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Posts Tagged ‘European Commission’

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about a GIF alert with 12 frames on the evolution of COVID-19?

March 26, 2020 Leave a comment

This blog post on the COVID-19 crisis aims to provide timely evidence-based alerts and sound advice to multiple stakeholders. 

In the last few days, many of us have been locked in our own disbelief for the lack of adequate and timely actions from key actors such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), and many other (inter)governmental organisations. I have been reading BBC News and other mainstream media everyday since the first case was reported. However, it was really surprising to see Italy asking and receiving help from Russia, China and Cuba, while at the same time European media outlets (except Italian) decided to suppress what can only be seen as humanitarian and lifesaving actions, regardless of who is actually behind them.

My frustration for the lack of trustworthy information drove me to make my own analysis of the situation based on freely and publicly available data about the most difficult to manipulate and closest to the reality figures, i.e. number of deaths and the weekly death rate. Thus I am grateful for the almost real time work carried out by people at WHO producing the Situation Reports (as provided by national authorities), as well as the OECD Artificial Intelligence Policy Observatory and an interactive web-based dashboard hosted by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. Of course, it is important to have a panoramic overview of the number of confirmed cases, but the truth is that these figures are definitely not reflecting the reality on the ground for several reasons, including lack of tests, different diagnostic and case confirmation definitions, and the quarantine itself, to name a few. Having said so, knowing the weekly death rate and the number of officially confirmed cases is enough to recognise the situation is not under control (except for China and South Korea, with 0,02 and 0,62 most recent weekly death rate respectively).

The animated GIF image below includes 12 frames showing in 3 minutes the timeline of the the COVID-19 evolution, with highlights from decisions and actions that were often not (or wrongly) taken. The last frame offers some recommendations for civil society, government, business, and research and education actors.

COVID19_GIFT_Alert_in_3_min

With all of the above in mind, and following recent reflections I shared in LinkedIn and Twitter, I strongly believed that now more than ever policy analysts, scientists and foresight practitioners should raise their voice and reach out to their networks so as to mobilise a critical mass capable of alerting policymakers about the urgent need to upgrade (sometimes ‘old but still gold’) future-driven recommendations into practical and transformational policy actions and priorities.

In the foresight and innovation research community, some of us are trying to raise awareness with the help of specialised and responsible media in Finland, such as Tekniikka&Talous, and we hope that this kind of blog posts in professional social networking platforms will help us reach out to beyond-the-obvious audiences in business, policy, and other circles. Collective and timely actions can play a key role in taming wild cards such as the unexpected and impactful consequences of the current Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

If you would like to look at the frames in detail and have more time to see the evolution of the pandemic and early (lack of) response, please feel free to use and/or circulate the images below.

 

What if the European Union would have acted upon the results of its own research on wild cards, which foresaw a Coronavirus-like scenario 10 years ago?

March 20, 2020 Leave a comment

Over a decade ago the European Union invested around 1 million Euro to fund the iKnow project as one of the so-called Blue Sky forward-looking activities. The project aimed at interconnecting Knowledge on issues and developments potentially shaking or shaping the future of science, technology and innovation (STI) in Europe and the world.

In the early 2000s there was a general consensus that the identification and analysis of Wild Cards and Weak Signals (WI-WE) and their effects on European and global science, technology and innovation (STI) policy often remained out of the policy radar and therefore deserved more attention in foresight and forward-looking activities.

Wild Cards are the kind of issues that can potentially shake our present and future, like the way the current Coronavirus is unfolding. While Weak Signals are ambiguous events, often referred to as seeds of change, providing advance intelligence or hints about potentially important futures, including Wild Cards, challenges and opportunities. Weak Signals lie in the eye of the beholder and are generally influenced by the mental frameworks and subjective interpretations of individuals with limited information about emerging trends, developments or issues in a particular time and context. Their weakness is directly proportional to levels of uncertainty about their interpretations, importance and implications in the short-medium-to-long-term. Thus, Weak Signals are unclear observables warning us about the possibility of future game changing events.

