Workshop “Foresight in public research organisations”

Organisers: Austrian Institute of Technology, Cemagref, French Embassy in Vienna/Institut Français de Vienne

Background and aim of the workshop: In a knowledge-based society and economy it is increasingly difficult for research organisations to define forward-looking  strategies and research priorities. Research organisations are expected to  perform a leading role within the science and innovation system and help to shape our future by picking up those research themes which are able to solve the coming societal problems. Many extramural research organisations are holding a think-tank- like position or are attempting to hold such a position. The shareholders and funding institutions of research organisations in particular call for the development of strategies to support research and innovation policy. Policy makers in many other fields as health, food and agriculture, land-use management, energy, environment, etc. are also expecting from research organisations  information about possible futures to build the most appropriate public policy. Accordingly, research organisations have to consider many external factors and strategies of other actors when defining research priorities and programs for the next years.

The use of foresight processes has become popular for public research organisations in the last few years, in order to master the difficult task of defining research strategies and research priorities or building public policy. Through the involvement of different external and internal experts, foresight allows capturing the opportunities, risks and challenges these organisations are facing.

Research organisations have used different methods and organisational arrangement to integrate and translate the findings from foresight exercises into managerial actions. Methods such as scenario planning, the organisation of participatory workshops and the creation of technology roadmaps are combined, for instance, when conducting organisational foresights.

While some organisations have occassionally performed foresights, e.g. with support of consultants, some have even institutionalised the development of foresight and continuously conduct foresights.

The aim of the workshop was to discuss the experiences research organisations have gained with foresights both as a tool to support internal restructuring and as a policy instrument for external strategy finding. By the same account, the workshop was designed to illustrate good practice for conducting foresights and discuss strategies how to cope with the new challenges.

Main questions to be addressed were: 

  • What methods are particulary relevant to be combined in foresights projects?
  • What are typical strategic management questions foresight can cope with?
  • How to assure that the results of foresight projects are translated into research programs?
  • How can organisational foresight be co-ordinated with policy foresights?
  • How to incorporate external stakeholders in a foresight exercise?
  • Could foresight act as a mediation instrument between Science and Society?
  • What are policy makers expectinhg for and how to assure good transfer of foresight study results from public reseach organisations to policy makers?

Download Workshop Summary

Target audience: Directors and research managers involved in foresight, strategy making and research planning; policy makers responsible for defining research policy and governing public research organizations; members of advisory or supervisory boards.

Download Participant List


DAY 1:  7th of June 2011

10:00 Registration and Welcome

10:30 Opening of the Seminar
Matthias Weber: Introduction and Agenda Foresight in public research organisations

11:00 Session 1: Foresight in public research organisations: An instrument for their strategic planning
Torsti Loikkanen: VTT, Finland
– Lothar Behlau: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Germany
Sandrine Paillard: INRA, France

13:00 Lunch break

14:00 Session 2: Foresight as an instrument for research priorities identification
Michel Griffon: French National Research Agency, France 
Fabiana Scapolo: European Commission, European Union
Carole Moquin-Pattey: European Science Foundation, France

16.00 Session 3: World Café  „Organising Foresight“

  1. Translation of  foresight results within an organisation
  2. Translation of foresight results external to an organisation
  3. Expectation management: how to involve external stakeholders?
  4. Education and training for foresight
  5. Research needs on foresight

18:00 First impressions from Day 1
– Thierry Gaudin: President Prospective 2100

18:15 End of Day 1

19:00 Joint evening at the Heurigen
How to get there

DAY 2:  8th of June 2011

9:00 Welcome tea, coffee, snack

9:15 Summary of Session 3 (World Café)

9:45 Session 4: Foresight as an instrument for public policy building
– Leena Ilmola: IIASA, Austria
Wolfang Ritter: Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung, Bonn

11:15 Tea and coffee break

11:45 Session 5: Foresight as a mediation instrument between science and society
Mahshid Sotoudeh: Austrian Academy of Sciences/ Institute for Technology Assessment, Austria

13:00 Summary
Domenico Rossetti-Di-Valdalbero: European Commission, European Union

13:30 Farewell Lunch

14:30 End of seminar


Find some pictures of the workshop in our Gallery