Skip to content

Impact of technology foresight

Nesta Working Paper 13/16
Issued: November 2013
JEL Classification: O38
Keywords: Generations, evaluation, visions, scenarios, grand challenges, strategic, systemic


This paper is part of the Compendium of Evidence on the Effectiveness of Innovation Policy Intervention. It assesses the evidence on the extent to which foresight activity generates impacts in terms of innovation policy and practice. As a strategic tool the impact of foresight on innovation performance/output is usually indirect by means of its effects on other innovation policy instruments. The paper reviews the findings of evaluations of foresight in the innovation policy domain and assesses the lessons that these carry for the application of foresight and related approaches to innovation policy. The paper reviews the experiences of a number of countries in Europe and worldwide which have undertaken national foresight activities related to innovation policy. The review focuses on those national programmes which have undergone some form of evaluation, ranging from international evaluation, light evaluation and self-review. The review highlights the fact that the extent to which formal evaluation has been undertaken is limited in terms of number and scope and that the evidence base for innovation and related policy impacts resulting from foresight activity is limited. The paper concludes that evaluations provide some endorsement for the use of foresight in identifying priorities, making an overall strategic review, building common visions, making decisions more robust and increasing the likelihood of consensus.


Jennifer Cassingena Harper

The Nesta Working Paper Series is intended to make available early results of research undertaken or supported by Nesta and its partners in order to elicit comments and suggestions for revisions and to encourage discussion and further debate prior to publication (ISSN 2050-9820). The views expressed in this working paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of Nesta.