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23 citizens’ visions released during Malta CIMULACT Horizon meeting

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23 citizens’ visions released during Malta CIMULACT Horizon meeting38 partners from 30 European countries, met recently in Malta at the University of Malta’s Valletta Campus,.to discuss the future impact of citizens’ visions for Horizon 2020 topics, which were generated during workshops held in each country.

They were all participants in the CIMULACT (Citizen and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon 2020) project.

The CIMULACT project demonstrates that up-stream engagement of citizens is possible and marks a shift in how research can be defined.

The project is funded by the European Commission and coordinated by The Danish Board of Technology Foundation in Copenhagen.

It is composed of 29 partners from 30 European countries including Malta and it aims to bridge the gap between citizens and policy makers.

CIMULACT project is based on the premise that open science is not just about making science available to people, it is also about engaging people in setting the direction for research.

The topics address different challenges European citizens find in their everyday life and specify how research may address these challenges, e.g., how to ensure equal and holistic health services for all; how to develop evidence based personalised healthcare; how education can be a driver for social innovation and local development or how to achieve smarter consumption.

The meeting in Malta also discussed the future impact of the project. This should incorporate an increase in citizen participation as a source of information for research, the regular promotion of citizen feedback on projects and the increase of participatory practices.

Lars Klüver, the project coordinator, felt strongly that similar activities that adopt a bottom-up approach could and should be implemented in all branches of the EU research system, adding, “CIMULACT has accomplished something new, which already demarcates a shift in the view on how research can be defined.”

Professor Ing. Saviour Zammit, Pro Rector for Research and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Malta, addressed participants at the meeting. He acknowledged the link between the visions, challenges and research scenarios that emerged from the project and the research priorities of the University of Malta and of the country.

Professor Sandra M. Dingli from The Edward de Bono Institute at the University of Malta, who hosted the Malta meeting said, “it is interesting to see that the future visions generated and prioritised by Maltese citizens clearly address some of the European Commission’s Grand Challenges, in particular those related to the environment, health and wellbeing.”

Three research scenarios generated and prioritised by the Maltese citizens are included as the three most popular research topics generated by the various citizens’ workshops.

These are: (1) At one with nature; (2) Access to equal and holistic health services and resources for all citizens and (3) Evidence based personalised healthcare. Education, transport and technology were amongst the concerns and visions which the Maltese citizens focused upon.

One Maltese citizen commented, “with education come healthier lifestyles.’ Sustainable transport was a key issue as one of the visions expressed the desire for ‘less traffic due to self-driving cars, higher use of scooters and bicycles.’ Concerns related to technology emerged in the Malta workshops as one person stated that ‘Technology is not completely at our service … What makes humans is not what humans make, and our creations should not become our creators.”

Between October 2015 and February 2016, workshops were held for 1500 citizens in the 30 participating countries, including Malta.

The result was 170 visions which were later processed and clustered. Various meetings, an additional workshop in each country and a Pan European Conference, where experts and European Commission Programme Officers attended, were held.

The organisers said that the 23 research topics and 40 policy recommendations emerged from the process. These reflect citizens’ expectations, desires and concerns for the future of Europe and they are based on the topics which the European citizens raised.

The Edward de Bono Institute at the University of Malta are the partners in this project. The Edward de Bono Institute offers a Master in Creativity and Innovation, and a PhD in Creativity, Innovation, Entrepreneurship or Foresight. These are available on either a full-time or part-time basis.

In addition, the Institute is currently offering a part-time Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, commencing in October 2017, at the University’s Gozo Campus.

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