EuropesFuture

EuropesFuture

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Health

With an increasingly ageing population we must now ask ourselves what are the new innovations in medicine and healthcare technologies that will help improve healthcare efficiency, quality, safety, and costs. We want your views on the pressing issues we need to address immediately.

Transport

Transport is a key contributor to outdoor air quality and noise pollution impacts in cities but have suffered from a lack of innovation. Are there novel ways of reducing engine particulate emissions, developing sustainable shipping and aircraft solutions? What are your thoughts on how we can achieve cleaner engines in the immediate future?

Design-driven material innovation

Smart materials possess the ability to change shape, colour or be very strong. The creative materials industry is growing rapidly but there appears to be a shortage in cross collaborations between material scientist and designers. We are looking for ideas on how to encourage these two groups to work together in the areas such as self-healing materials and 3D printing.

Bio-Economy

A growing global population needs a secure food supply and more efficient use of resources. The bio-economy offers answers to a number of societal, environmental and economic challenges by producing renewable biological resources and by converting these into food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy. We are looking for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food and chemical sector innovations that could deliver the greatest impact for Europe.

Energy

Global energy demand is increasing ans the UN has embarked on a programme for Sustainable Energy for All by 2030. In response to this growing challenge, concrete actions on how we generate, distribute and consume our energy, both within Europe and the rest of the world are needed. Where are the greatest intervention opportunities to decarbonise and maximise the efficiency of our energy system?

About the Project

As part of an initiative of the European Commission, Nesta, along with partners University College London, Burson-Marsteller and Ashoka Changemakers are working on the development of European Union inducement prizes that are planned to be launched from 2015.

Horizon 2020 Inducement Prize Design

Horizon 2020 is the EU's biggest ever research and innovation framework programme with a seven year budget worth nearly €80 billion. It aims among other things, to address major societal concerns shared by all Europeans such as climate change, developing sustainable transport and mobility, or coping with the challenge of an ageing population.

The European Commission has identified five of these major societal themes to be supported by an inducement prize:

  • Transport
  • Health
  • Bio-economy
  • Creative materials
  • Energy

What are we doing?

We are going through a design exercise to explore where the grand challenges lie, tapping into European networks and conducting an in depth research exercise with a focus on need and potential for breakthrough innovation. And we’re aiming high!

Working across five thematic areas, Health, Transport, BioEconomy, Creative Materials and Energy, we are exploring the landscape for the societal problems that could achieve a breakthrough in the next 5 years.

Over the project, we’ll be commissioning expert research papers, holding workshops with experts, provocators and thought leaders to refine our understanding of the potential challenges, exploring issues on a granular level to inform the design and structure of the prizes.

How inducement prizes work

Inducement prizes are a new instrument introduced under Horizon 2020. Inducement prizes offer a reward for the completion of a set of challenges that have not yet been achieved. They are a way of spurring interest in a particular issue, helping to attract new dynamic innovators to the area, mobilising additional private investment for research, and stimulating interest among the general public.

Theme: Bioeconomy
European Commission challenge prizes

We are interested in your views as part of our work to help the EU Commission launch challenge prizes under the Horizon 2020 programme. 

A challenge prize sets an ambitious goal, but doesn’t say how that goal should be achieved or specifically who should achieve it.  Instead of recognizing what people have done in the past, the prize is given when the goal has been achieved.

Bioeconomy

The term "Bioeconomy" refers to an economy which uses renewable biological resources from the land and sea, waste to convert into food and feed, bio-based products and services as well as industrial and bioenergy production. The bioeconomy has great potential to move Europe towards a low-emission circular economy and a more sustainable future in agriculture, fisheries and industrial processes, while protecting the environment. 

Here we describe some of the key challenge areas and state of the art developments in the bioeconomy, as well as some of the opportunities created by these developments.  This is meant as a prompt to get you thinking about the most important developments and their future benefits. 

KEY CHALLENGE AREAS

Some areas of significant challenge in relation to the bio-economy are:

Sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and ocean health

There is considerable pressure on our oceans from human activity, in particular from food sourcing and production.  Yet there is potential for a healthier relationship with our oceans. The use of aquaculture (farming of aquatic organisms including fish and aquatic plants) could potentially be made more efficient whilst also protecting ocean health as well as and fauna and flora.  Specific challenges include:

  • the destruction of mangrove swamps and other natural habitats in coastal zones
  • effluents from fish farms causing excessive growth of algae in fresh water systems which leads to loss of biodiversity through lack of oxygen (eutrophication)
  • high energy use in aquaculture systems
  • lack of energy efficiency in fishing fleets
  • over-fishing
  • ‘ghost nets’ and plastic pollution
  • rising ocean acidity
Sustainable food supply

To cope with increasing demand for food, the need to drastically reduce the environmental impact of food production and the need to remain competitive, it is critical to develop more resource-efficient and sustainable food production and processing systems. Biological resources and bio-based processes offer significant potential across the food system, including

  • educing food waste
  • increasing supply chain efficiency
  • developing meat alternatives
  • increasing volume whilst reducing environmental impact

Overall there is potential to take a ‘circular economy’ approach whereby food system outputs either re-enter the environment without negative impacts or are used as inputs to the system in order to increase value, reduce waste and reduce environmental impacts.

