Funding of a Foresight exercise

Online Foresight Guide

General aspects

To carry out a Foresight exercise you will need money and other resources. In most cases there will be a main sponsor initiating and financing the Foresight exercise. However, it can also be the other way round: A team of people convinced of the usefulness of Foresight in a certain field or area looking for support to carry out an exercise. In this case you might want to look at a range of possible funding sources some of which are mentioned below.

Who can be a sponsor?

The sponsors can be from either the public or private sector and are sometimes from both.

The most common types of public sponsors are national, regional and provincial authorities, some municipalities particularly interested and involved in the project, universities and large national research centres, and centres of innovation.  Special contributions often come from organisations and institutes whose mission is the promotion of development and innovation activities, i.e. foundations whose aims are to analyse and study the development of socio-economic scenarios.  Further important contributions may come from national and European Community public programmes set up to finance studies and analyses.  Such contributions are often disbursed through the activities of the EC's RTD Framework Programme or the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as well as through national research programmes, such as those set up in many EU countries to explicitly focus on Foresight activities.

Private sponsors may include large enterprises particularly interested in the results of the activity and promotion of the territory involved, banks and other financial institutions, business associations (especially in the case of Foresight activities specifically oriented towards enterprise), research centres and centres of innovation (such as science and technology parks), business innovation centres, etc.  In some cases, contributions from private sponsors may be offered in the form of co-financing of activities promoted by the European Structural Funds.


Some issues to be be aware of

Obviously, sponsors are looking for a return on their investment and therefore accepting a sponsor implies a commitment from the project team and coordinator to deliver results addressing that sponsor's needs and requirements. Sponsors should be consulted frequently throughout the exercise, especially during the design phase and when important decisions have to be made.

Both public and private sponsors should support the activity for its entire duration. Therefore it is important to draw up an activity plan jointly with the client that can subsequently be used as the basis on which to calculate the cost.

See also: Assessing the cost

There might be scope for (or even the need to) share costs across two or more sponsoring bodies, e.g. through a public-private partnership.  However, you should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach.  If Foresight is intended to become a continuous activity, it is certainly possible that sponsorship 'duties' could be transferred to other organisations that might directly benefit from the Foresight exercise.

Finally, it should be kept in mind that the time costs of participants in working groups and workshops are usually borne by their employers.  This 'informal' sponsorship should never be taken for granted and needs to be acknowledged.

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