One of the key objectives of the GoNano project is to support the realization of a responsive nanotechnologies research and innovation (R&I) system in Europe by providing training and capacity building for R&I actors like researchers and engineers. The training comes in a variety of forms and focuses on how to recognise, include, design and co-create research to take into account societal considerations and contribute to solving societal challenges.
Working co-creatively is an innovation journey, where you go through and often revisit several steps along the way. Our training materials are developed for use along this journey, from discovering the goal of your co-creation journey, analysing the problem and context, finding your stakeholder, preparing and organising your co-creation event(s) and making use of your results for achieving your desired impact.
We call this collection of training materials “THE ROAD OF CO-CREATION”. The roadmap below is a graphic table of content, which allows you to orient yourself in the different steps of co-creation and access the relevant guidelines, manuals, recommendations and exercises related to each of them.
1 Destination and Meaning
The very first step is to consider and figure out why you may want to integrate co-creation in your current and/or future endeavours. What are your initial goals and expectations for working co-creatively with others?
The training material presented here is meant to help you reflect on and articulate how and why the co-creation approach could support you, your research project or your organization’s current and future research projects and activities. It will give you a brief introduction to the concept of co-creation and an explain why it should be of interest for researchers and engineers. Additionally, it will provide you with templates and an exercise to initiate reflection and goal setting.
What is co-creation? And why co-create in research and innovation?
Co-creation is a widely used, but loosely defined term, which has been applied in many different contexts. At its very core, it is about the involvement of others and their perspectives in an innovation process. However, the goal(s) of co-creation projects can be quite diverse, and that too is reflected in the various designs and applied methodologies of the innovation processes. For some, the involvement of others is simply an opportunity for gathering additional input and feedback in the research and innovation (R&I) that may help improve the product or application. For others, it is a form of a principle or mentality one can follow to help ensure that the researchers and engineers in R&I consider and are responsive to the needs and concerns of others.
In the GoNano project, we aimed to enable co-creation between citizens, civil society organisations, industry, researchers and policy makers across Europe, to align future nanotechnologies with societal needs and concerns. We therefore adopted the following definition of co-creation:
“CO-CREATION ACTIVITIES ENABLE 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”
There are several things that potentially can be gained by incorporating a co-creative approach to R&I processes and projects:
- First off, a co-creation project can lead you to new insights and knowledge. Future stakeholders of your research or innovation project have insight and knowledge that could help you refine and tailor your activity to their needs and direct your efforts in directions valuable for your stakeholders.
- Second, co-creation builds your future network for sharing your work, and so it broadens the group that would potentially help you implement and further develop it.
- Third, co-creation creates ownership of solutions. Stakeholders that have been involved and allowed to influence your research and innovation process, are more likely to feel ownership and thereby responsibility for sharing your findings and working to implement or further develop your solutions.
- Fourth, co-creating helps you check that solutions you propose are rooted in and relevant to solving the problem you were planning to contribute a solution to with your project. Societal challenges are complex, and collaboration across disciplines and sectors is needed to reach robust solutions.
- Fifth, involving citizens and other stakeholders in co-creating on your project creates trust and an increased understanding among the participants in the process.
In the two videos below, you can see and hear more about what co-creation is and what can be achieved through co-creation. The videos are respective sessions from GoNano co-creation training webinar series.
Discovering the goal(s) of your co-creation project
Now that you’ve been introduced to (or brushed up on) the concept of co-creation, you need to start figuring what your own goals or motivations for integrating the co-creation in your R&I projects may be. As we mentioned, various actors can have different reasons for and aims with working co-creatively. The GoNano project for instance had the multiple goals with developing a methodology for and running the co-creation process within:
- To showcase an early-stage state-of-the-art continuous citizen and stakeholder engagement process, which take into account gender and differences in culture and communication traditions across the EU
- To develop concrete research and product suggestions for future applications of nanotechnologies within the areas of food, energy and health
- To provide concrete policy recommendations for governing the development of conditions and actors responsive to societal needs, values and concerns in R&I
To help you reflect on, discover and articulate your goals with co-creation, try to reflect on the following questions: Why do you want to embark on a co-creative innovation process? Where would you like to be at the end of your co-creation process? What is the problem you are trying to solve?
