Europe is currently facing the challenge of a highly dynamic and fluid policy context. It is confronted with a seemingly accelerating pace of change, both internally and externally. Internally, a culturally diverse, ageing and risk-averse population, a mix of high tech and declining industries and growing environmental and security concerns require governments to design new frameworks for re-search and innovation. Externally, this policy context is influenced by and influences the emergence of key technologies. The speed and the magnitude of their disruptive impact on the economy and society in turn depend on and are embedded in a wide range of socio-cultural factors.
This challenge calls for a substantial leap forward in thinking and mindsets, by moving from incrementally improving on business-as-usual approaches to exploring new paradigms and alternative futures. A redefinition of the “European model” is called for, capturing the minds and spirits, and bringing together the inherent collective strengths of the EU and its 27 member states. It should comprise a combination of strategic responses addressing short to medium and long-term research policy agendas. For this purpose, a Key Tech-nologies High Level Group composed of experts in 15 key technology areas, and led by a chairperson and a rapporteur, was set up by the K2 Unit of Directorate-General Research, to “assess the potential and the emerging scientific and technological research topics in fifteen specific areas, their impact on EU competitiveness and societal fabric, and the potential response of EU and its Member States”.