eFORESEE Malta - Exchange of Foresight Relevant Experiences among Small Enlargement Economies


Online Foresight Guide

Landscape

Landscape

Eforesee context

The starting point when designing this Foresight exercise was a careful consideration of the country's specific context. Whilst it is important to consider the approach, style and methods of Foresight exercises in other countries, these cannot be transposed to another country with the expectation that the same outcomes will be produced. Thus, when designing the eFORESEE Malta Foresight exercise, particular attention was paid to the socio-cultural and RTDI policy context. 

Malta shares a number of features with other economies in transition, namely a culture of state dependence as a result of over-dominance of the economy by government which has stifled competitiveness and innovation. This dual economy is highly dependent on international trade with the main private sector research and innovation activity coming through Foreign Direct Investment, and little or no in-house research capacity in local SMEs and micro-enterprises. The minimal public and private sector investment in science and research is reflected in the lack of a national research and innovation culture. Formal approaches to developing a national science and technology policy stem from 1988 with the setting up of the Malta Council for Science and Technology, a national advisory board to Government. A national S&T Policy was adopted in 1994, which put primary emphasis on sustainable development and identified a list of S&T and R&D priorities and the socio-economic underpinnings. The policy has only been partially implemented because of resource constraints and insufficiently focused efforts. This trend proved difficult to reverse until Malta embarked on the EU accession path. This marked a major turning point as it highlighted the need to adopt more systematic approaches to science, technology and innovation policy.

Reasons for using Foresight in Eforesee

Given the socio-cultural and RTDI policy context just described, Foresight was identified as a viable approach to reversing deeply entrenched habits and cultures for formulating and implementing policy and renewing networks and partnerships. For a small candidate country like Malta, Foresight was seen as an important tool for tackling a number of challenges at the macro and micro level in terms of strategic planning for the future. National efforts were focused throughout 2000-4 on the "accession challenge", a major drive requiring the deployment of strategies, measures and considerably more resources than available to meet in a timely yet adequate manner the political, legislative, consultative needs related to taking on board the legislation and regulations that constitute the EU's acquis communautaire. Resources, human and technical, were bound to be stretched to their limits in a small state and it is clear that what success could be achieved was through consensus-building and the development of joined-up policies and cross-sectoral strategies, particularly to enable effective use of the structural funds for addressing RTDI priorities.

Malta's capacity in research and development needed to be strengthened by updating and reviewing the National RTDI Strategy. This issue was high on the Maltese Government's agenda at the time when the eFORESEE project was implemented. Foresight approaches were thus considered as the means of giving the strategy a more forward-looking approach and of highlighting those sectors (research and policy areas) which needed to be strengthened, in order to improve the country's competitiveness and quality of life.

Thus the Rationale for the Foresight exercise was:

Securing political support in Eforesee

Alliances were established at a number of levels, both locally with key organisations and individuals as well as on an international level with project partners and Foresight practitioners. Strong working links were developed between MCST and the University of Malta's Edward De Bono Institute and this has lead to the development of Foresight teaching at the University and the launch of joint Foresight projects.  

The Foresight "mindset" fostered throughout the exercise helped instill a sense of ownership of the visions and commitment to future-oriented strategies and in this sense gave added value to the policy-development process. These concepts were clearly present in the Malta eFORESEE exercise; though the exercise itself helped clarify better the benefits and ways of maximising the effectiveness of the exercise in the minds of the sponsors and stakeholders.The general philosophy behind the eFORESEE Project was to build on and complement previous and ongoing strategic discussions about the future.

The coalition building process involved a conscious multilevel drive which started with a strong effort to build on the networks and efforts of the 1992/3 National Strategy for Information Technology, which still served as a point of reference for Malta's ICT development strategy. A questionnaire-based survey was carried out with the leaders of the 26 NSIT Working Groups to gauge the level of implementation of the NSIT recommendations, how the conducting of a similar exercise could be improved and whether they would be interested in participating in this exercise.  This underscored the general approach to be adopted in the running of the Foresight exercise, namely that the aim was not so much to project new visions but rather to build on and influence other visions and strategies in the pipeline.

Positioning Eforesee in the policy cycle

The eFORESEE Malta project was mainly focused on strengthening Malta's research, development and innovation capacity by introducing new mindsets, approaches, policies and programmes. The updating and review of the National RTDI Strategy was particularly high on the agenda of the Malta Government. In this sense the eFORESEE Project was seen as a means to give the strategy a more forward-looking approach and flag those sectors, research and policy-areas which needed to be strengthened in order to support Malta's capacity in research and development, and thus improve its competitiveness and increase its participation in the EU's Framework Programmes. The Programme as such has as yet not been integrated into the national agenda-setting but key elements of the results have been integrated into Malta's Single Programme Document (2003-6), National Budget speech 2003, National RTDI Strategy and ICT Strategy.

