VERA – Forward Visions on the European Research Area

VERA is funded by the European Union's FP7 programme for research,
technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 290705

Future-oriented Policies for ERA

Considering transformations: Future-oriented research and innovation policies 

The implications of the VERA scenarios for today’s policy-making have also been analysed using a so called “policy lensing” approach. This approach has been designed to translate the often rich and complex outputs of foresight exercises into strategic policy intelligence. The VERA experts behind this approach try to extract key features from the scenarios that speak to policy shapers (as we call them, broadening the notion of policy makers to include users and appliers of policy).

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Figure: Policy lensing approach developed by the VERA team

Three “lenses” were applied to each scenario: 

  1. The first lens focuses on the priorities and goals of today’s policy shapers: a competitive innovation environment (framework policies); a strong science base (basic and fundamental research policies); addressing the societal grand challenges (mission-oriented policies)
  2. The second lens takes into account that policy is developed and implemented in different functional spaces that need to be considered separately. Barré et al. (2013) differentiate three layers: the orientation layer (definition of policy objectives, etc.), the programming layer (funding) and the performance layer. 
  3. The third lens focuses on which forms of Europeanisation are possible, desirable and necessary in each of the scenarios: integration and full delegation of decision-making to the European level; coordination and joint decision-making; or juxtaposition and non-concerted action.

Each scenario was assessed through each of these lenses. The result is an enriched and policy-focused scenario text and a list of key features for policy consideration. This policy lensing approach has helped us take scenarios further that were initially developed using desk research, expert en-gagement and a clear FTA scenario methodology. This further development enables a next step, the extraction of “Issues for policy discussion today”, when backcasting from these future worlds to today’s research and innovation choices. We have taken this step, and the full text on “issues for policy discussion” is provided in the report by Laredo et al. 2015 (verlinken mit WP4 Bericht). A shorter version is available in the Policy Brief “ERA at Crossroads” .
A synthetic view (see the table below) compares the four scenarios in terms of the institutional ar-rangements at the European level. We first consider the three functions, i.e. changes expected in the orientation layer (how are priorities defined), and the programming layer (with 4 questions: existence of an encompassing FP or not, sectoralization of RDI activities, the main mode of EU activities addressing the societal challenges and – an outcome of our inquiry – the specific role of communication programmes). We then address the performance level with two main aspects: the role of large firms, and the S&T base (considering the role of PROs and the orientation of universities). One of the results of the characterisation of the R&I landscape using the horizon 2030 has been to highlight the importance of innovation ecology in most scenarios albeit with very different orientations: we address this using four aspects: IP, standards, procurement policies and start-up ecology. 
The table shows how much the scenarios differ in most lines, and that some scenarios (especially 2 and 4) are closer to one another. This table serves as a background to the overall synthesis we propose on the questions raised by the 4 scenarios.