Sparks is an awareness-raising project to show Europeans that they can get involved in science and that various stakeholders share the responsibility for scientific research and innovation.
Led by Ecsite - the European network of science centres and museums - Sparks is carried out over a three-year period (July 2015 to June 2018) by a network of partners including science shops and science centres/museums active across the whole European Union and Switzerland.
Sparks is a project to familiarize and engage European citizens with the concept and practice of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) through the topic of technology shifts in health and medicine. Sparks promotes RRI by inviting key stakeholders to actively question, experiment and play with science in a way that makes it relevant to today’s society.
Sparks aims to communicate on the importance of RRI in a new way, by using the creative and “disruptive” visions of artists on how our future will be affected by the use of technologies in health and medicine.
The main objectives of Sparks are to:
- Raise awareness about the concept and practice of RRI;
- Encourage citizens and other key stakeholders to share the responsibility for science;
- Increase the capacity of local science actors and public authorities to stimulate RRI processes locally;
- Feed Research and Innovation (R&I) policies at the EU, national, regional and local levels to facilitate the development of RRI processes and enrich the R&I system in the field of health and medicine with societal inputs.
RRI in short:
Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is an approach that takes into account societal needs and expectations in research and innovation, with the aim to foster the design of inclusive and sustainable scientific solutions.
In RRI it is considered that since research and innovation have an impact on society, scientists as individuals and the research and innovation community at large have a social, even societal, responsibility. This responsibility is shared with politicians, industries and citizens to define together the directions where society wants to go and to make sure that all stakeholders get involved in setting research agendas that will take us there.
RRI is also about recognising and valuing the competences of people who are not scientists but actually hold important knowledge, opinions, desires and ideas for the advancement of science.
Sparks intends to bridge the gap between the super-fast pace of scientific innovation and society through a unique touring exhibition and over 230 participatory activities aimed at getting the general public involved, taking place across 29 European countries.
About the exhibition
Starting from July 2016, the exhibition entitled 'Beyond the Lab: the DIY Science Revolution' runs continuously at four locations simultaneously in Europe for two months at a time.
Illustrations of locally-based research on future medicine and well-being are included in the touring exhibition to tell the local story about RRI in each country.
About participatory activities
At each exhibition location, interactive, participative events are held to communicate more effectively on the topic:
- reverse science cafés
- science espressos
- pop-up science shops
- incubation workshops, hack/make-athons
- scenario workshops
Interactive activities offer people the opportunity to identify priority research questions and co-design scientific solutions together.
The Sparks project counts on a strong partnership of 33 organisations from all the EU Member States and Switzerland: science centres, science shops, science institutes, universities, renowned international networks and organisations active in the scientific and creative fields.
Sparks main partners - the development team
Sparks local organisers – the local implementation team
A Reflective Board composed of 7 experts in RRI and one representative of the industry in the field of health and medicine follows Sparks throughout this process and advise the project on how best to address and present RRI.
Members of the reflective board are the following:
• Maria CASSELLA (Open Access expert)
• Sarah Rachael DAVIES (Public Engagement Expert)
• Maïté DEBRY (Science Education expert)
• Francesc Xavier GRAU VIDAL (Governance Expert)
• Martijn KRIENS (entrepreneur in the field of health and technology related SMEs)
• Dr. Anne PÉPIN (Gender expert)
• Gema REVUELTA (RRI expert)
• Prof. Dr. Jeroen VAN DEN HOVEN (Ethics expert)