Designing the exercise

Setting the objectives in Eforesee

The EU Commission, as the key sponsor, supported eFORESEE as a trans-national Foresight project, aimed at helping three small accession countries, Cyprus, Estonia and Malta, all of which face a number of common challenges, such as:

  • To address the challenges faced by policy makers implementing Foresight activities for smaller economies and regions;
  • To examine the potential role of Foresight in dealing with the structural changes to the economy that accompany the Accession process, as well as the integration of accession states into a European Research Area;
  • To explore the decision-making processes involved in setting up Foresight activities, as well as the challenge of managing and implementing specific Foresight actions.

On a national level, the eFORESEE Malta project was approved by the Cabinet as the means for introducing more systematic approaches to RTDI policy development and the formulation of an updated national RTDI Strategy.  The Parliamentary Secretary for Science & Technology, within the Maltese Ministry for Education, was the main driver in launching the national Foresight exercise and in supporting it throughout its implementation and dissemination stages.

The eFORESEE Project had a number of objectives at different levels.

At the European level, the eFORESEE project was aimed at the exchange of Foresight experiences among three small candidate countries, Cyprus, Estonia and Malta in their drive to improve the effectiveness of their RTDI policies as a means of supporting the national pre-accession strategy.

For a small candidate country, like Malta, Foresight is an important strategic planning tool in tackling a number of challenges at the macro and micro level,  including:

  • Improving the country's ability to compete in the globalising learning economy.
  • Meeting the Accession challenge – developing cross-sectoral strategies for effective use of structural funds for research, technological development and innovation.
  • Capturing the spirit of strategic conversations on the future already underway. 
  • Pooling fragmented resources (major cultural challenge).

The Malta Foresight pilots addressed a common set of clearly-defined objectives, namely:

  • To elaborate a vision for Malta as an advanced knowledge economy in 2020 whose main resource is its ability to develop human capital in new economy skills all round the world from a Mediterranean base (adapted for the two other pilots).
  • Guide the decision-making of MCST's input into the National Development Plan (2003-2006).
  • Mobilise public-private sector partnerships to take action on business opportunities.
  • Revitalise old networks and stimulate the formation of new networks (cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral, involving new kinds of players such as management and HR consultants, researchers and educators).
  • To explore Foresight methodology and approaches and record the process.

These objectives were elaborated by the implementing agency, the Malta Council for Science & Technology, in close consultation with key players within the Government Ministries and other entities as well as private sector players. This local level consultation on definition of the objectives was substantiated by advice sought from within PREST and DG Research's Foresight Unit K2.

The objectives became clearer with the unfolding of the first pilot, as the participants understood more clearly the potential impact of such an exercise on the policy-making process.

The methods used to define the objectives included preparatory meetings with key players and key entities, video-conferencing with foreign experts, literature search for national documentation, strategies etc. (desk-based research).

Determining the coverage (focus and scope) in Eforesee

The sectoral focus of the three pilots was broadly Knowledge Futures (ICT and Education), and the Marine and Biotechnology sectors. Although the pilots addressed the same general set of objectives, each focused on a particular set of issues related to the particular sector. The Knowledge Futures Pilot, being the first exercise tackled, dedicated more time and effort to the Foresight process and to developing the skills and methodology. The orientation of the first pilot was to build on the work which had been developed through the National Strategy for Information Technology with a view to  taking the vision-building process forward into the emerging realities of the Knowledge Society. The emphasis was on the challenge of identifying the drivers of the transition from the information society to the knowledge society and the related knowledge management and transfer aspects.

The Biotechnology and Marine Pilots were able to benefit from the experience generated from the first pilot and succeeded in adapting the methodologies and approaches to their own needs. The Biotechnology Pilot decided to set up two sub-panels, one focusing on health-related and the other on non-health biotechnology.  The particular emphasis of the Biotechnology Pilot emerged as the drive to promote capacity-building in the fledgling local biotechnology sector through efforts to improve science and technology education at all levels and to encourage the introduction of RTDI-related incentives to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).    

The Marine Pilot sought to quantify the marine sector's contribution to the local economy and the projected trends as the means for convincing policy-makers of the importance of investing in a dedicated marine RTDI strategy.

All three pilots were handicapped by the lack of RTDI statistics, sectoral surveys and background documents which could have provided a better basis for the panel discussions and consequently improved the quality of the exercise as a whole. All three pilots highlighted the importance of investing in science and technology education, dedicated RTDI funding programmes, and the setting up of centres of excellence.   

