Greek national foresight exercise

Online Foresight Guide

Designing the exercise


Over the last decade, Greece has made significant improvements in research and technological development. Today, Greece is making efforts to “catch up” with other EU Member States, while it has improved its position by achieving strong overall trends in research and innovation.

More recently, Greek research and technology policy has focused on international cooperation and opening up the national research community to international competition. This vision reflects the overall efforts undertaken at the European level for the establishment of the European Research Area — a key point in Lisbon strategy .

The National Foresight Programme in Greece was implemented in the framework of the Operational Plan for Competitiveness (Community Support Framework 2000-2006),


Reasons for using Foresight

Long term planning in terms of science and technology policy was never implemented in Greece. This is mainly due to the fragmentation of the various policies undertaken by different ministries and the lack of coordination of these policies in order to complement each other.

The Ministry of Development and more specifically the General Secretariat for Research and Technology in its effort to establish a plan for the long term development of the Research and Innovation system of the country decided to undertake the organisation of a Foresight exercise to be implemented by the most important stakeholders both from the policy making and the research side.

The main aim of the project, which started in 2001 and concluded in 2004, was to develop a set of key guidelines to assist the government in the policy design and decision-making process and the enterprises in improving the planning of their strategy. The main objective was the creation of a potential Foresight centre for exploiting the know-how and promoting further foresight activities in Greece.


Defining the focus, objectives and scope

The programme was undertaken in order to explore new strategic methods for the decision making that will promote the development and competitiveness of the country within an Enlarged Europe – time horizon: –2001-2021.

The main focus of the exercise was to explore the future of the Greek economy and society by setting in the centre science and technology . The role of science, research and technology for shaping the future was particularly addressed, with the aim to achieve the development of the Greek Knowledge Society.

The scope of the exercise was national mainly aiming to identify the most important and emerging scientific and technological fields that will play an important role in enhancing competitiveness in Greece in the next twenty years.

The exercise main objectives were the development of a framework of directives that will help the state design policies and decision making processes and also companies to better design their strategies. The final objective is the development of a virtual “ Foresight know - how and applications” center and its further development in Greece.

Foresight is not just a study for predicting the future, a development study or a strategic plan, but a tool for the identification of the most critical factors, motives, continuities – discontinuities, challenges and opportunities, a process for stimulating the creativity of people, groups and institutes in the most important sectors of the Greek economy and the development of a knowledge society.

Especially in the framework of this exercise the role of science, research ad technology for shaping the future will be explored, in order to achieve the Greek version of the Knowledge society.



The major client for this exercise was the General Secretariat for Research and Technology itself which is the main organizing and funding body for Research, Technology and Innovation programmes and projects. The exercise results are meant to be used for the design of new policy measures to support research and technology in the most emerging and important areas in Greece for the years to come.


Time horizon

Initially in the framework of this exercise there were two time horizons set and these were the years 2015 and 2021. During the exercise this time horizon was set to be in 2021.

Resources – Funding of the exercise
The overall cost for the exercise was 1.5 million Euros while it was co-funded by the Operational Plan for Competitiveness (Community Support Framework 2000-2006) and was co-funded by 75% from the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) and 25% by the Greek Public Sector (General Secretariat for Research and Technology, Ministry of Development).

Designing the methodology


The General Secretariat for Research and Technology in collaboration with the Team of international experts in science and technology policy (mainly researchers, academics, policy makers, innovation practitioners, etc invited from abroad) selected the following topics as the most emerging ones –taking into consideration the already existing potential and know how of the country – as they were considered of major importance for leading towards the creation of a knowledge society. These areas were:


  • Biotechnology

7. Industrial Production and Manufacture

  • Defence Technologies

8. Materials

  • Tourism &Culture

9. Information and Communication Technologies

  • Energy

10. Transport

  • Environment

11. Agricultural Development and Fisheries

  • Health and Quality of Life



A coordination team was set up in order to be responsible for the implementation of the project. Their main involvement was:


At macro level, the coordination team for the project developed some original scenarios that were further developed by the working groups utilising a top-down approach. These scenarios examined the potential future developments for Europe and Greece. At micro level the analysis was mainly focused on 11 thematic areas corresponding to different sectors and technologies. The micro scenarios were more detailed and specific, examining strategies and policies for the development of science, technology and innovation priorities for each thematic area. At the same time, the micro scenarios also examined the potential realisation of the macro (general) scenarios as well as the potential versions of “future worlds” depending on the progress of these specific areas.

The International experience support unit, consisted of many international and national experts, having recent and older experience in foresight. The main role of this unit was to develop the methodology for the implementation of the exercise and comment on the various texts developed.

The technical support unit was responsible for the following tasks:


The Working Groups were responsible for the drafting of scenarios at the level of thematic area (micro-level). Working Group members were people from business, academia, research, professional institutions, government, chambers, NGO’s etc. The Chairperson of each Working Groups who co-ordinated the meetings and workshops is an eminent figure in the field of each Working Group. The rapporteur of each Working Group was responsible for drafting the reports and organising the workshops, as he/she was the key person for the smooth workings of the Working Group.