Bio-based materials, products and processes

Bio-based materials present huge opportunities for innovation, with applications across industry, construction and other sectors.  In particular there is significant impact to be made through the use of bio-based alternatives to plastic, for use across a range of industries including, for example, for packaging and construction.  There have already been many developments in this area, but there is still much more that can be achieved –from reducing energy consumption during production to improving performance and reducing cost of materials.

Areas of opportunity

Imagine a future where…..

  • Low-waste urban systems combine the growing of vegetables in greenhouses with fish farms, where  waste water from the fish farm is used to fertilise vegetables in soil-free greenhouses before being recirculated back to the fish farm
  • Sustainable building materials are grown to make use of and help reduce waste
  • Biodegradable plastics become commonly used because their price and performance equals or is better than previous, non-bio-based plastics
  • Sustainably and cheaply produced bacteria-based natural fuels become an alternative to petrol
  • Waste from food production and supply is routinely turned into food packaging using renewable energy sources

These possibilities are within the realms of possibility.  We are looking at whether challenge prizes could bring these – or other bioeconomy based futures - closer to reality.  

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Imagine one possible breakthrough or truly amazing piece of progress related to bioeconomy - what would be better and how much better would it be?

We’d also like to hear about your opinions and experiences related to bioeconomy and would value your opinions on the following questions:

  1. What are the biggest issues that should be tackled through developments in bioeconomy?
  2. What do you think is the most exciting or important area of innovation in bioeconomy?
  3. What is stopping faster or more effective bioeconomy based breakthroughs from happening at the moment?  What do you think could help?
Theme: Design-Driven Material Innovation

Introduction

The design-driven development and use of new materials has the potential to be a critical part of the creation of a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe, as well as one of the key drivers for developing high value products, increasing productivity and improving resource efficiency.  There is particularly great need for material scientists, designers and others societal stakeholders to work together in new ways.  Grand creative visions for what could be done with new materials are numerous; the science behind new materials is extraordinary – bring science and design together, add user insight, innovation and business expertise, and the possibilities for breakthroughs are truly great.

This paper describes some state of the art developments in materials, as well as some opportunities for commercial and societal applications created by these developments that could be greatly increased by upstream collaboration between societal interpreters (designers, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and all societal stakeholders) and material researchers.  This is meant as a prompt to get you thinking about what the most important impact is that you think could be made in or as a result of the design-driven development of advanced materials.

European Commission challenge prizes

We are interested in your views as part of our work to help the EU Commission launch challenge prizes as part of their Horizon 2020 programme.

A challenge prize sets an ambitious goal, but doesn’t say how that goal should be achieved or specifically who should achieve it.  Instead of recognizing what people have done in the past, the prize is given when the goal has been achieved.

State of the art developments

Self-healing materials

Emerging advances in self-healing properties of concrete, plastics, composites and textiles continually present opportunities for a variety of applications that could result in greater efficiencies, performance and waste reduction.

Smart materials

Beyond self-healing materials, further advances in smart materials include development of hydrophobic, catalytic, energy harvesting, biomimetic and sustainable materials.  The range of possibilities being created by this range of materials is vast and includes applications in energy efficiency/production, construction, domestic appliances, security and health.

3D printing

Developments in and applications for 3D printing are being explored across a range of industries from fashion to medicine, from construction to toy making. Potential benefits of applications of 3D printing include increased customisation, decreased distribution costs and energy use, and the development of new materials, new business models and new ways to collaborate.

Areas of opportunity

Imagine a future where human values, design and cultural considerations guide technological innovation…

  • An older person can wear clothes that provide information to themselves and their family to help them live more safely with dementia
  • Children’s toys are no longer produced using oil intensive plastics
  • Fast fashion means popping to your local highstreet design café to 3D print your custom-sized clothes in an easily recyclable fabric
  • We spray a healing antibacterial web onto wounds without the need for plasters or bandages
  • Historic buildings are renovated to become self-repairing eliminating the need for future restorations
  • Schools in different continents exchange learning through real time projections and data exchange on their schools walls and furniture
  • Waste food products are recycled into a replacement for cotton
  • Buildings and clothes change colour to provide information about air quality

These innovations are within the realms of possibility.  We are looking at how a challenge prize, or prizes, could bring these or other futures made possible through design-driven development and use of materials closer to reality. 

