Technology foresight is a prediction methodology for determining the most likely technological developments in the mid-term future.

Definition: "Systematic attempts to observe the longterm future of science, technology, the economy and society, with the aim to identify the emerging technologies that will probably produce the greatest economic and social benefits”.

In technology foresight projects the producers and users of science and technology in the innovation system are brought together to develop a common vision of the future developments. The timeframe of foresight usually ranges between 10 and 30 years.

The approach was first used in Japan in the 1970s. It was later adopted by European countries in early 1990s and is commonly used today. It is used by both developed and developing countries around the world. The use of technology foresight is promoted by UNIDO.

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The most commonly used approach of technology foresight is to conduct a Delphi survey accompanied by seminars and workshops.

The Delphi survey is run among a large number of specialists of diverse backgrounds (scientists, government officials, businessmen, etc.) to validate several hundreds of specific predictions about the future and collect opinions on the subject (grouped into several fields).

UNIDO provides the countries participating in its foresight programmes with the Manual on foresight and a set of software tools (it includes Surveylet, Strategylet and Tracklet) for conducting Delphi surveys online. This can simplify carrying out a technology foresight exercise.

An important aspect of technology foresight exercises is that they brings together prominent members of business and academia, bridging the gap between them, creating and strengthening contacts.

The results are combined into reports and promoted to increase the society's awareness of the future.

Technology foresight around the world




  • UNIDO — technology foresight initiatives
  • CORDIS — co-operation in technology foresight in Europe

Further information