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Issue 8, 2nd quarter 2005

Foresighting Europe Newsletter


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Shared visions, common research futures

Key actors in the European Research Area 2020

The expert group on “Key Actors in the European Research Area 2020”

The proposed mandate for the expert group onThe future of key research actors in the European Research Area” is to make an exploratory prospective analysis (for the long-term e.g. 2020) of the role of various actors in the ERA (such as universities, researchers, civil society, enterprises, governmental bodies at national and regional levels) in knowledge production. This group – which will be future-oriented and multi-disciplinary - will analyse trends and possible future changes (with a horizon to 2020) in the way knowledge is produced by those actors, and the relative role and weight of those actors in knowledge production.

The focus of the analysis will be on the future of research or the knowledge production system in an evolving society. Because of the nature of its tasks, the group will consist of experts with different scientific backgrounds (sociology, economics, policy research, most of them with a foresight perspective/experience) as well as with different affiliations to/knowledge of particular actors in society.

The recommendations of this expert group will be based on various scenarios of the future of knowledge production by these key actors. They should in particular focus on the following question: How will the long term trends (influenced by the actors' behavior and interaction) that might shape Europe’s knowledge society be taken into account in designing future steps in the European Research Area strategy?

Its work will, therefore, be complementary to the work of the high-level expert group on “Knowledge for Growth”, established by Commissioner Potočnik. The group is composed of economists who will advise the Commission from an economics perspective. They will address issues such as

  • how knowledge can make contributions to growth and prosperity,
  • which policies to promote the creation, dissemination and use of knowledge,
  • the role various actors can play in stimulating a knowledge society with a view on economic growth.

The group will accomplish its tasks by producing a series of working papers on each of the following actors relevant for the European Research system: universities, public research institutions, enterprises, researchers, civil society, national governmental bodies, and regional governmental bodies. The working papers will

  • identify important (future) trends and changes of knowledge production,
  • assess the relative importance of the actors in the total knowledge production within society,
  • develop scenarios on the future of the actors.

Subsequently, the group will produce on the basis of the individual working papers on the key actors, a final report containing:

  • overall scenarios on the future of knowledge production in the European Research Area of 2020;
  • policy options on how to best accommodate to future trends and changes in knowledge production with a view to better performance and effectiveness of the European Research system.

A final conference will be organised early 2006 to present and discuss the results of the work of the group.