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Foresight Methodologies: New Ways of Shaping the Interactions Between Academy, Industry and Government

A Triple Helix 5 Workshop proposed by:

Claudio Roveda, Department of Management Engineering, Polytechnic of Milan

Dario Moncalvo, Ph.D Student, Economics and Management of Technology,
Polytechnic of Turin

Elisa Ughetto, Ph.D Student, Economics and Management of Technology,
Polytechnic of Turin

Recent years have seen a growth in future-oriented studies, most of which have involved a wide set of partly overlapping fields of practice, including: foresight, forecasting, assessment and creative thinking techniques.
Particularly, Foresight has attracted a great deal of attention because it has been perceived as a useful instrument to constructively bring awareness of long-term challenges into more immediate decision-making.
Foresight can in fact be seen as a systematic, participatory, future-intelligence-gathering and medium-to-long-term vision building process aimed at present-day decisions and mobilising joint actions.

Having evolved over time by widening its scope, foresight has become an appreciated tool to underpin the prioritisation and selection of strategic long-term goals for public bodies, both at national and regional level.
Policy makers have increasingly embraced the adoption of foresight methodologies to shape Science & Technology policies, territorial and social development policies, thus improving the quality of their decisions through the strengthening of a future-oriented approach.
Much of the current interest in foresight stems from the recognition within government that long term priority setting is unavoidable in an era of increasing global competition and shortage of financial resources. Hence foresight constitutes a powerful tool when it comes to prioritising and concentrating public financial resources in a selective way.
Another issue is that policy making has considerably changed in the last decades as public authorities, in order to shape Science and Technology, development, environmental and social policies, need to interface themselves with a growing number of actors (academy, industry, pressure groups, professional associations..).
Policy making is no longer a “linear process” since it involves several steps of both formal and informal consultations with all the actors involved in the process. Foresight can be a way of catalyzing the multidisciplinary relationships among the three different axes of the Triple Helix Model, thus bringing them to dialogue and to share a common space for open thinking on the future. Foresight is therefore a means of creating shared strategic vision which reduces uncertainty.
Foresight exercises are often designed with the aim of bringing new actors into the strategic debate; as a matter of fact both Delphi method or panel setting of experts, which are the most common methodologies adopted in a foresight study, mostly rely on the participation of stakeholders coming from the different areas of the Triple Helix model: academy, industry and government.
The involvement of representatives of the three fields is often required to give a foresight exercise a much wider perspective of the topic taken into account, to create new networks and linkages across fields, sectors & markets or around problems and to give birth to a cross-fertilisation process of generation of ideas and consensus building.

The aim of the workshop is to analyse how foresight activities can shape the relations between academy, industry and government and how foresight methodologies can best catalyze future thinking generation processes among the three parties of the Triple Helix model: industry, academy and government.
During the recent expansion of Foresight activities, little systematic attention has been paid to the development of improved methods, that merge empirical/analytical methods with stakeholder engagement processes.
Another issue that can be addressed in this workshop is the relationship between the aims and the scope of a Foresight exercise and the analytical methods to be used.
This workshop aims at providing an occasion for methodological innovators and practitioners to share and generate ideas on how this relationship can be best handled in a foresight process and to give guidance on which methods to use for that purpose.
It is also an opportunity for decision makers to take part as social actors involved in the process.
Experiences can provide insights on the relationship between content and process of a foresight exercise, and can foster cross-fertilization of views among the three key areas of the Triple Helix Model.

The workshop addresses to methodological innovators and practitioners in the field of foresight, as well as policy makers who either want to contribute to the definition of the topic or to deepen their knowledge of the foresight methodologies.

Triple Helix Conference I Amsterdam, 1996 II New York, 1998 III Rio de Janeiro, 2000 IV Copenhagen, 2002 V Turin, 2005 VI Singapore, 2007 VII Glasgow, 2009 VIII Madrid, 2010 IX Stanford, 2011 X Indonesia, 2012 XI London, 2013
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