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Research and innovation (R&I) play a crucial role in addressing global challenges. To build a more just, inclusive and responsible future, the needs, expectations and values of citizens should be taken into account from an early stage on. Citizen participation has received increasing attention in recent years at European, national and regional level. 

Although not widespread in Italy, the Lombardy Region is one of the pioneers of citizen participation in regional R&I decision-making, including the pilot actions within the TRANSFORM project. TRANSFORM’s Lombardy regional cluster has already finalized the embedding of RRI in the objectives of S3 so that citizen engagement will be  widely applied in the implementation of S3 throughout its duration. A participatory research agenda setting is being tested on the ground to identify and incorporate the needs of Lombardy citizens into the regional Three Years’ Strategic Plan for Research, Innovation, and Technology Transfer (PST).

Read the full article ‘Give citizens a seat at the table’,  co-authored by the TRANSFORM Project Coordinator, Angela Simone (Fondazione Giannino Bassetti) on citizen engagement and social innovation and their potential to shape the future of R&I in Italy.

The article was recently published in Nature Italy, the regional digital magazine, published by Springer Nature, reporting on scientific research and issues of science policy in Italy.

Photo credit: yuoak/ DigitalVision Vectors/ Getty Images


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The month of April saw the launch of two citizen science pilots in Catalonia. Thanks to citizen participation, these pilots aim to generate scientific evidence that will inform public policies and their better alignment with societal needs. 

Pilot 1. Citizen science for the co-design and implementation of an “interactive waste game” that contributes to improving the selective collection of municipal waste.

The first pilot, developed in the municipality of Mollet del Vallès, addresses  a local challenge to increase and improve waste separation at source. 

The first phase of the pilot is based on the co-creation of an “Interactive waste game” that will bring together the knowledge and skills of local citizens and students of Master‘s degrees from the Autonomous University of Barcelona. This interactive game will then be used as a citizen science tool to:

  • raise awareness on negative impacts of waste on health and the environment;
  • collect data on citizens behaviours, attitudes, habits, perceptions and preferences towards waste management; 
  • identify barriers for the implementation of improved waste collection systems.

The collected data will help design the new waste management contract as well as the municipality’s waste innovation public procurement project.

Pilot 2. Endometriosis in the first person: participatory research on experiences, assessments and needs of people with endometriosis

The second pilot is developed together with Sant Pau Hospital and the Catalan Agency for Health Quality and Evaluation (AQuAS) to tackle the invisibility, under-diagnosis and lack of research into endometriosis, a condition affecting people worldwide of which the exact cause still remains unknown. 

The first phase of the pilot will consist of collecting information from a wide and diverse range of people suffering from endometriosis. The collected data will gather  first-hand experiences of people with this condition and their assessment of and needs for diagnostic, care, support services and resources, all this feeding a policy brief addressed to policy makers and healthcare staff and officials with a view to improving care and support services for patients with endometriosis.

The second phase of the pilot will bring together women and healthcare professionals in a co-creation exercise of a tool designed to improve self-awareness of one’s body and early diagnosis of the disease.

Photo by Cátia Matos from Pexels.


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In 2020, the TRANSFORM Catalan regional cluster organised four webinars to foster knowledge exchange, open discussions and experimentations about RRI & citizen science.

In this series of participatory webinars, the Catalan Think Tank – composed of representatives from public administrations, research organisations and businesses – have learned, contributed and shared knowledge on how to integrate RRI into innovative public policies and projects, specifically through citizen science. Moreover, the collaborative dynamics set up and put in motion through these activities are expected to foster the development of more citizen science projects in Catalonia.

The webinars were designed to combine theory and practice, with participatory dynamics so to let participants reflect on their opinions and knowledge as well as begin to put their acquired knowledge into practice. One of the objectives was to start co-designing a citizen science project that would respond to an existing socio-environmental challenge.

Three organisations set out three challenges covering various sectors – health, the aquatic environment and waste management. A co-design process was set up to start defining citizen science projects responding to these challenges, always from the perspective of collaboration between quadruple helix agents (public authorities, academia/research, businesses, citizens). The development of these projects will be supported by the Catalan cluster as part of the TRANSFORM project activities in Catalonia.

The feedback received from participants was very positive and they enthusiastically expressed their interest in continuous participation in the Catalan Think Tank throughout the project. We are currently defining the calendar and contents of the next sessions, in order to respond to the interests of the participants as well as to the needs of the TRANSFORM project.

The following section showcases feedback collected from participants at the end of the webinar series.

Question: What do you think you have gained from participating in the webinars?

“A theoretical framework of RRI and citizen science, applied knowledge on projects and motivation/reflection to apply citizen science mechanism to future projects, apart from tools and methodologies to conduct online working groups.” 

– Anonymous answer

Question: How motivated are you to incorporate citizen science into your projects?

“Very much so. Citizen science is the key to bringing about confidence in people and research that is being carried out, as well as promoting participation and commitment of society to research. At the same time, it is an exponential mechanism for acquiring relevant data to carry out good research and a way of socialising knowledge.”

– Anonymous answer

 

Catalan regional cluster

EU flag This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 872687.
Project Coordinator: Angela Simone Fondazione Giannino Bassetti angela.simone@fondazionebassetti.org
 
contact: info@transfrom-project.eu