Defining the users in Eforesee

Since the Foresight project had a strong societal/socio-economic focus, the clients were mainly government agencies and entities which could benefit from the Foresight exercise not only through embedding of a Foresight culture and approach to policy-making, but also through the tangible outcomes of the project (such as recommendations, spin-offs, etc).

The target audience was identified once the objectives of the programme were set (i.e. in the scoping phase of the exercise). The main clients were: the Ministry responsible for science and technology, the Ministry responsible for enterprise and the Regional Policy Directorate within the Office of the Prime Minister (responsible for structural funds).

Within the ICT Pilot the main users would be:

Within the Biotech Pilot:

Within the Marine Pilot:

Approach to design decisions in Eforesee

The design phase was coordinated by the eFORESEE Malta team made up of the Project Leader (P/T), the Project Manager (F/T) and the pilot technical secretary (P/T) in consultation with the eFORESEE Project Coordinator, MCST CEO, the MCST Steering Committee and a number of other players, both local and overseas.

The design phase marked a critical point in terms of key decisions on the pilot related to the scoping, time horizon and methods, however the final decisions were left to the Panel. There was a level of flexibility allowing ample space for learning and iteration given that this was the first experience in implementing a Foresight exercise.

In this context, the broad themes (focus of the exercise) were chosen in a top-down mode, but the specific scope and title of the pilots were left to the discretion of the panel members. The design of the exercise was, therefore, left flexible and developed by the core team in consultation with the ICT panel.

Setting the time horizon in Eforesee

The time horizons were chosen by the panels and therefore reflect a level of flexibility to accommodate different issues and perspectives of stakeholders involved.

The Foresight pilots had the following time horizons:

Setting the timeframe in Eforesee

The duration of the exercise was from the first of January 2002 to the end of December 2003.

Costs and funding in Eforesee

The Malta eForesee project had a budget of €200,000. The eFORESEE Malta Foresight Project was co-sponsored by the European Commission's DG Research and the Government of Malta and implemented by the Malta Council for Science and Technology. The EU Commission was the key sponsor.

The budget for the eFORESEE Project was limited and thus only pilot exercises could be conducted rather than fully-fledged Foresight exercises. Moreover, the main budget was spent on the first ICT and Education pilot with the result that the other two pilots were completed in a much shorter time frame and with a much-reduced budget. This meant that the first pilot was more widely promoted and generated a higher level of participative process. The budget did not allow for training although efforts were made to incorporate training activities since this was critical to the quality of the exercise. Budget constraints also meant that there was more effective use of ICT and on-line discussion in the conduct of the pilots.

Skills and competencies in Eforesee

The first Malta Foresight pilot on "Exploring Knowledge Futures in Information Communication Technology and Education in 2020" was used as a test case for the other two pilots in terms of identifying appropriate Foresight approaches for the Maltese context as well as providing the training for embedding the required Foresight skills.

Similar approaches were adopted in other sectors such as for the formulation of the Malta Structure Plan which focuses on long-term policies for sustainable land use and development. Also, the Foresight philosophy is reflected in Malta's contribution on future generations and the common heritage principle within the Convention on the Law of the Sea and Climate Change.

In the processes just described, the Foresight "mindset" helped instill a sense of ownership of the visions and commitment to future-oriented strategies and in this sense added value to the policy-development process. These concepts were clearly present in the Malta eFORESEE exercise; though the exercise itself helped clarify better the benefits and ways of maximising the effectiveness of the exercise in the minds of the sponsors and the stakeholders.The general philosophy behind the eFORESEE Project was to build on and complement previous and ongoing strategic conversations on the future.

Furthermore, investments in Foresight training proved critical for ensuring the quality of the Foresight process and results, as they translated into long-term benefits in implementation, the embedding of a wider and deeper Foresight culture, and the opportunity to contribute to the international Foresight learning curve. Such training was not formally covered by the project but included the participation in the PREST and European Foresight Academy courses and the organisation of one workshop on Foresight basics and another on scenarios.

Assessing previous and existing work in Eforesee

A special effort was made to build on previous and ongoing Foresight-related work in the sectors so as to take on board part experiences and insights generated and to engage experienced participants. This approach proved particularly useful in the area of ICT where Foresight-type activities are not new to Malta. Prior to the eFORESEE Project, a vision-building, future-oriented participatory approached was used in the formulation of the National Strategy for Information Technology (1992-1993).