What do you think?

Imagine one possible breakthrough or amazing piece of commercial or societal application driven by design, or other non-technological innovations - what would be better and how much better would it be?

We'd also like to hear about your opinions and experiences related to design-driven material development and use and would value your opinions on the following questions:

  1. What are the biggest issues that should be tackled through design-driven material development?
  2. What do you think is the most exciting or important area of innovation in design-driven material development?
  3. What is stopping faster or more effective breakthroughs using design-driven material development from happening at the moment?  What do you think could help?
Theme: Health
European Commission challenge prizes

We are interested in your views to help launch challenge prizes as part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.

A challenge prize sets an ambitious goal, but doesn’t say how that goal should be achieved or specifically who should achieve it. Instead of recognizing what people have done in the past, the prize is given when the goal has been achieved.

Health

As an area of innovation, health is particularly exciting, challenging and complex.  Advances in the health sector span prevention, diagnostic technologies and processes, drug development, treatment methods, disease management and patient empowerment, across a wide range of conditions.

Health is also a critical social and economic challenge for Europe.  There are many important and growing health concerns for European citizens, including chronic diseases such as cancer, infectious diseases, as well as health challenges associated with the ageing population, the quality and the financial sustainability of healthcare delivery systems.  Europe also has the ingenuity and skills to make a valuable contribution towards tackling global health challenges, particularly in developing, post-disaster and post-conflict areas.

The possibilities when it comes to developing challenge prizes in health are vast. Some areas of need and opportunity might be more suited to challenge prizes than others.  For example the costs associated with drug development may make it difficult to develop a prize that could really make a difference in this field.  Here we aim to introduce some more specific areas of potential focus, as well as prompting thoughts about other potential areas of focus.

the opportunity and challenge of early detection and rapid diagnostics

More accurate, more immediate, less invasive and point of care diagnostics are key research topics across many areas of development for health.  Much has been done to develop future diagnostic technologies and processes, but there are many more opportunities to create significant impact through new and radically improved diagnostics.

Below are two specific examples where there is particular scope for improved health, quality of care and resources efficiencies:

Rapid point of care diagnostic tests for respiratory infectious diseases (bacterial pneumonia)

Rapid point of care diagnostic tests for infectious diseases could have a transformational effect on the appropriate use of antibacterials, ultimately enabling the reduction of the unnecessary use of antibiotics.  This would reduce costs and side effects of antibiotics and delay the emergence of antibiotic resistant organisms.  In addition, rapid point of care diagnostic tests would be helpful in treating patients because they would enable doctors to take early decisions in infectious disease management. 

Rapid and non-invasive detection of cancer

There are a range of possible technologies that may enable dramatic improvements in rapid non-invasive detection of cancer.  Several technologies have recently been proposed for this purpose, including breath tests based on electronic-noses and novel optical imaging.  There are also possibilities based on novel combinations of sensors and data that may allow for much improved detection, or even preventative and proactive care. 

GLOBAL CHALLENGES IN DISABILITY AND INCLUSIVITY IN INTERNATIONAL HEALTH

One billion people worldwide – 15% of the world’s population – live with a disability; and one household in every four has a disabled family member.  These numbers are increasing as improved medical care and technology allows people to survive trauma or injury; improved perinatal care increases child survival;  non-infectious diseases become common; and growing numbers live well into old age in both developed and developing countries. However, this global disabled population routinely faces disproportionate rates of poverty, social marginalisation and exclusion.  In less developed counties there are particular challenges to be considered including difficulties with diagnosis in resource poor settings, lack of data, lack of adaptation of technologies for people with disabilities, lack of involvement of people with disabilities in the development of solutions, and the cost of many high-tech assistive devices.  Innovation and new collaborations could play an important role in tackling many of these challenges.

more opportunities in future health

Imagine a future where…..

  • The huge problem of antimicrobial resistance can be stopped;
  • Less unnecessary antibiotics are used because doctors can immediately differentiate between viral and bacterial pneumonia with a rapid and cheap test in their cabinet;
  • Visits to GPs regarding long term conditions have been halved
  • The number of detected patients with chronic diseases or major risk factors, early enough to save their lives, has been doubled
  • The number of disabilities and related conditions linked to other chronic conditions (comorbidities) has been halved
  • The numbers of people living with undiagnosed dementia have been radically reduced
  • The cost and speed of production of prosthetics are vastly diminished, increasing mobility of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide
  • It is possible to have an artificial heart permanently implanted
  • Environmental and personal medical data is captured in non-invasive ways on an hourly basis and provided to the patient via their smart device as well as to their GP so that together they can more effectively manage their condition
  • Treatments can be tailor made to individual patient conditions and hence their effectiveness is dramatically improved

These possibilities are within the realms of possibility.  What could bring these or other important futures closer to reality?

