Ten years in ten chapters

Chapter 1

The big B.A.M

"The capacity to imagine many different hopeful futures is essential for good policy support."

S-P-A-T-I-A-L F-O-R-E-S-I-G-H-T. Yes, that’s correct. It’s not only the company name. These two words summarise our working philosophy. ‘Spatial’ because we focus on the territorial dimension and place-based approaches. ‘Foresight’ because policy support needs to be future oriented. ‘Spatial Foresight’ just brings those two concepts together. And it sounds catchy.
 

Spatial Foresight provides territorial policy support and research. We provide analysis and evaluation, process facilitation, strategy development, training and dissemination, territorial foresight processes, and also European and comparative studies. We believe in the European Union ideal and our studies contribute to EU Regional and Cohesion Policy and European territorial development. And at Spatial Foresight we believe in openness. Having a team with different cultural and professional backgrounds, brings exchanges full of fresh and innovative ideas.

The initial driving force? Rumour has it that the Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council played a crucial role. In fact, it all began with a big B.A.M.: Boldness – Ambition – Motivation. Boldness; to start a company, originally a one-man company. Ambition; to contribute to policy making and changes. Motivation; to keep both the zeal and the fun for work elevated.

Our own foresight? Rather unpredictable. Will our work be automated? Will we be working with robots as our new colleagues? Or be part of virtual working teams? No matter what the future, one thing is definite. Spatial Foresight will continue working to strengthen the European idea. We will continue contributing to better policy making. We will carry on generating knowledge. And fostering territorial development at all levels. Because for Spatial Foresight, ‘territory matters’ and so does our work.

2007

Ready, steady... and action! Spatial Foresight lifetime begins!

Chapter 2

The Foresighters

"A motivated team is the key to conquer the world… or go beyond."

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the Spatial Foresight team. Also known as ‘the people making the company’. A handpicked team of a dozen highly motivated, creative and internationally acknowledged experts.
 

Spatial Foresight is definitely polycentric. And multi-cultural. In 2017 the team includes six women and six men, with passports from eight different European countries. We’ve lived in different countries and speak more than ten different languages. Actually, in terms of language proficiency, the team covers the entire EU15 (except for Finland). Not bad. Over the last ten years, our team has become a melting pot of people with varied backgrounds working together. From law, international affairs and economics, from agricultural sciences, geography and also spatial and landscape planning.

Thanks to all our colleagues, in or out of today’s team, who have helped develop our company’s assets.

Spatial Foresight started in 2007 as a one-man company in Heisdorf, Luxembourg. Two years later, it started expanding. Since then, the team has steadily grown. In autumn 2009, the office in Paris, France was ready. Only half a year later, the office in Berlin, Germany was a fact. The latter became a subsidiary, Spatial Foresight Germany, in 2012. In the meantime, 2011 was the year the new headquarter offices opened and ever since we’ve continuously been attracting new staff members. Plus, as of 2015 a new node was established in Valencia, Spain.
 

How far can that go? The key to illustrate how the team will develop over the next decades lies in evidence-based prognosis. By extrapolation, we could expect a team of between 28 and 1,000 in 2037. The result depends on whether you believe in linear or exponential development. But maths calculations can wait for later.

2008

Project with longest foresight horizon, beyond the next millenium, on track

Chapter 3

A project a day keeps tedium away

"Big dreams + hard work + continuous evolution can make the greatest things happen."

High quality – tailor-made – projects delivered on-time. Proven by over 100 European, transnational, national and regional projects that built our profile over these ten years.
 

Gradually, Spatial Foresight has led or been part of numerous projects and framework contracts. But how did we get here?
 

Up till 2010 we worked mainly for clients in Sweden. In 2010, Europe 2020 and ‘territory matters’ added to our projects. A year later, Spatial Foresight supported two Council Presidencies, Poland and Cyprus. And did so again in 2014 for Luxembourg. The FP7 FLAGSHIP prepared the EU for the future and the ESPON framework contract provided more territorial evidence – both these started in 2012. 2013 was definitely marked by ex-ante evaluations. Not one, or two, but eight kept us busy that year. In addition, leading our first DG Regio project became a reality. Who could think of Europe 2020 without multi-level governance after that report!

In 2014 we were active with macro-regional strategies (yes, all of them), EGTCs, performance framework and our first project in China! ESIF Financial Instruments awareness raising shaped 2015. Since 2016 we’ve worked, among others, on gold-plating, territorial futures, transport policy, the bioeconomy and programme evaluations and … and what’s next?