As you continue through the next steps of our co-creation journey, we’ll provide you with more videos, guidelines, manuals and templates to support you in developing your own co-creation process. However, before you continue, we recommend that you try this exercise:
Fill out the “Strategic Planning Canvas” – either on your own or together with colleagues.
Word of advice: Some of the questions may feel a bit overwhelming and difficult to answer meaningfully at this point, but don’t worry(!). Arranging a co-creation project is an iterative process where steps and decisions will be revised along the way. What you fill out in the canvas will almost certainly have to be adjusted, but you must start somewhere, and that is what this exercise will help you do.
2 Clarification of scope
The second step is about working on clarifying the scope of your co-creation project.
The training material and exercises here will support you in taking stock of the internal resources at your disposal, as well as making an initial mapping of the external context that you will operate in and immediate stakeholders. The objective is to prepare you to find participants and engaging them in your co-creation projects.
Now that you’ve considered why you might be interested in working co-creatively with others and have set (an) initial goal(s) for your R&I project, it’s time to work on making the project idea more tangible. You have to clarify the scope of your project.
Co-creation projects and activities can greatly vary in terms of their goal(s), timeframe and scale. In the GoNano project, we were tasked with showing how citizens and other stakeholders could work with researchers to make concrete suggestions for future nano-enabled applications within the respective areas of food, health and energy that would reflect societal needs and values. We designed the methodology for a co-creation process and ran three pilot projects that covered three countries and four iterations. However, we also had a timeframe of three years, a budget of nearly 2 million euro and a diverse consortium with a lot of experience in co-creation and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). Chances are that your time and resources are different to ours, but rest assured – it also is possible and valuable to do co-creation in shorter projects with a small budget.
The inventorying approach
There are different ways to determine the scope of your co-creation project. Assuming you’ve already thought about the problem you are trying to solve, we’ll suggest that you use the inventorying approach. Through simple desk research and dialogue, you can try to take stock of your internal resources. It’s beneficial to do a preliminary inventory because it can help you get a more realistic understanding of your possibilities. While the internal resources are an important factor, it is not the sole thing to consider. The external context of your project and your possible stakeholders are just as important. You should therefore also make a preliminary mapping of the external context and identify the immediate stakeholders.
To do a preliminary inventory of your internal resources and context, try to answer the following questions:
- What human resources do you have at your disposal?
– E.g. Are you own or do you have a team? A Communications Depart? Organizers?
- What competencies, knowledge, experience and network do you have at your availability?
– E.g. Colleagues that are familiar with facilitating engagement processes?
- What is your time frame?
– E.g. If you consider integrating the co-creation approach to an already ongoing R&I project, when and over how long a period will it be possible to fit it in with the current time frame of the project?
- What is your budget?
– E.g. Do you have usable working hours you can allocate to the activity? And to what extent are financial means available?
- What is your organisational context (policies, strategy, hierarchies) and how do they influence your desired destination (challenges and opportunities)?
– E.g. Does your organisation already have an SDG (Sustainable Development Goals)/CSR policy or strategy which you can argue that your co-creation project will align with? Or do you think your superior might be sceptical of integrating new elements like co-creation into the R&I?
Remember that nothing is necessarily set in stone. You may for instance not have immediate support through the corporate strategy or from your superior, but that could change if you develop a project proposal and present a compelling case for using a co-creative approach. That could result in you being allocated a bigger budget and allowed to pull on existing human resources and competencies within other different parts of your organisation – or perhaps hire help from the outside.
To make a preliminary mapping of the external context of your project and identify your immediate stakeholders, try to answer the following questions.
- What is the societal context of the problem you would like to address?
- What is the political and legal context of the problem you would like to address?
- Who are the stakeholders and key players, and what role could they play in your co-creation project?
While nano researchers and engineers work in a similar field on a conceptual level (manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale), the external context of their R&I projects can vary greatly depending on the concrete application, sector and geographical location they work in. This was clearly the case in the GoNano project, where the three pilot co-creation projects were centered around applications in respective sectors and each took place in different European countries.
Exercise: Try to fill out the “Practical Planning Canvas” – either on your own or together with colleagues.
Word of advice: Just like with the ‘Strategical Planning Canvas’ in the first step, some of the questions in this one may be difficult to answer at first, but try to give it a go. It will help bring you forward to the next steps, where you’ll learn more about the methods for co-creation and the practicalities related to organizing an event, which will prepare you for the more detailed planning.
