Weak signals are first indicators of a potential change within a particular system. As the term itself suggests, it is not easy to detect or to interpret them, even though they may have great impact for the future.
In the context of research and development, weak signals could indicate emerging topics or technologies, which may become significant later. In order to spot them, a great amount of data needs to be collected, analysed and interpreted. These demanding aspects inspired OPSCIDIA, a platform co-founded by Sylvain Massip and Charles Letaillieur, to propose a tool that makes the whole process more effective.
Opscidia’s technology is available as a web platform for standard users, or within the scope of data-oriented projects for specific developments. For example, Opscidia was recently a laureate of the Open Innovation call organized by OpenAIRE-Advance, a Horizon 2020 project aiming to provide unlimited, barrier free, open access to research outputs financed by public funding in Europe.
In the open call, OPSCIDIA proposed to design “Ontology Generator” – an elaborated system, which allows to automatically analyse scientific publications. The system employs text mining algorithms based on natural language processing (NLP), which is a method related to computational linguistics and used especially for discovering patterns in large pools of data sets.
Weak signal within the FET corpus
These characteristics were of high interest for the Future and emerging technology team, that commissioned Opscidia for the development of a software tool able to detect emerging trends in the R&D landscape from the analysis of the weak signals of the FET Open and FET Proactive projects.
The project, which started at the beginning of the year, was concluded in October 2020. Opscidia’s in-depth and multilateral experience with technological intelligence allowed to design a user-friendly software tool, which suits the needs of weak signals analysis. The developed tool detects concepts from the FET projects corpus, filters them and identifies the most promising candidates for becoming tomorrow’s technological trends. Sylvain Massip, the CEO of OPSCIDIA, adds:
It was a pleasure to work with the teams from the Commission, their use-case is very interesting and perfectly suits Opscidia’s technology and know-how. It is very pleasant to work on such a high impact project.
The software developed by Opscidia is a breakthrough in the sense that for the first time we are able to look at the real weak signals that may be the winners in the near future.
While the methodology was originally developed to analyse weak signals of the FET Open and FET Proactive projects, many further applications of the project are possible. In particular, the analysis can be extended to the whole corpus of the Horizon 2020 projects or be set up specifically to identify transdisciplinary breakthroughs.
FET-Open and FET Proactive are now part of the Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) Pilot (specifically the Pathfinder), the new home for deep-tech research and innovation in Horizon 2020, the EU funding programme for research and innovation.