 

It’s 2038 and the whole of Europe talks about the EU2040+ Strategy – honestly it matches well with our foresight study on ‘European futures post 2030’. But the Spatial Foresight team just came back to the EU from a development aid project on Mars. We’ve also been busy recently, preparing to support the United Kingdom Council Presidency, its first Council Presidency after its re-admission to the EU. The ‘territorial dimension of European citizenship strategy’ will definitely be a talk-of-the-Union.

2009

 

The Spatial Foresight team is growing!

Chapter 4

We’ll always have our publications

"Designing Europe’s next cohesion policy sometimes takes more than a tweet."

Clear-comprehensive-illustrative and to the point. These are the key characteristics that summarise over 200 of our publications. If there was a Spatial Foresight time capsule, some of our publications would definitely be in it. Scripta manent, our legacy.
 

Over the years, we’ve regularly made our work available to the wider public… as final project reports, scientific articles, input papers, policy recommendations and research results. You’ve definitely come across them; in official reports, or studies of our clients, in scientific journals, even as a reference in the 6th Cohesion Report, or the DG Regio Panorama Magazine.
 

Yet, our publications are not limited to daily business. They are also driven by pure curiosity, by the need to generate knowledge, learning, and be up-to-date with ongoing discussions. That’s how the Spatial Foresight Brief was born, our own series of papers.

Lately, Spatial Foresight launched a series of illustrations, including infographics and maps. Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? And who knows what kind of publication the Imagine Europe initiative, launched in 2016, will end up being!
 

2040 and the 357th e-report for that week is finally a ‘final’. Indeed, ‘e-‘ stands for both ‘electronic’ and ‘eco’. Yes, of course, it will come together with the report capsule. Who prints or saves in clouds nowadays? The capsule helps to digest all the information automatically without much effort. We only use clouds to save our work for future generations. By the way, we dug up that Spatial Foresight time capsule and found that printed report we had saved. That paper smell! We framed it in the office. It looks so vintage, after all.

First non-EU projects: Norway and
Greenland are calling!

 

2010

Chapter 5

In partners we trust

"The whole is so much bigger than the sum of its parts. The secret lies in trustful cooperation."

Our partners: One network. 37 countries. 97 cities. More than 150 offices. Spatial Foresight works in most European countries and has a worldwide network of project partners and clients. These include public and private bodies, including other consultancies, universities, ministries, research institutions and freelancers, to name a few.
 

Cooperation is integral in the way we work. Good cooperation does not happen overnight. Spatial Foresight’s network has gradually grown and is inextricably linked to our numerous projects.
 

A virtual trip around the world of projects and networking starts from Heisdorf and Luxembourg and connects Stockholm, Ancona, Vienna, Bonn, Gdańsk, Warsaw, Budapest, Bratislava, Paris, Lille, Prague, Vilnius, Lisbon, Split, Bucharest and Sofia, Athens and Nicosia, Nuuk, Mosta and Valetta, Delft and the Hague, Bilbao and Luleå and Turku.

Not to forget Rome, Barcelona, Dönsby and Hakadal, Geneva, Brussels, Riga, Tallin, Glasgow and of course Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Datong in China! And many other places. Definitely some of you reading these lines recognise yourselves. So much contributed to all these projects, but most of all an excellent team and exceptional cooperation partners. We simply thank you for this great joint journey. But what road do we take next?
 

2042 and the 2nd virtual reality meeting of our 750th project is about to start. Experts from 63 territories will soon be available. There is no need to meet physically anymore. Nowadays no one remembers how meetings were before holograms. No more long travel times, and we can easily meet with several experts at the same time, more often. Luckily we still enjoy working together. We will meet with the experts from Mars tomorrow. Well, different universe time zones are still an issue.

2011

New offices for Spatial Foresight are ready

Chapter 6

The project makers

"One central secret to success – listen, that way you can understand and answer different clients’ needs."

It all starts with an idea. No, to get it straight, it all starts with a call, for tenders. This then, combined with our expertise and research, becomes a quality study and project. But everything comes at a price. And what would all these ideas be without clients to contribute to their realisation?
 

Started modestly in 2007 with a few clients in the Nordic countries, we have up to now provided our services to more than 50 clients from all across Europe and even beyond. Our broad clientele follows a multi approach: multi-thematic, multi-governance, multi-centre, multi-lingual.
 

Cross-border and transnational cooperation programmes, various Directorates-General of the European Commission, ESPON, the European Committee of the Regions, Interact, the European Parliament, the European Investment Bank, the Delegation of the European Commission in Beijing, as well as municipalities, regions and national authorities in a wide range of countries.

