Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SPARKS Report Summary

Project ID: 665825
Funded under: H2020-EU.5.c.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SPARKS (SPARKS)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

SPARKS is an awareness-raising and engagement project to promote Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) across 29 European countries (EU members plus Switzerland). It gathers 33 organizations as partners and linked Third Parties. Sparks is promoting RRI in an unconventional way: A Europe-wide traveling exhibition is showing stories and inviting to participate in activities that will capture the attention of different public to the pillars of RRI.

The Sparks exhibition is titled Beyond the Lab: The DIY Science Revolution and it explores the increasing number of inventions and scientific discoveries that are being made by hackers, patient groups and ordinary citizens. The stories are clustered around three content themes: DIY Biology, Health Hacking and Citizen Science. A fourth section presents three artworks that imagine where DIY science and medicine might lead in the future and what this could mean for our lives.   There is a place for host venues use to create a display based on locally relevant ‘DIY science’ research. The data collected during the two years of touring will feed a policy document to be shared with policy makers and a wider audience, in a final conference, after organizing a science café at the Parliament in April or May 2017.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"The Kick-off meeting launched officially the beginning of the Sparks project on the 6th of July 2016. Since then, a cascade of coordinated work has been performed by every partner involved: The 33 Sparks' partners have deployed harmoniously their skills and expertise.

Ahti took the first step with WP1, "Setting the scene": In order to create a common understanding of RRI and the topic of ‘technology shifts in health’, the consortium needed to reach a consensus and to share a common definition and a framework for the concepts involved. WP 1 took the ideas involved in RRI and translated this into a systematic approach to the topic in the form of a guide that enabled the discussions to take place using a common vocabulary as well as a common approach to identifying relevant case studies.

In a parallel track, Science Museum London and Ecsite started working in the developing of the Exhibition, WP2: thanks to the Inception Report, the Reflective Board's advice and the expertise of the Science Museum team, we had several conversations about the approach the exhibition should have. We decided that the RRI values would be embedded in each of the stories and narrative that we were to build for the exhibition. The first week of July two openings were launched: Science Museum in London and Science Shop Bonn in Germany. They were followed by Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw, Poland and Hisa in Slovenia.

In “Activities design and organisation” (WP3) five innovative participatory event formats have been tested and developed to enrich the exhibition and to engage the public in science topics related to health and medicine, Do-it-yourself science and Responsible Research and Innovation processes. All local organisers hosting the exhibition compulsorily have to organise a Reversed Science Café and six Science Espressos. Moreover, they have to organise one optional activity that can either be a Pop-up Science Shop, an Incubation Workshop or a Scenario Workshop. To implement these activities locally, all partners are supposed to establish local partnerships.

For Capturing Learning and Policy Outreach (WP4) we are making progress in the policy advocacy part of this WP: with preliminary data extracted by KEA from the first surveys, initial and anticipatory discussions at consortium level about the policy recommendations that SPARKS wants to put forward to policy makers, we have agreed on what we want to communicate and advocate for and contacted STOA, to get into the Parliament.

Communication activities of Sparks (WP5) have started with the design of a communication strategy defining the visual identity of the project (logo, fonts, postcard design and internal documents templates, visual identity and creation of local web page guidelines), adequate messages according to target audiences and dissemination channels as well as defining the management process of the communication.
Sparks has produced a short introductory video, website, active social media accounts, promotional postcard, 4 newsletters, 3 press releases. The project has a strong presence on social media engaging with a wide fan and followers interested in science and innovation news, art and design as well as technology fields. The website has been and will continue to be regularly updated with new material, notably audio-visual. Efficient communication within the partnership has ensured that activities organised onsite have been widely relayed online on the project’s social media and website.
The project and some artworks have been presented at international events such as IAS conference 2016 (Durban), Living Knowledge Conference, Ars Electronica Festival 2016. It has benefited from international press coverage, like The Guardian, in the UK.

In the management work package (WP6), Ecsite has steered the work flow and communication among partners of the project, so we are able to keep the efficient and effective work, the partnership remains alive and enthusiastic and we are able to build upon the work of each other, learning from each other and from the running of the project itself. Two meetings per year have been performed, where the Work packages leaders gather face-to-face, and teleconference meetings every two months ensures a close communication. Raising topics, where different points of view and expertise will enrich the project, anticipating the outcomes and preparing to be responsive when unexpected events occur, are also part of the way we work together. We believe in the RRI umbrella as a way of doing things, not only for achieving results in research and innovation but also of the process we run together."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"We are currently very focused on running a smooth tour in each of the 4 countries that simultaneously are hosting the exhibition. Together with the partners we are looking after the collaborative way to support the participatory activities, collect the data and working towards the event at the EU Parliament. The activities engage citizens in science and transport the message of responsible research and innovation that everybody can and should have a say in research and innovation processes. The activities may increase the capacity of local science actors to stimulate RRI processes locally and may contribute to the establishment of local partnerships which may last longer than the period of the project. An example for a socioeconomic impact might be the request for help concerning a technical problem directed to Copernicus Science Centre from the Medical University of Warsaw. This relationship resulted from earlier project activities performed in the Sparks project.

The "Capture learning" work package will produce policy recommendations that will embrace the whole project cycle and will pool the conclusions and experiments from the ground on the promotion of RRI values through public engagement. These recommendations will aim to support European and local level policy makers what the most efficient ways explored by Sparks are to approach RRI values and more particularly public engagement."

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