Thus, an important input in terms of the strategic orientation of the Pilot, was the Review of the National Strategy for Information Technology (NSIT) (Camilleri, 1994), carried out in October 2001. As the first Foresight-type activity in Malta, the NSIT Project, an MCST initiative, launched in 1993 (and completed within one year), provided useful insights for improving the conduct of such exercises in Malta.

To implement the Review, a coalition building process was used that involved a deliberate multilevel drive. This started with a strong effort to build on the networks and efforts of the 1992/3 National Strategy for Information Technology, which still served as a point of reference for Malta's ICT development strategy. A questionnaire-based survey was carried out with the leaders of the 26 NSIT Working Groups to gauge the level of implementation of the NSIT recommendations, how the conduct of a similar exercise could be improved and whether they would be interested to participate in this exercise. 

The insights from the Review provided an important input into the strategic orientation of the Pilot:

This underscored the general approach to be adopted in the running of the Foresight exercise, namely that the aim was not so much to project new visions but rather to build on and influence other visions and strategies in the making.

The second and third pilots were in the less privileged position of having less to build on in terms of previous strategy documents in these sectors, although policy networks had been activated by MCST in the 1990s but had not lead to vision documents as in the case of ICT.  

The Biotech Pilot and the Marine Pilots carried out their own surveys as inputs and the Marine Pilot in particular collected very detailed information on the contribution to the economy by the marine sector by commissioning expert reports  (e.g. current snapshot of the marine sector of the economy).

Moreover, there was an assessment of the ongoing work related to strategy development work underway by the Malta Development Corporation and IPSE and eventually the Ministry for IT and Investments.

Collecting information in Eforesee

The main tools for collecting information along the process included:

 

Eforesee project team and organisation of the exercise

An eFORESEE Core Team was set up within the implementing agency, the Malta Council for Science & Technology. This consisted of three in-house people: the Chief Executive Officer, the Director of the Policy Unit and a Senior Researcher. The Director of the Policy Unit, with experience in policy analysis and project management, acted as the overall local coordinator of the project; she was assisted by the senior researcher, whose role was mainly that of management of the project, but also participated actively in training on Foresight basics and scenario development.

The MCST team were assisted by external experts including:

Eforesee steering committee

The Steering Committee was chaired by the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for S&T.

Communication strategy in Eforesee

Communications were considered a vital element of the Foresight exercise and the 'promotion' strategy (see below in 'running the exercise') was given a central place in the exercise both in terms of engaging policy-makers, stakeholders and the public. Moreover, the project also sought to keep the communication processes open with the strategic players via the dedicated mailing list and with relevant stakeholders that could not participate in all meetings via the virtual panel.

Designing the methodology (methodological framework) in Eforesee

Given the lack of Foresight expertise among the panel members, the Core Team decided to opt for a simple methodology which would allow a wide range of participants (both experts and non-experts) to participate actively at all levels. The main drive behind the exercise was learning-by-doing and training was provided as a part of the scenario development process.

The three pilots have adopted a similar phased approach:

Given that Foresight capabilities, both in-house (within the project management team) and among local stakeholders were restricted at the time of starting up the project,  more complex methodologies such as Delphi exercises were not considered since they required more experience to implement. Thus the main methods used were Panels (expert/mixed depending on the pilot) and Scenario Workshops.

The method of stakeholder involvement and the choice of panel members contributed to the autonomy of the Programme. Official entities were consulted in a formal way, however this formal consultation was complemented by an effort to ensure an open, informal process of discussion in the panels. Indeed panel members were involved in their personal capacity and were able to express their opinions openly. The mix of panel members in terms of age, occupation, expertise, particularly in the first pilot encouraged a more creative approach to the discussions.

Lessons learned in Eforesee

The panels were particularly useful in that they allowed for involvement of a wide diversity of stakeholders, which was representative of the sector/theme of the pilot and augured for greater involvement, consensus building etc. The scenario workshops, on the other hand, proved an excellent tool to help shift the fixed mindset of the participants to one set on the future. These workshops were ideal in working towards embedding a Foresight culture.

Running the exercise

Managing the process in Eforesee

This phase of the exercise required more external inputs together with the ongoing work of the project team. These inputs included:

  • The company responsible for setting up the website including  mailing lists – the project coordinator became heavily involved in coordinating the communications strategy including the web content and facilitation of on-line forums together with the technical secretary.
  • Inputs from the university with regard to co-nomination exercise.
  • Stakeholder analysis exercise by a private consultant.
  • Foresight training and facilitation by a team of 6 foreign experts.

The critical points in this phase related to managing the panel members and ensuring that the discussions remained focused. The decision to conduct one-to-one interviews with strategic players proved extremely important in improving the quality and orientation of the exercise and making it more 'politically' relevant.

