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OBSERVE Report Summary

Project ID: 665136
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.2.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OBSERVE (Observing Emergence)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

In line with the mission of the FET programme the overarching aim of OBSERVE is to support Europe to grasp leadership early on in new and emerging technology areas that promise to renew the basis for European competitiveness and growth and that will make a difference for society in the decades to come.

Therefore OBSERVE aims to identify new opportunities and directions for interdisciplinary research towards new and visionary technology of any kind.

For this purpose the OBSERVE Team scans diverse sources where novel developments are discussed derives hypotheses of emerging changes to be adressed by reserach and Innovation and submits These suggestions to an interactive futures dialogue with diverse stakeholders and experts.

Through these activities we hope to make a contribution to better aligning reserach and Innovation and in particular the FET funding with long term societal needs.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"As foreseen in the workprogramme for year 1, OBSERVE has implemented a bottom-up Horizon Scanning process using four different and complementary screening methods (WP1) combining manual and semi-automatic approaches.
In this scanning process a set of 171 emerging topics of different types ranging from cutting edge technologies to social practices were identified. These topics were presented in a structured framework within the Horizon Scanning Report (Deliverable D1.2) which is available on the OBSERVE Website.

To facilitate the use of the "emerging topics" by diverse actors in strategic processes were presented in a deck of cards which is available on the website for download along with a manual suggesting possible formats for such strategic processes (Deliverable 4.3)

The OBSERVE scanning methodology including lessons learned were documented in detail in the OBSERVE Methodology Report (D1.3).
In parallel, the portfolio of FET projects was analysed and the results document in Deliverable 1.1 the FET Portfolio Report.

As foreseen, the findings were reviewd by the OBSERVE Advisory Board and the outcomes documented (Deliverable 5.1.). Following the advice of the board the structure of the reporting and process were adapted.

The design of the Sense-Making Phase (WP2) was slightly reconfigured in order to align it with the ongoing FET activities especially the FET Proactive communication.

Within the synthesis phase (Task 2.1) the 171 topics identified in the scanning phase were clustered into 34 "Clusters of emerging Change". These clusters were submited to the FET Proactive consultation. These Clusters were also documented within the OBSERVE User Brief (Deliverable 4.4) as we reckoned that they could be of wider interest to diverse actors such as national funders, industry and civil society organisations.

In a next step an analysis was carried out comparing the OBSERVE findings with the submissions to the FET proactive consultation. This resulted in a set of 36 joint Clusters which will then be fed into a next round of FET consultations rather than launching an independent OBSERVE online survey as originally foreseen.

Two of these "potential Hotspot Topics" will now be tackled in an interactive dialogues with experts and stakeholders in the second year of OBSERVE. A third workshop will review the entire set of findings to identify potential blindspots."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

We expect to contribute to the following impacts outlined in the FET workprogramme:

1. Improved long-term innovation potential in Europe both from the abundance of novel ideas and the range of actors ready to take them forward.

In this impact dimension we expect OBSERVE to make a major contribution. It will be achieved through the establishment of the observatory which will bring to the fore this abundance of novel ideas and mobilise the more than 60 actors directly involved in the rolling process of observation and assessment further several hundred actors involved through the multi-actor online dialogue and many more that will be indirectly involved through the outreach activities. One highly relevant means of achieving this impact will be the close linkage of the observatory with the FET Proactive programme where some of the issues identified through the observatory may be taken up.

2. European thought-leadership on new and emerging technologies with a strong engagement of scientists, citizens, innovators and policy makers.

Thought leadership is closely connected with the ability to embrace novelty and to identify novel groundbreaking ideas. The establishment of the rolling process of the observatory will substantially enhance this ability in Europe. Thereby we expect OBSERVE to make a difference in this impact dimension.

Strong engagement of different actors is something that cannot be enforced but will emerge from a process of participatory agenda setting where these actors are empowered to jointly develop shared ideas across silos and perspectives. OBSERVE provides a platform for such participatory agenda setting both through the workshops and the online dialogue. Moreover the OBSERVE process will provide a starting point for further processes of collective intelligence gathering involving an even broader range of stakeholder and thus continuously increasing the momentum of FET. The extensive documentation of the methodology and lessons learned that is foreseen in OBSERVE will allow FET to establish the Observatory as a rolling process throughout H2020 and beyond.

3. Improved readiness across Europe to engage in silo-breaking research collaboration and to take up new research and innovation practices.

The OBSERVE 360° Radar will highlight a set of issues with outstanding potential for benefits for both society and industry that will need to be addressed by silo-breaking research coalitions and new research and innovation practices. As researchers and governments across Europe are currently striving to establish transformative research programmes with such far reaching benefits we expect that these issues will be readily taken up and inspire new collaborations across Europe.

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