Nanotechnology research and innovation can benefit from being open to the public. Early and continuous engagement is key to sustainable, desirable and acceptable innovations, in which R&I is aligned with the values, needs and expectations of society. Researchers and engineers are one of the important enactors to ensure nanotechnology researcher and innovation becomes more socially robust. To support you to become more responsive to societal needs and values, GoNano developed various tools and guidelines that can be found below.
Over the past three years, GoNano developed a co-creation approach to explore how researchers and engineers can work with publics and professional stakeholders to create novel suggestions for future nanotechnology products. Co-creation is a widely used, but loosely defined term that has been applied in different contexts. Co-creation can be understood as the collaborative development of new value. It is a form of collaborative innovation: ideas are shared and improved together. GoNano’ definition of co-creation is more focussed towards nanotechnology and defined co-creation as the emergence of productive collaborations between researchers and societal stakeholders over longer timeframes, focusing on specific nanotechnology research lines, leading to tangible outcomes such as a new research avenue, proposal, product or prototype.
Advantages of co-creation for researchers and engineers
The advantages of co-creation for researchers are two-fold: On the one hand, co-creation events offer opportunities for the articulation and deliberation of the needs and concerns of society and can contribute to the development and embedding of new, more desirable advances. In this way, innovators get vital feedback on their innovation processes as a result of these exercises, and stakeholders and citizen get the opportunity to voice their desires, wishes and concerns regarding the direction of research. On the other, society can learn about potential future advances which can enhance trust and the confidence of stakeholders that new technologies respond to their needs and values.
Researchers and engineers are key stakeholder in the process of making reseach and innovation more socially robust, since you are developing the new reseach avenue, proposal, product or prototype. Researchers and engineers have also insight concerning the effects of more socially robust nanotechnology reseacht and innovation, including the boundary conditions and what effects that would have on your work environment.
To explore how researchers and engineers can become more responsive so societal needs and valuea, GoNano developed co-creation workshops around real-life case studies proposed by researchers from the field. For example, during the first stakeholder workshop at the University of Twente the artificial pancreas (a monitoring device for diabetes type 1 patients that continuously measures glucose levels of the patients and adds insulin and glucagon when needed) was one topic. The discussion opened up the converstation for potential users (diabetes patients) of the artificial pancreas who was concerned about the data management considerations. The workshop led to a new data management plan that may be relevant for future data sharing agreements between the producer and users of the device.
The majority of the participating researchers responded positively to the co-creation process. Some were absolutely convinced of the potential added value of co-creation. The developer of the early diagnostic tool in the stakeholder workshop on health in the Netherlands confirmed that the discussions with different stakeholders along the value chain provided new research insights. She gained a
“more concrete understanding in what steps to take and what steps not to take during the rest of their research”, which helped “to build the next three years of my research life”.
See the interviews with workshop participants on the GoNano Youtube channel.
Distilled from the GoNano workshops (please see the GoNano approach for more information), we gained insight into your needs and wishes in terms of tools and guidelines that would help you to make your own research more socially robust. As a response, below you will find multiple tools and guidelines that GoNano developed to support your journey in improving the responsiveness of your research and innovation processes to public values and concerns.
Tools and materials to support reseachers and engineers in the process of co-creation
1) Co-creation toolkit: Involving societal stakeholders as a source of creativity in research
GoNano developed a Co-creation toolkit in which we would like to share our lessons learned. We hope it will support researchers and engineers who would like to engage with citizens and societal stakeholders as a source of creative thinking. The toolkit offers a six-step approach to help researchers and engineers define their goal, identify the relevant stakeholders and design, implement and reflect on the co-creation process. GoNano hopes to inspire researchers and engineers to continue this journey, working together with citizens and societal stakeholders to create value in new settings, with new topics and with creative outcomes.
You can download all the material here:
– Brochure with all information for a co-creation workshop.
– PowerPoint presentation to support the process
– Two posters (extended and simpel version) to print for your event, showing the six-step approach to co-creation
– Practical and strategic canvases to support step 3: Start planning
– Toolkits from other projects and organizations to support step 4: Organize your co-creation event
– YouTube clips with an impression of the GoNano workshop to support step 4: Organizing your co-creation event
– Questionnaire canvas used by GoNano to support step 5: Evaluation and reflection on the process
2) The Road of Co-Creation
The Road of Co-Creation is a a section on the GoNano project website, which take the visitor through the entire process of developing and carrying out co-creation events, providing them with the necessary training materials and recommendations
that are relevant at the different steps along the way.
The roadmap is intended to function as a graphic table of content, allowing you to both get an overview of the steps when developing a co-creation event, and to access the training material GoNano developed in each of te steps. The training materials are PDF-files are easily accesable and can be downloaded via inserted links on the page.
3) Animated vignettes- the process and outcomes of the GoNano project
GoNano developed five audio-visual vignettes capturing the development of the concrete product suggestions or research aims that came out from a collaboration between citizens and stakeholders from each of the pilot countries – energy in Spain, food in the Czech Republic and health in the Netherlands. Please watch the five audio-visual vignettes
4) ‘How to..’ Guide on public engagement
GoNano also developed a ‘How to..’ guide for citizens on public participation to prepare your co-creation participants. This guide will support citizens who would like to engage with nanotechnologies to express their own needs and concerns and ensure that their thoughts are taken into account in future developments. The guide offers a five-step approach which aims to helps participants to define their interests, identify the right engagement opportunity, and shares tips and tricks on how become involved in nanotechnology research and development. It’s an invitation for citizens to express their own needs and concerns and help shape the future directions of nanotechnologies.
5) The GoNano winter school
GoNano also focused directly on(young) researchers during the GoNano winter school. The winter school was developed to challenge postgraduate students and early career researchers from a broad range of disciplines to step out of their comfort zones and work together to increase their responsiveness to societal needs and values in nanotechnology innovations. After the event, participants indicated that their experience was both enlightening and beneficial, with their expectations met or surpassed and most aims and objectives achieved. Many participants left with the desire to adapt their research approaches to be more aware of and responsive to societal inputs. See also the report from the Winter School (Deliverable 6.3).
RMIT micro-credentials – Content from the winter school, such as presentations and expert interviews, were repackaged to create a new micro-credential on “Understanding Responsible Research and Innovation” for RMIT’s suite of digital learning modules. RMIT has scheduled production of three such micro-credentials based on outputs from the GoNano project: The first one, which has already been successfully built and launched, focusses on RRI, the second on co-creation, and the third on putting the two together in practice are due to be completed by the end of 2020. The micro-credentials can be accessed by all 80,000+ students at RMIT and work to extend access to external audiences is under way.
6) GoNano webinars
To share our experiences, GoNano developed three webinars that discusses how we developed our co-creation process, our lessons learned, and tips an tricks on how you can develop your own co-creation process.
Each webinar consists of about 45 minutes and provide insights into different aspects of co-creation. Eah webinar is devided into three sessions of 15 min each.
- The first webinar is about What is co-creation and why co-create in research and innovation?
- The second webinar is about Co-creation in practice
- The third webinar is about Outcomes and results of co-creation.
The GoNano approach
GoNano believes that research and innovation can benefit from being more open to societal needs and concerns. Over the course of three years (2017-2020), GoNano enabled collaborative development (co-creation) in three nanotechnology application areas: food, energy and health. We first consulted citizens about their wishes, needs and concerns regarding future nanotechnology applications. This was used as input for the first and second stakeholder workshops, which aimed to stimulate citizens, civil society organisations, industry, researchers and policy makers across Europe to co-create research aims and think about concrete (product) suggestions for future nanotechnologies. Read more about the GoNano approach and results.