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Series of technology foresight events come to a close

The third and final event within the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) Technology Foresight Exercise 2021 closed last week. During these events, multiple possible futures have been discussed with a multidisciplinary group of experts. These will now be taken forward to identify new potentially disruptive technologies, weak signals and trends relevant for European defence.

These events have been part of a wider defence technology foresight exercise which was launched by the Agency in January and will run until the end of this year. The three events have been attended by experts from EDA Member States (and the countries associated with the Agency), as well as by several international organizations, in different technological and non-technological domains, civil and military, from different generations and backgrounds, from governmental and international organisations, research centres, academia, and industry. 

In closing the final virtual event, Jean-François Ripoche, EDA Director Research, Technology and Innovation, said: “The Technology Foresight Exercise will provide tangible results to support the EDA R&T Planning process, as the main outcomes will be in a form of foresight report and online products, containing the weak signals and the most interesting technologies towards 2040+ identified. The report will be complemented by the futures narratives, weak signals report, and back-casting conclusions”. 

The outcomes from the exercise will contribute to:  

  • provide a high-level, long-term vision on multiple possible futures with defence relevance, with a special focus of the impact of emerging and emerged disruptive technologies;
  • take advantage of the synergies between technology foresight and the Capability Development Plan (CDP) Strand B, in order to produce an input for any future updates of the EDA Prioritization tools such as the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA), CDP or Key Strategic Activities (KSAs), as well as the creation of the Strategic Compass;
  • contribute broadly to the European Union’s resilience building and strategic autonomy efforts, while also informing future technology foresight workshops, the OSRA process and, in general, all the R&T activities within EDA.

The exercise is innovative as it combines different methodologies and processes, along with best practices and lessons learned from the wider EDA community of foresight practitioners. The exercise looked into technologies, and also on sociology, ethics, economy, medicine, history, international relations, defence capabilities and operational needs, philosophy, biosciences, etc.

Next steps

The report will be complemented by the futures narratives, weak signals report, and back-casting conclusions. These outcomes will be ready in the second semester 2021.