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Future oriented Reconversion: The Use of Foresight as a driver for industrial diversification

Final Report Summary - FUTURE-FOR-MD (Future oriented Reconversion: The Use of Foresight as a driver for industrial diversification)

Moldova can be described as a transformation economy and civil conversion society. For a good decade the country is reforming its economy towards market orientation and is about to rebuild the society on the basis of fundamental liberties, political stability and democratic rules. Recent surveys and studies have revealed that the transformation process came along with fatal economic and social consequences: increase of poverty, sharp rise in social disparities, high unemployment, health problems, etc. Furthermore, Moldova suffers from one of the deepest and most prolonged GDP declines among the transition countries (a cumulative decline of 65 % between 1990 and 2000).

Moldova has turned into one of the poorest countries in Europe, with more than half of the population living in absolute poverty. Reform policies have been aimed at macroeconomic stabilisation, liberalisation and privatisation. However, despite numerous efforts and some more recent signs of recovery, the Moldovan economy has failed to gain a significant improvement. The country was also adversely affected by the abrupt increase in external prices, especially for energy resources, on the imports of which it depends almost completely.

One can also notice that research and innovation systems in Moldova are in their infancy. Links between academia and industry hardly exist. The same applies for regional innovation systems. The heritage of the formerly strongly centralised research policy has not yet been overcome. The lack of systemic structures in Moldova was an issue of a conference organised by the German Ministry of Research (BMBF), the IB (International Bureau of the BMBF) and ZENIT in cooperation with the Supreme Council for Science and Technological Development Moldova in September 2003 in Chisinau.

Against this background the 'Future oriented reconversion: the use of foresight as a driver for industrial diversification' (FUTURE-FOR-MD) project implemented intended to support the structural change and transformation processes in Moldova regarding the aim to contribute to poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth as an overall objective.

A more specific target of the activities were to contribute to the structural change in two different sectors of the economy and comprised the elaboration of a foresight blueprint. The World Bank has identified as key potential sources of growth the agro-industry and information technology sector.

In order to achieve this more general objective the implementation of the following operational objectives had to be performed:
1. Analyses regarding socio-economic problems in the two relevant sectors (SWOT), by means of moderated workshops conducted by the German partner. The SWOT formed the basis for the scenario writing workshops in the region of the Republic of Moldova. In those workshops the SWOT had to be specified and possible activities / recommendations had to be elaborated.
2. Transfer of methodology and know-how between the three consortium partners (Germany, Republic of Moldova and Romania) within the nationwide conferences and more specified by training seminars for Moldovan key actors. The objectives of the training sessions were the introduction and moderation skills and foresight exercises of the members of the core project group. One seminar was held in Germany and one in Romania. The products of the training seminars were a work plan for the implementation of the regional workshops in Moldova and additional knowledge about foresight.
3. Establishing of a foresight blueprint with the project core group under survey of two advisory committees and key actors in relevant regions. The blueprint intends to diffuse the project methodology and a results to a wider audience and give Moldavian stakeholders a tool to perform a foresight process on their own.
4. Identification of future oriented research topics (R&D policy recommendations for Moldova) within the planned regional workshops.
5. Increase of the 'embarkment potential' to ERA (European Research Area) by means of improvement of Moldovan participation in the thematic priorities of the Sixth Framework Programme.

Objective one, two and three have been successfully conducted. Due to the fact that the scenarios remained more general and theoretically, it was difficult to identify future-oriented research potentials. With regard to objective 5 the project has managed to sensitise the participants of the workshops for the ERA and the possibilities of a Moldovan participation. In how far these awareness rising has improved the Moldovan participation in the ERA cannot be proved with tangible numbers.

Impact of the project on the selected sectors

First of all we have to state that the impact of the project on the agro and ICT industry is not tangible. But:

- the project generated detailed information of both sectors and the economic situation in the Republic of Moldova as a whole.
- the project brought together relevant stakeholders of the two sectors and made them discuss the future and name their needs.
- the project published a blueprint (also in Romanian language) that can be understood as a guideline / tool in order to generate further foresight activities in the Republic for Moldova.
- the regional workshops made Moldovan stakeholders familiar with new moderation techniques.
- the participants of the conferences and workshops were sensitised for the ERA and funds.
- The project initiated contacts and first joint activities between the Moldovan and Romanian TTI (Technology Transfer and Innovation) experts.