Why are we talking about this today? Well, there are three aims why we are talking about this today. The first thing is that participation in research and innovation can improve democracy. It can make our governance of our research and innovation more democratic. As you may know, the model of governance now is a technocracy, this means that in order to be able to take decisions in research and innovation, you need to have certain qualifications, however, there are some communities that are already claiming for a more democratic model of governance.
The second objective for doing participation in research and Innovation is legitimacy, as you all know, we have sometimes problems of legitimacy, which lead for example to the fact that sometimes our results are not being applied because there are controversies -just to mention transgenics, for example. But sometimes the legitimacy can also help other aspects, like for example investment in research and innovation, and we all know that in most of the European countries, we would like to see our budget for research and Innovation increasing or even our companies investing more in research and Innovation.
So we know that if we move to a more responsible research and Innovation, we will gain legitimacy because the scientific literature has have proven that this happens through the sort of processes. The last aim and not least is aiming at better results. We all know that there is a lot of what has been called waste research that sometimes the relationship between research and Innovation is not as dynamic as we may like and we also know that sometimes the solutions we are trying to bring for complex problems are not as effective as we would like, so for all these reasons and many other ones, w know that this sort of processes will help us to have a research and Innovation that have a higher impact.
So there are the three aims of why we think we believe that participation in research and Innovation is very critical. Actually, I have a friend who is called. Dr. Serra. He is the vice-president of the European network of living Labs as you know, I work in a living lab, in a living lab for health and I like a metaphor he uses.
He says: Let’s now imagine that you are in the medieval times and that I’m here today talking to you and I want to recommend you that we all make sure we attain a big change in our society. We want to make sure that our society can read and write. Maybe you would think this woman is too ambitious. It’s very difficult to make sure that our society can read and write because as you know, there are very little people who can do that at this time. Well, yes, it was very ambitious at that time. But now after several centuries, we have attained a big, a very big proportion of our society can read and write.
However, let’s now think about research and Innovation. What he said is that we are in a similar situation we have today a very little proportion of our society who can make decision making in research and Innovation. However, we have a very large proportion of our society who daily receive the advances that we launched from the scientific community. So we can see that this Society cannot decide, cannot frame the model of civilization that we from the research and Innovation Community are framing and we have been framing during all the history of humanity.
Another metaphor I like is thinking about the Extra-Terrestrial sometimes I think that perhaps the the reason why they haven’t come to our planet is because by looking at it from far away, they have seen some complex problems that we have that they didn’t like. Let’s think for example about health inequalities or climate change or inequalities at the economic level, for example. We have huge complex problems in our world and although we invest a lot in research and innovation, there are some of them that are becoming persistent.
So the question here is if we know and we all agree that the best engine to change things is research and Innovation, what do we need to change to make sure that this research and innovation is able to transform different aspects of our society and solve this complex and persistent problems? In order to make sure that we are able to find better solutions for our complex problems and to decrease ways research these policies of the European commission and also other
policies outside the European commission can be inspiring: Responsible research and innovation, mission oriented research, system thinking, transdisciplinary research and so on. I don’t know if you’ve heard about transdisciplinary research, but as a summary it will be not only to make sure that your research is interdisciplinary or talks to other disciplines or includes other disciplines, but that you also include non-academic actors in your research process, that’s transdisciplinarity. And in other in some countries in Europe and abroad there are centers trying to push for any of these policies in our research and innovation systems.
So in order to move towards better solving these problems in these policies what we can find is that they suggest us to devote more time to decide which are the projects that we are going to implement for example, so it would be the research agenda that we mentioned before.
In order to do that, we can bring different stakeholders into a room that we can choose selectively - perhaps at international level, perhaps at local level and national level, it will depend on your problem and your context and once you have decided who you want to sit down in the same same space for a collaborative reflection, you can devote time to better analyze what’s the problem you want to tackle and to better analyze what are the solutions you have you want to tackle. And why are they recommending us to do that?
Because for some problems which are those ones called complex problems we can see that there are perspectives in both the definition of the problem and the definition of the solution and therefore it’s very important to take into account the needs and perspectives of these different stakeholders before we move on to the side, which is the research and. Innovation that we are going to implement. So in this sort of problem solving once we have all these stakeholders and we have decided from one certain challenge that we want to tackle which are the main missions that have to be solved in order to have an impact for that challenge.
And once we have this missions defined also we have defined which are the projects that we all believe that are the priority projects for each of these missions. Then we can move to implement of course these projects and to implement them as transdisciplinary as possible. So making sure that we involve as wide variety of stakeholders as necessary. As we spoke before the level of participation will depend. Let’s put examples here. Sometimes the level of participation may not be necessary to have it very high and maybe it’s not neither necessary to have a wide diversity of stakeholders.
Let’s go back for example to the case that I mentioned before of a clinical trial in a clinical trial the problem definition sometimes it’s well defined and the solution that we want to apply is well defined. So we don’t need a very wide variety of stakeholders and very sophisticated methodologies to engage them. We can sit down at the table with our community advisory board for example, and make sure that whatever they can contribute with is at on the table so they can improve, as I said before the protocol, the information sheets the informed consent and so, on. But in other cases we can see that the level of engagement and the diversity of the stakeholders needs to be higher.
So let’s think for example that we want to improve the implementation of vaccination programs in our community or let’s think for example that we want to improve healthy and sustainable diets in our community. These are complex problems because as we said before the definition of the problem and the possible solutions to apply are not clearly established. So there is a need for wider deliberative collaboration with different stakeholders to make sure that we orchestrate the different instrument. I would like to bring another metaphor here. I sometimes what I say is that we already have the instruments. We have very potential stakeholders in our communities who aim to improve our diets to make them more healthy and more sustainable.
So these instruments are already sounding really good, but maybe what is missing is the director of this orchestra. So what we want to make sure is that we bring them into this room and we look for collaborative processes so that we find the optimal synergies to improve the impact of what each of the instruments is already trying to do, and in that way we will manage to increase the effectiveness of our research and innovation and we will find better solutions for this complex problems like the ones we just mentioned.
We are now within a European project called Fit for Food and within this project we aim to transform the research and Innovation System to make it more open more inclusive and more effective and we are doing that with inspiration RRI and system approach in this project from our location here in Barcelona. What we are trying to do is to improve diets. So to make them more healthy and more sustainable. So we are Implementing all these sorts of methodologies that I mentioned today in this course to make sure that the promotion of this sort of liars is more effective.
I would like to finish now this session by suggesting you to go into the websites that you will find in this course and to search for the methodologies that better should your research and Innovation and to encourage you to move in this transformative change that we are all going through towards a more open more inclusive research and Innovation, and I wish you a lot of success in your current and future work. Thank you very much.