- Setting the objectives
- Determining the coverage (focus and scope)
- Defining the Users
- Approach to design decisions
- Setting the time horizon
- Setting the timeframe
- Costs and funding
- Skills and competencies
- Assessing previous and ongoing work
- Project team and organisation of the exercise
- Steering Committee
- Communication strategy
- Designing the methodology (methodological framework)
- Lessons Learned
- Diffusion and dissemination
- Diffusing Foresight Practice
- Lessons learned
As one of Europe's foremost 'city-regions' and the economic motor of the Northwest of England Manchester has over the last fifteen years been undergoing a process of transformation and regeneration away from traditional industries and towards science-based and creative industries and services. This drive to establish itself as a Knowledge City has brought relations between universities and business to the centre of local and regional policy-making. The Knowledge Capital vision is based on the fact that the “(then) four world-class universities of Manchester and Salford – and the area's local authorities, health service, and rapidly expanding creative, professional and cultural industries – have come together for the first time to present a united force……(the) vision is wide-ranging, timely and irresistible: the creation of a dynamic urban environment…that links excellence in research and learning directly to local companies; …and that plays stronger part in local community life and area-based regeneration.” Within this ten-year vision, the 'super-campus' with a combined income of £670 million per year, is projected as being at the core of the Knowledge Capital, providing the critical mass to leverage the local skills base, meeting business and community knowledge needs. The Knowledge Capital initiative draws on growing recognition of Higher Education Institutions(HEI)'s potentially key role in bringing about the economic regeneration of the region and related government initiatives known as 'third leg mission', facilitating HEI's greater interaction and integration with wider economic stakeholders.
In 2003, additional developments lead to the idea of organising a foresight exercise to explore synergies that were currently evolving the development of regional and local policy between Manchester Science Park, the city and regional development agencies and the Universities. A key initiative underway related to the fact that the two most research-intensive universities in Manchester (Victoria University of Manchester and UMIST) were in the process of combining to form an institution with world-class aspirations for research excellence. A major national study of university-industry linkages, known as the Lambert Review, was also under way. The origin of the foresight exercise lay in a strategic review of Manchester Science Park (MSP) carried out in 2003 by PREST. Manchester Science Park is one of the United Kingdom's most successful examples of a science park meeting the full criteria of that definition. The Science Park hosts about 80 companies and is jointly owned by the City Council, the universities whose campuses it adjoins and five private sector companies. Though run as a company it reinvests all of its profits to enhance the economic and technological wealth of Manchester. For many years the Science Park had expended its limited resources on its more immediate role in estate management and was now seeking to extend the range of value-added services it could offer to its members and to play a more proactive role in regional development. As a result of the strategic review, the Science Park agreed to sponsor a scenario workshop in order to play a more proactive role both in the development of linkages with universities and in terms of local and regional policy-making.
The reasons for using foresight are outlined in the Strategic Review of Manchester Science Park. One recommendation of the review was to apply foresight techniques to build a shared vision of the role of the Science Park and other organisations in developing such linkages. A second recommendation was for the Science Park to increase its engagement with the strategic discussions of its participating universities, particularly in the context of Project Unity. This led to the idea that the foresight activity could be extended to the broader topic of business-university linkages in Manchester and linked to the articulation of the Knowledge Capital concept.
With sponsorship from Manchester Science Park, the Regional Affairs Directorate of the University of Manchester and PREST, Institute of Innovation Research, University of Manchester, the concept of the Success Scenario Workshop was developed.
Business-university linkages have been the focus of a great deal of policy attention in recent years. During 2003 two major national policy reviews were addressing this topic:
- The Department of Trade and Industry's Innovation Review.
- The Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration sponsored by HM Treasury.
The Knowledge Capital Initiative had been established conceptually but was looking for a practical agenda on which to proceed.
The two objectives of the exercise were:
- To develop a shared vision of the future of business–university linkages in the city-region of Manchester. The aim was to link the strategies of the universities in the area with the city's own self-vision of its future as a 'Knowledge Capital'.
