Preparation of the EST_IT@2018 foresight exercise started in early 2008. After a series of extensive consultations with stakeholders and foreign methodology consultants, the project was formally launched with a Steering Group meeting in May 2008.
The EST_IT@2018 foresight exercise conducted in May-December 2008 aimed at gathering technological intelligence on main global trends in the development of ICTs, and establishing a shared vision on the future contribution of ICT to the development of the Estonian economy and society.
The main opportunity and challenge for small catching up economies like Estonia is rather to be early and active user of technologies developed elsewhere, and to be very closely and favourably integrated into various international business alliances so that the ICT applications piloted at home could be also exported relatively rapidly to various international markets.
Given the above, the initial scoping phase of the Estonian ICT foresight mapped:
In mapping global ICT technology trends, foresight exercises and ICT R&D strategies of major players were the main source of information. The knowledge acquired from literature review was complemented with series of semi-structured interviews with key players in ICT in Estonia. Furthermore, the above interviews served also as an input on possible novel uses of ICTs that would allow Estonia to meet series of challenges it faces either because of demographic challenges or other resource constraints in modernisation of education, medical, and social care systems, etc.
Following the introductory mapping efforts, in the end of July 2008, a workshop was held to present and discuss main ICT trends and their prospective role in meeting main socio-economic challenges Estonia is likely to face in coming decade.
The outcomes of the above workshop were incorporated into updated working document which included now validated list of global (European) main ICT trends and 19 key mid-to-long term socio-economic challenges faced by Estonia.
Based on the above, to map Estonia's competitive position vis-à-vis global (European) priorities and assess the importance of the above key socio-economic challenges in August-September 2008 on-line survey was prepared and executed. With this questionnaire in each of the challenge areas Estonia's competences, domestic barriers to change, and prospects for growth of international demand for related ICT solutions were assessed. As with each of the previous steps, the above on-line survey engaged even broader set of experts, thus contributing to increased visibility of the exercise.
As the result of the project both Estonia's current strengths and future need for ICT competences were mapped, also based on the above list of opportunities and socio-economic challenges 6 focus areas for application of novel ICT solutions were identified. These six focus areas are: financial services and ICT security systems (both current strength), education, manufacturing, energy supply and energy efficiency, and health care (prospective future growth markets).
This will serve as input for strengthening Estonia's ICT related higher education and public good research, whereas the analysis of socio-economic trends forms the basis for development of future more focussed road-maps and investment plans.
A high level conference was held in December 2008, to present and discuss final results of the project, and to prepare for possible follow-on road-mapping initiatives in the 6 focus areas. The main formal result of the EST_IT@2018 foresight exercise is a final report which is due to be published by the Estonian Development Fund in early 2009.
For further information, please contact:
Kristjan Rebane, Information Society Expert, Estonian Development Fund: kristjan.rebane[A]arengufond.ee
Marek Tiits, Economy Expert, Estonian Development Fund: marek.tiits[A]arengufond.ee