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Scientific support: the European science and technology observatory (ESTO), the IPTS report and networks and knowledge management


Specific Objectives

- Guarantee specific expertise in as wide a scientific area as possible and provide the means of executing pre-specified tasks and ad-hoc work under request (ESTO network);

- Alert/Inform the policy maker/decision maker/expert through a monthly publication (The IPTS Report)

- Develop and maintain adequate in-house knowledge, skills and networking capabilities and develop related informatics devises and web-based tools (Knowledge Management).
Planned Deliverables

ESTO foreseen deliverables in 2002
It is foreseen that besides the contributions to the IPTS Report, ESTO will be involved in preparing analyses and reports on the following (not exhaustive list):

- Impact of Pre-packed Sizes on Innovation in the Pre-packaging Chain;

- Prospective Analysis of Human Genetic Testing;

- Prospects for Human Health;

- Technology Prospects for Fuel Cells;

- Energy Technology Database Review and Update;

- New Technology Impact on Emissions

- Technology Foresight in the Transport Sector;

- Common Local Sustainability Indicators;

- A trans-national analysis of the results and implications of industrially-oriented technology foresight studies in Spain, France, Portugal and Italy;

- Evaluation of the Hungarian Technology Foresight Programme;

- Analysis of techno-economic development potentials to de-couple waste generation from economic growth ¡V the case of municipal waste;

- The ESTO Technology Road Map 2002

- Mapping EU and PAC foresight activities, impact and players at National, Regional and Local level;

- Contribution in Assessing the Hungarian Technology Foresight
ESTO will also organize a number of workshops and seminars on topics concerning the above mentioned and other subjects, as for example the Seminar on "Electricity and Gas De-regulation on Ethics and on Networks of Excellence in Foresight.

The achievement of the full operation of the new contract (2001-2006), and broadening and specialize the co-operation, including with other JRC institutes, will be pursued. Moreover a quality assessment of products, processes and performances will be carried out, and follow up ensured as appropriate. The number of ESTO members from Candidate Countries will be increased (target: 3 new members) and the co-operation with other JRC Institutes will be strengthened.

Based on the track record of the last years, we expect than between 60 and 70 -f the ESTO deliverables will be linked to specific requests from Commission DGs and European Parliament. The remaining 30-40% of deliverables is result of research.

The IPTS Report foreseen deliverable in 2002.
Ten issues will be produced in the course of 2002, including a number of special issues in broad thematic areas (Electronic Payment Systems and policy implications, Forestry S/T Implications, Work of DG Research expert group on technology-employment-competitiveness benchmarking).

Moreover, a review of the publication to assess the overall concept, process and impact including the launching of a readers survey - will be carried out and the relevant improvements actions started, as appropriate.

Knowledge Management foreseen deliverables for 2002:

- 1) Identify staff profile in areas of major interest (IPTS core competence)
and/or lack of specific knowledge (e.g. expertise in S&T issues of PAC countries; technology foresight; social science, life sciences). Identify training needs for both newcomers and present staff on scientific matters according to present and target IPTS knowledge portfolio, and therefore contribute to the Institute plan in the subjects;

- 2) Elaborate, implement, and maintain a multipurpose (e.g. experts/expertise, networks, sources of information) IPTS Knowledge Management-based collaborative intranet and web-site;

- 3) Develop IT/web tools needed in the accomplishment of the deliverables in the above points 1-2.

Summary of deliverables made by:
- 31/12/2001

ESTO deliverables in 2001

Besides the contributions to the IPTS Report, ESTO was involved in preparing analyses and reports on the following (not exhaustive list):

- EU wide monitoring of RTD prospective instruments: Technology Foresight; Technology Assessment; Technology Forecasting.

- A Methodology for Appraising the Sustainability Implications of EC initiatives: The Integration of Economics, Societal and Environmental Aspects

- Skills in High Tech Sectors

- Ubiquitous Computing: Mapping Technology Timelines, Present

- European Capability Strengths and Weaknesses, and Future

- Requirements Science and Governance: describing and typifying the scientific advice structure in the policy making process - a multi-national study

- Co-existence of Generically Modified, Conventional and Organic Crops: Agronomic and Economic Aspects

- Critical review of the potential endocrine disrupting activity of hormones excreted under natural conditions and after the use of anabolic agents in farm animals

- The assessment of future environmental and economic impacts of process-integrated biocatalysts

- The scientific basis of applying the Precautionary Principle in biotechnology - related potential trade conflicts

- Prospective Study on Food Technology and Food Safety

- Enlargement Futures

- Impact of technological and structural change on employment: prospective analysis on 2020 (note: this project benefited from the contribution of the so called "High Level Economist Group" - HLEG -)

- The return of internationally mobile young researchers

- Future bottlenecks in the information society

ESTO has also organized a number of workshops on topics concerning the above mentioned subjects, as for example the workshop on "Technology Assessment, Foresight and Forecasting: The State of the art in the European Union".

