Regional Technology Foresight

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Information School

Abstract

Over the last decades manufacturing in UK regions has been exposed to intense global competition, particularly as a consequence of trade liberalisation. At the same time, there is an increasing recognition that regions play a central role in national development, and there are mounting pressures on regions' ability to independently strategise and interconnect globally. These trends are particularly visible in the redistribution of power and funding from national to local government currently occurring through the so-called devolution deals, and through the emergence of Local Enterprise Partnerships that since 2010 have succeeded Regional Development Agencies.

The renaissance of industry and manufacturing and the recognition that industry plays a central role in job creation, growth, and regions' economic recovery is also a priority in the policy agenda, with the 'Northern Powerhouse' strategy dominating the political lexicon, and setting the ambition to deliver business and enterprise growth with economic benefits for local communities.

However, without adequate technology foresight and the identification of emergent technologies that may lead to innovations in practice, industrial manufacturing regions face the challenge of industrial stagnation and the threats of global outsourcing. Therefore, it is critical for regions to overcome the debilitating problem of poor innovation capabilities reinforced by the frequent overspecialisation of the knowledge infrastructure in these areas. It is also necessary to identify the technology enablers that may lead to opportunities for development and growth: the upgrading or revitalisation of businesses; the development of new business activities in areas related to the existing industries; or new industries based in new technologies.

Focusing on Sheffield City Region as an internationally recognised manufacturing hub, and on the Advance Manufacturing and Materials sector, this project will generate new knowledge and procedural solutions to the extremely important issue relating to the enhancement of a region's ability to identify and exploit knowledge of technological innovations, in order to maximise competitiveness and sustainability.

Working closely with firms, local enterprise partnerships, policy makers and innovation experts, the project focuses on the understanding and development of concrete regional practices and processes for identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. This set of practices and processes includes the identification of relevant emergent technologies, the production of visions concerning their applicability (e.g. ability to generate product, processes or business innovations), and the contextualisation and application of the knowledge produced (brokerage activities) to allow exploitation and use in practice by firms.

Planned Impact

Technology foresight is a critical component in the development of industrial strategy. It offers a promising new lens to address the challenge of regional growth. It holds the potential to help regions identify, absorb and exploit a variety of technological innovations that can drive transformation across UK manufacturing. On a practical level, the project outcomes are focused on strengthening regional knowledge assets, internal and external linkages and the dynamics of entrepreneurial environment within regions. The project contributes concrete regional practices and processes of identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. The results of the project will be highly valuable to city governors, chambers of commerce and industry, and firms that are interested and involved both in technology management and regional innovation systems policy and practice.

More specifically, the project will:

* Develop of a process for strategic intelligence through identifying technology innovation sources, building links across sources, and improving accessibility to technology. This will benefit Innovate UK strategy for business innovation and their focus on stimulating emerging technologies, particularly in the fields of advanced materials and advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology, electrical systems, etc.;
* Develop regional knowledge transfer and collective learning mechanisms to facilitate foresight, particularly in collaboration with UK Local Enterprise Partnerships;
* Articulate regional information brokerage structures and activities required to translate technology foresight into the development of new products, services and processes.

Specific impact-related mechanisms include:

