The first Science Shops were set up in the Netherlands in the 1970s. These university-affiliated offices were designed to establish direct contact between scientists and citizens. These first science shops worked to mediate and facilitate ongoing interaction between researchers and society, generally through NGOs and community associations. The model later took root in other European countries —including Germany, Ireland, France and Hungary— and an international network called Living Knowledge was set up to share experiences, establish a formal structure and expand existing partnerships.
Science shops made it possible to develop research lines tailored to real needs through bottom-up, demand-driven research and innovation. Thanks to this win-win concept, the scientific agenda is no longer only decided behind closed doors; citizens and interest groups are invited to take part in the process. Science shops also guide policy decisions by meeting and communicating with various stakeholders, including political officeholders.
InSPIRES aims to review what are the strengths and weaknesses of former experiences. Based on the results of the retrospective exploration and baseline research, the development of the innovative Science Shops 2.0 models for the health and environmental sectors will be jointly developed. Because of its innovative ambition, the project will also support dissemination sessions, intensive schools, Science cafes, e-learning modules and videos, outreach activities, etc.
The main goal of the 4-year InSPIRES project is to build effective cooperation between science and society by supporting the growth of Science Shops and enabling the expansion of responsible participatory research and innovation in Europe and abroad, in order to tackle key societal challenges that affect the world population.
In order to achieve this main aim, the project proposes the following objectives:
Objective 1: To co-create, and jointly pilot, refine and implement a set of innovative Science Shop 2.0 models aligned with RRI, OSc and impact evaluation requirements and that are more culturally, health and environment sectors adapted, with a focus on innovative and participatory techniques for systematically engaging civil society and other key RRI stakeholders in research and innovation.
Objective 2: To establish new Science Shop structures and strengthen existing Science Shops within and beyond Europe’s borders through a training and mutual learning programme around the models and tools developed.
Objective 3: To contribute to the European debate on the interaction between science and society for research and innovation, through comparative impact assessment of the InSPIRES initiatives and comprehensive reviews of existing good practices.
Objective 4: To widely disseminate these models and to promote international strategic alliances through the implementation of Transdisciplinary and Transnational SS projects, the establishment of Spanish and Italian networks of SS and through policy impact.