3 Finding and engaging participants
The third step is about finding possible participants and engaging them in your project.
Once you have clarified the goal and scope of your co-creation project, you have to identify the concrete actors that you want to involve in your co-creation process and consider how to effectively reach out to them. The training materials will help you develop effective communication strategies by showing how to systematically break down various target groups.
Now that you’ve set initial goals for your co-creation project, taken stock of your internal resources, assessed the external context and identified immediate stakeholders, it is time to figure out which actors you would like to have participate and begin to consider how you may be able to engage them in the process.
You have a clear idea about the goal(s) of your co-creation project and what you’d like to get out of the participant, but some key questions for you are these: What is in it for those you wish to involve? Why would a stakeholder or a citizen want to engage and spend time on your activities? How will the process look and what will it require from them? In order to ensure a sustained and desirable level of engagement from participants, it is necessary to address one or more of participants’ motivations. it is therefore important that you consider the interests of the different stakeholders and their possible motivation(s) for participating, as well as how you can use this information and various tools to approach them.
You can reflect on this systematically by trying to answer the five questions below for each of the broader stakeholder categories or target groups that you may have identified in the mapping of the external context and stakeholder types:
- Who are these actors?
- Why do you need them in the project?
- What is in it for them?
- How do you approach them?
- Which tools will you use?
To help you do this, you can orient yourself in the document below. It is an excerpt of the GoNano project’s communication and branding plan, which specifically revolves around our communication strategy for different types of stakeholders. It showcases how we answered the question in relation to the project and the co-creation process within it. Additionally, it exemplifies how different the answers can be for each of the stakeholder types.
You can also watch the video below, which is one of the webinar sessions on the topic of stakeholders and their interests. It looks at the many different types of stakeholders that you could involve in a co-creation process, providing examples of what it is that these stakeholders groups could contribute with and what may motivate them to participate.
4 Methodological considerations
The fourth step is about the methodological considerations in relation to your project – figuring out how the co-creation process(es) of your project should be designed and which methods to use.
The training materials will help you do this by showing how it was done in the GoNano project. You’ll be provided with guidelines and manuals for different co-creation workshops, as well as the examples background information about nanotechnologies for citizens and other actors to prepare them for participating in co-creation. The methodological considerations should you prepare for the next step of organizing and carrying out your actual co-creation event(s).
Now that you’ve set an initial goal (or several) for your co-creation project, worked on clarifying its scope and made some considerations with regards to which actors you want to participate in the co-creation and how to engage them, it’s time to contemplate how the co-creation process(es) should be designed and which methods to use.
There are many different ways to do this, but to exemplify how it can be done, we’ll give a brief survey of the co-creation design and methodology of the GoNano project. The GoNano methodology for co-creation is a facilitated continues process aimed at aligning R&I projects and processes with societal needs and values. Through its co-creation process, lay participants learn about nanotechnology and the professional stakeholders learn about societal needs and values in order to allow for enhancing their responsiveness to them. The methodology is somewhat comprehensive and is not necessarily suitable to be used as a template for a methodology in another project. However, it can serve as inspiration for how such co-creation process(es) can be approached and which methods that can be applied.
The design and methodology of the co-creation process in GoNano
As mentioned in the first step, the overall goal of the GoNano project was to demonstrate how responsiveness to societal values, needs and concerns can be built into nanotechnology R&I processes through co-creation, resulting in products that are judged as socially desirable, sustainable and acceptable. The objectives were to come up with concrete suggestions for new products and research avenues, develop policy recommendations and to contribute to community & capacity building in relation to the practice of co-creation and RRI. In order to achieve this, the project should develop a methodology for a co-creation approach and then use it to run different pilot co-creation processes within the respective themes of Health, Food and Energy. The two figures below respectively illustrate the overall project design of the GoNano project as a whole and the outline of the co-creation process.
The co-creation methodology was thought as a continuous and iterative process designed with several rounds of citizen and stakeholder involvement through workshops and consultations:
- It began with a face-to-face citizen workshops aiming at collecting knowledge on the citizens’ values, concerns and messages regarding the development and implementation of future nanotechnologies.
- Second round of workshops were for stakeholders within businesses, policy, CSOs, and research institutes, and in some cases also citizens that participated in the previous workshop. Here the needs and value deduced from the first round of citizen workshops was used by the stakeholders as the basis to design responsive suggestions for applications of nanotechnologies.