- To move towards a shared vision among senior stakeholders such as local political leaders, heads of universities, heads of key intermediaries and industry associations, of what success in this area would look like in five years time and to begin the process of developing a road map to get there.
Rather than exploring alternative scenarios for city-region development, the exercise focused on bringing leading stakeholders in the City-Region to discuss and elaborate a 'success scenario' for business-university linkages in the context of the City's broader vision of becoming a 'Knowledge Capital'. The scope of the exercise was specifically to explore the Contribution of Universities to the Knowledge Capital: A Scenario for Success in 2008. Preparatory work was used to brief participants on a model on university-industry interaction which set out four main dimensions:
- Human Resource Development
- Research Collaboration
- Networking and business development
A list was compiled of key individuals who could be seen as shaping and driving the future of business-university links in Manchester. These came from business and commerce, national, regional and local government, intermediary organizations and the City's universities.
The experience of previous PREST/CRIC success scenario workshops carried out for the Office of Science and Technology, for a research council and for two large firms, was used to guide the design process. However, this was the first time that the approach had been applied to a structural issue rather than a sectoral or technological area so some innovation was needed.
In the specific case of the Manchester City exercise a five-year horizon was chosen, to get beyond short-term considerations but to allow immediate actions to follow. This period also marks the halfway point in the ten-year vision of the Knowledge Capital
Given that results were needed quickly if they were to influence the knowledge capital agenda and the merged super-University's knowledge transfer agenda, it was decided by the Project team that a 24-hour exercise would be organised.
Given that the exercise was deliberately organised to take place within a 24-hour timeframe, the costs could be kept to a minimum. A budget of 20,000 euros was made available by the sponsor, Manchester Science Park Ltd.
The exercise drew on the competence and expertise of the University of Manchester's PREST which was the organiser of the exercise.
The exercise derived from and built on other strategy-development processes already underway, including the Knowledge Capital Vision, the Single University initiative and Manchester Science Park's Strategic Review. The exercise was designed to provide added drive and value to these initiatives by bringing the leading players together.
The project team was lead by Prof Luke Georghiou, PREST and included Ms Jane Davies (MSP Ltd) and Jennifer Cassingena Harper (MCST).
No formal steering committee was set up.
- There was no formal communication strategy but the report was widely disseminated by mail and presentations were made to key bodies. The web version was reported widely and eventually an academic publication presented the process more formally.
The Success Scenario Workshop used an approach developed by the Institute of Innovation Research at the University of Manchester and previously applied in developing UK national strategies for ICT, biotechnology and nanotechnology. It is an action based approach where the shared vision among senior stakeholders of what success in the area would look like, is specified in terms of goals and indicators which begin the process of developing a road-map to get there together with setting a “stretch target” for all the stakeholders. The discussion and debate involved develops mutual understanding and a common platform of knowledge that helps to align the actors for action.
After identifying the leading stakeholders, participants were sent an invitation to the workshop together with a briefing document setting out the objectives of the Workshop and several background documents:
- The Science Park Review – the output of the review which examined the success factors involved in a science park developing active links with its academic hinterland.
- Manchester: Knowledge Capital – the Core Cities Prospectus, published by Manchester City Council and the Knowledge Capital Partnership in June 2003, a document setting out a vision for maximizing the City's and Region's use of its intellectual capital and other assets to drive competitiveness and growth.
- The submissions of the universities to the Treasury's Lambert Review of Business-University Links, which was in process during the period.
Following a working dinner at which key concerns were aired and a briefing provided, on the following day an introductory plenary session set out some of the issues and recent research findings in the field of business-university links. The Workshop proceeded with three plenary and two parallel sessions (see Structure Diagram). The first set of parallel sessions aimed to identify the main driving forces for alternative futures (Drivers and Shapers), whilst the afternoon sessions focused on the defining the main elements of the success scenario.
A final plenary session helped to identify the key actions and indicators of success were identified. The results from the day's deliberations are presented in the report, "Contribution of the Universities to the Knowledge Capital, A Scenario for Success in 2008".
