Citizen science: CHERRIES is among the inspiring examples of societal engagement for Horizon Europe

Citizen science, for which citizens collaborate with scientists on research and innovation, has the potential to improve the excellence and impact of research and deepen the relationship between science and society.

The latest Results Pack showcases 12 EU-funded projects that are developing good practices as well as building the capacities and networks needed to foster successful collaborations with citizens across Europe. CHERRIES is among them.

A policy priority of the renewed European Research Area is to improve the interaction between the research system and society at large. The Pact for Research & Innovation in Europe, adopted by the Council of the EU in November 2021, established societal responsibility as one of its main principles. Engaging citizens in the design and implementation of research and innovation policies can improve the quality of research outcomes as well as the impact of funding, and ultimately helps build trust and understanding between science and society.

Collaboration and co-creation

In the past, Science with and for Society under Horizon 2020 supported societal engagement and citizen science. Through this part of the programme, 25 projects received EUR 65 million. These projects aimed to push the boundaries of engaging citizens in ‘doing science and innovation’, built evidence of positive impacts, and established beacons of good practice. The projects saw citizens involved at all stages of research and innovation, from developing agendas and methods, to collecting and analysing data, through to monitoring and evaluating activities. Today, Horizon Europe represents a step change towards collaborative forms of research and innovation: the programme prioritises co-design and co-creation, and expects to create impact through co-creation with citizens and end users. Applicants are encouraged to consider open science practices and include citizens and societal engagement in their methodology as this aspect is part of the evaluation process. Specific guidance on societal engagement can be found in the Horizon Europe Programme Guide.

Furthermore, citizen and societal engagement are integrated across Horizon Europe’s ‘clusters’ and EU Missions dedicated to addressing global challenges by putting citizens’ needs at the core of research objectives. This reflects the recognition that the success of research in Europe is dependent on extensive and high-quality engagement, and optimal leveraging of societal capabilities and intelligence. It is therefore essential to raise awareness of good practices, networks of practitioners, and sources of knowledge.

The latest Results Pack provides details on 12 inspiring citizen and societal engagement projects supported in Horizon 2020, conveying how citizen and societal engagement can contribute to Horizon Europe in different ways. The selected projects demonstrate the breadth of disciplinary areas and innovation themes where this mode of research and innovation can play a role, whilst providing inspiration to those interested in applying for Horizon Europe grants. Projects featured in this Pack include ACTION, CitieS-Health and D-NOSES, which developed tools and methodologies to help citizens combat major forms of pollution or climate change in general in their local environments. InSPIRES developed models to engage stakeholders with research and innovation projects across a whole range of areas through science shops while others were more domain specific, notably CHERRIES focusing on healthcare and GRECO on solar power. DITOs stands out for its extensive outreach through its customised approach for engagement while WeCount involved citizens in collecting traffic data with a view to shaping new transport policies. SCALINGS investigated how co-creation practices vary from one city or country to another, and under which conditions public participation can be scaled up. MICS is dedicated to measuring the impact of citizen science. You can also find details of the EU-Citizen.Science platform, a knowledge and community hub for high-quality citizen science exchange, and how the WeObserve project is improving coordination between existing Citizen Observatories and related regional, European and international activities.