Pilots Phase 2

Case 5: New modes of engaging citizens in topic identification and programme design

Funding agencies face the challenge to develop programmes, which foster new and innovative research and equally address the general public’s needs and values. On the one hand, funding instruments shall encourage research in new and developing fields, and on the other hand, institutional funding needs to take into account what societal issues and challenges can be tackled through innovation. Funding agencies apply different tools to identify new research fields, i. e. expert interviews or analysing science databases. On the contrary, agencies have little means to engage in dialogues with the general public about new topics and programme design.

The pilot in PRO-Ethics aims at implementing new modes of engaging citizens in topic identification and programme design, with the aim of aligning policy, new research fields and societal needs. The pilot makes use of IT tools as to broaden the scope of engaging societal groups as well as to offer an easy accessible mode of engagement. VDI/VDE-IT focuses on topic identification and policy design in the fields of new and emerging technologies. In focus of the pilot are VDI/VDE-IT's consulting services for the German Federal Ministry for Science and Education (BMBF). In particular, insights gained from the pilot will be used to advance the programme "Kommunikation und Sicherheit digitaler Systeme" ["communication and security of digital systems"], which funds research in the field of human technology interaction. In focus of the programme is applied research in topic areas such as "IT security", "communications systems" and "living in the digital world". Identifying topics that address societal needs is a major challenge for the programme design. The pilot will aim at aligning research areas as robotics or artificial intelligence with societal needs as i. e. increasing need for elderly care or the need for smart mobility in urban areas.

Case 6: Citizen participation learning hub

Citizen involvement in research and innovation is a major topic in Norway's ongoing White Paper process on public sector innovation.

The pilot in PRO-Ethics will develop a hub or centre for citizen dialogue in research and innovation. This hub might function as a network based on research, experiences and mutual learning, where institutions come together in a systematic way. The hub must concurrently be more than just a network, it must allocate means for funding research and innovation, and contribute to produce new knowledge and new methods and measures. The design of the pilot will be run by RCN together with other innovation agencies and relevant stakeholders, i.e. the municipality organisations in Norway. This pilot is built on another ongoing pilot/project in RCN; "Gender Equality Hub". Gender equality is an important priority in Norway and this initiative has been developed to strengthen the already ongoing work on gender balance in RCN. It is imperative to see these two hubs/pilots in context. Reflection, learning, evaluating and reporting on that case will be done jointly by RCN and RCL.

Case 7: Citizen participation in topic definition

Currently, processes to define or prioritize call topics are not within the standard processes of FFG. However, FFG plans to carry out a pilot to engage citizens to support the definition of priorities for specific calls, e.g. in programmes funded by own funds. It still needs to be decided, which type of calls this will be. For FFG this would be a completely new endeavor.

The pilot in PRO-Ethics will be chosen in a field where societal impact is core. Alternatively, FFG could implement a pilot on citizen involvement in the development of its multi annual strategy, to combine experts’ and stakeholders’ expertise with citizens’ expertise. One possible field where FFG could implement a pilot on citizen participation in the definition of a specific call topic could relate to FFG’s pilot I case (see case 1 above) and focus on the issue of ageing and demographic change – a global challenge. Hence, the pilot could build on experiences with the above mentioned expert processes, but broaden the approach and open up to real citizen involvement to identify current and anticipated future challenges and needs in this respect. The aim would be to also broaden the topics of a call, from mostly technical support tackling age-related deficiencies to rather supporting new opportunities and new concepts of ageing.

The following challenges would need to be dealt with in such a pilot: how to identify and motivate citizens to participate in topic definition? How to balance individual opinions? How to organise quality control in the process to avoid biases, lobbying, and exclusion or underrepresentation of specific societal groups as e.g. women?

Case 8: Citizen participation in thematic definition of programme calls

The Brussels Capital Region operationalises its financial support to Research & Innovation through different channels: open calls and thematic calls. For its thematic operations (both for regional and Europeans calls), Innoviris relies on its general Smart Specialisation Strategy to define a broad framework but also systematically organises a broad consultation (“Entrepreneurial Discovery Process”). The current consultation process involves an ad hoc selection of various stakeholders, depending on the nature of the programme and implies a number of drawbacks.