The main lesson to be drawn from the exercise is that the success scenario method succeeded in its aims by engaging the active participation and commitment of the key senior stakeholders. In exporting this experience to other contexts, in particular to another city, region or country, it is important to bear in mind that the successful application of the 24-hour success scenario workshop method depends on a number of assumptions:
- The stakeholders were already familiar with and comfortable with using foresight approaches and techniques and this facilitated the smooth running of the exercise.
- The stakeholders shared a common mindset, namely an openness and willingness to review current ways of working and a proactive approach to the future based on sharing visions and strategies and collaborative working.
- The stakeholders were highly knowledgeable about current and future scenarios and this was reflected in the high-quality scenarios produced in the final report.
These factors cannot be under-estimated and will have to be given serious thought if this approach is to be applied in a less-developed country, region or city context.
The Success Scenario workshop participants were:
- Chairman, Manchester Science Park
- Chief Executive, Pro Manchester
- Innovation Adviser, Department of Trade and Industry
- Vice-Chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University
- Knowledge Capital, Manchester City Council
- Head of Policy Unit, Malta Council for Science and Technology & Visiting Fellow PREST
- Pro-Vice Chancellor, UMIST
- Director, CONTACT Partnership
- Chief Executive, Manchester Science Park
- Director of Regional Affairs, University of Manchester
- Vice-Chancellor and Principal, UMIST
- Professor and Director, PREST, University of Manchester
- Science Manager, Northwest Development Agency
- Deputy Secretary, Association of Greater Manchester Authorities
- Chief Executive, Redbrick
- Chairman, Campus Ventures
- Manchester Airports Group
- Professor, SURF, University of Salford
- Professor and Director, CRIC, University of Manchester
- Director, Manchester Council for Community Relations
- Chairman of Council, University of Manchester
- Managing Director, Campus Ventures
- Head of Careers Service, University of Manchester/UMIST
- Chief Executive, Manchester Chamber of Commerce
- Head of Information for Business and Community, University of Manchester
- Chief Executive, Northwest Development Agency
- Director of R&D, Central Manchester and Manchester Children's University Hospitals NHSTrust
- Chief Executive, Manchester Innovation Ltd
A article on the results published in " Technology Analysis & Strategic Management" provided a brief but clear synthesis of the main results (see extract below):
The Success Scenario sets the scene in 2008 in terms of breakthroughs in achieving the key elements of the vision, namely attractive infrastructure (including the insight that the Science Park should evolve from being a location to becoming a brand representing a particular quality of environment for knowledge-based firms), high quality human resources, alignment of university missions, high-growth creative inward investment and dynamic business-university networking. Details of these elements are presented in the table below. Workshop participants identified key actions for realizing the success scenario and a number of indicators to measure the extent of success.
Key Elements of the Success Scenario 2008
- Infrastructure: Success in 2008 Spreads the Reach of the Knowledge Producers to All Parts of the City-Region A network of hotspots of university-industry interfaces has spread away from the campuses across the city-region. Entrepreneurs are attracted by the combination of café culture and easily located specialised spaces for innovation. The Manchester Science Park brand defines the quality level.
- Human resources: Success in 2008 Makes Manchester a Net Importer of Graduates The exodus of graduates to the Southeast has been reversed as high quality jobs in small entrepreneurial firms attract the best. Rising teaching quality has pervaded the entire Manchester education system with mentoring one of its hallmarks. Highly qualified and entrepreneurial immigrants are actively sought.
- University missions: Success in 2008 sees each Manchester University recognized as World Class in Terms of its Mission Following the emergence of the new University of Manchester as a world-class research-driven institution, Manchester's other two universities achieve similar levels of excellence within the context of their own missions. All three treat reach-out as an integral activity but approach it in distinctive and complementary styles
- Inward investment: Success in 2008 sees Integrated Policies Attracting Massive Investment by Multinationals and Entrepreneurs Integrated packages combining land-use, infrastructure and academic linkages have attracted huge investments by multinationals in the region, providing a natural market for start-up firms. Regional resources are used to gear and attract national and European investment.
