Phase 4 – Defining the vision
An integral part of any foresight exercise is not just the assessment of what is possible, but also the creation of a preferred future vision and building collaboration to increase the chances of that vision being realised. The reason for this is that visions provide overall direction and enable actors to work together and mobilise resources towards a common goal. This process requires synthesis and arrangement of insights on trends around a vision, describing the key components of a preferred future state.
Workshops again are good vehicle for stakeholders to challenge existing perceptions and explore new connections between different concepts. In the context of a foresight exercise, they contribute to increasing the diversity of embodied knowledge, which brings to the table new ideas, viewpoints and creative associations.
Concentrating on what regional stakeholders have identified as the most promising technology areas for advanced manufacturing, this stage of the Regional Technology Foresight project entailed moving on to deepening the understanding of potential applicability of these technologies in the Sheffield City Region (i.e. their ability to generate product, processes or business innovations).
Prompted by the firm and expert-led identification of smart manufacturing as a key area of opportunity for the Sheffield City Region, the Regional Technology Foresight project organised a ‘Futures Workshop’ at the University of Sheffield, joining advanced manufacturing and industrial technology firms, innovation experts, policy makers, and research and technology organisations. At the ‘Futures Workshop’, collaborative avenues were envisioned in a focus group discussion, with an emphasis on current and future strengths, drivers, strategic capabilities and networks that could form the basis for smart manufacturing innovation in the Sheffield City Region.
Participants at the Workshop called for a departure from traditional forms of support to manufacturing firms that would typically benefit fewer, large-scale projects and advocate in favour of a broader range of projects where collaboration and resource-pooling would be a central feature.
The different facets of this vision for regional collaboration and resource-pooling are presented in the report ‘Capturing the Smart Manufacturing opportunity for the Sheffield City Region’. For each of these facets, challenges, key learnings and required supporting action are outlined.
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