The experience in Lombardy provides effective and valuable tools to involve citizens in regional R&I policy making.

The closing event of the TRANSFORM Lombardy cluster was an important opportunity to open a discussion among actors involved in research and innovation governance, especially in a regional context. Following the contributions of partners and speakers, the debate revolved around responsible innovation and how the participatory approach developed by TRANSFORM can serve as a good example of citizen engagement in decision-making at local level.

On 17 November 2022, Fabrizio Sala, Vice-President and Councillor for Education, Universities, Research, Innovation, and Simplification of the Lombardy Region, opened the event at the Palazzo Pirelli in Milan. Referring to the quadruple helix approach, which involves citizens alongside universities, institutions, and companies, Sala stressed the importance of the “method of dialogue” tested and applied by TRANSFORM. “Being adherent to the needs and demands of citizens and the population, especially in a field like research, has become fundamental, in order to offer our children and future generations the best place to live,” Sala added.

Piero Bassetti, President of the Giannino Bassetti Foundation, referred to the problematic relationship between knowledge and power in today’s society and recalled the Foundation’s mission. He explained that the challenge of TRANSFORM – integrating the voice of citizens in R&I policies – is of utmost interest because “politics needs the norm and the norm needs knowledge.” And today, it is precisely this “decentralized knowledge” that can help us “understand the needs of the world.”

Angela Simone, TRANSFORM Project Coordinator from the Giannino Bassetti Foundation, then explained the objectives and structure of the project at European level, referring also to the context of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in which it is situated.

Elisabetta Confalonieri and Enza Cristofaro from the General for Education, Universities, Research, Innovation and Simplification of the Lombardy region reported on how the integration of citizens’ voices into research and innovation policy at local level came about. Confalonieri emphasized the challenge of involving citizens in policies that affect research and innovation and the value of methodologies, such as public deliberation for policy making, tested in the Lombardy Region by TRANSFORM. Cristofaro then provided an overview of the pathway from the administration’s perspective and explained what strategies have been put in place to overcome this challenge.

Anna Pellizzone, TRANSFORM Project Manager (Bassetti Foundation), explained the results achieved by TRANSFORM in Lombardy (for an overview of the journey, which included a first phase with the identification of research needs and a second phase with the organsiation of the Citizens Jury on Responsible Smart Mobility, follow this link). In particular, Pellizzone first presented the results of the first phase of the project, namely the indications and recommendations that emerged from the survey and deliberative workshop on “Just Energy Transition for All” (Italian reports on the two activities are available here).

Silvia Corbetta (Finlombarda, TRANSFORM’s local partner) described how the results of particiaptory activites were integrated into the research and innovation policies of the Lombardy region. More specifically, Corbetta explained how Finlombarda, the Lombardy’s region financial company that supports the Regione Lombardia in defining regional strategies, used the TRANFORM results to support the Region in the elaboration of the Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) 2021-2027 and the Three-Year Strategic Programme STP – 2021-2023 (for more information on the integration of TRANSFORM ‘s results into the STP, click here).

The day continued with a keynote speech by Enrico Giovannini, Professor at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” and former Minister of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility, dedicated to the theme of the role of citizens and society in a just ecological transition for all. Giovannini stressed the importance of informing and sensitising citizens (as happened in TRANSFORM), and quoted Massimo L. Salvadori (the well-known historian and politician from Piedmont). He explained that actual progress is progress where we agree on what we want to achieve. The bottom-up movement is the only hope we have,” and the Agenda 2030 represents the highest point reached so far. Giovannini adds that Italians “want to discuss, and they want to discuss in an orderly way, not in a chaotic way. We must continue in this direction,” Giovannini concluded.

Anna Pellizzone then resumed the overview of TRANSFORM ‘s achievements at the local level, illustrating the final phase of the participatory journey: the Citizens’ Jury, dedicated to responsible smart mobility. Citizens’ Jury took place over two days in June 2022 (video available here, and the report with the results here).

