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.


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.


Anna Berti Suman

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.


Lombardy regional clsuter

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.

Catalonia regional cluster
Brussels-Capital regional cluster

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.



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.

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