education.

Institutul de Prospectiva provided three facilitators for the citizen panels, each panel meeting three times in the period 2021-2022.

Reimagining the Food System: scanning the horizon for emerging social innovations

The horizon scanning project ‘Reimagining the food system: scanning the horizon for emerging social innovations” (July 2021 – December 2021) embraced a bottom-up approach to investigate emerging food system practices and  behaviours, with emphasis on social innovation, across the entire food chain, from production, processing and manufacturing, through supply, retail and services, to consumption and waste management.

This project consisted of:

  • Conducting a horizon scanning process that led to the identification of over 200 weak signals/emerging trends that were further nested into 24 emerging issues along the food system segments. Team Prospectiva ran the horizon scanning and the clustering, showcasing the results in both visual (see the canvases below) and narrative format.
  • Analyzing a subset of ten selected emerging issues by developing individual factsheets and an outlook of their interrelations.  
  • Drawing key insights from the emerging issues identified, particularly in terms of driving forces and actors, risks and opportunities and key uncertainties. 
Canvas of all emerging issues | © Institutul de Prospectiva
Canvas of emerging issues – segment: Producing food | © Institutul de Prospectiva
Canvas of emerging issues – segment: Processing and manufacturing | © Institutul de Prospectiva
Canvas of emerging issues – segment: Processing and manufacturing | © Institutul de Prospectiva
Canvas of emerging issues – segment: Consuming food | © Institutul de Prospectiva
Canvas of emerging issues – segment: Waste management | © Institutul de Prospectiva

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The project research team was composed of experts from: of ISINNOVA, Institutul de Prospectiva, Austrian Institute of Technology and Insight Foresight Institute.

BOHEMIA

The overarching objective of BOHEMIA (Beyond the Horizon: Foresight in Support of the Preparation of the European Union’s Future Policy in Research and Innovation) is to identify priorities and themes for Future European R&I policy and to provide a description of the issues that should be addressed by R&I policy and funding. The time horizon considered in the project is 2040. By this time, the results of research and innovation activities funded by the next European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation are expected to reach a very substantial impact in practice. Project BOHEMIA involves three main phases:

  • Explore possible alternative futures setting the societal, economic and political conditions and boundaries for EU R&I policy;
  • Assess the possible future evolution of socio-economic as well as of scientific and technological challenges, needs and opportunities;
  • Recommend potential priority areas and policy approaches for addressing them.

The project starts with the analysis of a wide range of foresight and strategic intelligence sources, addressing different types of future developments: emerging technological trends and societal challenges, innovation opportunities, new R&I practices, and wider contextual developments.

This information is synthesized into a set of scenarios that aim to sketch possible future settings and boundary conditions for the development of future R&I policy and funding. BOHEMIA develops pairs of scenarios for seven domains: global political and socio-economic context, climate and energy, environment and ecosystem resources and services, health, security and resilience, accelerating innovation, and ‘a world of cities’.

The approach of developing pairs of context scenarios was chosen in order to capture the variability of the future in a simple manner, by distinguishing for each pair between a “perseverance scenario” and a “transition scenario”. Transition scenarios entail major structural and institutional changes in the seven domains explored. They define the requirements and opportunities for future R&I, but also point to important implications for other policy areas and strategies of stakeholders. As for the perseverance scenarios, the fundamental structural and institutional conditions prevail more or less as they are today.

  • The resulting report, Future scenarios for research & innovation policies in Europe, is available here.

Further on, Bohemia invites experts across Europe and the globe to engage to assess future technologies, societal issues, and R&I practices through a Delphi survey.  The latter draws on a unique and innovative methodology (“Dynamic Argumentative Delphi” – DAD) that enables not only the assessment of Delphi statements, but also supporting or questioning the statements by proposing and evaluating arguments.

  • The resulting study, Data from a Delphi survey in support of future European Union policies in research and innovation, is available here.

Finally, BOHEMIA aims to build on the scenarios and the results of the Delphi in order to derive policy recommendations. The Delphi results supply the foundation for the formulation of more targeted scenarios, which provide orientation for possible thematic directions in future R&I policy. The targeted scenarios are validated and refined in a workshop with the EC Foresight Correspondents’ Network, and subsequently subjected to a final online consultation. The latter aims to deliver an overall assessment of the perceived relevance of the targeted scenarios for European R&I policy, and an amended and ranked list of R&I items perceived as potential priorities within each of the targeted scenarios.
The project team:

The project draws on a team of highly experienced foresight and R&I policy experts, who have been involved in several key foresight and R&I policy projects at national and European level. AIT has a long-standing track record in matters of foresight and its use in the context of R&I policy at regional, national, European and international levels, also covering a broad range of sectoral domains. ISIS has a strong track record in scenario development, addressing domains such as energy, transport and cities, as well as global developments. Institutul de Prospectiva has substantial expertise in developing and implementing Delphi-survey instruments; and extensive experience with the use of online tools in the context of policy research and public participation. Finally, Fraunhofer-ISI has excellent expertise in Delphi and other foresight methods, but can also draw on a broad range of thematic competencies for policy analysis and development.

