2.3 Challenges and research questions

As outlined in the introduction, the Mission-driven innovation policy marks a change in thinking about innovation policy from generic (‘let a thousand flowers bloom’) to specific policy (goal-oriented, mission-driven), and this is a new challenging task for all actors involved. This new policy requires, among other things, a new or renewed use of methods for vision and imagination. It is precisely these that can play an important role in this visionary policy. At the same time, this change can also be a driver for scientific innovation of these methods and their foundations.

Foresight & Imagination With regard to methods for Foresight & Imagination, the question is what exactly is a representation of or vision for the future. How is it designed? And can we say something about the quality?

Do we not have more and other means at our disposal (for example thanks to the internet and artificial intelligence) to conduct explorations? And will we be able to see where it is going faster?

In many cases visions for the future arise from various forms of foresight studies.

Is there a relationship between the quality of the exploration and the vision for the future? For example, is it a mix of fact-based analyses and appealing images? When does it appeal to the imagination, when does it mobilise a vision? To what extent do artistic aspects play a role? Does that depend on target groups?

And: why are certain visions of the future dominant? Can that be traced back to specific basic characteristics?

There are also opportunities to make a better link between foresight and innovation systems. For example, by developing foresight methodologies that link the organisational short term (exploitation) and long term (exploration). Last but not least, we see the pursuit of paradigm shifts as a fundamental and challenging ambition. Recognising a true paradigm change requires in-depth analysis and conceptual thinking, rather than speculation on the future (so philosophy, more so than Star Trek). The aforementioned H.G Wells also confirms this. He was a powerful and fearless conceptual thinker. His visions of the future are so different because they are anchored in such deep understanding. Paradigm shifts are not an end in themselves, but they do get to the heart of what we try to pursue with vision and imagination: a challenging new view of the world and the future.

Shared Vision Development How do we recognise desirable visions, implying that subjective, ethical, moral and also politically charged aspects are involved? And how do we deal with this? How does a desirable vision (for example a mission) contribute to valuable social change processes? And by whom and how is determined what is valuable? A related question is how vision and imagination become embedded in society. More specifically aimed at the mission-driven innovation policy: how can missions for which there is broad support in society be realised? How can methods based on vision and imagination involve society in the development of missions? Pathways How can visions of the future actually be linked to decision-making? Which organisational and institutional factors play a role in this? How can you focus methodologies for vision and imagination on specific forms or moments of decision-making? Who has the power to create and embed visions? This touches on the question of who makes choices in the mission-driven innovation policy and how these are established. How can visions support strategic choices at national, regional and European level being made faster and more effectively, given their interdependence?

Research challenges across the clusters of methods The ambition is to make a better connection between the research into and the application of KEMs for vision and imagination and the Mission-Driven Innovation Policy. This requires interaction between the initiators of missions and the mission-driven innovation policy (‘what does it add to what I am already doing?’) And the providers of methods (‘what questions are there that could possibly be supported more effectively?’). Below is a proposal to give substance to this.

Context-specific research into and application of KEMs for vision and imagination There are opportunities to conduct more context-specific interpretative research in the context of the mission-driven innovation policy. Addressing visions for the Energy Transition requires a completely different approach than for the development and upscaling of the Quantum Internet. In one area, for example, the solutions are reasonably tangible and imaginable, while in the other area they are virtually elusive. There are big differences between the actor fields and how they get moving. Careful alignment with and anticipation of these contexts is therefore of primary importance.

Context-specific research for (spatial) design issues, for example, can be carried out by co-designing research questions with citizens in combination with analyses of the processes by which visions spread through society. For example, by setting up an analytical framework to answer questions about 'techniques of futuring', the social practices that bring people together and orient them towards certain visions and future-oriented actions.

Cross- and transdisciplinary research into and application of KEMs for vision and imagination There are also opportunities to better link activities in the field of vision and imagination that are already implicitly or explicitly carried out in the context of the mission-driven innovation policy. KEMs for vision and imagination are researched and applied from a wide variety of disciplines. There are opportunities to apply these discipline-specific methods to other disciplines and areas of innovation (cross-disciplinary). For example, (product) design methods such as context mapping and systems mapping that could be used more broadly on the complex societal challenges of mission-driven innovation policy.

There are also opportunities to intensify transdisciplinary research in collaboration from different disciplines. For example, by linking design methods with methods from intervention research (change management). Or interdisciplinary methods in which art, science and technology come together.

In general, the idea is to develop a transdisciplinary language and methodology for vision and imagination that simultaneously bridges macro and micro perspectives and diverse application areas. This can result in a joint (transdisciplinary) body of thought and the bringing together of vision developers from different areas. Which in itself can give an impulse to the development of entirely new innovation practices that further strengthen the mission-driven innovation policy.

New tools for vision and imagination The tool and methodology development of KEMs for vision and imagination also has a 'hard' or - in other words - a practical side on which a lot of innovation is possible and necessary. Until now, the mission-driven innovation policy has been little visible in the broad public domain. Increasing the attention and public support for mission-driven innovation policy requires, for example, conscious and targeted use of new digital technology and social media.

New tools and methods to communicate and involve actors can be of decisive importance in this.

Connections to Other KEM Categories The KEMs for vision and imagination have common ground with the KEM categories described in the other chapters. Achieving optimal synergy between the KEM categories is a challenge in itself, both in the development of KEMs and in their application in practical situations. For example, there is a clear relationship between the approaches described above for shared vision development and KEMs for participation and co-creation in Chapter 3. The framing of a joint innovation assignment can be started with joint vision development and then further developed in co-creation processes. develop. Similarly, vision and imagination can be the first impetus for behavioural change and empowerment processes (Chapter 4). In Experimental Environments (Chapter 5) can be very focused visionary concepts are developed and tested. In addition, it is possible to use KEMs for monitoring and effect measurement (Chapter 9) also validate the actual impact of visions in practice (scientifically), a challenging perspective.

Wherever possible, it is recommended to pursue these kinds of interactions between KEM categories in the development and implementation of KEMs for vision and imagination.

Last updated