The iKnow project had two interconnected objectives: 1) To develop and pilot conceptual and methodological frameworks to identify and analyse Wild Cards and Weak Signals (WI-WE); and 2) To assess the implications and impact of selected WI-WE on, science, technology and innovation (STI) and key dimensions of the European Research Area (ERA). There are plenty of outcomes resulting from the project, including reports, a pioneering early warning system for the co-creation of strategic intelligence, the first open bank of wild cards and weak signals and more, all publicly available at http://news.iknowfutures.eu/. However, the rest of this blog will address the following question:

What if the European Union would have acted upon the results of its own EU-funded research on wild cards, which foresaw the Coronavirus 10 years ago? 

Back in May 2010, together with some colleagues and health experts from Germany, we organised a workshop  in which we discussed what we then called a Killer Virus, described as a highly infectious and lethal virus (that) appears and spreads out around the world fast due to the high mobility of the world population. The number of casualties is high and rises constantly, leading to massive social problems. The impacts are vast on all areas of life.

The Killer Virus was only one of some 44 wild cards we decided to feature in the iKnow Policy Alerts (2011) report. Interestingly it was the first wild card discussed and fully analysed with surprising wild features, key actors (i.e. early warners, shapers and stakeholders), potential impacts and, most importantly, potential actions for policy, business and research actors. We also provided some weak signals indicating that prospective mutations of such viruses could lead to large numbers of casualties.

An innovative contribution of the iKnow project was the effort devoted to “tame” the wild cards and with the help of weak signals and a systematic methodology to explore implications for science, technology and innovation (STI) policy.

With this in mind, for each of the featured wild cards we emphasised the ‘recommended research‘ that needed to be funded by the European Union. This advise was provided in the form of an imaginary “Call for proposals” following the same style used by the European Commission in its Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. In other words, we clearly specified the 1) Thematic Area (Health); 2) Research Topic (Prevention of pandemics: Awareness reading and surveillance systems); 3) Objective (To increase the probability of virus detection at the earliest possible stage. It is also to prevent behavioural patterns from accelerating the rapid spread of a virus); Expected Impact (To reduce the risk of delays in detecting lethal viruses; To facilitate behavioural interventions to control the effects of a virus; and To help to control and contain the infection within a region or population and before it reaches pandemic scale); and Importance for Europe (Europe is one of the world’s largest traffic junctions and is therefore especially vulnerable to the appearance of a lethal virus. Europeans are highly mobile both for business reasons and tourism. New viruses often originate in tropical regions, which Europeans are increasingly likely to visit).

Unfortunately, we can fast-forward 10 years from the completion of the iKnow project and find ourselves in the current Coronavirus pandemic with no effective awareness raising or surveillance systems in place. This is definitely not the first example of highly relevant research and policy advice that policymakers did not act upon. However, the evident inadvertence or lack of foresight from European and other stakeholders capable of doing the ‘right thing’ at the ‘right time’ shows that it is not sufficient that EC Project Officers congratulate Project Coordinators for the successful completion of their projects! There are cases where follow-up actions are crucial, especially when recommendations can help to build resilience and readiness towards grand societal challenges.

Hopefully this blog will help to create the ‘right momentum’ to mobilise a critical mass capable to reach out to policymakers with the power to introduce a much-needed set of “foresight-driven” mechanisms or instruments that will allow us to act upon very explicit and timely reported ‘Policy Alerts’ that can literally shake our societies in Europe and the rest of the world. While projects like iKnow would certainly deserve some kind of ‘aftercare’ funding to continue generating strategic policy advice, our efforts would only translate into further frustrations if politicians driving us to the future continue to be asleep at the wheel.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this personal blog do not represent the views of my past or current employers. These are my own reflections as a foresight practitioner and a true believer that change can also happen if individual or collective authoritative voices reach out to the right people through impactful channels. Social media can become a powerful instrument to “undust” the results of such a large-scale foresight study combining evidence, expertise, interaction and creativity to support decision makers in policy, business and research circles. Despite these views, I am a strong believer in the wide-ranging benefits of European Commission Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation, thus I remain an active player in many projects, some of which are still ongoing.

