Myllylä, Yrjö & Maurizio Sajeva & Jari Kaivo-oja & Samuli Aho (2011). iKnow Delphi 2.0 National Survey – Country Report Finland. 126 p. iKnow Project – Word Package 5, Finland Futures Research Centre FFRC. <http://ffrc.utu.fi/julkaisut/e-julkaisuja/eTutu_2011_10.pdf> <www.iknowfutures.eu>
This report introduces key results concerning the Finland Country Survey of the iKNOW project. iKNOW is a new Blue Sky research and horizon scanning project launched by the European Commis-sion led by Rafael Popper of the University of Manchester. The project includes seven other partners: FFRC/Finland, Z_punkt/Germany, Technology Centre/Czech Republic, RTC North/UK, ICTAF/Israel, Cyber Fox/Czech Republic and Mindcom/Finland.
“Wild Cards (WI) are situations/events with perceived low probability of occurrence but poten-tially high impact if they were to occur. Weak Signals (WE) are unclear observables warning us about the probability of future events (including Wild Cards). They implore us to consider alternative interpretations of an issue’s evolution to gauge its potential impact.” (www.iknowfutures.eu).
The project has involved 12 relevant themes in which wild cards and weak signals were created and tested in Country Surveys: 1) Health, 2) Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology, 3) ICT – Information & communication technologies, 4) Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials & new production technologies, 5) Energy, 6) Environment (including climate change), 7) Transport (including aeronautics), 8 ) Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities, 9) Space, 10) Security, 11) Capacities, and 12) Nuclear research.
In Finland wild cards and weak signals were sought for and analysed in two themes: Food, Agri-culture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology and Energy.
Wild Cards – Theme: Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology: 1) “A Killer Water Filter”, 2) “Silent Seas”, 3) “Agriculture runs out of phosphor due to algae biofuel production”, 4) “Algae pathogen suddenly destroys new energy foundation of humankind”, 5) “Terrorists take algae production plants to their main targets” Theme Energy: 1) “National energy grid disappears” 2) “Gas from Trash”, 3) “Breakthrough in cold fusion leads to renaissance in energy markets”, 4) “Cheap liquid fuel production from algae replaces oil by 2030”, 5) “Thanks to algae Australia becomes biggest energy producer in the world”
Weak Signals – Theme Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology: 1) Emer-gence of new agricultural methods for coping with climate change, 2) Consumption drives market capitalism, not saving, conserving or sparing, 3) Food consumers are steered towards healthier dietary choices, 4) Food markets became investment subject in previous credit crunch, 5) Bees be no more, less food than before. Theme Energy: 1) Many people are willing to pay more to get wind energy, 2) Obama’s goal: One Million e-cars on the US streets by 2015, 3) Use of electric cars enhance national energy, 4) safety Algae production is a good way for carbon caption form atmosphere, 5) There are many new serious attempts to utilize new fossil fuel resources.
It is essential that policymakers react to the important impacts and effects estimated for the wild cards and weak signals, for example through strategic decision-making in line with Ansoff’s approach. A lack of reaction or a wrong reaction might imply that competitors will take the market. When coupled with an active strategy of decision-making, these wild cards and weak signals may offer significant opportunities.
The results indicate which wild cards and weak signals are of greater importance, provide insight on the aspects policy-makers are not adequately prepared for, and give information that could help find the right policy to adopt in a situation where a given wild card or weak signal would become real. The results can still be considered preliminary, and discussion should continue until a final decision.
According to analysis in this report, the main wild cards for which attention should be paid are “National energy grid disappears”, “Gas from Trash”, “Silent Seas” and “Algae pathogen suddenly de-stroys new energy foundation of humankind” because their importance for science, technology and innovation (STI) policy in Finland (and also in EU-level) is moderate, but preparedness of decision-makers to deal with these is low.
The level of importance for STI-policy of almost all analysed weak signals is “high” or “moderate” in Finland (and also in EU-level). The following ones are of high importance in Finland (and EU-level): “Emergence of new agricultural methods for coping with climate change”, “Consumption drives market capitalism, not saving, conserving or sparing”, “Many people are willing to pay more to get wind energy” and “Food consumers are steered towards healthier dietary choices”. The next ones fall into the category “moderate” and it is important for decision-makers to take them into account: “Food markets became investment subject in previous credit crunch”, “Obama’s goal: One Million e-cars on the US streets by 2015”, “Use of electric cars enhance national energy safety”, “Algae production is a good way for carbon caption from atmosphere” and “Bees no more, less food than before”.
It can also be argued that the human cognitive structure, the mind, is not able to analytically handle true wild cards and weak signals, such as the ones presented in this report. In practice this means, among other things, that besides the processed and analyzed wild cards and weak signals, there are still hidden wild cards and weak signals. The focus should be put on a continuous decision-making processes, which would enable proper reactions to those unexpected wild cards and weak signals outside his WI-WE analysis.
When realising expert surveys or Delphi, stakeholder groups are often called to participate. How-ever, they are certainly not independent actors as they respond to particular interests of their sector or their own operational activities. In governance approaches extended peer communities of citizens, associations or so-called juries are often called to take part in order to provide more objectivity. In this iKnow Expert Survey, we can say that ID Group “Other” was independent. In the Finnish case we have more answers from the public than from the private sector.
According to the Finnish National Innovation Strategy (2008) more attention should be paid to demand-driven (or customer-driven) innovations (see Kaivo-oja & Santonen 2010, Kaivo-oja 2011a). In the same way as in Delphi or expert surveys, respondents in this survey were mostly public actors or belonged to the research sector (high education institutions). For this reason, it was not possible to analyze private actors’ expert opinions reliably. According to a demand-driven innovation strategy, more information on market demand and the trends of customer behaviour should be available. This is the reason for possible uncertainties of the present analysis in the description of future possibilities.
The growth of the global economy and its impact on the prices of limited raw materials, such as oil and other minerals, have a great impact on Finland and Northern countries in general. This means, especially for Finland, that technology development in transportation systems (e.g. new cost-savings and other solutions) creates key conditions for the exploitation of Arctic natural resources. For example, these questions could have received better responses if more private representatives, for example in theme Energy, would have been involved in the process. In addition, Finland could play an important role in the development of arctic transport, energy, environmental, agricultural and food technology in the future. In Finland, the Parliamentary Committee for the Future produced a report titled “Russia 2030 based on Contracts” (editors Osmo Kuusi & Hanna Smith & Paula Tiihonen) in 2010. According to the committee “Finland must draft a research and development programme for the development in Finland of Arctic transport, energy and environmental technology”. Such a programme should also include themes on agriculture and food technology with a focus on the Northern Dimension. This would probably constitute a very important step in the vision of an EU Research Programme which would include Finland country targets.
See all Executive Summary in English pages 12-17 http://ffrc.utu.fi/julkaisut/e-julkaisuja/eTutu_2011_10.pdf