The keynote speech that followed, by Guido Scorza, a member of the Italian Data Protection Authority, was dedicated to privacy and data protection issues and topics of responsibility related to data-driven services, which were considered a priority by the Citizens’ Jury. Scorza cited the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), reminding the audience that the Regulation is also about the free flow of personal data and that the ultimate goal is precisely to maximize its use. If properly applied, the GDPR is, therefore, an important tool to improve the lives of citizens.

. “The TRANSFORM project “, Scorza added, “is an excellent example because it takes an approach where dialogue between the administration and citizens allows for a balance between data protection concerns and proposals.”

Giudo Scroza, a member of the Italian Data Protection Authority

Matteo Pozzetti from the Directorate General for Education, Universities, Research, Innovation and Simplification explained how the results of the project, and in particular those that emerged from the Citizens’ Jury on Smart Mobility, will feed into the Region’s policies, moving from the design phase to the implementation phase.

“The process of tackling common problems such as smart mobility and energy transition, working together with policymakers and different stakeholders, has been excellently implemented in the TRANSFORM project,” said Agnes Allansdottir (University of Siena), a researcher working on the relationship between science and society and an expert in methodologies for consulting citizens and monitoring public opinion on the impact of technologies and technosciences. “It could be useful for the Lombardy region to also have a tool to monitor public opinion and the level of trust in science and research,” Allansdottir concluded.


The full video of the day and all materials about the conference (speaker presentations, photos, agenda of the day) are available here.


On November 21, the Catalan cluster of the TRANSFORM project held its final event to share the results and lessons learned acquired during these 3 years of work. Under the title “Responsible research and innovation, citizen science and public policies” more than 70 people attended the event held at the Palau Robert.

The TRANSFORM project brings together three European regions (Lombardy, Brussels-Capital and Catalonia) to experiment with different innovative participatory methodologies. The Catalan cluster has used citizen science as an instrument to move towards a greener, digital, resilient and fair socio-economic model. More specifically, two citizen science pilots have been carried out in Catalonia: one on the selective collection of waste and another on the health of women with endometriosis.

To close these three years of collaborative work, the Catalan cluster -led by Science for Change, in collaboration with the Department of Economic Strategy of the Generalitat de Catalunya and the OpenSystems research group of the University of Barcelona – has organised the final act of the TRANSFORM project at local level. One of the objectives of the Catalan cluster was to introduce the principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI) in the practice of public policies and in the Strategy for Smart Specialisation of Catalonia (RIS3CAT 2030).

The event began with a welcome and presentations by Dr Josep Perelló, leader of the OpenSystems group, and Rosa Arias, CEO of Science for Change. During their presentations, both underlined the importance and transformative potential of citizen science as a tool to improve public policies.

This introduction was followed by the round table presentations of two citizen science pilots that have been carried out in the Catalan territory with representatives of each pilot.


Health pilot - TRANSFORM Catalonia cluster

In the field of women’s health, the Catalan cluster has worked together with the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQuAS) on the pilot about endometriosis in first person. In this collaborative research, health professionals and women with endometriosis have worked hand in hand to deepen their biopsychosocial experiences of the disease and their experiences, needs, and recommendations regarding health services.

20 women diagnosed with endometriosis participated as co-investigators, playing an active role in the data collection phases, in the formulation of recommendations and in the dissemination of the results. As a result, a policy brief has been published for decision-makers and health personnel, presenting the recommendations co-created by women for the improvement of health services in relation to endometriosis.

Dr. Elisa Llurba, Director of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Service, Dr. Ramon Rovira, coordinator of the Surgical Area, the Gynecology Oncology Area and the Endometriosis Unit of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau,  Marta Fonseca and Noelia Pitarque, co-investigators of the project, participated in this round table, moderated by Nora Salas Seoane, Head of the Health Area at Science for Change.

“Applying citizen science to a women’s health issue such as endometriosis has allowed us to give a voice, accompany and empower people with endometriosis who have been able to work collaboratively with health professionals towards a common goal: to make visible an under-diagnosed disease that affects 10% of women and contribute to the improvement of health services and early diagnosis thanks to its recommendations. We want to move towards a medicine that really takes into account once and for all the needs of women”

Nora Salas Seoane, Head of the Health Area at Science for Change.