There was a deliberate effort to keep the methodology as simple as possible and yet efforts were made to ensure that opportunities for learning and training though not formally part of the exercise were also fully exploited. An important result of this approach was that several panel members felt empowered to start their own exercises.  

Adaptation of the process in Eforesee

Given that the more influential players had limited time to devote to the Foresight exercise, one-to-one interviews were conducted with the more prominent members of this group with a view to obtaining their insights on the effective orientation of the exercise and to identify other key people to be consulted (a modified type of co-nomination). 

Preserving the learning effect in Eforesee

The investment in Foresight skills and embedding, through the development of a university masters course and follow-up Foresight activity have provided the main opportunities for ongoing diffusion and learning. In general, the important/critical points in our project related to those activities which resulted in the transfer of know how, learning and new insights and awareness on the part of the participants.

Learning Processes in terms of actors, interactions and outcomes:

  • Within the team:
    • In-house team: extension of Foresight approaches to MCST 's activities: FP6+ERA.
    • Pilot leaders: extension of Foresight stepped approach to other sectors. Refinement of this approach to make it more effective.
  • With local mentors:
    • Strategic Policy-makers: Ministry of Education (Policy Unit) for joined-up policies. 
    • Consultancies: Pooling of Foresight-type and complementary approaches.
    • Education players: Embedding in curricula and programmes.
  • Within the consortium:
    • Coordinator: KM, RTDI policy approaches, Foresight learning circles.
    • Partners: Know-how on strategic RTDI policy & hands-on Foresight approaches  appropriate for small accession countries.
  • With members of the international Foresight community:
    • EU Regional Foresight HLG: contacts, insights, know-how.
    • PREST: scoping, scenarios, training, etc.
    • FOREN: practical guide  excellent reference on Foresight.
    • EU IPTS: setting the context for Foresight in enlarged EU
    • EU Presidency Foresight events: contacts, learning through dissemination.
    • FORETECH: opportunity to share hands-on experiences.
    • UNIDO: contacts, know-how, opportunities for further work.
    • COST: sharing experiences on approaches and methodology.
  • Building on the experience of previous pilots:
    • NSIT exercise: important insights on expectations, management, realistic recommendations and link to implementation.
  • Other international and regional links:
    • IRC and RIS network: sharing experiences on approaches and methodology.
    • Euro-Med: sharing experiences on approaches and methodology.
    • PIC MET'03: linkages with US.
  • Through other learning processes:
    • AcrossLimits: extensive use of ICT helped make the process more open, transparent, alive, real and dynamic. Web-based learning processes more interactive and real-time. Important spin-off of knowledge narrative database.
    • Non-typical actors: involvement of theatre and arts people on the panels and students, among others, provided important linkage and synergies between technology Foresight and social and cultural Foresight. It also led to spin-off Foresight activity in other sectors.
    • Enthusiasts: helped take the Foresight process directly into implementation.

Participants

Identifying and selecting participants in Eforesee

The participants were identified via an extensive stakeholder mapping exercise which aimed to include a wide diversity of stakeholders. A starting point for the implementing agency, MCST, was involving people previously engaged in the National Strategy for Information Technology and availing itself of existing contacts/mailing lists. An open  call for expressions of interest to participate in the programme was also launched via Internet and in the local papers to really tap alternative participants. As a result a number of individuals and organisations were made aware of the exercise and participated in the start-up events and subsequently in the pilot activities. A co-nomination exercise was also used to broaden the outreach. Those indicating an interest in the programme were invited to a number of awareness-raising sessions and the more proactive and enthusiastic of these were invited, by the Champions of each pilot, to participate in the Expert Panels, which were responsible for refining the inputs from the consultations and enter a more in-depth phase of the project, namely the work on the drivers and the recommended action lines. Given that Malta consists of a small community it was not difficult to include all the major players.

Also, given that the more influential players had only limited time to devote to the panels, one-to-one interviews were conducted with a view to obtaining their insights on the orientation of the exercise and to identify other key people who needed to be consulted (a modified type of co-nomination). The project also sought to keep the communication processes open with the strategic players via the dedicated mailing list and with relevant stakeholders that could not participate in all meetings via the virtual panel.

