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Research Collaborations in Technology Foresight

Dr. Quentin Ladetto is in charge of the research program Technology Foresight at armasuisse Science and Technology (S+T). The main task of Technology Foresight is to identify and analyse future technologies. For this purpose, Quentin Ladetto works together with several different research partners at home and abroad.

Elianne Egli, Innovation and Processes, Science and Technology

Various gearwheels which slot into one another.

As is the case with many other research projects of armasuisse S+T, Technology Foresight also relies on cooperations with research partners. According to Quentin Ladetto, his entire research programme is based on the cooperation with research partners. «Around 60% is active research, around 40% coordination, in other words, the exchange of ideas, negotiating contracts, holding presentations and making sure that everyone is pulling in the same direction». This coordination is important in order to work as efficiently as possible.

Introducing experience and expertise into the DDPS 

Most of the research partners come from academia, are private companies or small start-ups. Experiences from external partners can only be introduced into the DDPS through this kind of collaboration project. In Technology Foresight, it is above all about finding partners who enable armasuisse to bring an identified technology into a real-life scenario. One example of this is the project «War gaming», in which, roughly speaking, a technology is tested before it actually exists.

For this purpose, the board game «New Techno War» has been designed together with a group of military experts in the first phase. The game enables future systems to be simulated easily. The aim is to gain insights into human behaviour. It is planned to transfer the game to an online version in the next step. A suitable partner who covers the expertise not available internally in armasuisse must also be found for this purpose. «We asked various institutions whether this topic would have research potential for them, for example, for a master thesis, a PhD or similar». Quentin Ladetto found what he was looking for at IDSIA – Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

«We started with a very small project and dreamed of something much bigger» 

After seven years in armasuisse S+T’s Technology Foresight, Quentin Ladetto finds it easier to find suitable research partners for his projects today than he did at the beginning. Today, he regularly receives requests for research collaborations. «If you show a certain amount of research results after a few years, other people approach you».

Quentin Ladetto worked on the dictionary «Soldier of the Future» together with the French futuristic writer Anne-Caroline Paucot. The cooperation, as well as the result in the form of a book, came about rather by chance, as Anne-Caroline Paucot says: «Quentin Ladetto was looking for someone who writes about future scenarios. In the course of our exchange, we came up with the idea of creating a dictionary of the future which was accessible to everyone. We started with a very small project and dreamed of something much bigger». The result is a dictionary which aims to predict the possible future in the area of the Armed Forces as well potential opportunities and threats, in order to be able to better understand them.

Despite initial scepticism, Anne-Caroline views the cooperation as very successful: «At the beginning, I, as a Frenchwoman with little clue of military topics, found it very exotic to be working with the Swiss Armed Forces. But over time, I discovered the open-mindedness and the relevance of my business partners’ thinking. Today I am happy that chance placed this partner in my path».