InSPIRES open call for funding participatory research projects

The InSPIRES project launches an open call for funding participatory research projects. This InSPIRES Open Call will provide financial support for the implementation of participatory research projects focused on health and environmental issues that are considered key societal challenges, giving special attention to gender parity and vulnerable groups –women, the elderly, adolescents, migrants and refugees­­­­–.

As a result of this competitive Open Call, approximately six grants will be awarded for implementing participatory research project and the maximum estimated budget for each project is 20,000 euros.

The projects need to be designed and implemented with methodologies aligned with Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), Open Science and Impact Evaluation, including innovative models and methodologies such as participatory research agenda setting with CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) and other stakeholders, and also methodologies for the co-design and the co-implementation of research projects.

Full description

Read here (document in pdf.) the full description (projects’ specifications, participation criteria, evaluation process, etc.).

How to apply

Applicants must send the complete Application Form and the CV of the project manager or principal investigator before 23:59 CET on June 15th to with cc Please, use the e-mail Subject: “Open Call for participatory research”.

InSPIRES Spring School in Tunisia: “Science shops: Strengthening the Links Between Research and Society”

22-23 April 2019 – Institut Pasteur de Tunis

The Institut Pasteur de Tunis and the Direction of Culture, Science and Society of the University of Lyon as partners of the consortium of the H2020 InSPIRES project, are organising a French speaking spring school around Science Shops. Its ambition is to create and strengthen links between the research community and civil society (represented by organizations, associations or communities working on societal issues). It will also offer a platform for training, exchange and networking with experts in participatory research to develop new science shops or similar devices.

Around the concept of participatory research, the aim of this training is to explore the means of producing socially useful knowledge that can lead to significant societal changes. The InSPIRES Spring School will be held in Tunis, Tunisia with the aim of stimulating the Science Shop system on the African continent as well as in the French-speaking countries around the world. Participants will come from different countries (Tunisia, Morocco, France, Canada, Burkina-Faso, Senegal, Benin, Guinea, Niger, Ivory Coast).

At the opening of this event, a round table will be organized bringing together experts from participatory research and science shops from different horizons. After that, workshops based on the process of a science shop will generate knowledge exchange and offer further skills to participants of the spring school.

The inscriptions for the Spring School have already been closed but the content will be recorded and put online in the InSPIRES Youtube Channel.

1 April – Join the inSPIRES webinar on curriculum-based engagement with communities

Date: 1 April

Hour: 16 pm (CEST time), one hour duration

This webinar will explore the practicalities of setting up and running community engaged research projects within the higher education curriculum, through two case studies, one from TU Dublin (Ireland) and one from Queen’s University Belfast (UK). The case studies will explore two collaborative projects, both in the area of spatial planning, and both with a health theme. The two short case studies will be followed by a substantial question and answer session with participants.

The case studies will be presented by David O’Connor, TU Dublin and Neil Galway and Helen McGuinness (lecturer and student respectively), Queen’s University Belfast. The webinar will be facilitated by Catherine Bates, TU Dublin, and Emma McKenna, Queen’s University Belfast.

This webinar will be of interest to Higher Education Staff, Students and Civil Society Organisations interested in curriculum-based engaged research, and of particular interest to those working in Science Shops, those interested in implementing engaged research projects, and anyone interested in spatial planning or health.

It is jointly organized by the InSPIRES Project, the Living Lab for Health at IrsiCaixa and the Living Knowledge Network, in collaboration with TU Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast.

To register for the webinar please click here.

28 February – Join the inSPIRES webinar: Public Engagement Methodologies

Date: 28th of February

Hour: 10 h (CET time)

Speakers: Frank Kupper, Assistant Professor in Science Communication and Public Engagement at VU Amsterdam, and Franco Bagnoli, Associate Professor of Theoretical Matter Physics at the University of Florence, with wide experience in the field of Science Cafés.


The InSPIRES EU project is delighted to welcome you to join a new webinar on public engagement methodologies on the 28th of February at 10h (CET time).

In the context of research, public engagement methodologies serve as a tool to align I+D+i projects with the main citizens’ interests and needs. Several strategies have been developed to facilitate the dialogue, reflexion and the involvement of both the broader public and target stakeholders. In this webinar, two expert speakers – who belong to two partner organizations of the InSPIRES project – will share their experiences in different public engagement methodologies.

Dr. Frank Kupper, Assistant Professor in Science Communication and Public Engagement at VU Amsterdam. Blending an STS and Arts & Design perspective, he works on the conceptual and methodological innovation of public engagement processes to shape meaningful conversations at various science-society interfaces. Frank will talk about a dialogue methodology developed in the context of the EU project Nano2all, based on the co-design of scenarios to anticipate future impacts.

