EU politicians caught asleep at the wheel

EU politicians caught asleep at the wheel
29.04.2020 | Neo Popper

Over a decade ago the European Union invested around 1 million Euro to fund the iKnow project as one of the so-called Blue Sky forward-looking activities. The project aimed at interconnecting Knowledge on issues and developments potentially shaking or shaping the future of science, technology and innovation (STI) in Europe and the world.

In the early 2000s there was a general consensus that the identification and analysis of Wild Cards and Weak Signals (WI-WE) and their effects on European and global science, technology and innovation (STI) policy often remained out of the policy radar and therefore deserved more attention in foresight and forward-looking activities.

Back in May 2010, together with some colleagues and health experts from Germany, we organised a workshop  in which we discussed what we then called a Killer Virus, described as a highly infectious and lethal virus (that) appears and spreads out around the world fast due to the high mobility of the world population. The number of casualties is high and rises constantly, leading to massive social problems. The impacts are vast on all areas of life.

The Killer Virus was only one of some 44 wild cards we decided to feature in the iKnow Policy Alerts (2011) report. Interestingly it was the first wild card discussed and fully analysed with surprising wild features, key actors (i.e. early warners, shapers and stakeholders), potential impacts and, most importantly, potential actions for policy, business and research actors. We also provided some weak signals indicating that prospective mutations of such viruses could lead to large numbers of casualties.

To read more, please click here

Relevant themes: Wicked-Problems & Moonshots
Relevant tags: Sustainability


  • Neo Popper - VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd

    Neo Popper

    Neo (Rafael) Popper (PhD) is Principal Scientist in Business, Innovation and Foresight at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. Dr Popper is also Director of Executive Education in ‘Foresight and Sustainable Futures’ and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIOIR) of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. He was also appointed as Professor of Foresight and Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Governance at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Russia. He has over twenty years of experience working as foresight and innovation policy consultant for several international organizations including the European Commission, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank, United Nations Economic and Social Council, United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Programme (UN-REDD), Andean Community of Nations (CAN), as well as for several government and business organisations in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australia.