Killer_Virus_recommended_research_2011

Europe is a global leader in foresight, science, technology and innovation

November 28, 2018 Leave a comment
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Expert Panel on FUTURE PAST: QUO VADIS INNOVATION – POLICY?
(European Parliament, 28 November 2018)
From left: Frans van der Zee (TNO and JIIP), Rafael Popper (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland), Robbert Fisher (JIIP), Nicholas Vonortas (George Washington University), Wolfgang Polt (Joaneum Research), Jos Leijten (JIIP), Dirk Pilat (OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation) and Hielke Hijmans (EU law consultant).

JIIP Symposium on Future Past: Quo Vadis Innovation – Policy?

Research and Innovation are driving forces for growth, jobs and well-being. Over the past 10 years research and innovation policy in Europe faced a period of deep financial and economic crisis, slow recovery, the rise of populist anti-globalism and widening disparities between the Member States. In this period Europe’s research and innovation policies, partly because of the crisis, managed to address a number of pressing issues, some successfully and others rather inconsequentially.

10th_eis_website_new-1One of the more recent big issues has been the policy toward open science, open innovation and open to the world. Progress can only be reported with regard to open science. Open innovation and open to the world remained rather empty, not in the least because globalisation and international collaboration are under pressure (e.g. mixed feelings and strategies about collaboration with China, failed trade agreements, Trumpism).

 

In the understanding that excellent research does not automatically lead to wide spread innovation which is also due to the increasing complexity of the innovation processes and systems and to cultural and regulatory issues, new policies and policy instruments are needed.

In the current EU framework programme for reach and innovation (Horizon 2020) and the running up to Horizon Europe we see new approaches taking shape:

  • from programs, to challenges, to missions
  • more room for bottom-up initiatives and for multi-stakeholder initiatives such as PPP’s
  • a slow shift from grants to investment
  • more risk-capital, more start-ups/scale-ups and entrepreneurship
  • from clusters to ecosystems to smart specialisation strategies

These developments give direction to the R&I policies that aim to keep the EU innovative and competitive. But the past 10 years also revealed a number of high complexity policy challenges, mostly relating to the socio-economic framework of the EU:

  • Excellence vs cohesion in view of the widening gap between Member States,
  • The dominance of the platform economy by non-EU companies
  • How flexible should labour and labour markets be?
  • Can the example of GDPR (or some would say, a standard for the rest of the world) inspire further development of an EU driven regulatory environment for innovations?

The JIIP symposium at the 10th European Innovation Summit reviewed the past developments, looked at the current situation and discussed the challenges to be faced in the next 10 years. It provided an open space to share VTT‘s expertise in the use of foresight and horizon scanning to both co-create research and innovation intelligence and co-create action roadmaps to better address a wide range of growth opportunities for industry and society related to VTT_Lighthouses.

EU Top 50 Founders and Tech Festival

The Summit created the opportunity to engage with Europe’s Future Innovation Leaders at the EUTOP50 Founders and Tech Festival in the heart of Europe.

EUtop50

One of the #EUtop50 winners was Susana Núria Guerrero López from ALDstone who represented a promising UK-based start-up providing ground-breaking circular solutions for the built environment (click here to watch video about ALDstone solutions).

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With Susana Núria Guerrero López (ALDstone) winner at the EUtop50 Festival

A week promoting EU research and innovation impact and foresight

In addition to the Innovation Summit and the EUTOP50 festival, two other major events helped to further position foresight research and innovation into European debates:

  • The European Parliament conference on Impact of EU research and innovation on your daily life, which brought together researchers and politicians to reflect on past and present achievements. There were panels on: Health and wellbeing, Sustainable environment, Putting innovation on the market and Safe and secure society for all.
  • The ESPAS 2018 Conference on Global Trends to 2030: Shaping the Future in a Fast-Changing World, focused on generating fresh insights for the next edition of the ESPAS Global Trends to 2030 Report, which was first published in 2015 under the title: Global Trends to 2030: Can the EU Meet the Challenges Ahead?