- Networking: Success in 2008 Sees Firms of All Sizes and Ages in Manchester Sourcing Knowledge and People and Meeting Development Needs from the Universities Networking is seen as the key to businesses understanding how universities can help them. Much better interfaces now allow medium-sized firms to work with academics, while business joins city government in securing and supporting centres of excellence.
The scenario formed a reference frame against which action points to realise this definition of success could be enumerated. Participants produced a list of ten key actions:
Ten key actions necessary to achieve the Success Scenario
- Target and build-up Centres of Excellence in Universities;
- Bring business and HEI cultures closer by ensuring that business and academic leaders network and that this is matched by networking at middle rank;
- Universities to develop concerted strategy for interacting with business networks and helping to create new ones where they do not exist – also be prepared to drop those that have outlived their purpose;
- City/RDA/Business/Universities to consider exercise in mapping and evaluating networks as first step to broader proactive strategy. More systematic use made of existing networks to get access to prime movers and shakers nationally and worldwide;
- Universities provide physical space for networks at their entrepreneurial interfaces such as incubators;
- Engage locally based business education in developing leaders and managers equipped to work in networked knowledge capital;
- Engage business in mentoring university staff in terms of understanding the business environment;
- Focus on a knowledge-based inward investment strategy;
- Promote the Knowledge Capital concept to academics and business; and
- Foster a 'Can-do' culture.
The actions can be seen as falling into three main categories. The first group addressed the academic establishment and reflected a common desire from external partners to see university research activity concentrated in centres of excellence. This is a rational outcome as the profile that such centres achieve reduces the search costs for forms and public authorities seeking collaborative inputs. It also reflects a demand for resources to be focussed on a narrower range of high quality activities rather than risking mediocrity through excessive spreading of resources.
The second group of actions relate to networking. The recognition of the importance of this activity was translated into an agenda that cleared the way for new networks in emerging areas and better interfaces to support their development. This harmonised with the third category of actions which related to the development of a cadre of people equipped with the necessary skills and attitudes to implement the goals of the Knowledge Capital.
The final step in defining the success scenario involved the identification of success indicators that would allow its realisation to be monitored (as well as concretising further the actions. None are quantified in the absence of detailed baseline data but all are verifiable. The indicators are shown below:
20 Success Indicators to track future progress
- Intelligent infrastructural development stimulates the launch of a network of hotspots including university spin-offs, research projects and student enterprise centres.
- The emergence of a café culture round these innovation hotspots attracts entrepreneurs stimulating the development of new zones for affordable close by living space
- Integrated land policies and professional property management means that companies are attracted by quick availability, adaptability and high quality of premises
- The dynamic infrastructure is helping to reduce social exclusion and crime.
Net importers of high quality brains
- A high and growing proportion of Manchester graduates staying in the region.
- The proportion of graduates in Manchester's workforce has increased substantially.
- Quality of students and teaching rising in universities and schools
- Graduates better equipped to work in an entrepreneurial context
- Opportunities for lifelong learning have increased
- Proactive approaches to careers advice and guidance services
- Dynamic infrastructure and excellent reputation of universities attracting high quality brains from abroad
World Class Universities
- Project Unity has projected the new University as the science driver of the region and as a peer with world class universities.
- The other Universities are also offering world class technical training and services for local industry
- High level of reach out beyond S&T to tap new opportunities opening up through synergies with the arts, humanities and social sciences
- World class leaders are attracted to act as mentors/role models for inspired leadership
- The success of the early centres of excellence has lead to a steady growth through the attraction of additional national and EU funding .
Massive Inward Investment
- MNCs drawn by attractive all-inclusive packages successfully developed through a cooperative ethic among different operators
- Re-investment of revenue generated plugged back into the infrastructure
- Manchester 's science and innovation policy is targeted to build centres of excellence to win national resources and attract further investments.
- Spillover benefits to other parts of the Northwest replace Objective 1 funding as source of investment for development
- Strong linkage between changing business needs and skills and content of lifelong learning
- Closer university-business interfaces support innovators and entrepreneurs and increase number of sustainable start-ups
City-business links and networks are encouraging new forms of cooperative governance
No formal evaluation of the exercise has been carried out to date.
