TU/e researchers Dr. Gunter Bombaerts, Dr. Lambèr Royakkers, Dr. Andreas Spahn, Dr. ir. Anne Wieczorek and Prof. Isabelle Reymen receive a Horizon 2020 Grant.

How can we strengthen co-creation efforts across the culturally diverse contexts of Europe to accelerate innovation?

Co-creation is the word used to describe the phenomenon in which different parties come together to collaborate in the pursuit of a common goal. An example of a co-creation effort in the Netherlands is Brainport Smart District. In this co-creation initiative, the municipality of Helmond, universities, Brainport region Eindhoven, Provincie Noord-Brabant, SPARK, Fraunhofer, Malik management and the future residential citizens of Brandevoort will together design and create a smart living environment that suits our future: one that promotes sustainability, health and well-being, safety, inclusiveness and the evermore digitised world. This is radically different from the traditional ways in which we have built and come to live in residential areas.  In order to come up with solutions to the societal issues we face today, and innovate beyond that what is already possible, different parties need to come together to share thoughts and expertise, engage in discussions and learn from each other.

Across Europe, there is an unprecedented amount of co-creation projects taking place in the pursuit of innovation. However, with the diversity in socio-cultural and regulatory practices across Europe, it is difficult to understand how the various co-creation processes and outcomes can be translated and mainstreamed to enable efficient and targeted policy support from the EU. The research project SCALINGS aims to fill this gap of knowledge to foster and scale co-creation across Europe.

The participating countries in SCALINGS

The research project ‘Scaling up Co-creation: Avenues and Limits for Integrating Society in Science and Innovation’ received a 3¾ million Horizon 2020 grant, in the topic ‘Integrating Society in Science and Innovation – An approach to co-creation’. At TU/e, Dr. Gunter Bombaerts, Dr. Lambèr Royakkers and Dr. Andreas Spahn from the Philosophy and Ethics group, Dr. ir. Anne Wieczorek from Technology, Innovation and Society, and Prof. Isabelle Reymen as director of Innovation Space at TU/e will embark on this project together with eight other universities, started May first, 2018 and coming to an end in 2021. In order to foster understanding on co-creation and support future EU innovation policies, this project will conduct the first ever, rigorous research study on co-creation in ten European countries by means of comparative case studies and cross-country experiments. Focusing specifically on the technical domains of robots and urban technology, the implementation, uptake and outcomes of three co-creation instruments, namely public procurement of innovation, co-creation facilities and living labs, will be studied. With this thorough and large-scope research investigation on co-creation, the findings will help understand whether it is possible, and if so, how, co-creation instruments can be generalised and transferred to other contexts or scaled up to new socio-cultural, economic, or institutional conditions to unleash their innovative power. Moreover, with these research findings two transformative frameworks ‘situated co-creation’ and ‘socially robust scaling’ will be developed that will further help disseminate and guide co-creation efforts.

A presentation during the kick-off meeting

With the newfound knowledge and understanding on scaling of co-creation the project members will deliver an ‘EU policy roadmap’ for ‘co-creation practices’ and ‘co-creation research’ to support the ongoing EU innovation policy efforts. Furthermore, the project members will work together with more than two dozen co-creation initiatives that deal with cross-cultural transferability to find ‘best practices’ which will further strengthen the efforts and strategies of the individual co-creation initiatives. Moreover, the project members will launch a training programme for other EU consortia on co-creation.

The role of TU/Eindhoven
At TU/e, Dr. Gunter Bombaerts, Dr. Lambèr Royakkers, Dr. Andreas Spahn, Dr. ir. Anne Wieczorek, and Prof. Isabelle Reymen will study the ethical aspects of co-creation. They will study co-creation projects undertaken in the Netherlands such as the ‘Brainport Smart District’, ‘Team CASA’, the ‘TU/e Innovation Lab’ and ‘Innovation Space’ and ‘Jouw licht op 040’. They will research how one should understand co-creation in light of Value Sensitive Design (VSD) and how one can respond to challenges of VSD in co-creation and responsible research and innovation projects. They will further study which socio-economic conditions are particularly conducive to co-creation, and how local co-creation methods can be scaled to institutional levels.

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