Title: Foresight within ERA-NETs: Experiences from the Preparation of an International Research Program

Authors: Ville Brummer, Totti Könnölä and Ahti Salo

Status: Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 75, No. 4, 2008, 483-495.

Date: May 6, 2008

Keywords: Decision support, foresight, European Research Area, innovation policy, networking, Robust Portfolio Modelling

In this paper, we address challenges of organizing future-oriented consultation processes within European coordination tools for 'Open Method of Coordination' - such as ERA-NETs - which are promoted by the European Commission towards the establishment of the European Research Area. Specifically, we report experiences from a recent consultation process that was organized within WoodWisdom-Net (ERA-NET) with the aim of creating an international research agenda, based on the recognition of long-term challenges of the European forest sector and the attendant identification of gaps and new opportunities in wood material science and engineering. This consultation process involved eighteen funding organizations from eight European countries, as well as over 400 participants who represented relevant stakeholder groups, most notably leading researchers and industrialists. Methodologically, the process was based on the Internet-based solicitation and assessment of research issues, the deployment of Robust Portfolio Modelling (RPM) in the identification of promising research issues, and facilitated workshops where the results of Internet-based activities where discussed, validated and synthesized. In addition, extensive network analyses were conducted to support the identification of possible collaboration networks and the development of joint calls for proposals. Drawing on the results from the WoodWisdom-Net consultation process, we discuss the broader potential of Internet-based decision support tools and participatory workshops in promoting foresight activities within ERA-NETs and European coordination tools.