On the other hand, in the field of waste management and sustainability, the Catalan cluster has worked together with the Mollet del Vallès City Council, the Autonomous University of Barcelona and secondary schools in Mollet del Vallès to contribute to improving the municipal selective waste collection system.

Waste pilot TRANSFORM Catalonia

For this pilot project, a digital game on waste, called Dilemma R, was co-designed as a tool to inform citizens about innovative selective collection systems and, in turn, collect their preferences and barriers when implementing them. In the design process, the pilot followed a participatory model, involving as many actors as possible. As proof that citizen science can have an impact on public policies, the City Council approved the new contract for cleaning public spaces and waste collection, taking into account the proposals from the pilot, which have been evaluated and incorporated into the new contract.

This round table was attended by Guifré Ortiz, Head of the Urban Services Section of the Mollet del Vallès City CouncilSandra Palma, Manager of the Mollet del Vallès Municipal Institute of Education, Myra Ronzoni, Operational Manager of the ECIU University project from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Adrià Navarro, a student at the Sant Gervasi School, moderated by Diana Reinoso, Project Manager of the TRANSFORM project in Science for Change.

“Citizen science has allowed us to involve the public, and especially students, in improving waste management in the municipality, in addition to obtaining very relevant information for the successful implementation of innovative systems such as door-to-door or smart containers. It is a replicable project that can be used by other town halls in the same situation, that are considering making a change in the system and that want to involve citizens in the process in a dynamic and innovative way.”

Diana Reinoso, Project Manager at Science for Change.

Impact on public policies

To close the event, Tatiana Fernández, Head of the Economic Strategy Area of ​​the Secretariat for Economic Affairs and European Funds of the Generalitat de Catalunya, shared with the attendees the role of citizen science within the framework of RIS3CAT 2030 and also its experience and learning from the TRANSFORM project.

“When we started the TRANSFORM project, we were not sure how to collaborate in it, nor did we know what citizen science would bring us. Now we have seen that it is a tool that allows us to improve the effectiveness of public policies and services”

Tatiana Fernández, Head of the Economic Strategy Area of ​​the Secretariat for Economic Affairs and European Funds of the Generalitat de Catalunya

Finally, the participants discussed the challenges and opportunities of citizen science in Catalonia in a round table led by Tatiana Fernández, Xavier Gironès, Coordinator of the Territorial Impact of Knowledge of the Department of Research and Universities of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Xavier Ariño, Head of the Office of Institutional Projects of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Diana Escobar, Coordinator of Projects of the Department of Science and Universities of the Barcelona City Council, Ignasi Labastida, Delegate of the Rector in Open Science of the University of Barcelona, moderated by Sergio Martínez, Secretariat for Economic Affairs and European Funds of the Department of Economy and Finance of the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Some of the key points that were discussed in this round table were: the need to establish a return to citizenship, have platforms or agents that act as a link between the different actors involved, the need to create spaces for innovation around the territory and generate a relationship of trust between the agents involved in citizen science projects.


Citizens have a key role in political decision-making and the TRANSFORM pilot project is a clear example of this. Yesterday, the Catalan cluster that has led this citizen science pilot project, presented the results and conclusions to members of the Mollet del Vallés council, to contribute to the improvement of the municipal selective waste collection system.

The TRANSFORM project brings together three European regions (Lombardy, Brussels capital and Catalonia) to experiment with different innovative participatory methodologies. Specifically, in Catalonia a citizen science pilot has been carried out in the city of Mollet del Vallès to contribute to improving the selective collection of municipal waste. The Catalan cluster has used citizen science as an instrument to move towards a greener, more digital, resilient and fairer socioeconomic model.

For this pilot project, “Dilemma R“, a digital game on waste was co-designed as a tool to inform citizens about innovative selective collection systems (smart containers and door-to-door waste collection) and, in turn, gather their preferences and barriers when implementing them. In the design process, a participatory model has been followed, based on co-design methodologies, involving the maximum number of actors involved.

This process was carried out through a total of four sessions in which different profiles of citizens of Mollet, different departments of the city council and the students of the Degree in Management of Smart and Sustainable Cities of the UAB participated. Later, the digital development of the game proceeded.