- The third round was an online consultation where citizens across Europe were to react to the design suggestions developed by the stakeholders in previous round.
- In the finale round of workshops stakeholders were invited back to evaluate the results from the citizen consultation and explore product suggestions aligned with societal needs and values.
One of the sessions in the GoNano webinar series covered the methodology of this co-creation process. You can watch the session in the video below:
The structure and applied methods in the co-creation process
Now that you’ve gotten a brief overview of the project design and the logic behind the co-creation process as a whole, we can dive into the structure and explain of methods that were applied in the different rounds of co-creation workshops for citizens and stakeholders, respectively.
The citizen workshops were designed to get the citizens to come together to commonly reflect on nanotechnology and to provide their views about how to integrate them into the development of ideas for future application of nanotechnology that are aligned with citizens’ needs and values. The approach builds on participatory integration of citizens to opine on pressing issues from projects such as WorldWideViews, PACITA and co-creative exercises as developed in NanoDiode. The citizen workshops were structured in the following way:
- After a general introduction clarifying the roles of the participants and introducing the day, the workshop consisted of three repetitive rounds of reflection, where the citizens discussed a specific technology application setting which they might already know from the information material.
- The discussions were free, but a facilitator helped to make sure the participants stayed on topic and also discussed a set of pre-prepared questions. The technology-oriented start provides an opportunity to investigate a stakeholder-coined technology setting and creatively dive into opportunities and concerns about nanotechnologies. Starting with a reflection on the application of nanotechnologies also serves to make sure that the citizens have enough time to get familiar with Nano-applications and their implications, and that their own thoughts relate to areas of interest of the stakeholders.
- In the next step, the citizens were asked to again reflect on the same application of nanotechnology, and to identify wishes and concerns that are important to them in that context. They wrote down these wishes and concerns, and after a plenary presentation, the participants voted upon them individually. In doing so, they provide valuable information on how they perceive the acceptability and desirability of nanotechnology applications, for the next step of the co-creation process – the first workshop with the professional stakeholders.
- In the final step of the citizen workshop, citizens were asked to think about what they would like decisions-makers, researchers and other professional stakeholders to do. The results are written messages with a clear addressee. Messages could be concrete proposals of a next generation of nanotechnology applications or products, a concrete instruction of what the decision makers should take care of, or what the researchers should consider in the future, when they elaborate on these technologies.
The document below is an excerpt from the method and manuals for the co-creation process in the GoNano project, which describes and illustrates the methodology of the citizen workshops in greater detail.
Seeing as many lay citizens may be unfamiliar with nanotechnology, the GoNano project also used different methods to prepare the participants for taking part in the deliberation during the workshop. The three documents below are the information material that were developed for the three respective citizen workshops. The role of the information materials was to educate the participating citizens about nanotechnology and possible future application areas, introduce them to societal, legal and ethical questions on the desirable, sustainable and acceptable development of nanotechnologies; to align their discussion with the research and application areas of interest to professional stakeholders; and to initiate their thinking on how they would want future nanotechnology to be part of their everyday lives.
- ‘Basic information about nanotechnologies for health‘
- ‘Basic information about nanotechnologies for food‘
- ‘Basic information about nanotechnologies for energy’
In addition to the information material, we also developed scenarios of future visions for use of nano-enabled technology within Food, Health and Energy in 2030. The scenarios take an everyday situation as a starting point to illustrate how nanotechnologies could be implanted in the future. They were used as a method for introducing questions of desirability, sustainability and acceptability by letting the different scenarios play with how human, societal and cultural dynamics influence the way technologies become integrated in and part of people’s lives. The document below is a collection of all the various scenarios that were developed in the GoNano project.
The scenarios were also made into short videos. You can find them here.
If you yourself are doing a co-creation project concerning nanotechnologies within one of these three sectors and want to involve lay citizens in the process, then you might be able to use the information materials and scenarios more or less as they. However, if your project is concerned with nanotechnologies within another sector, then it may be beneficial to adjust the information materials or develop new ones with more suitable examples. In that case, you can read an elaborate account on how and why the information materials and scenarios were developed in GoNano in this report.
