At a glance

September 2013 - November 2015
Project Type: 

Engage was a research project funded by the European Commission (DG Research) looking at how members of the public could best be involved in research, innovation and related activities across Europe.

Involve, together with partners in four other European countries, mapped how, where and why members of the public, stakeholders, consumers and other groups are engaged in the research process, from early policy development to the delivery of research activity.

Public Engagement is one of the priority areas in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. In total nearly €80 billion of funding is available over 7 years. For this reason the stakes for engagement are very high.

Engage2020 aimed to increase the use of engagement methods and policies by mapping what is practiced and spreading awareness of the opportunities amongst researchers, policy makers and other interested parties. The project mapped existing policies, structures, methods, approaches, tools and instruments, as well as highlighting promising new or adapted approaches we would like to see in the future. The project website is here.

Across Europe there is growing interest in and funding for ways of engaging members of the public in research and innovation. However, this is a very fractured field with numerous competing terminologies and ways of working – for example Science shops and citizen science. It is also an area where different countries across Europe have very different experiences. For this reason, there was (and still is) a real need to share learning between countries and fields of practice.

Engage 2020 aimed to look at the involvement of members of society in research and innovation activities in many different roles, including as consumers, affected parties and citizens. We carried out mapping and research and published a number of reports mapping the state of practice. Enagge 2020 also aimed to help spread participative practice from the pockets of excellence, such as the foresight community and Science Shops, to wider groups.

What we did

Through the project we carried out research into emerging trends in citizen engagement in science and technology as well as mapping and exploring existing policies and methods, tools and instruments for engagement. We held webinars, conferences and workshops to inspire new actors to include societal engagement in research and innovation. As a final product Engage 2020 created an Action Catalogue – an online decision support tool on relevant engagement approaches.

Who was involved

Funded by the European Commission (DG Research) as part of FP7

The project was coordinated by the Danish Board of Technology Foundation. The project partners were (besides Involve) Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (Germany), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (Netherlands), The Applied Research and Communications Fund (Bulgaria) and DIALOGIK (Germany)

What was achieved

Through Engage 2020 Involve and our partners gathered together a better understanding of the strengths and weakness es of public engagement in science and research across different fields and countries. We brought together leading thinkers and doers from different countries to discuss how to develop the work further. We also organised an number of conferences, webinars and workshops that reached hundreds of civil servants, civil society representatives, private sector actors and researchers and that aimed to inspire them to include societal engagement in research and innovation.

We also developed one of the most comprehensive overviews of engagement approaches in the field of research and innovation.


Action catalogue – an online method tool that lets you find the exact method you are searching for

Science, Society and Engagement – An e-Anthology

Report: Public Engagement Methods and Tools

Report: Report on Current Praxis of Policies and Activities Supporting Societal Engagement in Research and Innovation

Report: Promises, demands and fields of practice

Report: Policy options for engagement in science and innovation within the frame of Horizon2020

Report: What the Future Holds for Societal Engagement – Future Engagement Report

Policy briefs

Policy brief 1: Policies and Activities Supporting Societal Engagement in Research and Innovation

Policy brief 2: Public Engagement in R&I Processes – Promises and Demands

Policy brief 3: Current Praxis of Policies and Activities Supporting

Policy brief 4:  Policy options to increase public engagement in science and innovation within the frame of Horizon2020

Policy brief 5: Societal Engagement – Policy and Practice in the Future

Policy brief 6: Public Engagement –What’s next?

Photo by Matan Segev from Pexels