Project partners

  • Austrian Institute of Technology
  • Institutul de Prospectiva
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI
  • ISINNOVA, the Institute of Studies for the Integration of Systems

Social Business Initiative (SBI) Follow-Up: Co-operation between Social Economy Enterprises and Traditional Enterprises

The Social Business Initiative adopted by the European Commission in 2011 aims to create a favourable environment for the development of social business in Europe, and of the social economy at large. Following the Council of the European Union’s conclusions on promoting social economy as a key driver of economic and social development, co-operations between traditional and social economy enterprises became recognised as means of scaling up social economy enterprises and the place of social innovation and entrepreneurship within the economy.

In this context, the European Commission, through the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), has contracted a consortium with organizations from 10 countries to execute a study that will serve as means for starting the implementation of these Council Conclusions. This study is an important tool to promote entrepreneurship and access to markets for social enterprises and thus, stimulating jobs and growth.

The projects main steps are to:

  • Produce an in-depth analysis of the cooperation between traditional and social enterprises;
  • Define a set of recommendations for different decision makers;
  • Discuss, revise and validate the proposed recommendations with different stakeholders;

The analysis starts with the mapping of the common tendencies, schemes, external and internal difficulties and best practises, including domestic regulations’ favouring, hindering or preventing cooperation between social economy enterprises. On the basis of the analysis performed, there will be conclusions and recommendations provided on how to foster the cooperation between social enterprises and traditional enterprises in the EU.

These recommendations will be discussed in a final conference in Brussels, by representatives of Member States and local authorities, private stakeholders and academics, aiming to raise awareness of the situation and discussing a possible action plan.

The outcomes of the “Social Business Initiative (SBI) Follow-Up: Co-operation between Social Economy Enterprises and Traditional Enterprises” will be used by the European Commission and possibly, Member States and local authorities, in order to develop public policies for the development of social economy enterprises, based on their cooperation with traditional profit-oriented enterprises.

Project partners

  • Technopolis
  • Austrian Institute of Technology AIT
  • i-propeller
  • Lama Development and Cooperation Agency
  • Technology Partners
  • VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    with
  • Institutul de Prospectiva

RIBRI – Radical Innovation Breakthrough Inquirer

Horizon scanning for radical innovation breakthroughs

The goal of this project is to identify 100 technological innovation opportunities for Europe and the world by confronting 100+ emerging Radical Innovation Breakthroughs (RIBs) with 20-25 Global Value Networks (GVNs).

The main phases of the project are:

  • To collect and systematise up-to-date information, from sources world-wide, on key future radical (technological and societal) innovation breakthroughs;
  • To evaluate the potential of these key breakthroughs as emerging trends or game-changers and their strategic importance for Europe, taking into account their scientific basis and technical feasibility, their relevance for existing economic structures in Europe and strategic potential and risks in relation to potential future global challenges and future global value networks, within Europe as well as outside it;
  • To identify Europe’s strengths and weaknesses in reaping the benefits of the 100 most significant breakthroughs.
  • To produce a report suitable for use by policy-makers describing the 100 most significant radical innovation breakthroughs, underpinned by a structured analysis and data set with descriptions of all breakthroughs identified that are potentially feasible in the next 5 to 20 years, and comparing the 100 most significant breakthroughs to European strengths and weaknesses in research, science and technology.

In addition, however, the project aims at two more far-reaching aims directed at underpinning a European future orientation in a more general way:

  • To initiate a community of actors committed to engage into a Pan-European dialogue on radical innovation breakthroughs that may form the nucleus of wider future oriented debate in Europe and thereby strengthen European futures orientation and resilience.
  • To pave the way for an ongoing exploration of radical innovation breakthroughs combining human judgement and automated analysis in a fruitful way.

Project partners:

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI 
  • Institutul de Prospectiva
  • Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku, Finland

CIMULACT

Engaging all of Europe in shaping a desirable and sustainable future

Citizens provide concrete input for the European Union’s research and innovation agenda.

A video presentation of CIMULACT is available here.

CIMULACT (Citizen and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon 2020) builds on the conviction that societies’ collective intelligence gives Europe a competitive advantage. This intelligence may be activated to strengthen the relevance of the European science and technology system. By establishing a genuine dialogue among citizens, stakeholders, scientists, and policymakers, visions and scenarios for desirable futures are developed and debated, and further transformed into recommendations and suggestions for research and innovation policies and topics.

In short, CIMULACT encompasses:

a) Citizen visions for desirable and sustainable futures, connecting societal needs with future expected advances in science and their impact on technology, society, environment, and so on.

The English-language booklet containing the 179 visions elaborated (in national languages) by more than 1,000 citizens during the National Citizen Vision Workshops (NCVs) is available here.

b) Highly participatory debates/consultations engaging citizens and stakeholders in building scenarios for desirable sustainable futures and research. The latter will be considered for implementation in Horizon 2020 or national research and innovation agendas.

c) The development, experimentation and assessment of a large scale, multi-actor online consultation for redefining the European Research and Innovation agenda. No less than 3,458 respondents from 30 countries evaluated and enriched, according to their interests and expertise, 48 proposed research programs.

d) Recommendations for research and innovation policy.

The 23 citizens’ based research topics and recommendations ordered by Grand Challenges are available here.