TRANSFORM Catalonia waste pilot

Once “Dilemma R” had been created, 60 students from four educational centres in Mollet (Institut Vicenç Plantada, Escola Sant Gervasi, Center d’Estudis Mollet and Escola Anselm Clavé) put it into practice with their families and with citizens at street level to collect enough information to process and analyse it.

Through this app, it has been possible to collect evaluations, preferences and barriers of citizens regarding innovative selective collection systems. In addition, this tool has also had a double impact: on the one hand, it has increased public awareness of these innovative waste collection systems, and on the other, it has contributed to generating active awareness of the environmental impact of waste, contributing to co-responsibility.

With the “Dilemma R” game, 402 valid responses from the citizens of Mollet have been collected; The results make it possible to identify trends that serve as a guide for the city council in making decisions on how to implement a new waste collection system.

As a result of these answers, a results report has been prepared that has included the recommendations made both by the professional research team and by the Mollet students themselves. 10 conclusions stand out:

Degree of knowledge of citizens about the waste collection system

  • Knowledge about innovative systems is low and knowledge about the current selective collection system does not reach 50%.
  • The vast majority of people who have declared they have no prior knowledge on the subject, have acquired it through Dilemma R.

General preference of citizens for smart containers or for the door-to-door system

  • The vast majority of people surveyed have opted for smart containers.
  • As an exception, in the Santa Rosa neighbourhood, the preference for door-to-door delivery and smart containers is very similar.

Relevance that different variables may have as barriers or facilitators of the adoption of the new systems by citizens

  • Most of the people surveyed are sensitive to the environmental issue and in favour of receiving economic incentives for the use of new systems, despite the fact that this implies limitations to their privacy (that the city council has more information about the recycling practices of each person) or practicality (for example, time or calendar limitations when disposing of rubbish).
  • Economic incentives seem to have a greater potential as facilitators of the adoption of the new systems than the environmental benefit, except when faced with the possibility that the new systems generate more dirt on the street.
  • There is a similar number of people who choose to receive economic incentives at the individual level and at the collective or community level
  • Privacy limitations have not emerged as a very relevant aspect when opposed to environmental benefits, much less when opposed to economic incentives.
  • There are two aspects of practicality that deserve attention as possible barriers to implementation: 1) the time and calendar limitation associated with the door-to-door system; 2) the possibility that the new systems will generate more dirt on the street.
  • For people aged 65 or over, the complexity of using a card or a mobile phone to activate the containers appears as a more relevant barrier than having to adapt to a schedule or a calendar.

Impact on public policies of Mollet

As a result of these conclusions, the Mollet students and the professional research team involved in the project have drawn up a series of recommendations associated with the conclusions of the study. These recommendations range from the development of information and environmental education campaigns, to proposals for the implementation of economic incentives to increase the separation of waste, through the design of specific actions to support the elderly in the use of the new systems.

“Participating in this TRANSFORM pilot project has been very important for two reasons: first, to be able to know the opinion of our citizens. We want to make changes to our waste management model, and we need to know what they think and what they know. Second, through citizen participation we have been able to learn about proposals raised directly by citizens, and we want to study them because they are realistic and interesting. Thanks to all this participatory process, we have been able to know what citizens want, fear or do not see clearly, in order to make better decisions at the public policy level.”

Raúl Broto, First Deputy Mayor of Mollet del Vallès

As proof that citizen science can have an impact on public policies, on June 28 the Mollet del Vallés city council approved the new contract for cleaning public space and waste collection for the next 5 years. The objective of this new contract is to intensify street cleaning and increase the selective collection of the municipality to 60% in 2030, complying with European regulations.

Some of the proposals from the pilot that have been evaluated and incorporated into the new contract for the city’s waste collection service are, for example, implementation of smart containers in some neighbourhoods of the city or the need to use additional resources to avoid littering the street due to uncivil practices.

EU flag This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 872687. This website reflects only the authors' view and the REA and the EC are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
Project Coordinator: Angela Simone Fondazione Giannino Bassetti angela.simone@fondazionebassetti.org
contact: info@transform-project.eu