The project leaves behind useful recommendations for including citizens in local R&I policies.
The final event of the TRANSFORM project took place on 1 – 2 December. A concluding moment to share the project results at the European level and reflect on the themes and practices developed during the three years of activities. The conference, which was held in a hybrid format at the National Museum of Science and Technology “Leonardo da Vinci” in Milan and on the Zoom platform, featured international speakers, partners from three regional clusters (Lombardy, Brussels-Capital Region and Catalonia) and members of the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) community.
The full video of the day is available here.
Angela Simone, TRANSFORM Project Coordinator, Bassetti Foundation, opened the first day by giving an overview of the project, summarising its main phases and explaining how activities were reorganised following the Covid- 19 pandemic.
The first keynote speech, given by Anna Berti Suman (JRC-EC Ispra), was dedicated to “Sensing for justice”, the project, which earned the researcher the Falling Walls Science Breakthrough of the Year 2022 – Section Civic Evidence of Environmental Harms award. Berti Suman introduced the topic of citizen science, especially in the environmental field, as a tool to collect information, provide scientific evidence in European courts and mediating legal disputes, since, Berti Suman emphasised, citizens not only have the right to access data but also to contribute to its production.
ACTIVITIES AND RESULTS OF THREE REGIONAL CLUSTERS
After the keynote, TRANSFORM moved to showcase the project results. The first session focused on the activities conducted by the Lombardy cluster. Angela Simone, as cluster leader, introduced the context, the actors and the objectives of the activities in Lombardy. Anna Pellizzone, TRANSFORM Project Manager (Bassetti Foundation) and involved in Lombardy actions, explained the two strands of activities carried out: a participatory research agenda setting exercise to define the needs of citizens in Lombardy region in the field of research and innovation (with a focus on the just energy transition), and a Citizens’ Jury in the field of responsible data-driven smart mobility. Silvia Corbetta, Finlombarda S.p.A., and Enza Cristofaro, Lombardy Region, then outlined the impact of the project on regional policies and shared their experiences and reflections on using this type of participatory and deliberative methodologies.
The second session was devoted to citizen science implemented in Catalonia. Introduced by Louise Francis, founder of Mapping for Change and member of the TRANSFORM Advisory Board for the Catalan cluster, who stressed that levels of participation in citizen science can be very diverse and the importance of considering the factors that can influence the project on a social, political and inclusiveness level. Then the members of the Catalan TRANSFORM cluster, led by Rosa Arias, (Science for Change), presented the activities developed during the three years of the project. Diana Reinoso, TRANSFORM Project Manager at Science for Change, spoke in particular about the pilot project on endometriosis carried out in collaboration with the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and its patients, while Josep Perellò (Open Systems UB – Universitat de Barcelona) described the waste pilot in which high school students acted as protagonists in the development of an interactive “game” to collect opinions and suggestions from the local population on the issue of waste collection in Mollet del Valles. Finally, Sergio Martínez, from the Department of Economic Strategy of the Generalitat de Catalunya highlighted the importance of the project as a learning moment with a view to preparing concrete actions, setting common goals and creating a common language between the population and the public administrations.
Moving on to the third cluster, Marzia Mazzonetto, head of the Brussels-Capital cluster (BE Participation), introduced the TRANSFORM journey conducted through multi-stakeholder engagement and design thinking for social innovation. The cluster selected three pilot projects addressing circular economy issues, two linked to universities and one developed with the third sector and businesses. Joaquin Landazuri (UCLouvain) presented the “Algorella” pilot, the project developed by a group of students that aims to produce a healthy food made from waste and based onvitamin B12. The results collected through this pathway suggested indications of citizens’ habits, attitudes and opinions on this type of product, helping innovators in further development. Maité Debry (BE Participation) introduced the Unsold food pilot ì, an experience that allowed associations, citizens, private companies, researchers and local public authorities to address the issue of unsold food management, demonstrating how participatory activities can prove helpful in finding common solutions, even in conflictual contexts. Finally, Jérémy Levin (Innoviris) presented the results that emerged from the activities and how Innoviris intends to use them in its policy and R&I support actions in the Brussels-Capital Region.
