Why are we doing this?
Nesta believes innovation policy should be more inclusive. We want to see innovation policy that aims to get more people involved in innovation; that directs innovation capacity and resources towards big social challenges and to the needs of marginalised or under-served people; and that tries to ensure that the benefits of innovation are spread more equitably.
We think that in order to shift goals of innovation policy in this way, we need a wider range of people to take part in innovation policymaking. Science and innovation have wide-ranging effects on the lives of everyone, yet only a tiny group of people get to make important decisions about what is prioritised and how resources are used. For example, some studies show that only 15 percent of scientists come from working-class households, which comprise 35 percent of the general population. This lack of diversity, as scientist Dr James Moore says, narrows "the kinds of questions we ask, the kinds of problems we think worth tackling and the ways in which we go about doing our work".
Engaging the wider public in innovation policymaking could improve the way that policies are designed, help make sure they focus on the most pressing challenges, and encourage decision makers to take ethical considerations into account.
What are we doing?
In February 2018, we launched an open call for ideas that use creative methods to engage members of the public in issues relating to innovation policy, offering grant funding of up to £15k per project.
In April 2018, we announced our five grantees. We will publish a report on new methods for public engagement with innovation policy in late 2018, based on the grants we're funding in this project. The report will be shared widely with both local and national policymakers and research funders. Teams will also take part in a one-day event at Nesta in December 2018 to showcase their work and progress.
We hope these grants will help show policymakers the value of engaging the public on these issues as well as demonstrate a range of interesting and exciting ways this can be done.
Between October and November 2018 we will also work with project teams to create a case study of their project that can be shared on the Nesta website and incorporated into our report on public engagement in innovation policy.