Clients connecting Greenland to Cyprus, Sweden to Malta and Luxembourg to China! With studies focusing on different territorial development topics.
 

Our secret? High quality, without question. Both for end-products and people. This creates a high level of trust and confidence. And lust for work. And motivation. And passion. And ambition. And… We are so grateful to have worked with all of you! New ventures are yet to come! Right?
 

Well done, this is our third project on Saturn for 2044. The team seems excited. It’s about new innovation strategies, their opportunities and challenges. It includes 53 case studies in 4-months, covering European, Chinese, African and Latin American regions, plus focus groups and two universal conferences. We expressed our doubts about time planning here, but Saturnians seem to be tough negotiators. The customer is always right, they used to say. May the force be with us!

2012

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Spatial Foresight Germany!

Chapter 7

Spatial Foresight on the road again

Travelling is often connected to leisure. To relaxation. To exploration of new cultures and places. Travelling for Spatial Foresight is usually connected to conferences. To workshops, seminars, focus groups and a lot, a lot of presentations.
 

Throughout these ten years, we have presented our project results whenever needed. But it is not only limited to this. Spatial Foresight team members have moderated numerous events, to raise awareness or raise discussions. To share knowledge. And to network, meet colleagues and clients.
 

We have been invited to present our work at the European Parliament REGI Committee, DG Regio, CoR, SCAR and Interact events. At the 7th Strategy Forum of the EUSBSR, we discussed future trends influencing the Baltic Sea Region and its macro-regional strategy. We organised many workshops and focus groups. For gold-plating under ESIF, for EGTCs, for cross-border cooperation and for possible territorial futures.

Moderation is also part of that story, such as ESPON seminars, like the one in Jürmala in 2015, or sessions at the ‘European Week of Regions and Cities’ also known as ‘Open Days’. And of course the 2015-2016 event tour on ESIF financial instrument awareness raising for the EIB. The organisation and in most cases moderation of more than 30 events in more that 20 EU member states in one year was a challenge. A challenge that we mastered.
 

2050 and finally we can use our brand-new 3D presentation tool. Sure, everyone knows how to use it nowadays. You just link the data and it automatically creates 3D live pictures, shows interactive diagrams, enables voting apps and directly links to different sources, opening live in new spaces. Participants seem thrilled. True, we still have to travel when presenting. Oh, yes, we still enjoy that! Especially now, with the new space van, we can travel the world in no time and its absolutely eco-friendly. You think things have changed? Well, we still keep high quality; of the content and the presenters. And that matters.

2013
 

Spatial Foresight and t33 join forces at annual summer meeting!

“It’s not the journey that counts it’s meeting friends, colleagues and clients at the destination to share experience and that makes Europe greater than ever before.”

Chapter 8

Rare – all colleagues in one place

"Collaborating over distance with colleagues is a day-to-day (virtual) reality for us. The physical team meetings are our biannual highlight!”

Team meetings. Often associated with looong agendas and boring administration. Team meetings at Spatial Foresight go well beyond that. They are an integral part of our team communication and our overall organisation. And of course, it’s simply fun to see and meet each other since we are spread across Europe!
 

With more than 50 hours of online meetings and uncountable hours of online project talks, we usually meet face-to-face twice a year. In Heisdorf, or Paris, Berlin or even, as you saw, in Ancona! Well, team meetings are not necessarily a one-team-show. Cooperation partners are often invited for joint meetings to exchange ideas.
 

Meetings are chances to develop professional skills and improve presentation techniques. Getting acquainted with workshop facilitation or familiar with new tools. It’s discussions about current European policies or joint position papers. About project progress and updates.

Favourite topic? Obviously the future. A standard topic of a foresight company is its future development. Or the future of different European policies, or of territorial cooperation, or even the future of Europe itself has been discussed at our oval table. Hard to squeeze all that into two days. But when there’s a will, there’s a way! Among the highlights? The team bonding activities. Be it communication games, joint dinners or pastry courses on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées – oh yes, been there, munched that! Next stop?
 

2051, 07:55 and our Virtual Reality (VR) team meeting is about to start in five minutes. The company’s avatar is set and we all have our VR glasses in place. It’s our second VR meeting, hence some minor connection problems. What’s the background setting this time? Somewhere in Micronesia, in the middle of the ocean. Correct, this meeting’s focus is the future of climate change and how to transfer good EU practices – if any. Environmental issues seem never to be a challenge of the present!

2014

Congratulations, your turnover reached EUR 1,000,000!

