What are the Hottest Trends in Science and Technology?

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Dr Agata Gurzawska
- Cluster Lead - Ethics, Human Rights and New Technologies

Date: 14 August 2020

Working alongside our partners in the PREFET project, Trilateral support researchers in early detection of promising ideas accelerating the kick-off of their development thus increasing the probabilities of becoming successful in the creation of long-term impact, both for science and society.

Trilateral has also aimed to facilitate the incorporation and implementation of responsible research and innovation (RRI) into the Future and Emerging Technologies context to better align processes and outcomes, with societal values, needs and expectations. This focus will also help stakeholders to make better-informed decisions related to their future investments and development activities.

TOP 20 Hottest Trends in Science and Technology

Based on intensive research, consultation, validation and prioritisation the final result is a list of top 20 trends with major potential for growth and impact from 2020 towards 2025:

(1) Information and Communications Technology (ICT);

(2) BIO, Health & Life Sciences;

(3) Environment, Energy and Climate Change.

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Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

1 3D Printing Molecules

2 Adaptive Assurance of Autonomous Systems

3 Neuromorphic Computing (new types of hardware) and Biomimetic AI

4 Limits of Quantum Computing: Decoherence and use of Machine Learning

5 Ethically Trustworthy AI & Anonymous Analytics

6 Beyond 5G Hardware

7 New Approaches to Data Interoperability in IOT

BIO, Health & Life Sciences

8 Cognitive Augmentation & Intelligence Amplification

9 Regenerative Medicine

10 Drug Discovery & Manufacture Using AI

11 Bioinformatics & AI in ‘Omics’

12 Cellular Senescence & Life Extension

13 Bio Robotics/Bionics


14 Energy Efficient Water Treatments

15 Algae Against Climate Change

16 High-Temperature Superconductivity & Twist Electronics

17 Self-Healing Batteries

18 Net Zero Concepts (buildings) & Beyond Smart Grids

19 Arctic Climate Change

20 Zero Power Sensors & Ocean Wiring and Sensing”]

How we identified the top 20 trends

PREFET took a unique approach to identification and analysis of early signals for promising future and emerging technologies. The project used four layers of analysis:

  1. Massive data analysis through a semi-automated scanning (Intelligence Augmentation, IA)
  2. Manual scanning through desktop research (Human Intelligence) which provided an essential creative dimension.
  3. Crowd (expert) feedback (Social Intelligence) provided through PREFET’s Open Trend Consultation (OTC) with over 3000 responses which helped us to broaden the expertise available for trend validation, prioritisation and augmentation.
  4. Unconventional expert feedback (Expert Intelligence) during the Trendington Event (Madrid, 13-14 November 2020) with experts in ICT, Health & Life Sciences, Environment, Energy & Climate Change, RRI, ethics of technology, but also architects, artists, CSOs, designers, and futurologists that helped us to provide further insights, a better understanding of embedded opportunities and challenges (technological as well as legal, ethical and societal), and mapping the synergies and multidisciplinarity of trends. Trendington was complemented with in-depth interviews with other non-usual stakeholders (designers, artists and architects).

What’s next?

We have developed tools and methodologies to pre-validate new and emerging trending technologies with high impact potential and helped researchers improve their project building processes for advancing Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) trends, such as better identification of ideas at early stages, good planning and effective decision making in their development.

For example, we have started the IdeAcademy, a platform for researchers to grow their ideas and projects around top 20 FET trends selected by PREFET.

The IdeAcademy provides materials, courses and events for researchers to:

  1. Build R&D projects around Top FET Trends as areas with greater potential for long-term R&D focused on creating strong positive social or environmental impact.
  2. Create “creativity play-grounds” to think together about project ideas. This offers good opportunities especially to young and mid-career researchers looking for areas to focus their activities and efforts in the coming years.
  3. Increase their chances to reach long-term scope and get financial support.
  4. Leverage deep-tech collaboration and community building around new technological paradigms.
  5. Achieve interdisciplinarity, more and more important for the development of deep and disruptive technologies, increasing in complexity from scientific and technological perspectives and in terms of their potential impact in society, politics and environment.
  6. Reflect on the potential impacts technologies can have on Earth and Humanity, considering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as well as “Ethics by design”.

In the upcoming months, we’re organising a series of online creativity workshops supporting researchers to work together in building high promising ideas for R&D projects within top emerging trends in technology with great potential for social impact and R&I development.

If you’d like to participate or organise a workshop with us click here for more information.

PREFET is also organising the IdeAcademy Week from 27th to the 30th of October 2020, an event mixing visibility and networking activities, added value training, and dissemination of Top FET Trends. For further information please visit https://www.prefet.eu/academy/#week

For more information please contact our team.

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