Furthermore, the following were achieved:
a) A new ESTO framework contract (2001-2006) was lunched and stated operating;
b) a knowledge and production system concept, tacking into consideration the exploitation of all possible synergies, new possible products was elaborated;
c) the basis for broadening the co-operation, including with other JRC institutes.

"The IPTS Report" deliverables in 2001

Ten issues have been produced in the course of 2001, including four special issues in the following thematic areas: two issues in "Science and Governance in a Knowledge Society", one issue in "Cyber-Security", and one issue in "Foresight and Regional Development".
Given the increasing demand the production run was increased by approximately 10 %.

Knowledge Management deliverables in 2001

1. Developed the methodological approach to identify profiles and training needs of the IPTS scientific staff.

- Launched a feasibility study for setting up a system able to efficiently handle the internal and external knowledge through a Knowledge Management-based collaborative intranet and website

- A study on the feasibility of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for extra-muros scientific work was launched

- Developed the following information and communication monitoring tools: "BATIS" software for the EIPPCB; b) a new web-related knowledge management tool for the EIPPCB, and c) Knowledge web database on informatics and computing.

Output Indicators and Impact

a) See deliverables listed above;
b) No of high-quality publications: the target is to publish 6 ESTO&IPTS Technical Reports and 10 issues of the IPTS Report:

2- Impact
ESTO network activities are -and will be- mainly direct linked to EU RTD Policy development (including Commission strategic priorities 2001-2006 and legislation).
Summary of the project

There are 3 tasks under development for the duration of the 5th Framework Programme, included within the description of this project. These are:

(a) European Science & Technology Observatory Network (ESTO) management
The ESTO network ( presently consists of 45 organizations that supply IPTS with up-to-date information and analysis drawn from all over the world as well as assists, informs and alerts on scientific or technological developments which may have an important socio-economic impact and potential relevance for the EU policies. Its core competence resides in prospective analysis and advice on S&T changes relevant to EU society, economy and policy;

(b) The IPTS Report
The IPTS' monthly journal, The IPTS Report, is produced in English, French, German and Spanish, and in co-operation with ESTO Network - Internet
( The IPTS Report articles address S/T developments and their implications, deemed prospectively relevant to EU policy-makers. Presently, there are about 6,000 printed issues distributed to subscribers to The IPTS Report. In 2001, there have been on average 40,000 visitors every month who consult the electronic version of the publication through the web site;

(c) Knowledge Management
In order to implement its mission, the Institute develops awareness and cross-disciplinary knowledge skills, and build up appropriate contacts for anticipating and following the agenda of the policy decision-makers. The IPTS success is also based on its networking capabilities and the quality of its networks as enabling sources of relevant information.

To be able to develop and maintain adequate in-house knowledge and networking capabilities, the Institute is implementing the following knowledge management activities:
1) identify internal knowledge needs;
2) mapping the IPTS networks/contacts and outdoors scientific excellence/expertise;
3) develop informatics/web tools related to knowledge management.

Each and every one of the scientific support tasks included in this set fulfils a specific objective for which it has been developed. Each task has a specific and well-defined project implementation plan. Since these are support tasks to the IPTS as a whole their deliverables vary according to the specific needs.
Reciprocity of working plans and methods with other JRC institutes are pursued and, whenever possible, synergy will be exploited.


This is a horizontal project spanning all Institute programme lines. Its largest part, the ESTO Network, has the role to organise a techno-economic intelligence system, which is able to provide, through IPTS, EU institutions with timely advice concerning the development of new technologies, the likelihood of breakthroughs, the social challenges that they pose and their potential impact on policy. This includes monitoring development in the other major industrialized trading blocks to determine what lessons can be learned for anticipating and following the agenda of the policy decision-makers. The IPTS work also benefits from the development of appropriate contacts (networking capabilities), awareness and cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills. As a matter of fact, the other parts of this project facilitate, develop and optimise in different ways both the in-hose knowledge and outdoors sources of information and expertise.

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Institute for Prospective Technological Studies
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