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Issue 10, 1st quarter 2006

Foresighting Europe Newsletter


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Shared visions, common research futures

New Emerging/Converging Clusters of Science and Technology

For European public research investments to be effective in promoting a knowledge-based economy, knowledge on new emerging promising scientific clusters and the processes that govern their creation and evolutionis required. Emerging technologies showing up in patents and innovations are frequently preceded by an increase in academic publications in scientific clusters that can be related (often with a time-lag) to technological domains.

A new study is launched under the third element of the European Science and Technology Foresight Knowledge Sharing Platform

A new study on “New Emerging / Converging Clusters of Science and Technology” was launched in December 2005 following a call for tender. This contract is lead by TNO – Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (NL) in consortium with 2 other partners, CWTS (Centre for Sciences and Technology Studies, University of Leiden, NL) and VDI (Future Technologies Division of Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, DE).

It is part of the third element of the European Science and Technology Foresight Knowledge Sharing Platform, which aims at providing a service to those responsible for the definition and implementation of research and innovation policies at various levels through the permanent collection of information and preparation of analyses and syntheses.

This study intends to map and analyse the emergence of new scientific and technological clusters at the boundaries of the established fields, or where a convergence can be seen of existing previously separated fields (e.g., nanobio, nanoinfo, infocogno, etc.) and to analyse the processes and dynamics behind the emergence of these new clusters.

Main questions to be tackled by the study:

  • What new emerging clusters of science and technology activity, especially with regard to convergence of previously isolated scientific fields and the emergence of new fields on the boundaries of existing fields, can be detected?
  • How can the new emerging clusters be characterised in terms of specialised vs generic science, degree of application, etc?
  • What are the geographical distributions of the researchers engaged in the emerging clusters of science and technology and how are they evolving?
  • What processes govern the emergence and convergence of new clusters of science and technology?
  • What patterns and trends can be observed when it comes to the dynamics of the evolution and emergence of these new clusters of science and technology?
  • What can be learned from their historical roots?

The selected methodology comprises an initial bibliometric analysis (cross-field citations, occurrence and co-occurrence, publications) allowing to draw first conclusions on which new emerging clusters of S&T can be retained for validation and assessment through interviews with selected key researchers. This will be followed by the selection of at least five clusters, under a careful set of criteria. These selected clusters will then be the subject of dynamics mapping, further bibliometric research and interviews aiming to establish an historical analysis for each of the clusters.

Conclusions and Policy recommendations will be formulated and presented for discussion at a workshop near the end of the contract in May 2007.