The stakeholders were originally mapped according to their level of contribution to the theme. The stakeholders were put into categories:

  • The strategic players – mainly influential thinkers and policy-makers in Ministries and authorities. These players were approached and 'interviewed' on a one-to-one basis given that they are busy people who cannot make it to panel meetings. At the same time we could not afford not to have their insights on general direction and orientation. The exercise also served to put eforesee on the local map and disseminate its work among key players.
  • The experts were engaged in their personal capacity but were drawn from relevant organisations that would be involved in implementing the Foresight results.
  • Experts and other people from outside the field were encouraged to participate in the panel meetings  to bring in creativity and new thinking. Theatre experts, students, and enthusiasts provided critical inputs as they generated important spin-off activity. The involvement of experts from other fields and non-experts was probably one of the key untargeted impacts of the first pilot and provided  important insights on alternative approaches to stakeholder mapping and engagement, namely involving those without vested interests in the area is healthy for really coming up with creative and alternative scenarios. The experts were those directly engaged in knowledge futures and the non-experts included students, theatre experts, and NGOs. Alternative approaches to stakeholder mapping involve identification of people/institutions seemingly unconnected to the pilot theme – e.g. bringing in friends or relatives or using open calls for expressions of interest. Alternative approaches to engagement relate to ways of selling/marketing Foresight exercises to those with little or no expertise on the pilot theme by using attractive keywords.   

The ICT panel members thus combined an innovative mix of public/private sector specialists in the field, other experts, drawn from various disciplines including arts and social sciences, and laypeople (including a student). Through the effective use of ICTs (the project website and dedicated mailing lists), the extended virtual panel allowed a wider set of individuals to participate in the consultation process. The strategic players were engaged in a second round of consultation on the first drafts of the Vision Document.  In the other two pilots the panel members were experts.

Direct/Internal Participants: described as those who actively partook in the work of the panels, scenario/vision-building workshops and Foresight training, consultation events and in the drafting of the Vision Document
Type Description

Approximate Number*

Experts Technical experts/academia
15
Stakeholders

Private Sector:

  • Industry

Societal Players

  •  NGOs
  • Students

Public Sector:

  • Government agencies/authorities
  • Ministries

 

18

 

2

2

 

17

4
Decision-makers

Public

  • Public agencies/authorities
  • Ministries

 

4

6

Total
72

 

The first eFORESEE Pilot on ICT and Knowledge Futures engaged the following actors:

  • Former NSIT (National Strategy for Information Technology) experts.
  • Ministries:
    • Core Negotiations Group, Office of the Prime Minister.
    • Regional Policy Directorate, Office of the Prime Minister.
    • Ministry of Education.
    • Ministry for Economic Services.
  • University of Malta.
  • Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology.
  • Malta Communications Authority.
  • Maltacom.
  • Malta Information Technology and Technical Services Ltd.
  • Central Information Management Unit.
  • Malta Enterprise.
  • IPSE (Institute for the Promotion of Small Enterprise).
  • Technology Venture Fund.
  • Korradin Business Incubation Centre.
  • eMalta Commission.
  • Foundation for Human Resources Development.
  • Malta Standards Authority.
  • Computer Society Malta.
  • Foundation Temi Zammit.
  • Companies:
    • Acrosslimits.
    • CREATECH.
    • Datastream.
    • Gatt, Tufigno, Frendo and Associates.
    • GoMobile.
    • EAN Malta.
    • EURIS Consult.
    • Innovate.
    • METIS.

Motivating and keeping participants involved in Eforesee

The approach taken in engaging stakeholders was highly inclusive and the efforts to advertise the exercise through various public media including TV, radio and the local papers, helped to emphasise both the need for and utility of such vision-setting projects.

The method of stakeholder involvement and the choice of panel members contributed to the autonomy of the Programme. Official entities were consulted in a formal way, however this formal consultation was complemented by an effort to ensure an open, informal process of discussion in the panels. Indeed panel members were involved in their personal capacity and so were able to express their opinions openly. The mix of panel members in terms of age, occupation, expertise, particularly in the first pilot encouraged a more creative approach to the discussions.

Apart from a number of core panel members, participation had to be flexible since participants were not always available to attend meetings and participate actively in the work.

Promoting Eforesee

Communications were considered a vital element of the Foresight exercise and the 'promotion/marketing' strategy was given a central place in the exercise in terms of engaging policy-makers, stakeholders and the public.

The main tools used were:

Intangible outcomes in Eforesee

Perhaps a less-emphasised benefit of a Foresight exercise is its facility to make transparent policy processes and structures and to bring to the fore key challenges and key individuals or champions to the cause. It also helps to identify hidden obstacles to the introduction of more informed, transparent and open participatory processes to governance as well as other barriers hindering the "wiring up" the national system of innovation. As the eFORESEE Malta Knowledge Futures pilot progressed with its work, it became clear that in achieving the objectives targeted at the outset, work also had to concentrate on a broader set of goals related to the socio-cultural context.  In this respect, it is possible to distinguish between the more formal set of objectives set at the beginning of the exercise and the informal, more societal, objectives which formed part of the task.

