This study is an independent type of “technology foresight“ and part of the research programme “Delphi Austria“ commissioned by the Austrian Ministry of Science and Transport.
It is strictly Austria- and problem-oriented, relevant to implementation, decentrally organized and concentrates on innovation potential where Austria might have opportunities to achieve leadership in seven sectors:
Production and Processing of Organic Food;
Tailor-made New Materials (Focus on Metals).
Medical Technologies and Supportive Technologies for the Elderly;
Mobility and Transport;
Environmentally Sound Construction and New Forms of Housing;
Cleaner Production and Sustainable Development.
The core component is a broadly distributed Delphi-Survey with altogether 1127 experts from science, business, public administration and user representation who participated in two rounds. The survey instruments were prepared by interdisciplinary expert panels for each sector separately in a bottom-up process. This design corresponds to the concept of a “Decision Delphi“ and helped to reveal views and perceptions of the participants, to structure and coordinate them in a decentralised process, in an area where developments are normally determined by a large number of independent decisions. The experts gave assessments on almost 300 technical and organisational innovations, with a view to their importance and exploitation potential for Austria within the next 15 years, as well as assessments on a multitude of related policy measures.
Analytical conclusions and implications derived from these results for technology policy include the following:
- In certain areas Austrian research institutions or firms have already achieved leadership or have the potential to do so in a middle range perspective, especially through the application of high – if not the highest – technology in otherwise medium technology fields and, on the other hand, in markets in which Austria has lead market character because of a special demand situation (shaped for instance by legal regulation, social system, consumers' preferences etc.). In general, however, Austria has not yet accomplished the leap from a technology adopter to a technology developer.
- Opportunities to achieve leadership exist in the following areas:
# Simulation models in construction processes
# High-tech steel and low weight materials
# Recycling of composite materials and mixed materials
# Low noise equipment for railways
# Cleaner production technologies (especially in metal and paper production)
# Wood as material in constructive applications
# Ecologically sound construction
# Organic food (seeds and breeding, conservation and analysis techniques)
# Technologies supporting life-long learning (tailor-made packages for further training, intelligent information agents, electronic learning media)
# Technologies supporting independent living for the elderly without losing personal contacts
# Substitutes for organs and functions (in conjunction with biocompatible materials, hybrid technologies).
- Information- and communication technologies are part and parcel in almost all cases of successful or promising leadership but as independent technologies they only play a role in certain niches in the Austrian context.
- A specific problem is that the time horizon anticipated and taken into account in innovation activities by firms and applied research is too short.
- Isolated technological efforts are rarely promising: success in achieving leadership requires a wider approach, networking, cooperation between firms and research institutions, a linking of technical and organizational innovations and a critical mass of firms and research institutions.
- Attitudes towards organizational innovations are more ambivalent, indicating a higher level of mistrust in their realizability.
- As far as policy options are concerned, the most important measure is the strengthening of cooperation between research institutions and firms as well as among firms and research institutions themselves. Suggested measures include: actions promoting the development of clusters in future oriented core areas, the creation of new institutions for the coordination of interdisciplinary research focuses, a differentiation in research promotion between more routine and high risk long-term projects, the prescription of targets and continuous evaluation in project promotion and the setting up of pilot projects, especially on organisational innovations. For each of the seven sectors a wealth of more specific policy recommendations can be found in the volume devoted to sector-specific results of this technology foresight (Delphi Report Austria 2).
Delphi reports (only in german language, see "downloads"):
Delphi I – Technologie Delphi I, Konzept und Überblick, Schriftenreihe Delphi Report Austria 1, ITA, Mai 1998
Delphi II – Technologie Delphi II, Ergebnisse und Maßnahmenvorschläge, Schriftenreihe Delphi Report Austria 2, ITA, Mai 1998
Delphi III – Technologie Delphi III, Materialien, Schriftenreihe Delphi Report Austria 3, ITA, Mai 1998