The stakeholder workshops where designed to get a varied group of stakeholders to explore possibilities for new nano-enabled product designs, building on the social needs and values identified in earlier stages of the project/the citizen workshops and linking their different perspectives, knowledge and expertise. It is set up to following a design thinking format. The overall structure of the stakeholder workshops consisted of a general introduction followed by four interrelated co-creation sessions:
- Session A: Exploration, where participants get to know each other and their work, explore the needs and values expressed by the citizens in the previous workshop, and reflect on and articulate their own needs and interests.
- Session B: Ideation, where participants imagine and co-create responses to the needs and values expressed by the citizens by imagining revisions/adaptions of ongoing research and innovation trajectories, building on the varied expertise from the different stakeholders around the table.
- Session C: Prototyping, where participants generate storyboards that visualized how the resulting research lines and product suggestions could be designed to modified in relation to the needs and values expressed by the citizens, and suggest concrete actions to be taken by the participating stakeholders to realise the vision(s).
- Session D: Reflection, where the participants present and reframe their storyboards, and reflect on the ways in which the citizen’s needs shaped the storyboard. Furthermore, they identify actions to be taken in preparation for the next stakeholder workshop and reflect on the overall workshop objectives.
The partners that facilitated the respective pilot co-creation projects integrated this overall structure, but while modifying the programme to fit their specific workshop topics (Health, Food and Energy) and cultural specificities (Dutch, Czech and Spanish).
The aim was to get around 30 stakeholders to participate in each of the stakeholder workshops that cover a diverse spectrum of expertise (researchers, producers (industry), professional users, policy makers and civil society organisations (CSO’s)). Additionally, we also strived for an equal distribution of these actor groups.
In order to accommodate that the level of knowledge on nanotechnology, its application areas, and regulatory issues varied among the different type of stakeholders, information about these topics was included in the provided background material to ensure every participant would have a basic level of knowledge before participating in the workshop. In addition, the background material also included a brief overview of the outcomes of the citizen workshop. The documents below contain the English versions of the background material that was developed in relation to the respective stakeholder workshops.
- ’Background information material for the stakeholder workshop on future food and nanotechnologies‘
- ’Background information material for the stakeholder workshops on nanotechnologies and health‘
- ‘Background information material for the stakeholder workshop on nanotechnology for energy‘
In case you also consider developing background material for the different types of stakeholders that will participate in your co-creation event(s) and would like to get inspired, you can read more about how we went about it in the GoNano project in this report.
As illustrated in the overview, we had a second round of stakeholder workshops as the final step GoNano co-creation process. Although it had a slightly different purpose than the first round, seeing as the participating stakeholders were asked to reflect on the outcome of the online citizen consultation and to provide input for the development of business cases on concrete design suggestions, it was structured in the same way around the four main pillars of co-creation: exploration, ideation, prototyping and reflection. We will therefore not go more in depth with it here, but it shows how the same methods, structures and approaches can be used to achieve different outcomes in a co-creation process.
Online citizen consultations:
The online citizen consultation format differs from the face-to-face citizen workshop, as it does not put as much emphasis on the exploration of alternative ideas and solutions. Rather the online consultation serves to test and evaluate the outcome of the previous events in the co-creation process (citizen workshops and stakeholder workshops), and to provide the opportunity for a broadening the engagement with publics. In GoNano, we developed an online survey to broadly evaluate these outcomes. The research lines and product suggestion formulated by stakeholders were broken down into concrete examples with regard to (potential) daily life contexts of citizens in a near future. The online consultation gave all citizens, including those that participated in the citizen workshop, the chance to see how their messages, wishes and concerns were taken up.
The target group of this event was the broad public. As the online consultation addressed lay people, it needed to be easily accessible to this target group. In order to avoid lengthy polls, the consultation was developed so that 10-15 minutes were sufficient to provide the answers.
The overall aim of the online consultation was to find out more about the wider perception of Nanotechnology in general, and to compare and prioritize the product suggestions from the first two steps in the co-creation process. The survey was set up to address three learning goals
- Firstly, a thematic analysis was used for the qualitative part of the study, consisting of the question “What comes to your mind first when you hear the word “Nanotechnology”?”with results visualized in word-clouds.
