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Teagasc Technology Foresight 2035

In early 2015, CKA was selected to assist Teagasc (pronounced “cha-gask”), the national provider of research, training and advisory services to the agrifood sector in Ireland, in the design and implementation of a Technology Foresight Initiative.

The goal of this exercise is different from that of Teagasc 2030, carried out in 2007 and 2008. TEAGASC 2030 In this case the aim is to identify the new and emerging areas of science and technology that will have an impact on the sector by 2035 and for which Teagasc will have to prepare by developing new research and innovation related capabilities.

Important background for this initiative includes:

In this assignment, CKA works with a client-side leadership team consisting of the General Director, the Head of Foresight and Strategy and the head of Research, who have mobilized a pool of more than 200 researchers and technologists from Teagasc top management, its scientific staff and external partners, to take part in this initiative.

The overall process involved a series of stakeholder consultation workshops, two launch events - one in Dublin in March 2016 and one in Brussels in June 2016, as well as the following workshop events involving Teagasc research staff and its external partners.

Patrick Crehan provided an overview of the process at the first stakeholder meeting held in Dublin on 17 September 2015.

The First ¨Stakeholder Workshop¨ PPT

The divergent thinking phase consisted of a short series of workshops intended to identify the new and emerging technologies that will act as game changers in the agrifood and circular bioeconomy over the coming years.

  • WS1: The kick-off event where Teagasc and its partners introduce each other outlining their capabilities and putting forward initial ideas for how they see technology driving transformation of the sector in the next 20 years.

  • WS2: A BREAKTHROUGH TECHNOLOGY workshop where the intention is to create lists of technologies that will drive breakthroughs, provoking trend-breaks in the coming years.

  • WS3: A SENSE MAKING workshop where the goal is to understand how a wide range of technologies will combine to create new systems and services that are increasingly knowledge intensive and data driven, yet accessible and affordable to ordinary farmers and other actors of the sector.

The convergent thinking phase, where choices are made and priorities identified, where actions are formulated for immediate follow-up, was marked by the following main events:

  • FW4: A DEEP DIVE workshop to understand what kinds of partnership and what new organizational forms will be required to make this all happen.

  • FW5: A VISION+ workshop to finalize the vision and outline roadmaps for making it a reality.

Validation of the VISION+

The final report entitled “Teagasc Technology Foresight 2035” was launched at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on 8 March 2016.

It identified 5 new domains for development over the next 2 decades that are essential to the Irish agrifood sector realizing its ambitious growth targets while respecting the environment and contributing to the mitigation of climate change.

  • Plant and animal genomics and related technologies
  • Human, animal and soil microbiota
  • Digital technologies
  • New technologies for food processing
  • Transformation of the food value chain value chain

Achieving this will require a high level of leadership and coordination among a wide variety of partners. The action plan includes the establishment of a series of 5 innovation platforms that will act as the focal point for collective efforts in each of these 5 domains.

To illustrate the transformation of value chains CKA proposed the following image of how increasingly dense and dynamic data-flows will emerge, flowing backwards through the chain from the consumer to the producer , driven decisions and supporting accountability along the way, leading to the development of a whole new range of data-driven knowledge-intensive services.

One of the interesting ideas that arose in the course of this work is the idea that new ubiquitous, low cost, connected sensor networks might one day enable the management of production of public goods and services such as lower green-house gas emissions, clean water, biodiversity and valuable landscapes in away hat is quantifiable, auditable and supports the charging of fees for by farmers instead of allocation of grants or subsidies. This detail is provided on page 26 of the report. Extract fees for ecological services

In addition to the launch event in Dublin in March 2035, Teagasc hosted a launch workshop in Brussels on 22 June, with a view to reaching out to the research community in the EU and around the world, so as to start a dialogue on how best to address some of the opportunities that these new, emerging and highly transformative technologies represent, but which will require a European or even a global approach to bring to maturity. BRUSSELS program!

The final version of the report can be downloaded here!


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