ASDC has been leading the UK part of a ground-breaking EU Citizen engagement programme, called CIMULACT.
CIMULACT (an abbreviation for ‘Citizen and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon 2020) aims to redefine the European research and innovation agenda by engaging 1000 citizens in 30 countries to say where Horizon 2020 (the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation) should focus its investment in research and innovation funding.
CIMULACT has been called one of the most ambitious public participation projects ever funded by the European Commission, and ASDC are the UK leading partner for it. This Horizon 2020 European programme asked citizens what they would like most for a desirable and sustainable future. ASDC ran consultations with the public and school children for the programme and participated in European partner meetings.
The fascinating result was the largest ever multinational comparison between what citizens wanted their future research funding spent on compared to experts. The results were extremely similar in all 30 countries, with citizens prioritising
better, stronger communities
cleaner air and nicer environments
better health and wellbeing
"A comparative analysis between the CIMULACT citizen-based research topics and expert-based foresight studies reveals that citizens' involvement introduces more holistic and socially grounded perspectives that are lacking from many expert-based studies. While experts tend to put emphasis on technological developments when giving input to research policies, citizens point towards human and community-centred values. This illustrates the need for broad participation when setting directions for future policy and agenda settings."
This policy brief is developed as part of the CIMULACT project. From its onset, CIMULACT aimed to provide a unique contribution to the inputs shaping the final work programme for H2020 (FP8) and the development of the Ninth Framework Programme (FP9) to follow H2020. In order to achieve this, CIMULACT was structured as a multi-phase, inclusive future visioning and agenda-setting process – using thousands of citizen-generated visions of the future to contribute to the development of a workable Research and Innovation agenda for the EU and to exemplify the potency of open science approaches. More than 5000 participants were engaged in the course of the project and actively participated in shaping R&I topics.
New directions for involving citizens in research and innovations agendas
Setting directions for research and innovation is usually not a job of citizens. But the CIMULACT project has paved the way for involving citizens in the actual formulation of research and innovation agendas.
”Projects like CIMULACT have made interaction with citizens possible” is written by the EU Commission in the introduction of the Research and Innovation (R&I) Work Programme Horizon 2020.
Horizon 2020 expects to invest 30 billion Euros in R&I over the period 2018-2020 and is hereby the most powerful programme for setting directions for R&I in the EU. With the statement the Commission indicates to have integrated central aspects of visions for sustainable and desirable futures developed by citizens across Europe during the CIMULACT project.
“We are happy to see that the EU Commission has listened to what European citizens find important to prioritise in research and innovation”, says CIMULACT’s project coordinator Lars Klüver, Danish Board of Technology, who is proud to see three years of interaction with citizens, experts and stakeholders in EU’s R&I agenda settings have been useful and appreciated by the Commission.
CIMULACT stands for ’Citizen and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon 2020’. The aim of the project has been to engage European citizens in EU’s R&I agenda Horizon 2020 and consequently to the preparation of the Framework Programme 9 Horizon Europe.
Since the project was launched in 2015, thousands of citizens have been consulted along with experts and stakeholders. Together they have formulated themes that people from R&I communities can apply for funding for through Horizon 2020.
The principle of engaging citizens in R&I is not new in the EU Commission, where engagement is a core value and principle for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). But although it has been a high priority for the Commission to integrate citizens’ view in the R&I agenda, it has been a difficult goal to reach.
CIMULACT is a lynchpin in making EU research agendas open to society being grounded in societal needs and demands. But also OECD has chosen CIMULACT as one of 6 good practice cases for engaging citizens in science.
CIMULACT has in other words shown that it is relevant to engage citizens in defining R&I agendas, and not least that it is possible.
CIMULACT major achievements:
23 citizen-based suggestions for Horizon 2020 topics
Mentioned as source of input in the Horizon 2020 Work Programme (2018-2020)
Presented in the Interim Evaluation of Horizon 2020 as significant contributor to Horizon 2020
Was chosen by OECD as good practice case for engagement of citizens in science
Outcome remains relevant for the preparation of Framework Programme 9
Developed 11 new or adjusted methods for engaging citizens in R&I
You can download a PDF of the CIMULACT press release here