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“Binoculars for innovators”, an article by Alexander Shumilin for Director

“Binoculars for innovators”, an article by Alexander Shumilin for Director

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“Binoculars for innovators”, an article by Alexander Shumilin for Director

Belarusian economy is aimed at the promotion of highly smart products, which cannot adequately function without a technological prevision, or Foresight.

ALEXANDER SHUMILIN, Chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology, Doctor of Economics








Foresight is a system of methods for expert evaluation of strategic areas of the socioeconomic and innovative development, revealing technological breakthroughs that can affect the economy and society in the medium and long term.

Literally, the Foresight methodology is a planning with a very high degree of reality. That is, plans are not simply set, but actively implemented. It is widely recognized that foresight research as a method has undoubted advantages over traditional forecasting, fantastic foresight and planning.

In fact, this is the construction of long-term forecasts (from 5 to 50 years) based on reliable short-term scenarios for the coming months.

Today there are more than 20 foresight researches. At the same time, they are constantly improved. Methods and procedures are tested, which provides an increase in the validity of the foresight of the prospects for the scientific, technical and socioeconomic development.
To implement foresight projects, a wide arsenal of qualitative and quantitative methods is used, including expert panels, the Delphi method (expert surveys in two stages), SWOT analysis, brainstorming, scenario plotting, technological road maps, relevance trees, mutual influence analysis and other interactive forms.
Recently, Foresight is actively used in the world.
For example, more than 2 thousand experts representing the most important areas of the development of science, technology and engineering participate in Japanese long-term forecasts of the scientific and technological development for the nearest 30 years held every 5 years. More than 10 thousand people are involved in in one Korean project.
It should be noted that the methodology of Foresight is also used here, although not so widely.
An example is the session of the Russian-Belarusian expert club. So, in 2016, the results of its work enabled us to determine the most important areas for the development of bilateral relations up to 2020. Most of the revealed factors indicated that countries should rely on internal forces and resources and not rely on external assistance, and in case of a negative external influence to perceive this circumstance as a stimulus for development.
The foresight session of the Russian-Belarusian expert club applied the following methodology of construction.

  1. Formation of mixed expert groups of representatives of Russia and Belarus with various competencies (economists, specialists in the field of international relations, political scientists and representatives of the technology and innovation sector).
  2. The work in expert groups in the brainstorming format in order to reveal internal and external factors that are most likely to affect the bilateral economic cooperation until 2020. At the same time, the development of the EEC as an integration system was initially classified as an internal factor of the interaction between our countries. The experts were asked to determine 4 groups of factors: political, economic, social and technological (to hold a PEST analysis), assessing them as chances or risks for the development of the economic interaction between Russia and Belarus.
  3. The presentation and discussion of group work results.
  4. The independent ranking of factors after the completion of the foresight session by each expert in terms of the significance of their influence on the development of economic ties between the two countries.

An example of forecasting the future and its practical implementation is the National Strategy for Sustainable Social and Economic Development of the Republic of Belarus up to 2030. It determines the areas for the functioning of three interconnected and complementary components: an individual as a person and a generator of new ideas - a competitive economy – an environmental quality in the conditions of internal and external threats and challenges of the long-term development. Another important document is the Strategy “Science and Technology: 2018-2040”. It contains all the signs of classical planning.

It should be recognized that the Foresight methodology has its disadvantages. The scenarios and estimates of private companies that prefer not to advertise them are rarely used in this process at the level of state forecasting.

Also, there is often no information on the state and prospects for the development of large-scale business entities of the non-state sector on open access. This circumstance is important, because their owners, unlike those working in the conditions of state planning, can change their business development strategy at any time.

The economic effect of using Foresight is difficult to determine, because the “product” of its research is documents (a reference book or a guide for supporting decisions that are oriented to significant scales and long terms). This methodology enables us to discuss possible scenarios of the future development, but it does not proposes “investing 100 rubles” in order to double this sum in a year.

The totality of the considered methods of Foresight can be described as a kind of binocular for innovators, which already today helps to discern the foreseeable future of science and technology.

Undoubtedly, we use the components of Foresight in developing a system for the integrated forecasting of the scientific and technological progress (IF STP) for 2021-2025 and up to 2040. A group of more than 140 experts (representatives of academic and university science, business leaders, etc.) has already been formed in 14 key sectors of the economy and areas of the scientific and technical development.

The development of IF STP will enable to determine the priority areas of the scientific and technological development, promising innovative technologies, product groups, goods and services and develop recommendations on scenarios of the scientific and technological development of Belarus.

DIRECTOR'S REFERENCE: The history of Foresight began in the 1980s, when the US began to use this form of active forecasting in the field of defense research and security prospects. Later it was used in Japan and European countries.