The experiences of the three European TRANSFORM regions were further enriched by dialogue with the citizen engagement activities carried out by the Museum of Science in Boston within the project “Building Capacity for Co-Created Public Engagement with Science” (CC-PES). David Sittenfeld presented the project together with Max Cawley, who reported on the experience developed at the Museum of Life & Science in Durham, North Carolina (CC-PES).
The first day concluded with a dialogue between Giulia Bubbolini (Center for Innovation and Economic Development – CISE), one of the experts on the Advisory Board of TRANSFORM, and Roger Strand from the University of Bergen, who leads the project’s monitoring and evaluation activities. Bubbolini and Strand reflected on the importance of the local impact of these experiences, related to the process developed in each region, and not just the metrics that can be difficult to measure in these types of RRI processes.
At the beginning of the second day of the conference, Angela Simone presented project tools that can be used by regional policymakers to integrate citizen engagement practices among their activities. Executive Summaries of the three Roadmaps developed by TRANSFORM are available at this link, as well as the project’s e-book, with contents and links to in-depth information that summarises the journey over the past 36 months.
Marzia Mazzonetto then presented how experiences were shared among the different clusters, in a continuous process of mutual learning on tested methodologies, activities and challenges. The next session allowed for a discussion between some stakeholders who participated in the project (especially in the Belgian and Catalan clusters, whose methodologies required the involvement of stakeholders other than citizens), including Elisa Llurba i Olivé, Director of the Gynaecological Area at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau who was the first to propose the pilot project on endometriosis in Catalonia, María Busquets from the Municipality of Mollet del Vallès, who was involved in the pilot project on waste management, Alain Boribon (Co-founder of Citizenfund and RECYCLO. coop) and Ludovic Libert from HappyHours Market, involved in the pilot project on the management of unsold food in the Brussels-Capital Region.
The conference closed with a final panel discussion with relevant speakers presenting examples of citizen and stakeholder engagement in research and innovation policies at the European level, but with a territorial focus, and discussed how TRANSFORM and its experiences can be included in or inspire their pathways. Anna Renkamp gave an overview of the Future of Europe Conference and the role of regions and cities in this context, bringing the experience of capacity building and support for local citizen participation processes, a joint project of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Foundation with the Committee of the Regions. Francesco Amodeo from DG Regio shared experiences of citizen engagement promoted by the European Commission in the context of cohesion policy, including the DG Regio-OECD collaboration “Engaging citizens in cohesion policy” on how to engage citizens in decision-making processes for policy making ì, and the EUTeens4Green project, which has launched a call to promote the participation of youth from different European regions in the just energy transition (Deadline: 9 January 2023). Ryan Titley, from the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN), spoke about the role of collaboration among quadruple-helix actors in European Missions, starting with some of the initiatives ERRIN is involved in, including the EU H2020 project NetZeroCities, which supports more than 100 cities involved in the #Cities Mission, the EU H2020 MOSAIC project, and the CrAFt (Creating Actionable Futures) platform. Finally, Ramojous Reimeris from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Seville spoke about Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRI), a pilot process and potential successor to S3, and mentioned some of the tools, including the recently published “Partnerships for Regional Innovation Playbook”, and the Open Discovery Process, which broadens the spectrum of stakeholders to be involved in shaping the Plan, including citizens.
Participants’ contributions, in person and online, enriched the discussion and shared different experiences on the topic. The event marked the end of a three-year journey to accompany and guide local governments in the three participating regions towards increasingly inclusive, transparent, and democratic innovation. The experiences gained and the tools left behind by TRANSFORM will be available to decision-makers to help them integrate the voices of citizens and different R&I stakeholders into their policies and strategies on research and innovation.