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Scaling up Co-creation: Avenues and Limits for Integrating Society in Science and Innovation

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SCALINGS (Scaling up Co-creation: Avenues and Limits for Integrating Society in Science and Innovation)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-04-30

"Over the past decade, innovation theory and practice has taken a decisive turn towards ""co-creation."" There is broad recognition that complex societal challenges cannot be solved through technical solutions alone, but require scientists and engineers to work together with users, businesses, and government. Publics are increasingly engaged “upstream” in research and development to enable more democratic forms of innovation, unlock new sources of knowledge, and help craft socially robust solutions. In the private sector, many companies are moving to more open and inclusive forms of innovation such as research partnerships, mass customization, crowdsourcing, or start-up garages. Municipalities and companies are increasingly developing technology in-situ with users and companies through “living-labs” settings or shape innovation through pre-commercial procurement.

Yet, this mainstreaming of ""co-creation"" across Europe poses new challenges to better understand “co-creation processes and outcomes under various cultural, societal and regulatory backgrounds to allow better-targeted policy support” (SwafS-13-17). To date, no systematic studies exist that detail how co-creation instruments operate under different socio-cultural conditions, i.e. if “best practices” will be effective elsewhere or if the resulting products and services are compatible with new markets. For example, a test-bed site on smart urban energy use might lead to fundamentally different outcomes in Spain and Denmark, representing different lifestyles, economies, infrastructures, and sociocultural values, norms, and preferences. Likewise, a robot delivering health care services to patients in a local hospital in Spain might not easily translate to a German hospital, reflecting different economic, cultural, and regulatory contexts.

SCALINGS addresses the challenge of mainstreaming co-creation across a diverse Europe head-on: With a comparative, embedded and experimental research design, SCALINGS will investigate the implementation, uptake, and outcomes of three co-creation instruments (public procurement of innovation, co-creation facilities, and living labs) in two technical domains (robotics and urban energy) across 10 countries. Using comparative case studies and experimental interventions, the project will explore if and how these instruments and their outcomes can be generalized, transferred, or scaled up to new socio-cultural, economic, or institutional conditions. Based on our findings, we will develop two new theoretical frameworks to guide the wider dissemination and better understand the limits of co-creation. We will support EU innovation policy by contributing to roadmapping efforts. Together with our engineering partners, we will co-create enhanced practices that feed directly back into their work and strategy.
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SCALINGS unfolds in three stages. Year 1 focuses on a state-of-the-art analysis of co-creation theory and practice through a large number of systematic, in-depth case studies. Year 2 will zoom in on a subset of cases and conduct experimental interventions with the goal to enhance co-creation processes and outcomes. Year 3 will focus on dissemination and policy implications.

SCALINGS work to date has concentrated on four interrelated work strands:

(1) Initial conceptual and methodological work, including:
• Guiding the selection of case studies for all partners
• Guiding the development of common empirical and methodological protocols
• Conducting a literature survey on the state-of-the-art of co-creation theory
• Developing a “SCALINGS Starter Kit,” including a core reading lists and the hosting of regular reading groups
• Launching theory development on “situated co-creation” and “social robustness of scaling”

(2) Initial empirical work: A total 40+ in-depth case studies, comprising 231 interviews, were conducted to investigate the state-of-the-art use of three co-creation instruments - Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI), Co-Creation Facilities (CCF), and Living Labs (LL) – in robotics and urban energy. In robotics, our empirical work was closely connected to one major European robotics consortium, the European Coordination Hub for Open Robotics Development (ECHORD++). In urban energy, we investigated a more heterogeneous set of cases, many of which were in close geographic proximity to our SCALINGS partner institutions. In particular, this includes several instances of smart energy campuses, energy co-operatives, energy living labs, or the ongoing city transformations.

(3) Initial policy analysis: The aim of WP 8 is to gain a systematic comparative understanding of policy pre-conditions that shape the use, efficacy, and outcomes of co-creation in different countries. WP8 includes a comparative analysis of the different legal contexts in Europe and how they can affect co-creation practice. It will synthesize all its findings, together with the findings of WPs 2-7, into an “EU Policy Roadmap” with the specific goal of informing European Union (EU) policy-makers of the mainstreaming of co-creative innovation and its limitations over the next decades.

(4) Setting up project management and dissemination infrastructures.
"Work conducted during year 1 has already made important first strides towards the specific challenge posed by the SwafS-13-2017 call to “develop a better understanding of co-creation processes and outcomes under various cultural, societal and regulatory backgrounds.” Through more than 40 in-depth case studies across 10 countries and two technological domains, SCALINGS is creating a unique data set for systematic insights into the socio-cultural variability of co-creation processes and outcomes, and impacts beyond the state of the art. Our unique multi-sited, comparative, and embedded research design further allows SCALINGS account, for the first time systematically, for how “co-construction and society-sensitive design [will always be] refracted through practicalities embedded in existing institutions and interests” – for example through in government or municipality driven cases of public procurements, or the domain-specific uses of living labs. In terms of theory development, SCALINGS has made some initial progress beyond the state of the ard, based on an extensive survey of the literature and first comparative insights from the case, towards theorizing “co-creation” and “scale.” In particular, we have situated our own work in the context of existing STS theories on Public Engagement and RRI, paving the way for a “‘new wave’ of public engagement where ‘co-creation’ is a key notion.”

In Y2, we will continue our theoretical work based on emerging conceptual questions and themes, and a growing body of comparative analysis. Y2 work will also yield crucial additional empirical insights, especially focused on an “increasing interest, and occasional experiments, in processes of co-construction [...] and co-production.” We will use our multi-sited design as a way to conduct systematic comparisons and experimental interventions to augment existing co-creation practices with a view towards “experiments of implementable integration” with the goal to “improve their reflexivity,” as called for by the Work Program. We will also leverage preliminary work in the policy workpackage (WP8) to produce a range of tangible outputs that will “allow better-targeted policy support in the future."""
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