(Experiences from the GoNano winter school in February 2020)

Co-creation is a way to help innovations that society needs. It is foreseeable that coming EU funding programmes will focus more on this topic after having focused on company participation in the development process. Integrating stakeholders that matter in an innovation process, as well as the end-users or people benefitting from the innovation, bears a high potential for the innovation. As such, the citizens move in a prominent position, and future projects should be concerned about their needs and wishes. The benefit will be more society-oriented research that benefits the people and takes ethical aspects into account.
I attended a workshop on co-creation from an EU project called GoNano. The project deals with the evaluation of the citizens’ view on different aspects of nanotechnology, particularly regarding energy, health, and food. It turned out that people seem quite hesitating to accept modifications in the food sector but accept applications in the health sector. In stakeholder workshops, some aspects were discussed in more detail to transfer the findings to industry and governmental organizations. Here it seemed essential to focus on quite a narrow subject to be able to get the stakeholders on board.
During the workshop days, 35 participants out of 160 applicants went through a process of co-creation. In groups, their projects, mostly PhD projects related to nanotechnology, were analyzed and discussed from various aspects. They imagined possible products, determined stakeholders, and evaluated the impact on society and the chances for a product to enter the market successfully.
Most impressive were the different aspects in which you evaluated your project. Explaining the principle ideas to other non-specialists and getting different viewpoints added value to the projects and could influence further developments. I believe that such an approach results in more sustainable projects, and thus that it is beneficial to organize and attend such meetings from time to time. Apart from that, the stakeholders and society, in general, will as well benefit as they get to know more about ongoing science projects and can influence them.
If you’re interested in some more details, please get into contact with me.
You find essential finings of the GoNano project in their White Papers: http://gonano-project.eu/public-consultation-for-the-gonano-white-papers/
Katharina Rubahn