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Interview with the HSE News Service

June 5, 2018 Leave a comment

logo_с_hse_cmyk_eConsistently ranked as one of Russia’s top universities, the Higher School of Economics (HSE) is a leader in Russian education and one of the preeminent economics and social sciences universities in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Having rapidly grown into a well-renowned research university over two decades, HSE sets itself apart with its international presence and cooperation.

In a recent interview with the HSE News Service, I spoke in depth about my research interests, teaching philosophy and long-lasting collaboration with HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge and Laboratory for Economics of Innovation.

Click here to read the full interview in HSE website

See original interview text below…

Building a Career Dedicated to Foresight and STI Policy Research

Following years of study and work in South America and Europe, Rafael Popper joined HSE Moscow as Professor of Foresight and STI Governance in January 2018. In addition to his job at HSE, he is Principal Scientist in Business, Innovation and Foresight at a world leading research and technology organization (RTO) called VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. With a PhD on 21st Century Foresight from the University of Manchester, Popper has built a career on wide-ranging research of issues in foresight and STI policy. In a recent interview with the HSE News Service, he spoke in depth about his research interests, philosophy on teaching, collaboration across HSE and his love of languages, among other topics.

— Tell us a little about your background, and some of your biggest career achievements so far.

— I was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where I spent most of my childhood, but thanks to both personal and professional opportunities, I ended up living a couple of years in Brazil and Italy, five years in Hungary and 15 years in the United Kingdom, where I became British and completed my PhD at the University of Manchester. In 2016, I moved to Espoo in Finland to work at the VTT Technical Research Centre. One could therefore say that I am virtually a global citizen.

With such an international background, my main personal achievements so far have been the consolidation of a lovely family with my wonderful Polish wife Monika and my adorable sons Ricky and Sammy, while at the same time keeping a great relationship with my relatives and ever-growing network of friends, colleagues, business and research partners, and customers. On the professional front, I have many significant achievements in my career, which could be summarized in my capacity to continuously advance concepts and practices in what I have recently termed Foresight Knowledge Diamond (FKD), i.e., Foresight Education, Foresight Research, Foresight Innovation and Foresight Institution.

— What is your favourite topic and why?

— Given my foresight background, it is probably not surprising that in the HSE Master’s Programme in Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) my favourite topic is called ‘Looking forward: the future of STI policies’. Besides this topic being the most future oriented, which makes it fascinating by default, it allows students to think creatively about the dynamics of multi-level actions – strategic, tactical and operational – that are needed to transform STI systems and relevant actors for the better, for example government, business, research/education and civil society.

— How widely have foresight methods been adopted in modern economics? What are some of the benefits that can come from using foresight methods?

— Foresight methods such as backcasting, roadmapping and scenarios are increasingly being embedded into modern economics and practically every field of science due to the fact that scientific, technological and innovation activities of the knowledge-based global economy are becoming increasingly multidisciplinary. Hence, the most significant achievement of foresight methods is the capacity to interconnect knowledge from multiple sources, combining evidence, expertise, interaction and creativity, which has come to be better known as the Foresight Diamond.

— What are some of your teaching methods? Is there any particular teaching philosophy that you follow? 

— I have around 20 years of experience in teaching, including PhD, MSc and MBA courses, as well as executive education and short courses on STI policy, foresight, and sustainable innovation assessment and management. My single ‘secret’ method in teaching has always been building the right connection with students. While in theory this may sound too simplistic, in practice it requires certain interpersonal and other skills, including creativity, originality and ability to motivate and engage students into learning and discussing about the course topics before, during and after the lectures.

— You have long been a friend and collaborator with the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge and the Laboratory for Economics of Innovation. Do you have any joint research or publication activity planned?

— The HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge and Laboratory for Economics of Innovation have been a point of reference as well as a natural choice for research and education collaboration in the areas of foresight and STI policy. We have several research and education plans. For example, we recently submitted a proposal in a very competitive European Commission tender to build and pilot a Strategic Intelligence Foresight System supporting future research and innovation programmes in Europe and across the world. Regardless of whether the tender is actually funded by the European Commission, I plan to pursue this and similar research objectives together with HSE/ISSEK colleagues in the future.

Regarding publications, several ideas are already in the pipeline, including journal articles, chapters and books, contributing to foresight and STI policy theory, methodology and practice.