The selection of the members for each Working Group, apart from chairpersons and speakers/facilitators, was based on a public invitation that was issued by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology with the cooperation of the Coordination Unit.

The working groups were responsible for the development of the scenarios focused on 11 thematic areas (biotechnology, defence technologies, tourism and culture, energy, environment, health and quality of life, industrial production and manufacture, materials, information and communication technologies, transport, agricultural development and fisheries). The working groups consisted of business executives, academics, researchers, professional associations, governmental bodies, chambers of industry and commerce, etc, depending on the fields of each team.

For each working group a president was appointed for monitoring the group meetings and workshops. The overall responsibility for the preparation of the reports and the elaboration of the workshops was appointed to the rapporteur of the working group who was the key person for the operation of the whole group. The selection of the members of each working group – except from the president and the rapporteur – was made through an open call for expressing interest.


Selecting methods

Although the National Foresight programme in Greece utilised a combination of methods and techniques and emphasised on dialogue and interaction as it did not only focus in technologies but in other important issues as well (e.g. health) or very important sectors (e.g. tourism), it was the scenario building method that was mostly used. This means that scenarios were built based on bibliographical review and documentation. The scenario building method allows the development of potential worlds (“mondes possible”) where specific activities and social key-players are defined.

An important issue is “ how to create these worlds ”. The main preconditions are :



There are two main ways for building scenarios. The first requires an analytical approach and the existence of many studies as well as large experience in forecasting and strategic analysis. The second has to do with the development of a prospective picture with the contribution of specific parts that will create a whole and for which there is adequate documentation. In the Greek Foresight the second approach was selected.

In terms of formulation, the scenarios were hybrid since they are set out in scientific and narrative discourse constituting at the same time estimate and fiction. Because of the complexity and range of the subjects that are dealt with, the project should take place at both a macro-level (the whole project) and a micro-level (the thematic areas).

The Coordination Unit (CU) drafted the macro-scenarios based on the dynamics of the group work and the interactions between participants during the workshops that took place. During the project, these scenarios were constructively discussed and supplemented.

At the micro-level this analysis focused on particular thematic areas – as indicated above - corresponding to different sectors and technologies. At this level, new (micro) scenarios were developed, adding detail and specialisation to the macro-scenarios, examining the strategies and policies for the development of science, technology and innovation in each thematic area. At the same time, these micro-scenarios validated the possibility of materializing the macro-scenarios as well as the possible alternative futures due to progress in the specific areas.


Running the exercise

Identifying and selecting participants

The selection of the members for each Working Group, apart from chairpersons and speakers/facilitators, was based on a public invitation that was issued by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology with the cooperation of the Coordination Unit.

Overall, 11 thematic areas were set, each having 10-15 members. These Working Groups were:

  1. Biotechnology
  2. Industrial Production and Manufacture
  3. Defence technologies
  4. Materials
  5. Tourism and culture
  6. Information and communication technologies
  7. Energy
  8. Transport
  9. Environment
  10. Agricultural Development &fisheries
  11. Health & Quality of Life


Each of the working groups prepared lists of the stakeholders, social groups, professional associations and individuals experienced in the specific area they covered. These people were selected to play the role of the support units during the overall process of the exercise.



Tangible outcomes

The tangible results from the exercise were in the form of reports.

Synthesis report

The Synthesis report that summarises the results of the Thematic Essays prepared by the thematic groups involved in the exercise ( Agrarian Development and Fishery, Industrial Production and Manufacturing, Energy, Information Technologies, Communications / e-business, Transport, Environment, Health and Quality of Life, Tourism and Culture, Government and e –government, Materials, Biotechnology) in a series of national policy priorities where science, research and innovation are concerned. More specifically it includes


Thematic Essays

The Thematic Essays are studies of technology foresight in the 11 areas that were examined by the specific working groups. Each thematic essay includes the presentation of the current situation in the specific thematic area as well as the trends, the scenarios for 2021 and the necessary justification. The final essays were in the following topics:


Reports on horizontal issues

Reports on the horizontal issues examined under the exercise:

Intangible outcomes

The most important intangible outcome of the exercise has to do with the effective collaboration between the various stakeholders and the synergies between the different disciplines involved in the elaboration of the exercise. These synergies were reflected in the different stakeholders involved in the various working groups as well as the results that came out from the workshops and the presentation of the thematic essays and the final synthesis report.


Implementing foresight recommendations

As previously mentioned the national foresight exercise in Greece started in 2001 and was completed in the end of 2004. The results were presented in a synthesis report. This report, as a policy document was published on the web and was made available to those responsible for the policy making in terms of science, technology and innovation policy as well as to the public through the publicly accessed website of the exercise.

Taking into consideration that the exercise was initiated and funded by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology – Ministry of Development, we realize that the results will be taken into account when new policies will be designed. The government and the Ministry of Development in particular have committed to undertake the policy recommendations – outcomes of the exercise – from the exercise into consideration in the formulation of the strategic planning for R&D in the future. So far this has not yet happened.


Diffusing Foresight practice

Activities undertaken for the diffusion of the results of the exercise:

Research and Development in Greece, Ministry of Development, General Secretariat for Research &Technology