With changes on the horizon, Brussels looks to Turku for support


As Brussels gears up for a decisive election week, the European Commission looks to the University of Turku for advice on the future. University of Turku is one of the main partners in a €20m framework contract on foresight services recently signed with the European Commission.

In April 2024, the consortium Foresight on Demand II formally engaged in a new foresight framework contract with the European Commission. The contract runs for four years with a maximum value of no less than €20m. The official consortium kick-off is next week, June 12th.

At Finland Futures Research Centre, Director Juha Kaskinen is happy with the situation:

"The collaboration gives the University of Turku a seat as adviser right at the center of European policymaking. It helps us build new partnerships and it is great for the international profile of the university."

He points out that the contract comes into force at a remarkable time. 

"I think the Commission has really learned their lesson about needing to learn to live in uncertain times. The outgoing Commission faced both a global pandemic and the outbreak of war on the European continent, and with the EP election this week it remains an open question what kind of European Union the new Commission will enter into after summer. For sure, there is a feeling of living in a permanent state of change that requires new capabilities, and that is exactly where we in the consortium can come in to help", Kaskinen says.

This is the second foresight framework contract in the history of the Commission. The previous contract was held by a predecessor consortium, also Foresight on Demand, in which Finland Futures Research Centre was an associate partner. Juha Kaskinen notes that FFRC has already been involved in various tasks for the European Commission related to diverse issues such as Smart Cities, post-Covid consumer behaviour, and Green skills and jobs.

More information on the new FOD II consortium is available at the website of consortium coordinator, Austrian Institute of Technology.

Finland Futures Research Centre also trains national Member States

Finland Futures Research Centre is also engaged in a new Horizon Europe project on foresight that seeks to support coordination between EU Member States. Just two weeks ago, Juha Kaskinen and two FFRC colleagues were in Bratislava, Slovakia, to provide foresight training for foresight practitioners and national civil servants. Representatives from 12 different countries as well as the European Commission turned up for the two-day training.

"It really is a testament to the high profile of the University of Turku, and our unique strengths on foresight and futures studies, that we can get government representatives from all corners of Europe - from Scandinavia in the north, to Portugal in the west, and Moldova on the east - to take several days out of their busy calendars and spend them in a room just to listen to us", Kaskinen remarks.

The official host of the training, the Government Office of the Slovak Republic, has put up a small recap of the Eye of Europe events.

Next week, Finland Futures Research Centre also hosts its annual international Futures Conference. This year's edition, the 24th in the series, welcomes representatives from 39 countries in Turku and virtually. 

Created 05.06.2024 | Updated 05.06.2024