- Secondly, needs and values from the citizen workshops were again prioritized
- Thirdly, standardized “vignettes” (small contextualised stories) were used
to provide participants with an easy-to-understand and quick overview of the suggestions and recommendations from the first stakeholder workshop
We hope this has inspired you to consider and develop a suitable methodology and design for the co-creation process in your R&I project. Once you have that in place, you should be ready for the next step of organizing and carrying out your co-creation event(s).
5 Organizing your co-creation event(s)
The fifth step is about organizing and carrying out your actual co-creation event(s).
The description and training materials here will help you in ensuring that you are properly prepared to invite the participants over and carry out the co-creation activities. You’ll be provided with a checklist of what to keep track of, templates for event manuals and examples from the GoNano project as inspiration.
Planning and preparing your co-creation event(s)
As you have decided on the design of and methodology for the co-creation process(es) in your project, you can the start the act of planning your actual co-creation event(s). It is important to ensure that you (and your team) is properly prepared to invite the participants in and facilitate the co-creation event(s). The table below is a checklist of the tasks and other things to keep track of during the preparation and facilitation of the event(s). Some of them may seem banal and obvious now that you go through them, but make no mistake(!): People tend to neglect or forget things, and this can affect activities of the event and ultimately jeopardize the outcome.
Some of the points on the checklist are fairly self-evident (e.g. describe your event, rationale, and draft a program) and others have already been covered in the previous steps (e.g. background information material). We will therefore focus on the remaining essential points that require an elaborate explanation and examples.
Regardless of how you structure your co-creation event(s), it’s important that you and the others in your team have a clear understanding of everybody’s roles and responsibilities throughout the day – who does what, when and how? And which practical resources needs to be in place?
A variety of roles will usually have to be filled in order to carry out co-creation events. The list below describes these roles and the tasks that go with them. It can help you get an overview and provide you with a basis for planning how to utilize your human resources/staff.
In addition to the human resources, you also need the practical resources for the co-creation event(s). The document below is a thorough list of the practical resources like the venue, technical equipment and different materials that are usually required to consider and arrange when organizing and conducting a co-creation event.
Now that you have an overview of your human resources and practical resources, you can combine that with the decided methodology and structure of your co-creation process from the last step to develop a detailed manual for your co-creation event(s). The first document below showcases two examples of proposed detailed agendas/programmes for two co-creation events in the GoNano project. It shows how detailed you can (and properly should) be when you prepare for carrying out a co-creation event. The second document is a template that you and your team can use to develop a manual for your own co-creation event(s).
- ‘Example of a detailed agendas/programmes for co-creation events‘
- ‘Template for developing a detailed manual for your co-creation event(s) ‘.
One of the sessions in the GoNano webinar series focused on planning a co-creation process. You can watch the session in the video below:
Recruitment strategy for involving citizens in co-creation
The detailed manual for your co-creation (event(s) won’t be very helpful if you haven’t recruited or invited anybody to participate. We’ll therefore also provide with examples of recruitment strategies with descriptions of various recruitment methods to help you develop your own recruitment strategy. All the documents specifically focus on the recruitment of lay citizens, as it is more difficult to recruit them in comparison to other stakeholders, which usually have contact information disclosed on their websites.
The document below is an excerpt of the Methods and manual for pilot studies in the GoNano project. It provides information about the recruitment strategies for the citizen workshops and the online consultation in the GoNano project, including descriptions of various methods for recruitment.
The video below is a session on recruiting citizens for co-creation events. It covers how to plan your ‘sample’ of citizens, different ways of recruiting them and special consideration for engaging them.
6 making use of your results
The sixth and final step is about reflecting on the (incoming) results of your co-creation event(s) and how to make use of them.
To make you aware of the variety of ways that this can be, you’ll be given several examples of the outcomes and results from the co-creation events and dissemination efforts in the GoNano project. Additionally, you’ll also be provided with guidelines for how you can evaluate your co-creation (events) and the process itself. This should both help your finalize your (current) co-creation project and assess its methodology and design, so that you’ll improve your co-creation approach in your future R&I endeavors.
You’ve should have designed your co-creation event(s) with the objective of getting certain types of output (e.g. indications of unintended issues and consequences of product x) and considered how the output can be used to achieve your goals (e.g. being responsive to potential issues to make your R&I project more desirable). While you may also already have some assumptions about the possible concrete outcomes of the deliberation(s), you won’t know for sure until the actual co-creation has taken place. But once you have carried out your co-creation event(s), it’s time to reflect on the outcome of the co-creation and how to make use of the results. This can be done in a variety of ways, which we will showcase by using the GoNano project as an example.