* An Advisory Board, whose membership includes a variety of experts in regional development, manufacturing and knowledge transfer, who are at the same time beneficiaries of the research (Innovate UK, Confederation of British Industry, Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, etc.);
* A Policy Learning Lab bringing together communities of like-minded policymakers, practitioners and experts working to improve the Sheffield City Region development;
* A Workshop to increase exploitation of emerging enabling technologies, which provide the basis for innovation in a wide range of industries;
* A Peer to Peer event to provide firms, innovation experts, policy makers, R&D centres with an opportunity to cross-fertilise practice, explore the potential to combine emerging technologies as a means to foster innovation, create new markets, and strengthen collaboration between different companies and stakeholders along the value chain;
* An end of project workshop - bringing together Northern Powerhouse Local Enterprise Partnerships, advanced manufacturing firms, City Councils, Innovate UK, Confederation of British Industry, and policy makers - to promote takeover and adaptation of the action-oriented regional technology foresight framework.
* A project website to publicise work and allow for interaction with external actors on the findings;
Details are outlined in the Pathways to Impact section of the proposal.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Influence on policy and practice at regional and national levels is taking place via the project's focus on technological systems, more concretely on the network of agents in the advanced materials and manufacturing sector and the institutional infrastructure involved in the production and diffusion of industrial technologies. The technology foresight process currently being developed by the project is alleviating rigidities of innovation agents and bridging the fragmentation between them. This is happening with the stimulation of interlocking systemic capacities: (1) the scanning of the socio-technical environment for the identification of technological opportunities; (2) the creation of new social structures and linkages for the circulation of information on those opportunities; (3) the exploration of future opportunities with a view to setting up priorities for investment in science and technology and re-orienting the regional and national innovation system. These stages contribute to a reformulation of the traditional, linear conception of policy processes. We postulate a learning-based cyclical model of policy-making, where new actors (i.e. firms; academics; research and technology organisations; national and international industrial technology experts) are brought into the strategy debate and ultimately shape science and innovation policy. The Regional Technology Foresight process therefore performs three main high-impact functions of informing, offering strategic counselling and facilitating: (1) it provides policy advice by emphasising a long-term perspective on transformative technologies for the advanced materials and manufacturing sector; (2) it builds advocacy coalitions and an interaction space where the stakeholders community (Innovate UK; Sheffield City RegionGrowth Hub; Confederation of British Industry; Northern Powerhouse Partnership and advanced materials and manufacturing firms) co-develop a common vision; (3) and it provides a social forum for strategic reflection, widening change capacities through enabling the transposition of foresight results towards policies and firms' exploitation of novel industrial technologies.
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Department Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Technology foresight is a critical component in the development of industrial strategy. It offers a new lens to address the challenge of regional growth. It holds the potential to help regions identify, absorb and exploit a variety of technological innovations that can drive transformation across UK manufacturing. On a practical level, the project outcomes are focused on strengthening regional knowledge assets, internal and external linkages and the dynamics of entrepreneurial environment within regions. The project contributes concrete regional practices and processes of identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. For the benefit of the AMRC, the project will: - Develop of a process for strategic intelligence through identifying technology innovation sources, building links across sources, and improving accessibility to technology. This will benefit the AMRC's business innovation support toles and their focus on stimulating emerging technologies, particularly in the fields of advanced materials and advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology, electrical systems, etc.; - Develop regional knowledge transfer and collective learning mechanisms to facilitate foresight, particularly in collaboration with the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub; - Articulate regional information brokerage structures and activities required to translate technology foresight into the development of new products, services and processes.
Collaborator Contribution The partnership will enable the development of new knowledge and procedural solutions concerning the Sheffield City Region's ability to identify and exploit knowledge of technological innovations, in order to maximise competitiveness and sustainability. Working closely with firms, local enterprise partnerships, policy makers and innovation experts, the project focuses on the understanding and development of concrete regional practices and processes for identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. This set of practices and processes includes the identification of relevant emergent technologies, the production of visions concerning their applicability (e.g. ability to generate product, processes or business innovations), and the contextualisation and application of the knowledge produced (brokerage activities) to allow exploitation and use in practice by firms. The AMRC's participation spans all of these objectives, particularly though participation in the project's Advisory Board.
Impact Report - 'Looking Back, Moving Forward: An analysis of economic strategy and policy debates in the Sheffield City Region'
Start Year 2018
 
Description Birmingham Business School 
Organisation University of Birmingham
Department Birmingham Business School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Technology foresight is a critical component in the development of industrial strategy. It offers a new lens to address the challenge of regional growth. It holds the potential to help regions identify, absorb and exploit a variety of technological innovations that can drive transformation across UK manufacturing. On a practical level, the project outcomes are focused on strengthening regional knowledge assets, internal and external linkages and the dynamics of entrepreneurial environment within regions. The project contributes concrete regional practices and processes of identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. For the benefit of Birmingham Business School, the project will: - Develop a process for strategic intelligence through identifying technology innovation sources, building links across sources, and improving accessibility to technology; - Develop regional knowledge transfer and collective learning mechanisms to facilitate foresight; - Articulate regional information brokerage structures and activities required to translate technology foresight into the development of new products, services and processes by firms, which might benefit other regions.
Collaborator Contribution The partnership will enable the development of new knowledge and procedural solutions concerning the Sheffield City Region's ability to identify and exploit knowledge of technological innovations, in order to maximise competitiveness and sustainability. Working closely with firms, local enterprise partnerships, policy makers and innovation experts, the project focuses on the understanding and development of concrete regional practices and processes for identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. This set of practices and processes includes the identification of relevant emergent technologies, the production of visions concerning their applicability (e.g. ability to generate product, processes or business innovations), and the contextualisation and application of the knowledge produced (brokerage activities) to allow exploitation and use in practice by firms. Birmingham Business School's participation spans all of these objectives, particularly though participation in the project's Advisory Board.
Impact Report - 'Looking Back, Moving Forward: An analysis of economic strategy and policy debates in the Sheffield City Region'
Start Year 2018
 
