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Weak signals

We continue to monitor our scenario planning trends and themes as our landscape evolves.

Wider Trends

Technology Artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation

Microsoft and EY announce a plan to collect royalty payments for authors, software developers, and other creators using blockchain technology.

Geopolitical Globalisation and protectionism / nationalism

China continues to increase its influence in research, improving the quality as well as quantity of its research output. Total number of patented inventions has risen from 85,000 (2006) to 1.67 million (2015) –  an increase of over 1,850% (Source 2017 Top 100 Chinese Innovators report, Clarivate Analytics).

Trump walked out of the Paris climate change agreement, abandoned the Iran nuclear deal, declared a trade war with the EU and Canada on national security grounds and now China too,  and made a personal attack on Canadian PM Trudeau following the G7 summit in Quebec (Source The Guardian). At the Brussels NATO summit he has demanded that EU states increase their contributions to defence as a % of GDP.

Socio-economic Distrust of experts and personalisation of brand

Gaming addiction has been classified by WHO as mental health condition.

Global research themes

Research types Translational, serendipitous, data-driven and interdisciplinary.

The UK government is pledging millions in funding to develop AI using algorithms built from NHS patient data to transform outcomes through early diagnosis of cancer.

Research actors Disruptive and uncertain.

Microsoft and Google have invested $58m in precision medicine startup DNAnexus supporting the company’s expansion into the clinical trials market.

Funding landscape Cost of research, collaboration and open science.

UK Research and Innovation bring together nine research councils.

Pfizer has stripped out some of its in-house R&D and is setting up a new partnering network to foster collaboration with top universities

Research evaluation Economic impact and research stories.

DORA has produced a two-year strategic plan to advance research assessment.

Future of research communication Evolution and authenticity

Research institutes continue to launch open research platforms eg Irish Health Research Board, Association of Medical Research Charities and the European Commission.

Healthcare Sustainability, connectedness and privacy

A team at Stanford has developed an algorithm that can predict patient mortality.