Pilots Phase 1

Case 1: Citizen participation in projects supported by the funding programme “benefit” / AAL (Austria)

“benefit” funds ICT-based solutions which increase the quality of life of older adults. The innovation concept is based on involving different types of end-users (older adults and their relatives, providers of services of general interest, NGOs, interest groups, …) from the conception phase of the project right up to its completion. This ensures that solutions address real requests and needs and are consequently considered useful, helpful, attractive and accepted by consumers. Several so called “test regions” have been funded so far, that allow transdisciplinary Research, Development, and Innovation (R&D&I) to be performed that include enterprises, end-user organisations, technical and scientific partners, and essential amounts of end-users. Ethical factors play a significant role in the market-oriented development of ICT-based solutions for older adults, both with regard to the planned products, systems, and services but also in terms of involving people in the course of the project. These ethical factors cover issues of human dignity, protection of privacy and data protection, as well as honesty with regards to risks which the projects might involve. To cope with these challenges, a so-called “Ethics Checklist” has been developed to support projects in dealing with ethical issues.

Case 2: Integrating ELSI into technology projects (Germany)

Integrating a societal perspective into technology projects has been a challenge for quite a while. There have been examples, as for instance the prominent failure of the German “naked scanner” for airport security, which proved that anticipating ethics and social norms are crucial for new technologies to be accepted and applied. Thus, funding agencies face the challenge of supporting innovation projects to take citizens’ perspectives into account. This pilot case focuses on a funding programme by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the field of new and emerging technologies, called “Technik zum Menschen bringen” (Bringing technology to people). Since 2012 there has been an increasing demand for Research and Innovation (R&I) projects to take ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) into account. This is encouraged by including interdisciplinary research and civil society actors as well as ethic boards into funding calls. The pilot investigates if this encouragement actually succeeded and what interdisciplinary modes of conduct proved to consider citizen engagement in an innovative and beneficiary way. The pilot aims at identifying modes of interdisciplinary conduct and developing funding instruments that support projects to consider these.

Case 3: Systematic pre-call consulting (Norway)

This Case aims at the development of a consulting model based on learning from three former experiences:

  • One pilot was carried out within health research with the purpose to finance research projects defined by the users themselves, not just by the researchers. The inspiration and background were concepts like “Priority Setting Partnerships” and “Commissioned Research”. The pilot was restricted to issues in relation to CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). Along with a thorough communication plan, the first task of the pilot was an open invitation, geared in particular to people “living with the disease”, to suggest research topics in this field. The next step was establishing a user panel with members from different patient/user organisations, representatives from patients and their relatives, health authorities, researchers, and RCN’s Financing Programmes. The panels discussed call the text and Phase 1 simple application. Representatives for the financing boards made the final decisions on the projects invited to Phase 2, and the final grant.

  • Another equivalent method was explored within a call regarding gender equality in academia. RCN has a policy-oriented programme targeted to promote gender balance in Norwegian research (BALANSE). Prior to the 2018-call relevant institutions, end-users, organisations, and researchers were invited to take part in the process of defining call topics.

  • A third input to Case 3 comes from ongoing discussions on research integrity in Lithuania and Norway.

These new approaches will be further elaborated in a new attempt to involve stakeholders from the municipality sector (public research innovation). This involvement will be part of the Action Plan for RCN and KS (the national municipality organisation) which will define research topics for the municipalities and serve as an input to the call text.

Case 4: Innoviris Citizens Jury – Citizens in project/proposal evaluation (Belgium)

Since 2015, the Brussels capital region (BCR) is financing the “Co-Create Programme” aimed at increasing the resiliency of the region through participatory-by-design research projects. The framework of the co-create programme implies a close collaboration between a variety of actors (research organisations, non-profit organisations and ultimately citizens, companies) at all stages of the preparation and implementation of the projects. The setting-up of the co-create programme has raised a lot of questions and challenges related to the regulatory framework as well as new concepts (and related vocabulary) and their respective understandings, among others. Nevertheless, the decision was made to launch the programme and to work on an essentially empirical (and somehow experimental) base, leaving room for progressive improvement based on mutual learning between all stakeholders (including Innoviris). To tackle the various difficulties related to the nature and scope of the programme, an intermediary structure, the “Co-Create Support Centre”, was put in place as a transversal project with the aim to accompany the co-creation dynamics, facilitate collective learning, and to disseminate the knowledge produced. In 2018, the support centre suggested to extend citizen participation, from their involvement as beneficiaries to an active participation in the selection process of the proposals (ex ante evaluation of the projects).

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