The co-creation in the GoNano project was designed as a continuous and iterative process involving several different co-creation events, where citizens and stakeholders were guided to be more responsive to each other’s needs and concerns and to facilitate mutual learning, increased understanding and trust among the different groups. The first co-creation event(s) were prepared on the back of key stakeholders, the purpose of which was to align the discussions at the citizen workshop with the interests and research areas of professional stakeholders. The outcome of this this event would then be used to provide input for the following event (stakeholder workshop I), which’s outcome in turn would be the input for the next one and so forth, ultimately leading to/resulting in the development) of concrete “responsive” research lines and product suggestions that were aligned with societal values, needs and concerns.
The table in the document below gives an overview of the entire process in relation to the input, outcomes and data gathered for each of the co-creation event. It simultaneously exemplifies how the different individual co-creation events can bring certain outcomes and how they can be combined to refine the output(s) throughout the co-creation process.
If you are interested in getting a more detailed account of one or more of the co-creation events in, then you can also read the briefing reports below. They include elaborate descriptions of each of the simple points in the overview table in the document above.
- ’Briefing report on the face-to-face citizen workshops‘
- ’Briefing report on the first round of face-to-face stakeholder workshops’
- ’Briefing report on the online citizen consultation’
- ’Briefing report on the second found of face-to-face stakeholder workshops‘
One of the sessions from the GoNano webinar series focused on the results and outcomes of co-creation. You can watch this session in the video below.
Another aim of GoNano was gather and use the insights and lessons learned over the course of the project and the co-creation process to develop policy recommendations on how to support societal engagement, uptake and reflection on societal needs and values in nanotechnologies research and innovation (R&I). If you are interested in this, then you can watch the video below. It is last session of the webinar series that give an account of the three GoNano white papers and the policy recommendations in each of them.
Evaluating your co-creation event(s) and process
As you have carried out your co-creation event(s), it is advantageous to evaluate the process. An evaluation will not only help you compare and assess to what extent the results of your co-creation event(s) match with what you expected from the process. If there is a discrepancy between the actual and expected results, then the evaluation can be used to uncover the different reasons for why this ended up being the case. In addition to providing you with possible explanations for your results, this very information may help you adjust and improve your co-creation methodology and design for the possible remaining co-creation events and/or future R&I projects. In order to make a thorough evaluation, we recommend that you both make an internal and an external one.
To make an internal evaluation, you and your team discuss your own interpretation of the co-creation event(s). Was the detailed manual followed? If it was not, how come? Were there any apparent issue(s) with the methodology and structure of the co-creation? If there were, how could these issues possibly have been resolved through adjustments?
The external evaluation is meant to be made by the people that participated in your co-creation event(s). It is useful to get their perspective and interpretation of the event they participated in, as you and your team may not have noticed everything. You should develop an evaluation form that the participants either fill out at the end of the event or at some point relatively shortly after.
You can for instance consider the following questions for your evaluation form:
- What was your overall impression of the event?
- Was it clear what the aim of the event was?
- Was it clear how you would work together during the event to achieve the aim of it?
- Did the agenda, exercises and purpose fit well with the goal of the event?
- Do you feel you have a better understanding of the wishes and concerns of other [stakeholders and/or citizens]
- May we contact you for participation in future events?
If you are interested in evaluation examples, then you can also find the evaluations of the co-creation events in the GoNano project in the aforementioned briefings reports above.
As mentioned in the very beginning, of the key goal of the GoNano project is to utilize the gathered knowledge and experience to provide training and capacity building for nanotechnology researchers and engineers to support them in working more co-creatively with stakeholders and publics to align their R&I with societal needs and values. The training material that you’ve been provided with here on the Road of Co-Creation is one of the GoNano project’s efforts to achieve this. We have also developed a co-creation toolkit, which you can find here if you haven’t stumbled upon it already.
We hope the guidelines, manuals, videos, templates, and examples from the GoNano project have been or will be helpful to you on your journey to working co-creatively with citizens and stakeholders in your future R&I endeavours. Our mission is to foster a European Community of Practice among R&I actors, so do hesitate to share these training materials with fellow colleagues in your organisation or in your network.