 

Of equal importance, and despite the busy agendas, the various events allowed participants to expand their networks and spend quality time with new and “old” friends!

 

 

Towards a more responsible sustainable innovation assessment and management culture in Europe

January 15, 2018 Leave a comment

This article presents new concepts and practical approaches resulting from the piloting of CASI-F – a common framework for the assessment and management of sustainable innovation (SI). Based on lessons learned from action research carried out in the context of the EU funded CASI project, the article focuses on the meta-analysis of 46 action roadmaps produced with 43 innovators supporting the practical application of CASI-F. The applied methodology helped to demonstrate that a multi-level and multi-actor advice approach promotes a shift towards improved understanding of innovations-related critical issues (barriers, drivers, opportunities and threats) and stakeholders’ relations, as well as their management, thus promoting the sustainable resilience and transformation of socio-technical systems. This paper first reflects on how we arrived to managerial lessons from the actions roadmaps and how could these lessons be used to assess the current state of affairs and potential way forward for European initiatives and instruments promoting sustainable innovation.

Article URL: http://empas.pb.edu.pl/data/magazine/article/557/en/popper_et_al.pdf

Keywords: sustainable innovation, management, resilience, action roadmaps

Journal: Engineering Management in Production and Services

Free course on sustainable innovation assessment & management

May 17, 2017 Leave a comment

casi-tutorial-bannerSustainable Innovation Assessment and Management: Widening Horizons on climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials.

Free online course on sustainable innovation assessment and management concepts, practices, key lessons and policy messages. Get inspired!

Course outline

The CASI project aims at assessing Sustainable Innovations (SI) that respond to Societal Challenge 5 of Horizon 2020, namely ‘Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials’, in order to develop a framework supporting better management of SI initiatives. This FREE online course offers a comprehensive review of sustainable innovation related topics organised around 6 Modules and 12 Units.

Module 1: CASI-F in action

  • Unit 1: CASI-F principles and methodology – A five-step guide to future-proof action plans: Understand the why, what and how of sustainable innovation assessment and management.
  • Unit 2: CASI-F Tools – Web-based solutions supporting open innovation practices: Use CASI-F tools and optimize your innovation potential through learning by doing.

Module 2: Sustainable Innovation Concepts

  • Unit 3: SI assessment of innovations, systems and issues – A must-have set of criteria for more holistic sustainability appraisals: Learn about 7 types of innovations and new assessment indicators.
  • Unit 4: SI management actions, dimensions and key aspects – A comprehensive set of decision-support concepts: Discover different types of managerial needs and innovative ways of framing solutions.

Module 3: Sustainable Innovation in the EU

  • Unit 5: SI evolution in EC FP5, FP6 and FP7 – An overview of European Commission funded sustainability-oriented efforts between 1998-2013: Compare objectives, priorities and budgets.
  • Unit 6: SI priorities in H2020 SC5 – A guide to the EC Societal Challenge on Climate action, Environment, Resource efficiency and Raw materials: Explore SI priorities and more.

Module 4: Sustainable Innovation State-of-the-art

  • Unit 7: State-of-the-art of SI by type of innovation – Key results from the assessment of 500+ SI by type: Zoom into their objectives, priorities, multi-systemic impacts and sectoral relevance.
  • Unit 8: A quadruple helix approach to R&I agendas for SI – Top 10 research and innovation agendas for sustainability: Recognise the importance of the quadruple helix of SI actors in agenda-setting.

Module 5: Sustainable Innovation Pilot Study

  • Unit 9: SI actions and meta-actions from the CASI pilots – A set of 55 lessons resulting from the 1st phase of CASI-F applied to 43 pilots: Learn from innovators’ most common managerial choices.
  • Unit 10: 150 meta-tasks from CASI Action Roadmaps – 150 systematically generated lessons from the 2nd phase of CASI-F: Improve key context, people, process and impact aspects of innovation.

