How can we benefit the most from future trends? We found answers at our Innovator Circle Event on Green Energy Foresight.
What is the science behind strategic foresight – the scanning and analysis of future trends – and how can we benefit from it? What opportunities does it introduce? At our Innovator Circle Event we entered a conversation with four guest speakers and Members of our Innovator Circle to answer those questions.
Foresight as a compass for EU policymaking
As one of the three European general cross industry social partners, Henriette Gleau introduced the contribution of SGI Europe to the European Commission’s foresight initiative. The EU strengthened its foresight activities since 2020, when its first Foresight report was published. Here an EU-wide network is building up with the support of dedicated EU-institutions such as the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS). This dialogue is especially important for actors such as Green Energy Lab and its network to broaden its horizon and stay updated on EU-level developments. For Mrs Gleau it is clear that:
“The principles of foresight should become a guiding roadmap for EU policymaking. However, additional efforts will be needed to reach that objective. SGI Europe is committed to raising foresight awareness on the ground.”
Read more about Henriette Gleau’s input and further relevant documents in the presentation slides.
Be prepared for multiple futures in R&D activities
Marianne Hörlesberger from Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) added the research perspective on foresight and started with a simple definition of Foresight as a set of tools that comprise anticipating trends, risks, emerging issues, and their potential implications and opportunities. The goal is to draw useful insights for strategic planning, policymaking and orientate our strategies, product developments and R&D activities.
“For me it is very important to say that the idea is to be prepared for thinkable futures, not merely the most probable or the most desirable one.”
Mrs Hörlesberger underlined the importance of stakeholder involvement in developing scenarios and finding out which trends are the most relevant for a defined field to identify opportunities, risks and consequences. Find more information and illustration in case studies in the presentation.
Future trends to manage the “fuzzy front end” of innovation
Tanja Eschberger from LEAD Innovation Management GmbH shared her expertise on how foresight can strategically be implemented as innovation management. From an innovation perspective, foresight is about „managing the fuzzy front end“– not only recognising different needs and trends on the market, but also deciding which of those are relevant for your endeavours, developing (prototype-) solutions and investing efforts into bringing those concepts to the market.
Different techniques, such as road mapping, trend timelines, trend radars and search field definition can help developing innovations successfully. She highlights that trend management is an ongoing process of continuously evaluating what the future might look like and understanding when a trend will become timely relevant.
“Trend management is like checking the weather forecast, so you can plan accordingly. It is about looking at what is ahead and learning more the closer you get.”
Learn more about Tanja Eschberger’s perspective on innovation management in the presentation.
Smart tech companies leading the way
As our final guest speaker, Christian Holter from SOLID Solar Energy Systems GmbH shared his experience on foresight and innovation management. Foresight can be particularly beneficial to explore the potential an existing solution/product might have in different markets, industries or application forms as well as determine which adaptions might be needed. In that sense, innovations do not necessarily need to be disruptive new concepts, also marginal improvements – such as the increase of resource use efficiency – can be highly innovative. Mr Holter stresses the importance of keeping an eye open to different knowledge sources and experiences:
“We try to use all the knowledge we have in the company and talk to different departments in other institutions. We integrate all the different perspectives to evaluate and sharpen our targets.”
Therefore, foresight helps companies to be smart and effective with knowledge generation, product development and market entry. Find out more in the presentation.
Green Energy Foresight
Christian Kurz used the metaphor of fishing in a wide data lake to illustrate what we are planning in our foresight process. First in the horizon scanning phase, we will throw out our net and gather various signals , future tendencies and trends which will impact all actors in the energy system in the near future. Our national and international expert community will then help us pick out and connect the most promising trends to conclusive patterns and fields of interest. Together we want to answer the question: Which trends are the most relevant for our activities? How can our trend analysis be used to create an added value for different stakeholders? Green Energy Foresight is dedicated to answering these questions in an ongoing inclusive process:
“It’s not something we do once a year, it’s an ongoing process including the right knowledge and depth of experience which will benefit the Green Energy Lab community”
Get the whole presentation here.
After the expert inputs, we had an insightful exchange on best practices and expectations towards the Green Energy Foresight. Most of us are already using trend analysis in one way or another, by talking to experts, brainstorming with colleagues, or keeping up with launches on the market. As the innovation ecosystem is becoming more complex, there is a need for shifting towards a more systematic approach to foresight. This confirms the value Green Energy Foresight can provide for different stakeholders and we are excited to launch this new service for you by May 2022.
At this stage of development of Green Energy Foresight, we are looking forward any exchange within and outside our Innovator Circle. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in this topic. We are looking forward to deepening this dialogue with you!