EDA has been working on Technology Watch & Foresight since 2015. These activities provide the necessary input for our technology evaluation: the identification and assessment of the impact in the long-term of new technologies. The process is embedded in the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA) tool chain, as the EDA R&T Planning Process.
- Technology Watch
- Technology Foresight
- Identify and monitor emerging and emerged technologies.
- Assess the impact of these technologies on future defence capabilities in the short, medium and long term.
- Provide a wide and systematic view of the technological landscape for the EDA R&T planning process.
EDA’s work in the field of Technology Watch aims at identifying and monitoring technologies of interest for defence systems, to better understand their evolution and impact in the short term. This activity is based in the extensive network of experts around the CapTechs and in a set of Technology Watch & Horizon Scanning IT tools.
The EDA IT tool, called Defence Innovation Monitoring (DIM), aims to support the process, by providing and relating information that will increase technology awareness. In detail, DIM aims to monitor and support a better understanding of the different facets of scientific and technological developments that may impact defence capabilities. DIM maps technologies and innovations in the fields identified in the EDA Reseach and Technology Taxonomy (EDA Technology Taxonomy). It also maps the technologies along the CapTechs areas and their Technology Building Blocks (TBBs).
It is based on Tools for Innovation Monitoring (TIM) – an analytical tool developed by European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. DIM maps the scientific and technical landscape of defence technologies. The system is organised by thematic and topics searches. For each search a list of technologies, that are considered relevant by subject matter experts, is encoded in the tool and visualised according to the different functionalities available.
DIM then puts together different datasets from scientific publications (source: SCOPUS database), patents (source: PATSTAT) and EU funded Projects (source: CORDIS). It is not meant to be a predictive tool but aims at shortening the gap between technological development as it is reported in specialised databases and awareness of said developments by defence policy makers and research community.
EDA and its participating Member States (pMS) need to have a wide and systematic view of the technological landscape when planning future R&T activities. To provide this long-term vision, the EDA Technology Foresight activities identify what will be the future of emerging technologies and their impact on future defence capabilities in 20 or 30 years.
The EDA Technology Foresight activities are based on two different approaches: bottom-up or “Futures on-wards”, and top-down or “Futures back-wards”, ensuring a comprehensive analysis of possible “futures”. In this way, these activities provide inputs to EDA prioritization process, such as the CapTechs Strategic Research Agendas (SRAs), the Technology Building Blocks (TBBs) roadmaps and the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA), Key Strategic Activities (KSA) analyses, Strategic Context Cases (SCC), and the technology themes of the Capability Development Plan (CDP) Strand B.
Futures on-wards workshops – The EDA OSRA Technology Foresight Workshops (TFWSs)
These workshops focus on specific areas of emerging and disruptive technologies (EDTs), with special interest in cross-cutting ones affecting different CapTechs. The objective of the EDA TFWSs is to identify and assess EDTs and their impact on the future defence and security landscape with a time frame of up to 30 years.
To achieve this objective, EDA has established a consistent technology foresight methodology that is applied in each of the workshops and includes the following steps:
- agreeing on the key EDTs that are to be addressed in a TFWS;
- assessing future applications, technological maturity and technology needs in the medium and long-term;
- identifying main obstacles, limitations, challenges and dependencies;
- uncovering the expected technological areas of evolution and their respective impact on defence.
The outcomes of the technology foresight workshops are used as inputs into the EDA process of technology evaluation and as background information for the CapTechs Strategic Research Agendas (SRAs), TBB roadmaps, the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA) toolchain, Key Strategic Activities (KSA) analyses, the Strategic Context Cases and future review of the Capability Development Plan (CDP) priorities. Furthermore, the technology foresight workshops consist of cross-CapTech activities, which aim to explore synergies among the different CapTechs expertise and promote future research collaborations.
Links to the workshops news
Futures back-wards exercise – The EDA Technology Foresight Exercise
Technology foresight is a vital activity to plan and inform future defence policies and programmes of the European Union. Furthermore, in the light of increasingly noticeable impacts of emerging and disruptive technologies (EDTs), a global pandemic and the growing importance of initially civilian technologies for military applications call for a comprehensive and updated foresight exercise.
As such, the EDA conducts a wider exercise of technology foresight in 2021, looking up to 20 years into the future, while being specifically designed to inform updates to the CDP and the creation of the Strategic Compass.
To facilitate outside-the-box thinking, the exercise involves high-level experts from different technological and non-technological domains, as well as from non-governmental bodies, academia, industry and civil society.
Goals / Objectives
In detail, the EDA Technology Foresight Exercise aims 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. Depending on the specific technological areas addressed, looking up to 20–30 years into the future.
- 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, OSRA process and, in general, all the R&T activities within EDA.
The activities are carried out in coordination with the CDP, as its Strand B identifies key future strategic environment factors, future capability requirement areas and technology themes that pMS need to focus on to support the development of defence and security capabilities in 20-30 years-time.
The Exercise starts with a back-casting activity, looking into the past to be able to better foresee the future. The back-casting is performed by experts, who assess the relevance of past technologies and predictions for defence identified in the last decades.
The back-casting is complemented by the EDA Technology Watch activity, thanks to which a set of weak signals is identified. In addition, the “futures tellers”, a core team of multidisciplinary experts participating in the exercise, imagine a set of disruptive futures, providing the framework for the foresight activity.
With this food for thought information, a set of events are organized allowing divergent and convergent thinking, to explore and define future technologies of interest for EU defence.
The first event has a divergent thinking to approach the future visions with a combination of what is known, what is unknown, and what is imagined or envisioned. Divergent phase results in the identification of the “Future Dimensions”, which are pillars of interest describing the futures.
Follow-up events are tailored upon the outcomes of the first event. They are focused on convergent thinking, with the objective to select and describe the most promising weak signals and potentially disruptive technologies.
With all the information gathered a final analysis is done to identify the most promising and potentially disruptive technologies for the future.
The EDA Technology Foresight Exercise 2021 provides tangible results to support EDA R&T Planning process. The main outcomes are the identification of weak signals and possible technology themes. These outcomes will provide strategic and long-term guidance when updating the EDA Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA), the CapTechs Strategic Research Agendas (SRAs) and the technology side of the Capability Development Plan (CDP) Strand B and Key Strategic Activities (KSAs).
The following documents are part of the results of the Exercise: