2023 IEKTopics|Speculating on Mega Trends and Collaborating with Global Think Tanks to Shape Technology Visions

ITRI has been committed to driving industrial development, creating economic value, and enhancing social well-being through technology R&D efforts. As an innovation leader, a bridge between global and local, and a world-class think tank, the Institute formulated its 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap in 2019, and has been making rolling adaptations to niche opportunities for industries. By tracking global trends, ITRI’s Industry, Science and Technology International Strategy Center helps ensure that the strategies and roadmap remain up-to-date and consistent with policies in the course of innovating a better future with industries.


Identifying 10 Mega Trends to Lead Technology Roadmap

 In 2022, the Center established a methodology for developing the 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap based on 10 mega trends. By regularly monitoring the global issues discussed by international institutions and think tanks, we captured the factors, trends and scenarios that could drive future changes before integrating them into our technology strategy and roadmap planning.

 In 2023, we continued our research efforts in observation and analysis to identify the driving factors and trends for 2035. Through expert meetings, we proposed the 10 mega trends in 2035 and optimized their implications. These trends help ITRI’s R&D teams evaluate the impact of future scenarios on their 2035 R&D plans and examine the need for updating the technology strategy and roadmap.


Including Resilient Society to Complete ITRI 2035 Technology Strategy & Roadmap

 While looking at the driving factors and trends of the environmental changes in 2035, we found that substantial risks such as extreme climate, earthquakes, geopolitical shifts, and pandemics will significantly influence the development of the country, society and industry. Consequently, early warning and rapid response to these risks, as well as accelerated recovery, have become crucial goals. Technology application solutions need to be developed to strengthen the society’s capabilities in early warning, response, backup and recovery, thereby transforming crises into business opportunities. This rationale underscores why we needed to include the domain of Resilient Society, which focuses on the use of technology to adapt to risks and stabilize social growth. Together with the existing domains of Smart Living, Quality Health, and Sustainable Environment, the new addition completes the ITRI 2035 Technology Strategy & Roadmap.


Collaborating with Global Think Tanks for the Perspectives of Cross-domain Trends

 As ITRI celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023, the latest IEKTopics edition was released, revealing the 10 mega trends for 2035. In this publication, experts from world-renowned R&D organizations and think tanks were invited to join ITRI to provide global and local perspectives on the 10 mega trends. The invited included VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, UK’s National Innovation Centre Ageing (NICA), Digital Catapult, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Fraunhofer, German Aerospace Center (DLR), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG), Mitsubishi Electric, the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), the University of California, Berkeley, and the National Research Council Canada (NRC).

 By exploring the perspectives and technology issues on the cross-domain trends at home and abroad, we completed the implications of the 10 mega trends, which provided a cornerstone for shaping technology visions and creating opportunities for Taiwan’s industries. It is our hope that the collaboration with global think tanks can facilitate more industrial development. The trends are briefed as follows by domain.

1.Smart Living

 In Smart Living where smart technology is utilized to create new lifestyles and happiness, digital technology and artificial intelligence will be the key driving forces. They will have a huge impact on society and economy, not only changing the way we consume, work, and acquire information but also driving industrial upgrades and the development of new business models, products and services. Digital Empowerment, the trend of using data to make best decisions, will become the core value.

 In Phygital World, digital technology helps us perform tasks that are beyond our limits. The widespread adoption of digital solutions and virtual workplaces is expected to reshape industrial activities, labor markets, and business models.

 For Mobility Revolution, technologies and models are innovated to establish a new generation transportation system that is safer and more efficient. The Internet of Vehicles will provide safer mobility services, accelerate the development of autonomous driving technology, and overcome labor shortage. Unmanned vehicles will be also developed to address social and environmental challenges.

 Consequently, there is a need to establish a governance mechanism that overseas technological development without impeding its progress to ensure cybersecurity in virtual worlds. While promoting human-machine collaboration, we should also pay attention to the friendliness of interaction, an important issue in digital transformation. Moreover, data analytics will be the key for governments to evaluate policy effectiveness and for companies to control production efficiency of their supply chain.


2.Quality Health

 Quality Health is about making life better with advanced medical care. This domain is closely related to policy, economy and society, and consists of two aspects: Elderly Care and Health for All Ages.

 Elderly Care: In the face of the challenges of a super-aged society, the world aims to achieve Successful Aging. With a particular focus on extending healthy life expectancy, we hope to shorten one’s disability process and thus reduce medical costs. Prevention will be prioritized over treatment. We will strive to prevent and detect aging-related diseases, and to delay aging with various medical methods. In this regard, the development of preventive health products and services will gain more attention.

 We should recognize that successful aging can only be achieved in a healthy longevity society where the elderly have an opportunity to be physically and mentally independent. Therefore, we may consider extending employment for the middle-aged and elderly, which allows them to play a role in workplaces, with work adjusted. It is also important to use digital technology to assist older people living alone, such as developing smarter living spaces that meet their needs.

 Health for All Ages: Health Evolution involves proactively preventing diseases and overcoming physiological decline. Through bio-tech research, we can identify personal disease risks via database analysis to enhance prevention, treatment and care for personalized and precision health.

Successful aging is for the common good. It not only considers the needs of the elderly but also takes account of the value-added effect on society. For instance, there will be numerous business opportunities for companies to develop aging-related products. The assured R&D quality and safety of the products will help improve human health and achieve the goal of Health Evolution.


3.Sustainable Environment

 Sustainable Environment relies on technological innovation to create a sustainable future and encompasses three aspects: Decarbonized Energy, Low-Carbon Lifestyle, and Resource Circulation.

 Decarbonized Energy aims at ensuing a stable energy supply and emphasizes energy sustainability. The development of clean energy such as wind and solar power will be the main focus, while emerging energy sources such as biomass, hydrogen, and ammonia will also grow. There will be a push for electric vehicles, though low-carbon fuels are still needed for long-distance transportation including trucks, aviation and shipping. It is also necessary to innovate carbon-negative technologies and build a complete hydrogen energy ecosystem.

 Low-Carbon Lifestyle can be achieved in daily life by reducing CO2 emissions, adopting renewable energy, and reducing energy waste. The guide to living a low-carbon life will be essential to reach net-zero emissions. With technological innovation, low-carbon products will be developed and people can understand their personal carbon footprint. The world will also work to develop diverse natural carbon sinks with greater carbon reduction potential.

 Resource Circulation calls for material innovation and reuse of water resources and land. As CEA proposed, in order to achieve the net-zero goals, we must change the way we are thinking and doing. For example, we need to increase the circulation of resources such as food, products, because the use and efficiency of renewable energy can only reduce global emissions by 55%. In industrial processes, emissions can be reduced through waste reuse and recycling. Also, the large-scale development of clean energy will promote the recycling of critical metals and minerals and ensure the supply of critical minerals.

 In response to the increasing green trade barriers, businesses must introduce new technology to enhance emission reduction, such as improving production efficiency and predictability. Simultaneously, developing countries should consider reducing carbon and moving towards sustainable development and living. It is also imperative for developed countries to approach this net-zero transition with cultural sensitivity and a respectful acknowledgment of history while reflecting on the necessary lifestyles required in the low-carbon era.


4.Resilient Society

 In Resilient Society where technology is used to respond to risks and stabilize social growth, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft discussed Agile Governance from the perspective of the manufacturing sector, focusing on Industry 4.0. It illustrated how smart factories, high-efficiency supply chains, and secure digital systems can be built through digital monitoring and connecting of value streams. Digital Catapult, on the other, addressed on innovative business models, in which DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) and smart contracts work on project governance and allow everyone in the ecosystem to participate in decision making.

 In terms of industrial strategies, the return of supply chains to the home country or close to its market becomes a major trend. To support the reflow of the supply chain, digital technology will be used to change the production model, ensuring the efficiency and accuracy of decentralized production while meeting the customized needs.

 The development of Resilient Cities and Rural Areas will drive the demand for expanding public infrastructure such as renewable energy applications. Cybersecurity must be strengthened to tackle the rising threats of cyberattacks. Since digital dictatorship may limit civil rights, democratic participation will be encouraged in digital innovation. In addition, information security will become the focus of international cooperation, yet countries will establish independent digital infrastructure to reduce reliance on others’ systems.


Shaping Technology Visions to Innovate a Better Future

 Year 2035 is a time for the mid-term review of the 2050 net-zero goals, and it is also a critical point for delivering innovations and visions. In light of this, ITRI focuses on the application of four major domains: Smart Living, Quality Health, Sustainable Environment, and Resilient Society. Meanwhile, it keeps making advances in fundamental technologies such as semiconductors, sensing, communications, and AI to facilitate the development of these domains and the 10 mega trends.

 The mega trends demonstrate the significance of cross-domain technology development and collaboration. The realization of Digital Empowerment, Phygital World, and Mobile Revolution will make our life smarter; the development of Successful Aging and Health Evolution will create more choices for human health and potential. Trends such as Decarbonized Energy, Low-Carbon Lifestyle, and Resource Circulation will relieve ecological stress from human economic activities. While Agile Governance will improve human adaptability, Resilient Cities and Rural Areas will protect our life quality against disasters or threats.

 ITRI has been dedicated to the development of the cross-domain technologies for the 10 mega trends and the four major domains. In Smart Living, ITRI has developed full-color Micro LED technology and served as a system platform integrator to help leading companies and startups develop solutions in virtual-real fusion technologies and ecosystems. In Quality Health, ITRI’s R&D focus on gene testing technology has incubated startups such as Quark Biosciences and Personal Genomics, with the innovative miRNA multi-biomarker detection solution and opto-electronic single molecule sequencing technology being developed. In Sustainable Environment, ICP DAS, a company founded by the talent from a research organization, has developed remote industrial IoT technologies and products for building a low-carbon living environment. In Resilient Society, drones are introduced to improve transportation infrastructure inspection through the collaboration between Liming Engineering Consultants and ITRI/ICL. They have been working on drone-based bridge inspection, from improving drone communications, endurance and payload capacity, to the application of AI image detection and analysis to strengthen disaster prevention and resilience.

On the path to the next 50 years, ITRI will take a market-oriented approach to help industries move from technology innovation to value innovation, bringing R&D results closer to people, and jointly creating a better future.

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