Successful conclusion of the BMBF project »Expanding Horizons«

Author: Larissa Müller

© Fraunhofer Center for Responsible Research and Innovation CeRRI

In the autumn of 2020, the project »Expanding Horizons« funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) came to a successful conclusion. As part of the project, Fraunhofer INT was responsible for identifying customized technologies for rural areas in Germany and for developing a social gaming format to determine technological needs (see playing field).

Playing field for the future game. © Fraunhofer Center for Responsible Research and Innovation CeRRI

In the project, the work package Technology foresight aimed to identify the most suitable technologies to meet the needs of rural areas for the time horizon 2034. To that end, the project integrated a variety of perspectives and expertise through a combination of different methods (quantitative research, qualitative guided interviews, gaming, workshops, quantitative assessments, written surveys using weighted-bit assessment tables). The end result were 15 key technologies that can facilitate the future visions of residents in rural areas. Along with the identified technologies, research needs and structural modifications were also identified and addressed in the form of derived recommendations.

Key technologies which should facilitate the future visions of residents of rural areas.

In addition to identifying key technologies, the project also developed a new foresight method that equally combines technology and society foresight in new ways. This was successfully applied in three model regions. The newly developed gaming method was very important for the involvement of residents in providing perspectives. Overall a combination of design research methods alongside empirical methods and a social gaming format were integrated.

The process model: the double helix © Fraunhofer Center for Responsible Research and Innovation CeRRI

Not only did the project identify technologies and this new methodology, but it also produced several helpful publications, for example, Horizonte, THE BOX, a strategy tool for regional developers; a brochure on the aforementioned new foresight methods and a master brochure documenting all of the project’s results. A session on Green Week in Berlin was also organized, which was well attended.