Participatory foresight and reflexive innovation: Setting policy goals and developing strategies in a bottom-up, mission-oriented, sustainable way
The urgency of current social challenges is driving new approaches to framing and funding research, development, and innovation. The ""mission-oriented"" approach framing the EU's New Horizons funding program is the latest institutional response to the pressing needs of large system transformations we are facing. We view the likely targets of mission-oriented programs as dynamic entities requiring both adaptive, inclusive responses, and anticipatory exploration. We demonstrate how participatory foresight methods provide an essential forum and process for the expression of plural, socio-technological imaginaries. As citizens and other stakeholder groups have demonstrated their myriad capacities to contribute to research and innovation agenda-setting processes in future oriented citizen dialogs, we argue that such methods are the essential compliment to the mission-oriented framework coming into play. Participatory foresight engages citizens in critical thinking and creative activities to articulate the evolution of socio-technological issues over an extended time horizon, seeking diverse perspectives on what goals and priorities will come to define ""missions."" Utilizing outputs from two recent projects, we argue that participatory foresight methods can play an essential role in bridging citizen needs with policy requirements, and will increase the reflexivity of innovation systems that invest the needed time and resources into exploring the depth of multi-actor interests and intersections. Finally, we outline possible impact pathways demonstrating how these ""bottom-up"" contributions could be integrated into the development of challenge-led innovation priorities.