Description Confederation of British Industry 
Organisation Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Technology foresight is a critical component in the development of industrial strategy. It offers a new lens to address the challenge of regional growth. It holds the potential to help regions identify, absorb and exploit a variety of technological innovations that can drive transformation across UK manufacturing. On a practical level, the project outcomes are focused on strengthening regional knowledge assets, internal and external linkages and the dynamics of entrepreneurial environment within regions. The project contributes concrete regional practices and processes of identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. For the benefit of the Confederation of British Industry, the project will: - Develop of a process for strategic intelligence through identifying technology innovation sources, building links across sources, and improving accessibility to technology; - Develop regional knowledge transfer and collective learning mechanisms to facilitate foresight; - Articulate regional information brokerage structures and activities required to translate technology foresight into the development of new products, services and processes by firms in the Sheffield City Region.
Collaborator Contribution The partnership will enable the development of new knowledge and procedural solutions concerning the Sheffield City Region's ability to identify and exploit knowledge of technological innovations, in order to maximise competitiveness and sustainability. Working closely with firms, local enterprise partnerships, policy makers and innovation experts, the project focuses on the understanding and development of concrete regional practices and processes for identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. This set of practices and processes includes the identification of relevant emergent technologies, the production of visions concerning their applicability (e.g. ability to generate product, processes or business innovations), and the contextualisation and application of the knowledge produced (brokerage activities) to allow exploitation and use in practice by firms. The Confederation of British Industry's participation spans all of these objectives, particularly though participation in the project's Advisory Board.
Impact Report - 'Looking Back, Moving Forward: An analysis of economic strategy and policy debates in the Sheffield City Region'
Start Year 2018
 
Description Gripple 
Organisation Gripple
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The partnership will enable the development of new knowledge and procedural solutions concerning the Sheffield City Region's ability to identify and exploit knowledge of technological innovations, in order to maximise competitiveness and sustainability. Working closely with firms, local enterprise partnerships, policy makers and innovation experts, the project focuses on the understanding and development of concrete regional practices and processes for identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. This set of practices and processes includes the identification of relevant emergent technologies, the production of visions concerning their applicability (e.g. ability to generate product, processes or business innovations), and the contextualisation and application of the knowledge produced (brokerage activities) to allow exploitation and use in practice by firms. Gripple's participation spans all of these objectives, particularly though participation in the following stages and objectives of the foresight process: 1. Identification of emerging technologies that may have potential to produce positive impact in the Sheffield city region; 2. Exploration of potential applicability of emerging technologies within the region; 3. Matching the emerging technologies to regional users requirements.
Collaborator Contribution Technology foresight is a critical component in the development of industrial strategy. It offers a new lens to address the challenge of regional growth. It holds the potential to help regions identify, absorb and exploit a variety of technological innovations that can drive transformation across UK manufacturing. On a practical level, the project outcomes are focused on strengthening regional knowledge assets, internal and external linkages and the dynamics of entrepreneurial environment within regions. The project contributes concrete regional practices and processes of identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. For the benefit of Gripple, the project will: - Develop of a process for strategic intelligence through identifying technology innovation sources, building links across sources, and improving accessibility to relevant industrial technologies; - Develop regional knowledge transfer and collective learning mechanisms to facilitate foresight and inclusion of firms in the foresight process; - Articulate regional information brokerage structures and activities required to translate technology foresight into the development of new products, services and processes.
Impact Report - 'Looking Back, Moving Forward: An analysis of economic strategy and policy debates in the Sheffield City Region'
Start Year 2018
 
Description Innovate UK 
Organisation Innovate UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Technology foresight is a critical component in the development of industrial strategy. It offers a new lens to address the challenge of regional growth. It holds the potential to help regions identify, absorb and exploit a variety of technological innovations that can drive transformation across UK manufacturing. On a practical level, the project outcomes are focused on strengthening regional knowledge assets, internal and external linkages and the dynamics of entrepreneurial environment within regions. The project contributes concrete regional practices and processes of identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. For the benefit of Innovate UK, the project will: - Develop of a process for strategic intelligence through identifying technology innovation sources, building links across sources, and improving accessibility to technology. This will benefit Innovate UK strategy for business innovation and their focus on stimulating emerging technologies, particularly in the fields of advanced materials and advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology, electrical systems, etc.; - Develop regional knowledge transfer and collective learning mechanisms to facilitate foresight, particularly in collaboration with UK Local Enterprise Partnerships; - Articulate regional information brokerage structures and activities required to translate technology foresight into the development of new products, services and processes.
Collaborator Contribution The partnership will enable the development of new knowledge and procedural solutions concerning the Sheffield City Region's ability to identify and exploit knowledge of technological innovations, in order to maximise competitiveness and sustainability. Working closely with firms, local enterprise partnerships, policy makers and innovation experts, the project focuses on the understanding and development of concrete regional practices and processes for identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. This set of practices and processes includes the identification of relevant emergent technologies, the production of visions concerning their applicability (e.g. ability to generate product, processes or business innovations), and the contextualisation and application of the knowledge produced (brokerage activities) to allow exploitation and use in practice by firms. Innovate UK's participation spans all of these objectives, particularly though participation in the project's Advisory Board.
Impact Report - 'Looking Back, Moving Forward: An analysis of economic strategy and policy debates in the Sheffield City Region'
Start Year 2018
 
