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Berichtszeitraum: 2016-09-01 bis 2018-03-31

Our societies are rapidly changing as a consequence of a new conjunction of societal developments, such as globalization, new technologies, and climate change. Solutions considered efficient to overcome these challenges twenty years ago no longer seem adequate if we are to witness the futures we dream of.
STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) is seen as one of the most promising paths for the EU to handle the challenges our societies are facing by e.g. creating jobs and improving the quality of life in Europe. The everyday life of the European citizen is thus greatly affected by the advances in Research and Innovation (R&I) which calls for an enhanced cooperation with science and society in order to combine scientific excellence with social awareness and responsibility.
CIMULACT stands for ‘Citizen and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon 2020’ and was a project funded by the European Commission to engage citizens in the formulation of EU’s major Framework Programme for Research and Innovation –Horizon 2020. The project running from 2015-2018 engaged a wide range of societal actors embarking on an extensive participatory initiative, including citizens, experts, policy makers and other stakeholders from across Europe.

In short, CIMULACT aimed at:

• Providing concrete and unique input to the identification of the future European research agenda by uncovering societal needs of more than 1000 citizens in 30 countries in Europe.
• Developing and experimenting with methods for citizen and multi-actor participation, as well as build capacities in already existing methods.
• Inspiring the research community with a broad range of options for citizen and multi-actor engagement in R&I priority setting.
• Making the building of the future more accessible, so it is no longer only a question discussed by policy makers and experts alone.
The methodology of CIMULACT was inspired by a co-creation approach. In the first phase of the project 1088 citizens met at 30 national citizen consultations held across Europe. In addition, the first phase of the project involved a co-creation workshop where citizens and experts met to co-create research programme scenarios, based on the aggregated citizen visions and identified overarching social needs.
A second consultation phase followed where the co-created research programme scenarios were tested, validated, enriched and prioritised in two tracks: face-to-face consultations involving 977 citizens, stakeholders and experts and an online consultation engaging more than 3400 Europeans. A workshop for experts and policy makers finally transformed the results of the second consultation phase into prioritised actions for Horizon2020, including policy options, possible research topics and recommendations.

During the CIMULACT process, the thoughts and ideas of thousands of European citizens, experts and stakeholders were collected and analysed; resulting in 48 citizen-based research topics. Of these topics, 23 were refined by European Commission Project Officers, experts and CIMULACT partners. Throughout the process the CIMULACT partners ensured a close link to the original citizen visions.
The methods and concepts developed and implemented were carefully documented and assessed throughout the project and the methodological learnings were made available through an open access inspiration catalogue for engaging citizens in R&I.

The CIMULACT results are significant since they show that citizens – alongside experts and stakeholders – are capable of producing unique, concrete and innovative input to the European R&I agenda. Furthermore, the project outcome demonstrates that it is feasible to open up science and enhance mutual understanding and collaboration between policy makers, researchers and citizens.
To evaluate the quality of citizens’ input to R&I agendas, a comparative analysis between the CIMULACT citizen-based research topics and expert-based foresight studies was made. The analysis revealed that citizens’ involvement introduces more holistic and socially grounded perspectives on R&I that are lacking from many expert-based studies. This illustrates the value of broad participation when setting directions for future policy and agenda settings. Furthermore it demonstrates that while experts tend to put emphasis on technological developments when giving input to research policies, citizens point towards human- and community-centred values.

The fact that citizens can provide valuable insights and contributions to R&I was also acknowledged in the Interim Evaluation of Horizon 2020 where CIMULACT was mentioned as one example that had been already able to deliver significant inputs to Horizon 2020. Another indication that CIMULACT has impact on the Horizon 2020 Work Programme was that CIMULACT was mentioned in the general introduction to the Horizon 2020 (2018-2020) Work Programme as a project that had made involvement of citizens possible. Moreover, CIMULACT was chosen by OECD as a good practice case for engaging citizens in science.

The examples above are clear examples of the huge awareness CIMULACT has received from organisations and international institutions which express a need for tools to implement the principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI) in practice. But CIMULACT has also received notable interest from national authorities who wish to engage citizens in research agenda settings. Regular meetings with national authorities about open research agenda settings have consequently been a central element of disseminating the project and its results hereby building capacities across Europe for more of these kinds of processes.

The footprint of CIMULACT is already visible in the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (2018-2020) and remains relevant for the preparation of Framework Programme 9 (FP9). However, besides the concrete suggestions to R&I topics and policies, CIMULACT will serve as a model for open research agenda settings both in the EU and at national level.
The hope is that CIMULACT will be relevant many years into the future and will set new standards for public participation by engaging citizens in R&I programming and policy making within the field of STI. CIMULACT has taken the first steps in redefining how research agendas can be developed in dialogue with all societal actors hereby contributing to a greater democracy and more responsible research and innovation in the EU.