Developing effective strategies for emerging technologies

Strategies for specific emerging technologies are being developed in the UK, USA, and Japan. A workshop exploring the ‘Lessons Learned and Emerging Practices’ from UK activities was hosted to inform future strategy development efforts and the implications for policy makers.


In January the IfM's Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (CSTI) held the first in a series of workshops on academic and industrial community-led efforts to develop Emerging Technology Strategies. The event aimed to understand both current practice and the lessons that have been learned during the development of recent UK strategies. It brought together industrialists, academics, and policy makers who are – or have been – involved in a number of UK national emerging technology strategies in fields as diverse as composite materials, synthetic biology, quantum technologies, additive manufacturing, laser-based production processes, and smart infrastructure.


Workshop participants discussed four important topics related to emerging technology strategies:

  • Context, purpose, governance, and management
  • Scope: the organisations active in research and innovation and the relevant industrial value networks that deploy the novel R&D
  • Evidence collected and analysed to support strategy development
  • Strategy implementation and outcomes

Participants also heard about what had and had not worked in strategy development. They heard about the successes and challenges faced in the development of the UK’s Synthetic Biology and Composite Materials Strategies. They were also told about the progress of the UK’s Additive Manufacturing strategy and the aspirations for the development of a Smart Infrastructure strategy. Participants reflected on these lessons in discussion panel session, where panel chairs also reflected on the UK’s Quantum Technology strategy and the Laser-based Production Processes strategy, the latter of which will be launched soon.



“Industrialists, academics, and policy makers invest significant resources in developing these strategies and they provide insights into opportunities and intensions that guide future actions. Given the importance of these strategies, we want to understand how the process is working now and if there ways in which it could be improved.”

Dr Charles Featherston, Workshop Director



The insights gained from the workshop will be used to inform future strategy development exercises and the implications for policy makers in science, technology, and innovation policy. It will also underpin an in-depth research project to investigate how national emerging technology strategies are developed, who is involved, and the kind of impact they have. 


Read the full workshop report


Read the briefing note summary


The event was held at the Royal Academy of Engineering. CSTI would like to thank the support of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.

Date published

7 June 2017

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