Description JRI Orthopaedics 
Organisation JRI Orthapaedics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Technology foresight is a critical component in the development of industrial strategy. It offers a new lens to address the challenge of regional growth. It holds the potential to help regions identify, absorb and exploit a variety of technological innovations that can drive transformation across UK manufacturing. On a practical level, the project outcomes are focused on strengthening regional knowledge assets, internal and external linkages and the dynamics of entrepreneurial environment within regions. The project contributes concrete regional practices and processes of identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. For the benefit of JRI Orthopaedics, the project will: - Develop of a process for strategic intelligence through identifying technology innovation sources, building links across sources, and improving accessibility to relevant industrial technologies; - Develop regional knowledge transfer and collective learning mechanisms to facilitate foresight and inclusion of firms in the foresight process; - Articulate regional information brokerage structures and activities required to translate technology foresight into the development of new products, services and processes.
Collaborator Contribution The partnership will enable the development of new knowledge and procedural solutions concerning the Sheffield City Region's ability to identify and exploit knowledge of technological innovations, in order to maximise competitiveness and sustainability. Working closely with firms, local enterprise partnerships, policy makers and innovation experts, the project focuses on the understanding and development of concrete regional practices and processes for identifying, transferring and integrating technological innovations. This set of practices and processes includes the identification of relevant emergent technologies, the production of visions concerning their applicability (e.g. ability to generate product, processes or business innovations), and the contextualisation and application of the knowledge produced (brokerage activities) to allow exploitation and use in practice by firms. JRI Orthopaedics' participation spans all of these objectives, particularly though participation in the following stages and objectives of the foresight process: 1. Identification of emerging technologies that may have potential to produce positive impact in the Sheffield city region; 2. Exploration of potential applicability of emerging technologies within the region; 3. Matching the emerging technologies to regional users requirements.
Impact Report - 'Looking Back, Moving Forward: An analysis of economic strategy and policy debates in the Sheffield City Region'
Start Year 2018
 
Description 'Policy Learning Lab', at the Factory 2050 - Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, 9th January 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Actors in the Sheffield City Region are increasingly engaged in setting out a future vision for the region. The policies to achieve that vision include investment in infrastructure, skills, innovation and technology, business support measures, the building of stronger collaboration networks, and calls for more devolution. The Regional Technology Foresight project aims to support this process by identifying the most impactful future technologies for the advanced manufacturing and materials sectors in the Sheffield City Region, and by building consensus among key regional stakeholders around exploiting these technologies.

The project will also draw useful lessons for other UK regions. Since the start of the project, we have been analysing the economic strategy and policy documents produced in and for the Sheffield City Region over the last five years. This has been a useful exercise in appraising the key strengths, areas for improvement, and the role of technology in the policy debates in the region. The output of this has been the 'Looking Back, Moving Forward: An analysis of economic strategy and policy debates in the Sheffield City Region' report. We felt it was of crucial importance to share the insights emerging from our analysis with a wide range of actors, and to engage them in the production of a more collaborative type of analysis and reflection on policy making in the region. For this reason, we are organised the Policy Learning Lab, a half-day workshop targeted exactly at key regional stakeholders - members of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and Combined Authority, regional growth hubs, local councils, the two universities and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, business organisations and trade unions, as well as several organisations external to the region, but with close links to it. In total, 32 participants took part.

The Policy Learning Lab addressed a number of key objectives: to think more broadly about how to support businesses in the region and how policies can be tailored more closely in particular to the technological needs and opportunities for local firms. In addition to a number of pre-set topics that were shared with participants in advance, there was time allowed for participants to raise issues and suggestions that they considered important. This all happened in a collaborative environment with other key stakeholders, with time for networking as well. The conclusions of the discussion directly shaped the final version of the 'Looking Back, Moving Forward' report, the Regional Technology Foresight project first output.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/is/regiotechforesight/news/policylearninglab-1.825880