What do you think?

We are looking at whether a challenge prize, or prizes, could help to advance effective rapid and cheap diagnostics, or push advances towards other health futures.

To help us with this we'd like you to imagine one possible breakthrough or truly amazing piece of progress related to health - what would be better and how much better would it be ?

We’d also like to hear about your opinions and experiences related to critical needs and innovation in health and would value your opinions on the following questions:

  1. What are the biggest issues that should be tackled through developments in health?
  2. What do you think is the most exciting or important area of innovation in health?
  3. What is stopping faster or more effective breakthroughs in specific areas of innovation in health - from happening at the moment?  What do you think could help?
Theme: Transport
European Commission challenge prizes

We are interested in your views as part of our work to help the European Commission launch challenge prizes as part of their Horizon 2020 programme.

A challenge prize sets an ambitious goal, but doesn’t say how that goal should be achieved or specifically who should achieve it. Instead of recognizing what people have done in the past, the prize is given when the goal has been achieved.

Transport

Transport plays a crucial role in the lives of citizens across Europe and is a critical element for a sustainable, economically strong Europe, as well as for developing a future Europe that is smart and inclusive.   The importance of addressing the environmental and public health effects of transport is therefore particularly important.  The CO2 impact of transport is fairly well recognized but there is a considerable way to go still to address the impact.  Air quality and impacts from other emissions, while regulated, are still problematic and perhaps less well understood by the public, that in many European cities is subject to traffic stops and other restrictive measures as well as higher than acceptable pollution levels.

Here we introduce some possibilities and challenges for a clean and low CO2 impact transport future.  This is meant as a prompt, to get you thinking about what are the most important advances and impacts in making cleaner engines. At the same time, we want to get your ideas of what could be done in other areas of transport for possible innovation in the near future.

the opportunity and challenge of clean engines

The European automotive industry is innovative across many fronts and there are several mechanisms that exist to support and recognise that innovation.  An area that perhaps warrants more attention is the development of clean engines and an understanding of the effects of toxic pollutants. The development of electric and/or hydrogen vehicles offer great future opportunities.  Meanwhile, whilst the technology and infrastructure needed for these continues to develop, there is significant potential to improve combustion engines that will still be on streets around the world for decades to come, to reduce their environmental and public health impact.

In 2011, 5% of the EU urban population lived in areas where the annual EU limit value and the World Health Organisation Air Quality Guidelines for NO2 were exceeded. Reasons for failure to meet projected air quality standards are complex. It is thought that potential problems include:

  • unforeseen degradation and limitations of installed technology
  • increased penetration of higher rated diesel vehicles that emit greater concentrations of nitrogen compounds than petrol vehicles
  • standard test methodologies achieving emission limits that are considerably better than emissions under real-world driving conditions
  • lack of clear consumer data on clean engines
more opportunities in future transport

Imagine a future where…..

  • Short-haul flights across Europe for business, city breaks and holidays are no longer a major cause of CO2 thanks to commercialisation of electrically powered airplanes
  • Small items you’ve purchased online are delivered securely next day via drone
  • It’s easier to choose to use electric vehicles thanks to them becoming radically more efficient and affordable, with an effective supporting infrastructure
  • Ships can be retrofitted with renewable energy  based technologies to drastically reduce emissions and waste

These options are within the realms of possibility.  What could bring these or other clean and sustainable transport futures closer to reality?

What do you think?

We are looking at how a challenge prize, or prizes, could help to advance the development on clean engines while at the same time checking whether there is a similar potential for other transport means to launch future prizes.

We'd like to hear your thoughts on:

  1. Imagine one possible breakthrough or truly amazing piece of progress related to clean engines, what would be better and how much better would it be?
  2. What are the most problematic road transport engine emissions and how can these be dealt with?
  3. What can be done for new engines, and what to clean existing ones?
  4. What is stopping faster or more effective breakthroughs in clean engines from happening at the moment and what do you think could help?




Themes

Blog

2/25/2014

Launched a year ago by Nesta and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Renewable Energy Challenge Prize has a tried and tested winner!

The winning solution exceeds all the technical requirements for the challenge, covers the energy needs for war returnee families and still costs no more than €5,000 per unit.

2/25/2014

More widespread participation in the creation of renewable energy will push the UK closer to its low-carbon economy goal, says Valerie Mocker

 

2/25/2014

Last week, consultants Oliver & Ohlbaum published astudy for Google looking at the question of how to define and measure the creative industries. Its diagnosis of the problems in the metrics is in many ways correct.