A methodological analysis of foresight studies on bioeconomy’s future
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Metodología prospectiva
Diamante de Popper
análisis bibliométrico
Objetivos del Desarrollo Sostenible
desarrollo tecnológico
recursos renovables
Biodegradabilidad Foresight methodologies
Popper’s Diamond
bibliometric analysis
Sustainable Development Goals
Technological development
renewable sources

How to Cite

Jaso Sánchez, M. A. (2021). A methodological analysis of foresight studies on bioeconomy’s future. Nova Scientia, 13(26). https://doi.org/10.21640/ns.v13i26.2272


Innovation based on life sciences aims to meet environmental and development goals. Consequently, this paper aims to characterize the methodologies employed to explore bioeconomy’s future. Relying on the technology foresight’s capacity to combine tools to deal with technical and social complexity, we are interested in identifying which ones have predominated in scholarly research and how they supplement each other to explore the sector’s development and to design future scenarios.

Method: We conducted documentary research based on scholarly journals indexed at Scopus. Firstly, we performed a bibliometric analysis based on a dataset of 31 research articles published between 2015 and 2019. Secondly, we carried out a literature review in order to codify scope and methodology variables, so as to compare our results against the best practices as depicted by the Poppers’ Diamond. Found foresight tools were classified according to their reliance on “evidence”, “expertise”, “social interaction” and “creativity” sources. Finally, a network analysis and depiction of the complementarities among approaches and tools was performed in Gephi 0.9.2 software.

Results: Regarding the scope, we found an interest to explore scenarios towards 2030 (33%) and 2050 (5%), as well as a preference for national scale (43%), above international (38%) and subnational (20%) jurisdictions. Themes related energy and biomass’s environmental and economic feasibility, and to a minor extent, on bioeconomy as a whole. Concerning the methodological approaches, we found a strong prevalence on quantitative evidence (71%) and on experts’ opinion (21%) tools, neglecting the use of social interaction (8%) and creativity (0%) tools. 11 out of 33 customary tools were used in the foresight research articles, incorporating between 1 and 2 in each exercise (1.3 in average).

Conclusion: Our findings are distinguished from previous studies on prospective exercises that had documented the low relevance of the study sector in the choice of tools and showed the prevalence of qualitative tools. On the other hand, our results corroborate other studies that have detected the emergence of new fields of application and new combinations of tools. Within the bioeconomy’s case, by comparing the resulting approaches and tools against recommendations gathered from foresight literature, we find that both the number of tools employed as their level of combination become limited to explore transitions towards a new sustainable economic system supported by innovation resulting from life sciences. We contend that the analysis of technological trends needs to be supplemented by the analysis coming out from social interaction and creativity tools, in correspondence with the multiplicity of factors explaining the adoption of new technologies by broad social groups.

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