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The ForeTech initiative was launched in October 2002 jointly by ARC Fund - as project coordinator, the CRIMM Foundation of Romania (Romanian Centre for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), the Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH) of Greece, the University College London, the Victoria University of Manchester, the Hungarian Ministry of Education, and the Czech Technology Centre AS CR. An international conference on Technology Foresight for EU Enlargement, held on October 3, 2002 in Sofia, marked the kick-off of this project.

'Technology Foresight' is recognized as a valuable instrument in designing science, technology and innovation policies, allowing countries to develop or redirect national policies towards greater specialization, and match the national R&D potential with economic opportunities.

National Foresight programs have already been implemented in several newly associated countries like Hungary and the Czech Republic. ForeTech is a pilot initiative for Bulgaria and Romania where no foresight activities have been implemented so far.

The mission of ForeTech is:

(i) to introduce foresight activities in two EU candidate countries - Bulgaria and Romania, and build upon the experience and know-how gained by projects and initiatives already supported by the European Commission and its STRATA Program;
(ii) to build capacity and competence on foresight through transfer of experience and know how among the consortium partners in the UK, Hungary and the Czech Republic;
(iii) to contribute to the pool of knowledge on foresight in Europe by performing a comparative analysis of the foresight exercises in the four candidate countries participating in the project; and
(iv) to elaborate recommendations to the European Commission and policy-makers at other governance levels for specific measures to support science and technology policies in the candidate countries.

The overall objective is to raise awareness and build capacity on foresight in Bulgaria and Romania through partnering and networking with previous and ongoing foresight activities in Europe: e.g. in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Malta, Cyprus, Estonia, the UK, Germany and Greece. The major milestone at the end of the project is a comparative analysis of the foresight programs in the four candidate countries participating in ForeTech, namely Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic, providing the basis for elaborating recommendations to the European Commission for support measures for science and technology policies in the candidate countries.

Two pilot foresight initiatives are underway in both Bulgaria and Romania in two identical areas - (i) information and communication technologies and (ii) biotechnology, food industry and agriculture. In Bulgaria the focus is placed on e-government and the application of biotechnologies in agriculture and food and drinks industry.

An accompanying goal of the ForeTech project is to help establish a regional network, also called Foresight Bridge for Malta, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Russia, and Ukraine, as a means to promote networking among various foresight practitioners in these countries. The Foresight Bridge is a joint initiative of the ForeTech and eForesee projects - a foresight initiative for Malta, Cyprus and Estonia.

The Foresight Bridge should give a new impetus to harness the potential of foresight as a powerful policy instrument more systematically and more comprehensively, using the heterogeneity of this group (Candidate, Cohesion, Mediterranean Countries, and Competitiveness - advanced Scandinavia) as a basis for new initiatives. To date, 'foresight' has (mostly at national, but also at regional and European levels) been widely used for different purposes - e.g. sectoral development, special regional issues, social orientation, promoting competitiveness, etc. - leading more or less directly to policy changes. The Foresight Bridge countries could build a regional platform allowing for European policies and issues to be taken into account in a systematic and cooperative manner.

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