New perspectives for the EU’s future research and innovation policy

11.7.2018

BOHEMIA is an important strategic future study that contributes long-term perspectives to “Horizon Europe”, the EU’s future framework program. In 19 targeted scenarios, the project’s final report shows which research topics should appear on the agenda in future in order to meet the challenges of the next 20 years.

What social developments will take place up to 2040? What global challenges and influences will shape our lives? How can we progress from an age of resource exploitation to one of new prosperity and wellbeing for all? How can we prevent a health divide in our health care system? What can European research contribute to managing future challenges? What opportunities does this offer? The BOHEMIA project (Beyond the Horizon: Foresight in Support of the Preparation of the European Union‘s Future Policy in Research and Innovation) focused on these and other questions concerning the future.

The final report provides important foundations for designing “Horizon Europe”, the ninth European Framework Program for research and Innovation (R&I). There are four priority transitions:

  • Social needs: providing for the needs of the people
  • Biosphere: safeguarding a hospitable planet
  • Innovation: harnessing the forces of change
  • Governance: joining forces for a better world.

The report uses 19 targeted scenarios – that range from the bio-economy through a new definition of work or a low-carbon economy up to emotional intelligence online – to describe the opportunities for research and innovation that should be pursued with future research projects.

Foresight methods to support European R&I policy

On behalf of the European Commission, the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI together with the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT, coordinator), ISINNOVA and the Institutul Prospectiva were asked to support the ongoing debates about the future European R&I policy in BOHEMIA. The consortium analyzed future global challenges and the research and innovation potentials for the European Union with a time horizon up to 2040. The researchers used a Delphi survey, interviews and scenarios to determine the main fields of activity for research policy, especially that of the European Commission. The European ambition should be to become the driving force for European and global transitions.

Dr. Matthias Weber, head of the BOHEMIA project at AIT, emphasizes: “In a society that is changing faster and faster, sensitive and flexible decisions with a broad and far-sighted perspective are needed in research policy. The next European Framework Program for Research and Innovation is expected to shape Europe’s future capabilities and help to prepare us to face the challenges of the next two decades.“

Dr. Kerstin Cuhls from Fraunhofer ISI adds: “There is the need for long-term thinking in research policy, because future issues like the bioeconomy, assisted living or the development of artificial human organs require lots of advance preparation. The results of BOHEMIA help us to prepare research policy for future challenges in plenty of time and at the same time to trigger socially desirable futures.“

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI analyzes the origins and impacts of innovations. We research the short- and long-term developments of innovation processes and the impacts of new technologies and services on society. On this basis, we are able to provide our clients from industry, politics and science with recommendations for action and perspectives for key decisions. Our expertise is founded on our scientific competence as well as an interdisciplinary and systemic research approach.