— You speak many languages. How did you manage to learn so many? Do you have any plans to learn Russian?

Being born in Latin America and the Caribbean region and raised by two university professors of mathematics with Venezuelan and Austrian background probably blessed me with the spirit of curiosity-driven optimism and a natural in-built capacity to love and rapidly adapt to both multicultural and multidisciplinary environments. My life pathway has made Spanish and English my strongest communication channels, followed closely by Hungarian. I understand and feel comfortable reading and listening to Italian, French and Portuguese, although my speaking skills are becoming a bit rusty due to lack of practice.

Polish, Finnish and Russian are definitely the next target languages in line, but time has been the most challenging resource; I have not been able to devote enough to this endeavour. Nevertheless, the good news is that my wife also studied Russian and Ukrainian philology; thus, she is always there to help, especially with paperwork and other requests in Russian.

— You’ve been to Moscow a number of times. What are your favourite places here? What are some of your plans outside of work?

My first visit to Russia was in 2004 when I was invited to a seminar in Ufa, where I presented experiences and best practices on foresight programmes in selected countries with the overall objective of stimulating the organization of technology foresight activities for the Republic of Bashkortostan. The seminar was developed in cooperation with the UNIDO Moscow office, the European Commission and the British Council. Since then, I have visited Russia several times, mainly Moscow and St. Petersburg.

In Moscow, my favourite places are definitely around the Red Square area where plenty of historical buildings, restaurants and lively places offer a magnificent and superb atmosphere all year long.

Apart from work, my time in Moscow is pretty much focused on two main activities, to continue exploring and enjoying the richness of the Russian cuisine and culture, and most importantly, to spend quality time with both old and new colleagues from the HSE/ISSEK family.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service

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Torino Process Expert Roundtable On Policy Evaluation

February 25, 2018 Leave a comment
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Relevant policy assessment and evaluation frameworks

The European Training Foundation (ETF) has initiated a reflection on how the Torino Process (TRP) can be used to introduce and promote an evaluation dimension in the exercise.  

To that end, on February 26th an expert roundtable has been organised in Torino (Italy) to share knowledge and practices in the area of policy evaluation, and discuss their applicability in line with the specificities of the TRP and its partner countries.

The expert meeting aims to provide an opportunity to get acquainted with selected aspects of the TRP, and benefit from the knowledge and advice of renowned experts in evaluation concerning key questions, such as whether evaluation could add value to the TRP and if yes, how.

The outcomes of the meeting will inform the preparation of the next cycle of the TRP and help to adjust accordingly the framework and modalities of TRP implementation.

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The Torino Process

The Torino expert meeting offers an excellent opportunity to share lessons learned from state-of-the-art evaluation experiences, such as the twelve (12) key performance indicators (KPIs) considered in VTT’s Strategic and Sound Evaluation Approach (see Hiltunen et al., 2017/forthcoming), the four (4) dimensions and ten (10) key aspects used in the CASI-F Framework for the Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation (see Popper et al., 2017) and twenty (20) fully-fledged evaluation criteria used in the (“old but gold”) MIOIR‘s Evaluating Foresight study (Popper et al., 2010).

Relevant reports

 

Horizon scanning: why and how to launch it in Lithuania?

February 22, 2018 Leave a comment

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The Healthcare Innovation Forum in Vilnius (Lithuania) provides an excellent opportunity to share how VTT‘s Lighthouses research and innovation activities can help to promote ‘Good Life’ in Finland and the World through ‘citizen-centric care’ solutions. In the panel discussion and short keynote I showcased good practices, as well as recent experiences and lessons learned from the UK Horizon Scanning on Healthcare. To download the slides please click here  

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The first panel debate at the LAWG’s Healthcare Innovation Forum 2018 on “Horizon scanning: why & how to launch it in Lithuania?” featured the following speakers:

  • Dr. Alvydas Česas, Chief of Oncology & Chemotherapy Clinic at Klaipeda University Hospital. Dr. Česas is a certified physician and medical oncologist with over 20 yrs of experience in the field of oncology. He is also the President of Lithuanian Society for Medical Oncology.
  • Per Troein from VP Strategic Partners, IQVIA, UK. Mr. Troein has been with QI for 19 years and is responsible for the relationship with suppliers and associations. He has deep insight around pharmaceutical pricing and how this issue is handled in different markets.
  • Prof. Dr. Rafael Popper from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, Finland/Venezuela/UK. His main areas of work include: ‘foresight’ as an instrument of innovation policy, the development of foresight and horizon scanning methodology, the design of forward-looking activities and their evaluation with a focus on technological and social innovation policies, and the assessment and management of sustainable innovations.

