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Future News - About the iKnow project

About the iKnow project

Wednesday 4th of May 2011 by Rafael Popper

iKnow is a blue sky research and horizon scanning project launched by the European Commission and led by Rafael Popper at the University of Manchester with the participation of seven other partners (FFRC, Z_punkt, TC AS, RTC, ICTAF, Cyber Fox and Mindcom). iKnow aims to advance knowledge and tools related to events and developments (e.g. wild cards and weak signals) potentially shaping and shaking the future of science, technology and innovation (STI). The project is primarily sponsored by the European Commission Directorate General for Research, as part of its Blue Sky initiatives, which are designed to create more proactive European research policy that will be capable of anticipating emerging issues, wild cards and weak signals (WI-WE). Wild Cards are situations/events with perceived low probability of occurrence but potentially high impact if they were to occur. Weak Signals are unclear observables warning us about the probability of future events (including Wild Cards). They implore us to consider alternative interpretations of an issue’s evolution to gauge its potential impact.

iKnow intends to become a cornerstone for ongoing and future horizon scanning, foresight and forward-looking activities in Europe – advancing knowledge, tools and capacities for the analysis and use of WI-WE approaches.

The outer ring of this image shows the 15 specific programmes
of the EC FP7 with the size representing the allocated funding,
e.g. €9,110 million for ICT research and €610 million
for social sciences and humanities (SSH) research.

In particular, iKnow has developed conceptual and methodological frameworks to identify, classify, cluster and analyse wild cards and weak signals and assess their implications for, and potential impacts on, Europe and the world. To do so, the iKNOW project has developed well-defined scanning strategies, such as the inward-looking top-down (ILTD), which is carried out by the iKNOW Consortium and involves the scanning of over 2,000 EU-funded research projects; and the outward-looking bottom-up (OLBU), which required the creation of the iKNOW Community (including policy-makers, decision-makers, researchers and foresight practitioners) to scan a wide range of knowledge sources (e.g. journal articles, blogs, news, etc.).


As a result, iKnow puts forward a novel ‘foresight & horizon scanning 2.0’ approach which, on the one hand, promotes participatory and bottom-up scanning supported by web 2.0 technologies, and, on the other hand, improves information collection, filtering, communication and exploitation in policymaking.

Our team

iKnow has built an international and multi-disciplinary consortium. For further information about our team click here

iKnow logo

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