To give concrete form to the ‘eyes and ears’ function of the Dutch water sector’s joint research programme (BTO), our horizon scanners engage continually in trend watching. The water companies want to build more knowledge about a number of developments that have already been signalled. And they want to actively define their relevance for the water sector by means of knowledge coproduction in workshops.
The objective of the project is, together with water company specialists and experts from outside the water sector, to develop strategic insights about the future impact of trends on Dutch water companies.
Determining trends, facilitating knowledge exchange
In order to determine the consequences of trends for decision-makers and agenda setters, we involve water companies in producing impact studies, so that (1) the relevance of the trends is better determined, and (2) knowledge exchange is facilitated via interviews/workshops with experts and decision-makers inside the water companies.
The emphasis is on knowledge coproduction, in which we use the research to facilitate knowledge exchange between outside experts and water company specialists. Moreover, we want to use the workshops to generate new knowledge and deliver insights, based on scientifically-grounded systems, regarding the determination of future impacts. In the process, we also want to incorporate any relevant outcomes/systems currently being developed in BTO’s Exploratory Research programme. And the reverse also applies: the impact studies provide insights on relevant knowledge issues as input for the programming of future Exploratory Research.
Continuous knowledge exchange
Strategy development is something that the water companies primarily do in-house, that is, not jointly within BTO. But, without choosing the desirable response, we do want to use impact studies to, together with experts outside the water sector and water company specialists, determine the consequences of the highest-impact trends. Through intensive knowledge coproduction from the very outset, one can be more assured of continuous knowledge exchange.