Thus there was a subtle shift in emphasis in the pilot's work to include this dimension and this was addressed through the engagement of a broad range of actors (including those involved in the media and the internet). From the outset, the approach taken to engaging stakeholders was highly inclusive and the efforts to advertise the exercise through various public media including TV, radio and the local papers, helped to emphasise both the need for and utility of such vision-setting projects. The use of the eFORESEE site and mailing lists to engage strategic players, new actors and external experts in the discussions, helped to make local players more aware of science, technology and innovation policy concerns. This open facility to share documents, proposals, ideas, and news has brought important knowledge and opportunities to the attention of local players and continues to be appreciated by the subscribers as a free source for receiving key STI Policy updates. It is envisaged that similar measures may be launched by other Ministries specifically targeted at encouraging RTDI within their sector.  The development of such programmes will enhance the need for some form of structured inter-Ministerial dialogue to ensure that these different measures fit into a coherent framework. The use of these various media have thus generated two key unforeseen impacts, policy learning and raising the profile of STI (issues and policies) on the national agenda.

In terms of participation, the exercise sought to engage actors at all levels, including strategic players, politicians and policy-makers, as well as technical and scientific experts in the social and natural sciences. In a society which is highly divisive and individualistic, consensus-building emerged as a key challenge in the exploration or  defining of common visions. Efforts were made to bridge various divides: the public-private sector, party political, the natural science-social science divides and the generation gap. Among the unforeseen impacts of the Pilot, was the awareness created of the need for consensus-building approaches in long-term vision-setting exercises if the policies are to prove sustainable. The ongoing CompetitiveMalta Foundation initiative is engaging both the Government and Opposition in the discussions on a long-term vision for a Competitive Malta. The recently launched National Information Technology Strategy has been developed through an open on-line consultation process and is being implemented on the basis of public-private sector collaboration.

Implementation and follow-up

Eforesee diffusion and dissemination

This phase primarily involved the efforts of the project team in terms of formal diffusion and implementation of recommendations. However, other follow-up activity has been more widely dispersed and panel members have engaged in their own spin-off exercises.

The preliminary results were disseminated throughout the programme, since there was no separate (dedicated) stage for the dissemination of the results.

The Core Team did not restrict dissemination merely to results, but efforts were made to generate learning and actions throughout the duration of the Programme. In order to fulfil one of the objectives of the Foresight exercise, namely to embed a Foresight culture at national level, the Core Team drove its efforts towards disseminating Foresight approaches and techniques to a broad stakeholder pool throughout the two-year Foresight exercise. This approach was more obvious during the first ICT Pilot, which, as mentioned, was highly process oriented. In the second year of the project, 2003, the results of the ICT Pilot were disseminated and discussed during a consultation event which attracted key decision-makers in ICT. The discussions proved highly productive and lead to the definition of concrete actions lines.

Nevertheless, the critical points in this phase relate to the small window of opportunity often open for implementing specific aspects of the recommendations. Seeking out and targeting these opportunities is not a straightforward or obvious process and often depends on time and timing.

Eforesee evaluation

The review of the eFORESEE project sought to assess both the targeted and unexpected results of the pilots, precisely because the pilots and indeed the project as a whole generated a range of unforeseen impacts. Foresight exercises addressing similar objectives are bound to generate different results and levels of success if applied in very different contexts. The eFORESEE Project demonstrated this effect in the way the pilots were implemented in the three countries, reflecting adaptations and creativity in the methodology and approach used.

A brief review of the eFORESEE Project as a whole was carried out at the end of the project, in November 2003  by a small international panel, made up of the EU Project Officer for the eFORESEE project, Dr Guenter Clar and Prof Luke Georghiou supported by the Project Coordinator, Dr Patrick Crehan. The project leaders from the three partner countries presented a self-evaluation of their project results aimed at assessing the extent to which objectives and success criteria were met, and to identify learning impacts (local and international) and other value added generated by the projects.

A basic evaluation framework was developed which, after an assessment of timing and achievement of objectives, focused on learning processes in terms of actors, interactions and outcomes on multiple levels: within the team, with local mentors, within the consortium, and with members of the international Foresight community and how experience had been built (see 'preserving the learning effect' in the 'managing the process' section above). It also explored other added value created in the project such as Foresight embedding, national follow-up to this exercise, international follow-up to this exercise and international professional networking (see 'impacts' below).