The pilot in PRO-Ethics will build upon the experiences of pilot I (see case 4 above) and aims to test new ways of consultation. The use of a robust and adapted IT tool could help Innoviris improve the consultation process. The following positive effects are expected:

• A more comprehensive consultation including (individual) citizens and direct feedback from individuals, regardless of their “profile” (sector of activity);
• A more systematic and global approach, allowing Innoviris to mobilise the ecosystem less frequently while generating more relevant results for a wider variety of programmes.

Even if the prime focus of this pilot is on the definition of thematics for programme calls, Innoviris is willing to use the global reflexive approach of PRO-Ethics to initiate practices including citizens’ consultation for the strategic planning of the regional support to R&I.

Case 9: Citizen participation in the new National R&D Strategy 2021-2027

In 2019 and 2020 UEFISCDI will coordinate the elaboration of the National R&D Strategy for the period 2021-2027 in Romania, together with the main implementation instrument – “The National R&D Plan 2021-2027”. Both the strategy and the plan are envisaged to include activities and a concrete funding programme tackling societal challenges by means of social sciences and interdisciplinary research and development. The draft thematic prioritisation inside the programme will be elaborated by a panel of experts and pre-validated by stakeholders in an online argument based consultation.

The pilot in PRO-Ethics will add some engagement and dedicated consultation processes with citizens to the planned strategy development in order to validate and enrich the proposed thematic priorities. This could be done in the exploratory phase and in the validation phase as well.

Case 10: Evaluation of the social impact of the NEOTEC programme from a participative approach

Neotec is a programme managed by the CDTI. It provides grants for New Technology-Based Firms (NTBs) which carry out projects that require the use of technologies or knowledge developed from research activities and with a viable business plan. Technology and innovation will be competitive factors that contribute to the differentiation of the company and that serve as the basis for the strategy and long-term business plan, maintaining its own R&D lines. The objective of Neotec is to foster the transfer of knowledge from research organisations or expert teams to the industry. The rationale behind this programme is the fact that NTBs are supposed to be a good instrument to take into the market, and therefore into the society, scientific and technological progress generated in laboratories. Furthermore, Neotec has been designed to promote entrepreneurship initiatives among scientists and technicians, which should have a positive impact on employment.

The pilot in PRO-Ethics will develop an open evaluation approach based on citizens’ participation. This evaluation will develop detailed methodological guidelines for citizens’ participation, adapted to the logical model of NEOTEC and the information requirements from the evaluation commissioner. It will cover a more in-depth analysis of Neotech (social effects and the different stakeholders affected such as students, entrepreneurs, citizens with special technological requirements, small investors etc.) as well. The evaluation will be carried out with the support of external experts on social research methodologies.

Case 11: Engaging citizens in project/proposal evaluation – the case of ETA

The funding programme ETA – Programme for Applied Research, Experimental Development and Innovation in Art, Social Sciences and Humanities (ETA programme, 2017) – was recently developed and implemented by TACR. The programme supports social sciences, humanities and art (hereinafter SSH) to address the dynamic social, economic, globalisation-related, cultural or technological changes, which the human and society are currently facing.

One of the main challenges of the ETA programme is to change the way of thinking, that the applied R&D only takes place between academia and businesses. The ETA programme stresses the relationship between “R&D solution providers” and “R&D solution users” in order to advance the existing support structures. In the case of SSH application sphere the natural users of the R&D solutions may not only be enterprises but any entity in public space. Therefore, the ETA programme introduces the so-called application guarantor, which represents the users of R&D solutions in the project. Furthermore, the ETA programme supports research solutions both, market-oriented (sell on the market to costumers) or public-oriented (provided free of charge to the target groups).

The pilot in PRO-Ethics will:

• deepen the relationship between the SSH community and TACR
• constantly reflect the way the ETA programme is implemented
• open the mechanisms of expert evaluation to test new open evaluation approaches based on citizens’ and stakeholders’ participation.

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