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To see the full programme, please click here.

PS. In case you don’t know where Vilnius is, you may find the following controvertial and cheeky, yet impactful, campaign/news interesting 😉

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Foresight and the future of science

January 18, 2018 Leave a comment
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Keynote at the 275th Anniversary Symposium of the 
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Abstract

Foresight has emerged as a key instrument for the development and implementation of research and innovation policy. Foresight is a systematic, participatory, prospective and policy-oriented process which, with the support of environmental/horizon scanning approaches, is aimed to actively engage key stakeholders into a wide range of activities anticipating, recommending and transforming (ART) technological, economic, environmental, political, social and ethical (TEEPSE) futures.

In Georghiou et al. (2008) Foresight is characterised by long-term orientation, use of a range of formal tools and techniques for long-term analyses, involvement of a wide pool of expertise and stakeholders and crossing disciplinary boundaries and professional compartments. Five non-exclusive generations of foresight have influenced practices over the last decades: 1st Generation (focused on dynamics of technology), 2nd Generation (focused on technology and markets), 3rd Generation (focused on technology and markets + social dimension), 4th Generation (focused on distributed role in the STI system) and 5th Generation (focused combined with other strategic fora).

Overall, there are top five rationales to argue the case for, and inform the design and use of, foresight: directing or prioritising investment in STI; building new networks & linkages around a common vision; extending the breadth of knowledge and visions of the future; bringing new actors into the strategic debate; and improving policy-making and strategy formation. This presentation illustrates through five cases (Irish Technology Futures; Media Weak Signals; VTT Lighthouses; CASI-F; and VERA case) how these rationales have shaped foresight and the future of science.

See PDF slides: Popper_2018_Keynote-on-Foresight-and-the-future-of-science

Towards Foresight 3.0

November 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Mapping Futures Studies

December 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Popper_2012_Mapping_Futures_Studies_Foresight-RussiaPopper, R. (2012) ‘Mapping Futures Studies’, Foresight-Russia, 6(2), pp. 56–75.

In recent decades Foresight and other forward-looking activities (FLA) gained ground as a tool of science, technology and innovation (STI) policy. The number of FLA studies is globally rising. To some extent, foresight is governed by context-depended issues; however there are also common features in the objectives, methodology, and recommendations made. Mapping allows codifying and analyzing a bulk of FLA experiences gained worldwide. This in turn will contribute to enhancing performance of such activities and therefore of STI policy as a whole.

The paper provides rationales for Futures Studies mapping, considers related opportunities and challenges, reviews lessons learned from early mapping efforts. It focuses on the large-scale EU-funded mapping project “European Foresight Platform” (EFP). Using this project as illustration, the paper describes mapping routines, the selected indicators of mapped Foresight initiatives, including their objectives, participants, target groups, methodologies, outcomes and recommendations. It discusses the potential and the limitations of particular mapping tools as well as possible applications of gained knowledge. Basing on mapping results, policy-makers, for example, are able to identify gaps to be addressed with relevant policy tools, Mapping also allows Foresight practitioners to develop strategies for further research and shape expert networks for their implementation.

Grand Challenges and S&T Foresight

April 4, 2012 Comments off

Dr Popper at HSE (Moscow, 2012)Invited to speak about “Grand Challenges and S&T Foresight” at the section of «Science and Innovation» of the XIII International Academic Conference on “Economic and Social Development”

(Moscow, Russia – 4 April 2012)

The presentation was part of Session One on “Science and Technology Foresight in Russia”. The session was attended by over 200 people and moderated by Dr. Dirk Meissner. Other presentations of the session included: “S&T Foresight and its Place in Russian S&T Policy” by Prof. Leonid Gokhberg; and “S&T Foresight: Methods and Organisation” by  Prof. Alexander Sokolov. The session discussant was Dr Oleg Karasev.