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Research and innovation

Foresight

What foresight means, the different types of foresight activities, who is involved.

Foresight in policymaking

Foresight is the disciplined analysis of alternative futures. Foresight aims to support policymakers in making better-informed decisions, having considered future eventualities, scenarios and outcomes.

Foresight techniques help policy making to navigate the uncertainty of the future and explore alternatives in a structured way.

The benefits of foresight include:

Intelligence: awareness of other people’s plans and thoughts about the future

Sense-making: new ideas and understandings of potential developments and their policy implications.

Shared visions: of challenges and opportunities facilitating consensus and agreement in political negotiations

Foresight is used in early, knowledge-based phases of a policy cycle before objectives and priorities crystalise to prepare the ground for consensus and informed policy debate, and later on as a process of filtering and assessing objectives and priorities with a view to future-proof policy ideas.  

Foresight in EU research and innovation policy

Foresight is used in the preparation of EU research and innovation policy proposals and in particular in the strategy and planning of the primarily of the research and innovation framework programmes.

A specially developed Strategic Foresight Intelligence System for EU research and innovation policy (SAFIRE) involves a library of resources (scenarios and wild-cards) that can be used for gaming alternative futures, a process of monitoring changes and signposting new trends, and a mechanism for future-proofing different policy-options.  

The systematic use of foresight according to the SAFIRE model is the state-of-the-art in the use of foresight in EU research and innovation policy.

Foresight in Horizon Europe

Foresight is used in the preparation of strategic plans and work programmes of Horizon Europe.

Horizon Europe supports foresight in EU countries in order to improve their research policy capacity. 

Horizon Europe supports foresight and research that has a bearing on foresight, developing foresight capacity in companies, research centres and think tanks helping them to predict, prepare for and analyse possible futures.

One of the aims of Horizon Europe is to support the use of foresight in research and innovation policy in EU countries, with a view to strengthening common views of future challenges and opportunities for research and innovation in the EU.

In the Commission, the Horizon Europe Foresight Network, a sub-group of the Commission's Strategic Foresight Network, coordinates the implementation of the provisions of Horizon Europe for foresight, the use of foresight in the strategic planning of Horizon Europe, and the exploitation of foresight supported by Horizon Europe in EU policies.

List of foresight related topics in the 2021-2022 work programme of Horizon Europe

Foresight in EU missions

The EU introduced missions as a new instrument in Horizon Europe to tackle major global challenges with concrete targets and definite timelines.

To elaborate visions for the future in five mission areas, Mission Boards were appointed. Starting in autumn 2019, five Foresight on Demand projects supported the boards with foresight expertise and methodology.

With the launch of the EU Missions, the reports are now published.

Report | | Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

Five foresight projects provided perspectives on possible futures to the Mission Boards. They identified good practice examples and developed scenarios.

Past activities

Beyond the Horizon: foresight in support of future EU research and innovation policy (BOHEMIA)

BOHEMIA is the main EU strategic foresight study in support of the Commission's proposal for Horizon Europe.

The report made key policy recommendations and identified future senarios.

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Publications

Report | | Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

Is Trust in EU policies and institutions at risk? What can EU research and innovation policy do about it? Experts explore trends and policy options.

Report | | Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

This report studies the impact of changing societal value systems on EU research and innovation policy.

Report | | Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

How to integrate horizon scanning into European research and innovation policies

| | Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

The key message from identifying trends at the junction of health, environment and the bioeconomy is that a systemic approach to challenges is needed

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