Dr. Franco Bagnoli, Associate Professor of Theoretical Matter Physics at the University of Florence, with wide experience in the field of Science Cafés. His presentation will briefly illustrate the Science Café methodology and how it can be used within the context of Science Shops. He will also share some Science Shops projects, where this methodology has been applied.

>>> If you are interested to participate in an interactive discussion and receive access to the online platform, please register here.

It’s urban, it’s garden… It’s an Italian Science Shop

By Giovanna Pacini and Franco Bagnoli

The term “urban garden” combines two words that, in the common language, have opposite values: the idea of the vegetable garden is linked to the countryside, whereas with urban we normally refer to the cities and in general to the industrialized areas.

The theme of urban gardening is the core of the first project of the Florence Science Shop. It was planned according to the new methodology, trying to enhance the participative and collaborative approach during all the process, from the initial idea to the dissemination of results.

We received a manifestation of interest from the non-profit association Orti Dipinti in 2018, who runs a public “open” garden where citizens can learn how to deal with plants and gather aromatic herbs. The garden is used also as a didactic experience for children and therapeutic tool for mentally impaired people. They asked us to help them in promoting this idea, enlarging the participants to their and other experiences in this field.

Our first step was to organize a science café to illustrate the request and the spirit of the science shop and to collect questions on this specific topic, in order to set up a research project. The experts of our science café were Ugo Bardi, a physical chemist at the University of Florence and the University delegate for sustainability, Marina Clauser, from the Botanic Garden of Florence, and Giacomo Salizzoni, president of Orti Dipinti. Franco Bagnoli, who moderated the event, introduced the subject and the idea of Science shop to the public. Ugo Bardi, during his activity as the delegate for sustainability, introduced the idea of urban gardens run by students in the university and Marina is hosting school classes in the Botanic Garden in Florence.

Both citizens and experts proposed research issues and expressed their needs, like for example: to create a network for the exchange of information, the necessity to have a dialogue with the institutions, the requirement of financial support to urban gardens for social/recreational purposes, and the desire to have answers to questions about the new methods and techniques in horticulture.

After the event, other researchers from the Department of Agri-food Production of and Environmental Sciences of the University of Florence (DISPAA) joined the project.

Social/community garden in Prato (Italy). Photo by Giovanna Pacini

Photo by UNIFI researchers


We performed a first analysis (Bagnoli et all, Urban Gardening in Florence and Prato: How a Science Shop Project Proposed by Citizens Has Grown into a Multi-Disciplinary Research Subject, Journal of Sustainable Development, vol 11 p. 111-119, 2018) about the wide varieties of realizations of the idea of publicly accessible urban gardens open. Among them, those that are assigned by municipalities to retired or unemployed citizens are the most common and those that globally involve most citizens. So, we decided to further investigate this aspect.

From the stakeholders’ point of view: the Municipality of Prato expressed its interest in monitoring its assigned public gardens, and a thesis project on this subject started with the title “Impact of urban horticulture on water resources: the case of the social gardens of the Municipality of Prato”.

An agriculture student, 24 years old, following the guidelines of the researchers, developed a questionnaire to evaluate both the agronomic aspects and the social/psychological impacts. This first project is arriving at its end. Some preliminary results about the general details are:

  • the average age is 73 years. They are all retired except for a 55-year-old who is unemployed
  • almost all of them have a healthy, economic and social motivation to cultivate.
  • all, although having a scale from 1 (minimum) to 5 (maximum) to indicate their social and economic satisfaction, voted 5 (80%) and 4 (20%)

The science shop during all the phases constantly monitored the progress of the project organizing meetings with the tenants of the urban gardens, with the Municipality of Prato and with the research group, often also together with more than one of them.

We are now near the last event, planned for the end of March 2019: a science café organized in close collaboration with the municipality of Prato in a public place (a municipal library), to return the results of the project to the population.

Following the new idea that has permeated the whole process, we have invited as speakers not only the student and the researchers but also the Councillor for the Environment of the municipality of Prato and one of the elderlies who runs one of the analysed urban gardens.

Moreover, other science shop projects are sprouting, some of them in collaboration with the municipality of Prato, which has greatly appreciated this way of working… Stay tuned!

New Barcelona – ”la Caixa” Living Lab, following inSPIRES’ partners experience in science with and for society

The Barcelona City Council and ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation have signed a partnership agreement to advance and strengthen the City Council’s plan for science: Barcelona Ciència. The aim of the plan is to make the city an important European hub of excellence in responsible research and innovation. The experience and current activity of the two Spanish partners of inSPIRES project, IrsiCaixa and ISGlobal, will serve as a starting point.

