Professor Ron Johnston provided the Occasional Address at a Graduation of Engineers at the University of Wollongong on 18 December 2014. Addressing 200 new graduates, he emphasised the importance of engaging with the future, and the very considerable challenges and responsibilities engineers must carry to be effective in their profession. He concluded with a quotation from Leonardo da Vinci; “Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets”.
Engage Today to Shape Tomorrow was the theme of the 5th International Conference on Future-Oriented Technology Analysis held in Brusels on 27-28 November 2014. Almost 300 foresight thinkers, innovators and policy makers shared knowledge on issues such as Shaping Innovation Systems for the Future, Future Technology Prospects, and Confronting Complexity and Uncertainty. In addition workshops provided the opportunity to learn foresight techniques, or to pursue specific policy issues in depth.
The European Research Council Executive Agency commissioned TNO in the Netherlands to develop an international consortium to provide detailed data on current international research funding investments and processes. ACIIC provided a comprehensive analysis of major research funding organisations in Australia and New Zealand.
UNCSTD selected ‘Strategic Foresight for the Post-2015 Development Agenda’ as one of its two priority themes for 2014-2015. The Post-2015 Development Agenda aims to define the future global development framework that will succeed the UN Millennium Development Goals. The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) was commissioned to establish an international consortium to conduct a global horizon scanning exercise to identify major technological trends and appropriate policy responses in the coming decade.
The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering established an Industry and Innovation Forum in July 2014 to address one of the key ‘challenge areas’ for the Academy. and for Australia. The Chair of the Forum is Kathryn Fagg, with Deputy Chairs Ron Johnston and Tom Spurling, supported by a large number of Academy Fellows. The Forum has identified three major focal issues: reducing regulatory, financial, cultural and institutional barriers to extracting value from technology, focussing publicly funded-research on the future needs of Australia, and assisting Australia’s industries to be more competitive by adopting a dynamic balance between appropriate types of technologies and innovation.