Participatory research and innovation via Science Shops

Specific Challenge

The Science Shop model of participatory research and innovation has been successful in bringing students, researchers and civil society together towards tackling real issues at the local and regional levels. Aside from positively impacting on the co-creation of solutions to real world problems, the process of engaging with society has strengthened both the research process and its outcomes, thereby contributing to research excellence and acceptability of innovation outcomes. It has also lead to improved teaching and learning methods in academia, which has benefitted both students and their teachers.


This topic will provide support to universities, and other research performers, to establish or strengthen science shops throughout Europe, and beyond. Science shops will serve to demonstrate how students and researchers can assist communities tackle real life problems or explore opportunities for sustainable futures. In most cases, research questions will be derived by community partners.The Science Shops will provide an inclusive and safe space for participatory dialogue, citizen science and co-creation with a variety of actors including civil society, public authorities, SME, designers and innovators. This topic will also create opportunities for twinning, whereby well-established science shops provide guidance to universities keen on setting up new science shops. It will allow for joint visits, mutual learning, and the exchange of students and trainers, as well as summer schools. It it will compile an exhaustive database of case studies demonstrating the usefulness of the approach in multiple contexts, as well as their alignment with the RRI dimensions. Furthermore it will conduct a comparative assessment of science shops and assess the impacts they have had on their communities, and on the quality of teaching and research within the organisation. This topic shall seek to establish linkages with relevant international initiatives (e.g.: UNESCO Community-based research, Civic Universities, etc.). Particular attention will be placed on gender balance and the integration of gender in research. This topic shall benefit from the inclusion of SSH experts, and will support community processes favouring sustainable solutions.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012) 497), international cooperation is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

This action allows for the provision of financial support to third parties in line with the conditions set out in Part K of the General Annexes.

Expected Impact

The research will promote the growth and capacity building of science shops for socially responsible community-based research and citizen science. It will provide means through which students, researchers and teaching staff may transfer their knowledge and skills for the benefit of their community, while at the same time ensuring their learning, teaching and research activities benefit from real-life cases and interactions. At the same time it will connect with relevant international initiatives so as to ensure mutual learning across borders.

Application date
Social sciences