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

Challenge-oriented policy making

What Foresight can contribute to challenge-oriented policy making 

The European Commission and several national governments are currently implementing policy strategies orienting research and innovation (R&I) towards key societal challenges. New approaches and instruments have been developed and implemented to realize these challenge-driven R&I policy strategies. Prominent examples on EU level are:

  • The European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) provide “a new way of bringing together public and private actors at EU, national and regional level to tackle the big challenges we face”.
  • The Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs) “pool national research efforts in order to make better use of Europe's precious public R&D resources and to tackle common European challenges more effectively in a few key areas”
  • The EIT’s Knowledge and Innovation Communities that “integrate higher education, research and business in areas of high societal need”.
  • Horizon 2020 “reflects the policy priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy and addresses major concerns shared by citizens in Europe and elsewhere”.

It is widely argued that forward-looking activities (FLAs) and in particular future-oriented stakeholder dialogues (Foresight) have a key role to play in designing and implementing such challenge-led strategies. Foresight can support stakeholders from a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives in developing a shared understanding of key challenges, and defining suitable settings for addressing them. In addition, Foresight can pave the way for the changes in organisational structures needed to address these cross-cutting issues and for putting challenge-led R&I strategies into practice. Accordingly, several of the ongoing initiatives are using Foresight or similar approaches.

VERA organised a policy roundtable in May 2013 with 15 experts, policy-makers and administrators from EU and national levels with several years of experience in dealing with R&I priority setting based on societal challenges. This workshop aimed at stocktaking the experiences of the participants to date and assessing the potential contribution of Foresight to designing and implementing challenge-based R&I policy strategies. The report summarizes the outcome of the discussion. Download here