Targeted achievements against objectives were assessed using the five success criteria agreed at the outset of the project:

Success Criteria Assessment
1. Develop high quality scenarios and action plans worthy of publication. yes
2. Identify textual modifications or inputs to the NDP resulting from this exercise. A specific reference to the results of this exercise and follow-up activities in the NDP. yes
3. Bring to the table in the form of the 'core group', the main high level visionaries and strategic planners in Malta (from Malta Enterprise). yes
4. Identify the formation of new public-private partnerships that form to take action on business opportunities identified via this exercise. (This should be clear from the action plans). Less clear
5. Involve new actors beyond the established players in the ICT and Education domain (consultants, private sector education and training institutes, people from the media, games, psychology or other industry. yes
Learning Impacts yes

The evaluation report has not been published but the above information is drawn from an article to be published shortly in an international journal.

 

Diffusing Foresight practice through Eforesee

Investments in Foresight training proved critical to ensuring the quality of the Foresight process and results, as they translated into long-term benefits in implementation, the embedding of a wider and deeper Foresight culture, and the opportunity to contribute to the international Foresight learning curve. A key unforeseen impact has been the continuing investment in work on Foresight methodologies by a small team lead by MCST and the University of Malta. This has lead to the inclusion of Foresight teaching in the newly launched Masters Programme on Creativity and Innovation, an initiative of the Edward De Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta. Foresight teaching is also to be included in an International Ocean Institute Training Programme in Malta.

Eforesee impacts

The exercise sought to engage as wide a range of stakeholders as possible including a theatre expert, a student, a lawyer, among others. The breadth of actor engagement is reflected in the extent to which the panel members responded proactively to the issues under discussion. In the case of the first pilot, a number of the panel members became so enthusiastic about the discussions that they embarked on their own spin-off Foresight activity (the FutureChild). Inspired by the perceived usefulness and effectiveness of Foresight approaches, panel members have also introduced Foresight approaches in their own sectors, organisations and projects. The more significant of these have been:

Moreover, to date a number of ideas and results generated through the Foresight exercise have been implemented, including :

Other impacts include:

  • Development of a university masters course: inclusion of Foresight teaching in the newly launched Masters Programme on Creativity and Innovation, an initiative of the the Edward De Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta. Foresight teaching is also to be included in an International Ocean Institute Training Programme in Malta.
  • The recently launched National Information Technology Strategy has been developed through an open on-line consultation process and is being implemented on the basis of public-private sector collaboration.
  • The use of the eFORESEE site and mailing lists to engage strategic players, new actors and external experts in the discussions, has helped to make local players more aware of science, technology and innovation policy concerns;
  • The use of the various media have generated policy learning and raising the profile of STI (issues and policies) on the national agenda.
  • Awareness generated of the need for consensus-building approaches in long-term vision-setting exercises if the policies are to prove sustainable.
  • Building of ownership of visions and commitment to future-oriented strategies and in this sense gave value-added to the policy development process.

Other added-value created in the project included:

  • Foresight embedding:
    • Sectoral: education, theatre, tourism, environment, etc.
  • National follow-up to this exercise:
    • Second rounds of consultation on eFORESEE pilot recommendations.
    • National RTDI programme.
    • Foresight with MTI on RTDI strategy in ICT
    • High level Foresight for the PM.
    • ESF SME Foresight.
    • CompetitiveCareers.
  • International follow-up to this exercise:
    • ERANET FORSOCIETY.
    • COST A22.
    • ESF Action.
    • Euro-Med: EMRIA, MoCo, Netrimed though WNP FP6 INCO.
  • International professional networking
    • ESTO.
    • EU Knowledge Platform.

Eforesee challenges

In a society which is highly divisive and individualistic, consensus-building emerged as a key challenge in the exploration or definition of common visions.

Hence, the three partner countries shared a common challenge of introducing Foresight into a policy system under the pressure of the need for rapid change during the critical pre-accession phase in the context of a transition economy. The main challenges in this context which have come to the fore during implementation of the project, are the need to activate and support fast policy learning and unlearning processes, and the need to bridge the divide between policy-makers and society by engaging able new actors and moving towards more consensus-oriented dialogue.

Lessons learned in Eforesee

One of the key insights in relation to dissemination is that at the start of the project, dissemination events tend to be more oriented to awareness-raising. Half-way through the project the emphasis switches to training and refining of techniques. It is only once some results are generated that the key policy-makers can be brought on board as there is something tangible to consult on. Moreover, one of the benefits of the Foresight exercise was its facility to make transparent policy processes and structures and bring to the fore key challenges and key individuals or champions to the cause.

 

 

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