The agreement is focused on two main lines of action: the creation of the Barcelona – ”la Caixa” Living Lab, a platform for research and citizen participation; and a municipal call for applications for research grants—in total one million euros—to be funded jointly by the City Council and ”la Caixa”.

Living Lab

The Barcelona – ”la Caixa” Living Lab will serve as a meeting point for many different actors, such civil society organizations, non-organized citizens, academic institutions and researchers. At the same time, it will be a place where public opinion on current scientific issues can be expressed and gathered. The new platform will host initiatives seeking public participation in research projects or collaborative alliances in the design of research and innovation agendas.

The starting point of the new project is the work separately and jointly carried out by IrsiCaixa and ISGlobal. Thanks to the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, Science with and for society (SwaSf), InSPIRES project was born with the aim of strengthen communication between scientists and citizens in order to provide input on the research agenda. In this context, the two Catalan partners, IrsiCaixa and ISGlobal, began to work together to create a Living Lab in the city of Barcelona and thus support the rise of this models locally.

InSPIRES members Mª Jesús Pinazo, Project principal investigator and ISGlobal researcher, and Rosina Malagrida -Head of the Living Lab of Health of IrsiCaixa- will be the technical referents of Barcelona – “la Caixa” Living Lab.

Mª Jesús Pinazo stressed that “the involvement of citizens and civil society in research and innovation is essential if we are to achieve solutions that can transform society and improve people’s lives.”

 Ageing, Mobility and the Environment

This is the first time a Spanish city council has launched a call offering direct funding for science projects. The list of successful applicants will be published in March and the funding will go to projects seeking innovative solutions in three areas: ageing and quality of life; mobility; and respect for and protection of the environment. The overall aim is to contribute to the modernisation of the city of Barcelona in line with the objectives that govern the actions of institutions within the European Union and worldwide.

In her closing remarks, the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, emphasised that this is a strategic project for the city, with a horizon of 2030, “aimed at creating our own economic development model based on our strength in science and research”.

“Science Together”: Tunisian research to support access and advocacy

More news about the first collaborative project co-created among the Tunisian Association for Information and Orientation on HIV/AIDS and Toxicomania and the laboratory of virology at the Institut Pasteur de Tunis

The Institut Pasteur de Tunis’s Science Shop (IPT-SS) “Science Together” was created in 2017. After an online call, they collected 36 societal needs from Tunisian Civil Society Organizations (CSO). The selection committee composed by CSO representatives as well as local experts chose one of these needs to be the SS pilot project. This project was co-created with the Tunisian Association for Information and Orientation on HIV/AIDS and Toxicomania (ATIOST) and the laboratory of clinical virology at the IPT. A master student was selected to work on this project entitled “Genetic characterization of circulating hepatitis C virus strains among injecting drug users (IDU) in Tunisia”. The knowledge on hepatitis C genotypes among (IDU) is an important step in the diagnosis of HCV infection and a key component of therapeutic decision.

Members of ATIOST with the Master student. Institut Pasteur de Tunis.

In Tunisia, infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major public health problem. In 2015, the national prevalence is estimated at 0.9% in the general population. Tunisia has implemented a national “hepatitis C” elimination plan from 2016 to 2023 to eliminate this infection based on universal access to treatment. Nevertheless, injection drug users characterized by a high prevalence of HCV infection (around 30%) had an extremely poor access to treatment. This vulnerable population is also considered as a critical vector of viral strains to the Tunisian population.

This project established a successful collaboration between the laboratory and the CSO. It allowed the laboratory to have access for the first time to a key population and therefore to have innovative results. The scientific results are a description of circulating HCV strains in this population; therefore, the outcome will be very useful for the CSO’s advocacy towards policy makers on the importance of involving this population in the national strategy for the eradication of hepatitis C in Tunisia. This project also allowed more than 100 patients who participated in the study to have access to free diagnosis and treatment, supported by the national plan against hepatitis C.

Giving back to the community a summary of the results: CEADES Chagas Science Shop (Phase III)

In Bolivia we spent the whole month of December, 2018, giving back to the community a summary of the results of our three Science Shop studies carried out by master students in Chagas disease.

We organized events in five different contexts: civil society of Punata (a province nearbye Cochabamba), health staff of Punata’s hospital, students of medicine of UMSS (public) university, Association of patients with Chagas disease, and finally in CEADES office.

First, in Punata, the full activity was recorded and broadcasted by the local television channel which has an audience of 35,000 people, and in parallel, via the Facebook page. We had the participation of local leaders, health representatives, technical staff for vector control, representatives of education sector. We have enriched the event with a beautiful artistic exhibition by photographer Ana Ferreira.