Chapter 9

One day in a consultants’ life

"Our common vision and the contribution to the European idea is what keeps us motivated every day at work."

13 unread emails. Two deadlines. One workshop. Tender review and addressing the comments for the final report. Ok, but first, coffee. Day usually starts at 08:00, but it’s never enough.

 

First, emails. Check. One deadline is met. Reminder, the methodology still needs to be drafted for the tender. Coffee. Then, finalisation of the report. Quick feedback exchange with colleagues; one is to contact the national experts again. Check. Another coffee. Almost ready for the workshop on Tuesday. Just need to update a colleague. Must be busy drafting a scientific article this month. Well, check. What’s next? The map is almost ready to upload to the website: What colour best shows the territorial dimension of EGTCs? Probably green. Check. What about the client meeting in Brussels for the new framework contract? Let’s hope our colleagues’ flights are not delayed. Check and a last coffee.

It’s 19:45 and ‘you’ve got mail’. Should be read on Monday; it’s Friday after all and time to go home. It is a high priority one. Ok, just a quick check and then off. Great, the report is now published and we are invited for a presentation. That’s an accomplishment for the end of the week! The presentation needs to be ready by Monday cob. Seems like another long weekend coming up. Fun!

 

Best news in 2025, so far we gathered around 2 373 signatures. Yet we still need progress. That petition we launched to increase the number of day hours is not really going to work. It seems we’ll have to deal with 24 hours a day. Too much (great) work, too little time.

2015


Spatial Foresight on tour with some 50 events in 19 countries!

Chapter 10

What's next?

So, here we are. 2017. Many things have changed since Spatial Foresight was entered in the Luxembourg trade register in summer 2007. But what does the future look like for Spatial Foresight? Where will we be in ten years? In 2057? Here comes our very own outlook in five more or less likely scenarios.

Scenario 1 – Ego trips. Despite our unbroken commitment for the European idea, we could not stop the EU’s downfall. After winding up the EU institutions in 2020, we were forced to explore and occupy new niches. After restructuring the company, Spatial Foresight sends freelancers as external consultants to support local governments. Internal cooperation has been reduced to administration. To maximise economic benefits, the company’s headquarters have been moved to a mailbox in the United Kingdom, Europe’s new tax haven.

 

For more glances of the future, check the next page

2016


And the counter shows 100 projects!

Scenario 2 – Maritime Foresight. After revocation of COP 21 and an extreme increase in fossil fuel consumption as of 2018, sea levels rose and large parts of the world were swallowed by the oceans. In 2048, major European cities like London, Stockholm and Lisbon are at the bottom of the sea. Due to technological progress and human adaptability, these submarine cities have, however, been renewed and still exist. A considerable share of the European population lives here. They even have submarine ministries, for whom we work nowadays on maritime development. Traveling in submarines to reach these cities is so much more eco-friendly than flying was back in 2017.

Scenario Processes Allow To Incite, Analyse & Learn From Others. Reflecting & Exchanging Spontaneous Insights Generates
 Hybrid Thinking.”

What's next?

"Consultancy in a troubled world requires stable values and a firm commitment to personal fulfillment through our work."

Scenario 3 – One small step for man. In 2032, Spatial Foresight was selected to advise the Luxembourg government about territorial development on the moon and various asteroids. This became a pressing issue after Luxembourg implemented its programme for outer-space resource extraction. Well, space settlements need foresight too, right? In order to prepare physically for regular space flights, we have to exercise three hours per day in the company fitness centres.
 

Scenario 4 – Robotic Foresight. As of 2024, Spatial Foresight employed an armada of robots that now conduct analyses, write reports and run workshops. Our maintenance team of former Silicon Valley IT experts who could not return to the US after overseas stays back in 2017, works hard to keep them running and further develop their skills and self-learning capabilities. Meanwhile, we enjoy life and only visit our clients every now and then as they still insist that we present project results to them in person – how old-fashioned they are.

2017

 

Spatial Foresight France, welcome to the world!

Scenario 5 – Social Media Starlets (#smombies). 2050: The #Internet is where we live. #socialmedia is what we do. #daybyday It’s the #future. Our wonderful future. And present. We are doing a #greatjob. Our reports are the best reports in the #World. It’s true. Absolutely fantastic. They don’t even need more than 140 characters. Longer reports are #fakereports. A total disaster. Based on facts. We have #alternativefacts. From this day forward, it is going to be only #SpatialForesightFirst. We will Make Europe Great Again! #MEGA #consumeresponsibly