The ‘FORSEE - Regional ICT Foresight exercise for Southeast European countries’ project targets ICT RTD policy reform in the South-eastern Europe (SEE) region, proposing a focused effort on introducing a Foresight culture in the region, which is necessary in order to accelerate socioeconomic growth in participating countries', striving to meet the challenges of the global networked economy and to participate on equal footing in the European Research Area. The FORSEE initiative aims to introduce a sustainable mechanism for ICT Foresight in the region, attempting to tackle the absence of a regular process applied for technological future orientation and research policy review.
FORSEE's main objective is to identify the shortcomings of the ICT RTD sector in the region and orchestrate the establishment of a regional collaboration network, working on ICT Foresight and exploring synergies and complementarities between research resources in the target countries. The project's efforts are going to address regional stakeholders in the sector and will provide a participatory platform for collaboration in order to ensure that the outputs will receive wide acceptance and will inspire the necessary sense of regional ownership. One of the most important elements of the project is the hands-on approach in the implementation of pilot ICT Foresight exercises in all participating countries based on a Regional methodology adapted to the region's capacities and resources. The project, therefore, acknowledges that significant savings of resources can be achieved by implementing a regional foresight initiative, coupled by the strong collaboration potential that such an approach will ensure.
FORSEE aims to highlight transnational collaboration opportunities and identify complementarities that the SEE countries could exploit in order to make better use of their limited resources in funds and expertise under a regional planning process that would give access to the accumulated innovation products of all participating regions. The participatory spirit that will be employed will provide a sense of transparency and stimulate participation of all stakeholders in the Innovation process, thus increasing investment and creating opportunities.
FORSEE will create a transnational structure that will design, operate, evaluate and refine the approach and tools for the implementation of national and regional Foresight exercises in the field of ICT RTD. A Regional Taskforce will undertake the role of the Core Team of the process and will guide and coordinate the exercise. The initiative will be supported by a Policy Steering Committee that will enable access to decision makers at a policy level and maximise the potential of results’ adoption.
The implementation process will begin by designing the Foresight exercise, the context analysis per country and the staffing of the Taskforce and Policy Steering Committee with representatives of project partners and external Foresight or policy experts (including regional stakeholders). During this first phase, a preparatory process that will be run in each country in order to ‘set the stage’, consider and integrate local characteristics and views into the framework of the regional approach. The objectives of this phase are to analyze the current situation in each participating country and set-up the national sub-exercises that will take place. Time-horizon considerations will also be thoroughly addressed before designing the overall Foresight methodology. Issues of vision and coherence with European policies will be investigated and the applicability of multiple time-scales will be examined, which use a long-term vision with intermediate goals or milestones to indicate the general path to success or a preferred future.
In the second phase, a participatory process will be designed and implemented to ensure transparency and inclusiveness in participating countries. While the regional Foresight methodology is being designed, the FORSEE approach and goals will be presented through a Green Paper in the widest possible relevant audience in each SEE country to stimulate Stakeholders’ participation in the process. The dialogue will be launched through an Open–Consultation event in each country and will be followed by proactive communication between partners and participants representing the state, the academia and the industry, interested in influencing and benefiting from the policy review exercise. During these 7 National Open consultation events, partners and team members will draw upon the local perspective. The objective of this Dialogue is the involvement of a critical mass of local ICT RTD stakeholders in the Foresight exercise process. The purpose of the Regional Event that will also be implemented is to inform international experts about the project, raise awareness about this initiative and involve them during the implementation of the Foresight Exercises project to gain from international experience and good practice cases. During all Consultation events experts will present their experiences from the implementation of relevant activities and express their opinion about the Green Paper, the Best Practice guide on Regional Foresight and the Foresight methodology. Input provided by participants will guide the refinement of the common methodology.
In the third and final phase, considering the input generated through the first two phases of the project, the common methodology will be refined to be used for the implementation of the regional Foresight exercise in the SEE region. The objective of this phase is to test the Foresight methodology by directly applying it to the ICT sector of each country though a national sub-exercise. Partners will ensure that results produced by the relevant Working Groups in each country will draw upon or will be made transparent to all stakeholder groups. Finally, by the end of this last phase, FORSEE will assess the effectiveness of its approach and will evaluate results of the regional Foresight process. During this final stage, partners will refine methodologies and tools left behind for the region and will extract relevant policy recommendations towards policy-makers in the region. Knowledge and expertise developed through the implementation will be used to compile a concrete regional plan for human resources investment to guarantee sustainability of activities through the establishment of a Regional Foresight Centre.
The FORSEE Project could play a key role in the future development of the regional ICT RDI policy and infrastructure through its innovative approach implementing policy review in this technological segment and introducing transnational cooperation underpinned by its regional partnership.
Furthermore the project will have significant effect on the collaboration between research organizations in the SEE region, implementing the foreseen foresight activity through the synergies of its regional partners, in comparison to the outcomes produced through isolated national exercises. By strengthening regional cooperation the FORSEE Initiative will help to avoid duplication of efforts in the future and waste of valuable resources for activities that address common needs and problems in Southeast Europe.
However, benefits will also be drawn from the recognition of cross border complementarities that will rise from the identification of national competences and advantages in each participating country. In this sense allowing small research communities to excel and address the needs of a greater unified geographical region the FORSEE Project will indirectly help the future growth of the local technological companies.
A careful priorities selection in ICT research in each country will allow already limited available resources to be channeled into activities with existing potential for important achievements that will produce benefits and growth for national and regional economies, avoiding as much as possible the waste of national funding into research areas where limited expertise exists or minor potential can be envisaged.