This programme builds on the first phase of Everyone Makes Innovation Policy, which supported five projects using creative methods to engage citizens around innovation policy.
This second phase aims to foster citizen advocacy on innovation issues through a strategic partnership with Citizens UK, expert practitioners of the community organising method in the UK. Citizens UK is a network of local alliances of civil society organisations (schools and colleges, faith groups, trade union branches, charities), which work together to build campaigns on issues of common concern and hold decision-makers to account.
We are funding projects in two locations (one in East London and one in Birmingham) focusing on issues related to the innovation economy. In East London, local members are calling for action on digital exclusion, whilst in Birmingham, ethnic minority business leaders are campaigning for more inclusive business support.
We have commissioned evaluations of the two projects in order to capture lessons on how community organising can address innovation economy issues.
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.
In order to achieve these shifts in innovation policy, we need a wider range of people to be engaged in discussions around innovation and its role in society. Public engagement in research and innovation is an increasingly popular way of informing policy with societal views and values. In the UK, the government’s public engagement programme Sciencewise has been running for over 15 years, collecting evidence on public views to inform policy on science and technology.
The question we want to explore through this collaboration with Citizens UK is what can be achieved when citizens have control over the terms of the debate.