Module 6: Sustainable Innovation Advice

  • Unit 11: Lessons from the analysis of 1700+ SI critical issues – 60 Tweet-like recommendations from technological, economic, social, environmental, political, ethical and spatial perspectives. Get inspired!
  • Unit 12: Policy messages on SI assessment and management – 18 policy messages to better manage and assess sustainable innovation: Benefit from joint lessons and views on the way forward for CASI-F.

Certification

To qualify for a Certificate on ‘Sustainable Innovation Assessment and Management’ , signed by the Course Director from The University of Manchester, you should study and complete all modules (each lasting a maximum of 90 minutes) and score at least 60% in the self-assessment activities provided under each unit. Detailed information about your progress and score will be available under ‘My course’ tab of your user profile where you will also be able to retake each module (no more than once), if needed.

  • Certificate for satisfactorily completed course – By completing the full course with a 60-79% score in the self-assessment tasks you will receive a certificate of satisfactory completion.
  • Certificate for outstandingly completed course – By completing the full course with a score of 80% or above in the self-assessment tasks you will receive a certificate of outstanding completion.

Learning outcomes

While the CASI Sustainable Innovation Course offers answers and insights related to four key dimensions of sustainable innovation management (i.e. Context, People, Process, and Impact), one of the primary objectives of the training course is to focus on the ‘People’ dimension, and, in particular, on its two key aspects of ‘aptitude’ and ‘attitude’, which are necessary to promote and more effectively manage sustainable innovations. With this in mind, upon completion of this course, you will understand what sort of prerequisites, knowledge and leadership, among other skills, are needed to improve the sustainability of different types of innovations.

Course Director

  • Dr. Rafael Popper – For further information, contact: Rafael.Popper@manchester.ac.uk

Course Scientific Coordinators

  • Rafael Popper, Monika Popper and Guillermo Velasco

Course Technical Implementation

  • Futures Diamond

Course Contents Authors

  • (CZ) Futures Diamond
  • (DE) Technical University of Dortmund
  • (PT) Inova+
  • (UK) Coventry University Entreprise
  • (UK) The University of Manchester

Note: The online course self-assessment exercises were built and designed for desktop and laptop only. However, the course contents can also be accessed from mobile devices.

UK Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Innovation & Smart Cities (March 17th, 2016)

March 11, 2016 Leave a comment

coventry-event

The CASI project (http://www.casi2020.eu/) is running a FREE Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Innovation and Smart Cities in Coventry on the 17th March.

The aim of the workshop is to foster dialogue with policy makers and other key stakeholders on the topic of wider societal engagement in sustainable innovation.

The workshop focuses on Smart Cities policies with structured discussions on key barriers and opportunities to stimulate wider societal engagement in sustainable innovation. Through discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of current policies and praxis we will look to identify areas of improvements or potential strategies that could be undertaken. The session will include a networking buffet lunch.

Click here to download the UK-CASI-Policy-Dialogue agenda.

Date: Thursday 17th March 2016
Time: 9:30 – 15:00
Venue: Sustainable Building Futures, Engineering & Computing Building, Coventry University, Gulson Road, Coventry, CV1 2JH
Organiser: Coventry University Enterprises Ltd. in collaboration with The University of Manchester.

If you are interested, please register on this link: Policy Dialogues Workshop

Mutual-learning sustainable innovation webinar

January 25, 2016 Leave a comment

The videos and presentations of the CASI WEBINAR are now available on the CASI portal and structured around the following sessions:

  • Session 1: Why is sustainability a key driver of innovation?
  • Session 2: State-of-the-art of sustainable innovation: lessons from a pan-European study
  • Session 3: The role of social innovation for sustainability
  • Session 4: Public engagement in sustainable innovation
  • Session 5: Public participation as a success factor for sustainability
  • Session 6: CASI-F: A framework to assess and manage sustainable innovation
  • Session 7: CASI-F in action: An application to a case of sustainable innovation

To access the Webinar sessions, please visit http://www.casi2020.eu/library/webinar/