European Science Foundation's Forward Look reaches out beyond the endless frontiers

Forward Look exercise on Nanomedicine. The Forward Look exercise has been considered as an important source of inspiration for the European Commissions Strategic Research Agenda of the European Technology Platform on Nanomedicine and has left impactful marks on the ECs Seventh Framework Programme calls.

Three of the more recent Forward Looks topics are focused on developments and challenges in the natural sciences. These Forward Looks have all included some typical foresight methods, such as scenario building, road mapping, interactive workshops or key word analysis. In the Forward Look Nanomedicine, a SWOT analysis (evaluating the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for Europe in an international context) was used to structure the current state of affairs and future developments.

The Forward Looks final reports, as the one on Nanosciences and the Long-term Evolution of Information Technology (NSIT), typically develop science policy recommendations and strategies at the European level. These reports are aware that the Forward Look is part of a broader policy-making process needing coherent and comprehensive recommendations, and their conclusions take into account the opportunities and weaknesses of the current structures and dynamics of the European Research Area. Moreover, the priorities suggested by these reports are more explicit in the sense that they are not just seen as new emerging themes but as frameworks to coordinate the dynamics of these specific fields at an international level.

In the Forward Look Systems Biology a plea is made to create a European road map to develop the Grand Challenge on Systems Biology for Europe.

The current invitation for significant Forward Look topics, pronounced by the ESF in July 2007, is expected to initiate once more foresight exercises at the highest scientific level with European relevance.

Impacts of former and present Forward Looks


Contact: Christoph Ettl
European Science Foundation

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