Second, in the hospital: with the participation of medical doctors and nurses.

Third, with students of medicine organized by the Scientific Association.

Fourth, with the members of the Association of patients with Chagas Disease “Corazones Unidos”.

And, finally, with the full staff of CEADES.

19 December – Join the inSPIRES webinar: Participatory Research with Rajesh Tandon

Date: 19/12/2018

Hour: 10 h.

Speaker: Dr Rajesh Tandon, Founder-President of the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and co-chair of the UNESCO Chair on Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education


The InSPIRES EU project is delighted to welcome you to join a new webinar on Participatory Research on the 19th of December at 10h (CET time).

Participatory Research (PR) is a methodology that values experiential knowledge and practitioner’s wisdom in addition to the more formal knowledge available in academia and books, in order to bridge the divide between the world of practice and the world of research.

In this webinar, Dr Rajesh Tandon, Founder-President of the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and co-chair of the UNESCO Chair on Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, will share his experience in participatory research, with a special focus on health-related projects. Our speaker has undertaken a number of initiatives to promote engagement of institutions of higher education with civil society and local communities to foster knowledge generation and mutual learning. He will present inspiring examples and recommendations to help to implement this type of projects.

>>> If you are interested to participate in an interactive discussion and receive access to the online platform to join, please send an email to

Collecting societal questions related to loneliness for Science Shop projects

The VU University (Athena Science Shop and the Community Service Learning project ‘A Broader Mind’) organized together with the municipality of Amsterdam two local workshops in which VU students, VU lecturers, and various social organizations of the New-West district in Amsterdam collaborated to find solutions for emerging social issues. The aim of these events was to extract societal issues from the district and allow students (within educational activities/courses) to make a contribution to the questions these social organizations have.

The first workshop on the 30th of January was an introductory meeting to get to know each other and to explore the potential social issues and questions in the district. For the second workshop we opted for Loneliness as the main topic for the second workshop. The results of these workshops provide input for new Science Shop projects in which students collaborate with the community to solve societal issues.

During the second workshop, we had as a starting point that the loneliness among the population of the Amsterdam New-West district must be reduced. In the district New-West, loneliness is greater than in other parts of Amsterdam. This loneliness is mostly present among people between 45 and 54 years old, unemployed people and low educated people with little money. The largest percentage of lonely people is among the Turkish-Dutch population.

That is why around twenty lecturers from the VU University went to the community centre of the district to discuss together with the municipality and social organizations about the approach to this societal issue. These lectures work mainly within the health and social science field. Together with, among others, local estate agents from the municipality and people from social organizations such as student housing project “Vooruit”, housing corporation “De Alliantie” and healthcare institution “Philadelphia”, the lecturers worked on ideas to involve students in solving problems related to loneliness in the district in groups.

Learning from status holders


In one of the groups, they talked about people who emerge from social shelters and status holders who get their own house. Floor Wijnands, project manager at “Vooruit”, said: “They are happy when they get their own house, but they come from a close community and are suddenly alone. How do you keep all those different people in a neighbourhood together? And how can you also use the experience of the newcomers with living together with a group of people that you have not chosen yourself?” Her group members agreed with her and the group leader wrote the questions on a post-it. In this way, they collected questions that students may find an answer to. Some of the questions were: “How do you make a senior citizen centre more vibrant? And how can you better guide people who speak the language badly?” One of the conclusions from this group was that it is very important to have a good conversation with everyone beforehand to avoid a stiff cooperation in the future.Overloading vulnerable people with students.

Workshop with UV University

In another group, Barbara Bijlstra, project manager at “Boot” which is an organization of the “Hogeschool van Amsterdam” that links students to questions from residents and organizations in Amsterdam neighbourhoods, shares her concern that you should not overload vulnerable people with students. The group concludes that it is good if the VU University can join activities that have already been set up in the neighbourhoods.

Most groups did not come further than drawing general conclusions during the workshops. However, the workshop also aimed to allow the participants to make new possible future cooperation partners. This networking started right from the walk-in and was present until the end of the workshop.

Workshop with UV students

Learning to build a community

Nevertheless, one group did succeed in getting something more concrete during the workshop. A representative from “Philadelphia”, a healthcare facility for people with intellectual disabilities, suggested that you can also reduce loneliness by building a community. She wanted to know how you can teach that to healthcare providers so that they not only improve the health but also the well-being of their clients as a group.

Prof.dr. Marjolein Zweekhorst of the Athena Institute and Dr. Peer Smets of sociology saw opportunities during the workshops for students to get started in successive courses or internships. How exactly, they still have to work out, but the beginning has been made during these workshops.

See also in the media:  Wat kunnen studenten doen tegen eenzaamheid in de stad?