Future research/Planning/Foresight processes

Foto:AIT/Johannes Zinner

Innovation systems must be designed to allow for different future scenarios.



Foresight processes allow the evaluation and design of different future scenarios. In foresight projects, AIT supports, among other things, public institutions in planning and implementing policy strategies.


Analysis of technological potentials, assessment of risks and identification of new business areas

Recognizing and assessing long-term changes in different areas of society (system changes and discontinuities)

Development of future images involving different stakeholders as part of participatory procedures

Strategy development in research and innovation policy

Development of options for tackling major challenges (health, climate change, increasing resource scarcity)

Assessment of the contribution of social and technological innovations in transformative change processes



This is the first EU-wide foresight project to capture trends, futures and policy options in the public health sector by means of external impact factors. Qualitative trends as well as quantifiable geo-data and micro-simulations for certain regions of Eu- rope are used for this purpose. The focus is on the development and curbing of non-communicable diseases which account for the largest cost in the health care system of the EU, such as diabetes and heart diseases.

The results of the project are not only intended to provide options for effective and inexpensive mea- sures for curbing civilization diseases to European and national health policy areas, but also to related policy areas.


As part of a participatory foresight process, an R & D roadmap for the development of technologies to in- crease energy efficiency in Austrian industry was de- veloped together with representatives of companies of energy-intensive industries. The roadmap pro- vides information on the priority areas of research and provides an overview of the necessary RTI policy measures from 2030 to 2050.


We cannot predict social and technological developments, but to a cer- tain extent we can shape them. Foresight as a systematic, participatory and multidisciplinary process is used to perceive, structure and inter- pret current trends in specific subject areas. In this way, scenarios of possible, but also of desirable futures can be designed, and design lati- tude options can be explored. Foresight is a method for reducing the complexity of the present, anticipating different future variants and thus deriving strategies for today‘s actions.


„Thinking the Future“, „Debating the Future“ and „Shaping the Future“ – Foresight is action-oriented. It is not just the analysis of possible future variants that makes this method what it is, but the associated negotiation process of the involved and affected stakeholders who thus participate in actively shaping the future. Foresight builds on participation. What can it achieve, who are the participants and what is the objective of a participa- tion? Defining this in a comprehensive manner and putting it into practice is part of the practical project work and theoretical studies.


In numerous Foresight projects, AIT supports public institutions in plan- ning and implementing policy strategies. The AIT experts focus on emer- gent and future developments in research, innovation and society as well as on the policies for designing these developments. These are examined at different levels, from the company and sectoral level through to the re- gional, national and European level. This involves such diverse areas as strategy development in research and innovation policy or the organiza- tion of room for maneuver in order to cope with major challenges such as health, climate change or resource depletion. However, Foresight for Pol- icy is always one thing: Foresight in the public interest. Which Foresight approaches can we apply to organizations and companies, which ones must we adapt? These questions are answered by means of policy-ori- ented projects and in the course of well-founded studies.


The challenge for economic players is to remain able to act and plan despite considerable complexity and technological upheavals. A Fore- sight process includes a systematic look at the medium- to longer-term future with the aim of identifying these with the greatest economic and social benefits, and it thus helps in strategic planning. AIT supports companies and industry associations in overcoming challenges and in actively shaping their future. New and largely self-developed participa- tory and creative processes are being used here. This is how medium- to-long-term oriented future models are developed which are at the center of every strategy development.

Fotos: AIT/Krischanz Zeiller, AIT/Rita Skof

Dr. Susanne Giesecke, Senior Scientist, Center for Innovation Systems & Policy

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Leitner, Senior Scientist, Center for Innovation Systems & Policy

Dr. Beatrix Wepner, Scientist, Center for Innovation Systems & Policy