The diffusion of foresight practice generated through the exercise is reflected by the fact that the larger region in which Manchester is situated stated its intention to launch its own technology foresight programme though this has yet to commence. Manchester Science Park is currently planning a new iteration of the exercise to update the strategy.
The exercise has been widely regarded as a success. It has been reported in national as well as regional journals and the main body responsible for the City's knowledge society strategy has adopted its recommendations as an agenda for action. Individual participating bodies have also taken up relevant points and there is already evidence of resulting actions. A key participant has since become Vice-President of the new University with responsibility for innovation and commercialisation and has drawn on the discourse of the exercise. The exercise has also been effective in highlighting to senior policy-makers and stakeholders the effectiveness of 'organised' networking within the context of a workshop, however short the exercise, as a stimulus for sharing, dovetailing and implementing individual visions. The contacts, ideas, networks, links, visions, scenarios and actions generated through the exercise cannot be fully tracked or exploited for reasons of timing and establishing attribution. However, a key impact has been the perception on the part of the workshop participants of the potential for capitalising on these outputs by:
- Taking advantage of the current and future changing dynamics in the national, regional and local innovation system as policies and strategies are under review and open to change. The Lambert Review, the Knowledge Capital initiative and the merging of the Universities are three current drivers of change, opening up enhanced opportunities for new initiatives for shared visions or even alternative policy nuances to encourage more joined-up policies between national-regional-local levels.
- Moving towards the smart-linking of regional, city and university 'knowledge' strategies in key areas of overlap of missions and responsibilities.
- Drawing on the relevance, applicability and adaptability of foresight approaches in different innovation policy contexts for synchronising visions, dovetailing strategies and kick-starting collaborative implementing actions.
Now fully underway, the Knowledge Capital secretariat recently used the success indicators generated by the exercise as an input to the design of its own framework, currently the subject of a new PREST study. National policy has also moved in this direction with the development of a “ Science City” concept becoming a key element of regional policy in the UK. Indirectly, the study helped in the articulation of this policy.
The success of 24-hour success scenario workshop method depends on thorough preparation for the event in terms of :
- prior circulation among participants of relevant background materials, an informal networking event to launch the activity allowing the participants the opportunity to get to know each other and providing an introduction to set the context and outline the key issues for discussion;
- a clear strategy for managing the discussions in terms of alternating between break-out groups and plenary sessions in order to capture feed-back from the whole group, strict time management and facilitators familiar both with the content and method;
- the development of a report which captured in a clear and concise way the main elements of the exercise, in particular the dimensions of the success scenario, the recommended actions and the indicators of success.
The quality and impact of the lessons generated from such a short and quick exercise ultimately depends on the adaptability of the exercise/workshop design to the particular context, the extent of preparation (in terms of the documentation and facilitation) and the level of engagement of the participants (before, during and after the event). From the perspective of outcome many of the policy recommendations are in general transferable, though of course with context specific adaptation. The use of foresight to produce a unified regional vision is a helpful approach to developing university–industry links in a knowledge economy.
- Contribution of the Universities to the Knowledge Capital, A Scenario for Success in 2008, Luke Georghiou and Jennifer Cassingena Harper 2003
- Improving Links between Tenant Companies and Higher Education Institutions: Exploring Emerging Scenarios for Manchester Science Park, Jennifer Cassingena Harper 2003
- Manchester : Knowledge Capital
- Cassingena Harper J and Georghiou L (2005), Foresight In Innovation Policy: Shared Visions For A Science Park And Business-University Links In A City-Region, Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, Vol 17
- Georghiou, L., Universities and the City-Region as a 'Knowledge Capital' 2008. EFMN Foresight Brief 14
Miles (2003) has described the success scenario in terms of two elements:
- Desirability: capturing a vision of what could be achieved or aspired to by the sponsoring organisation or the wider community that it represents; and
- Credibility: the scenario is developed with the assistance of, and validated by a sample of experts in the area chosen to reflect a broad range of interests and usually including both practitioners and researchers.