Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today published the outcomes from Creating Our Future, a unique national brainstorm that received more than 18,000 ideas on how to create a better society.
The diverse breadth of public submissions on where research should be focused ranged from ideas on the environment, mental health, food and sustainable and green living, to housing, health, the arts, digital challenges, learning and development, and nurturing community.
The campaign asked the Irish public to submit research ideas based on a flexible, open-ended question: ‘Tell us your idea for what researchers in Ireland should explore to create a better future?’
Some responses include:
- The impact of parental depression on children;
- A zero waste society;
- A cut-off button on phones, iPads, tablets, laptops and computers for children;
- The use of robots for litter collection;
- Car-free cities;
- Whether radio presenters respond to or engage with male and female presenters differently;
- Communication around cancer and infertility
Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “The Creating Our Future campaign was launched to bring research and the public together; to unite everyone in a shared project to allow us to better understand how research can work for the Irish public and shape a better Ireland.
“We wanted to open a discussion to everyone, to discover what was important to people, to find out what they would like to explore to create a better future for all.
“The campaign aimed to democratise research – everyone can have a good idea; the campaign was open to everyone, and I am glad to say that we received research ideas from every county in the country.
“The Expert Committee Report analysing the submissions paints a very interesting picture of the thoughts and concerns of the Irish public at a unique point in time. Their findings, alongside all the submissions, now form a valuable and unique digital book of inspiration.
“The database of ideas will serve as an enduring source of insight and will help to inspire future research in Ireland. I would like to sincerely thank each person that submitted an idea to the Creating Our Future campaign.
“In one way, it feels like we are at the finish of Creating Our Future but in another, we are really only at the beginning. The public has done its part, it is now up to Government and its agencies to implement the recommendations in both the Campaign Report and Expert Committee Report.
“The research ideas have already been aligned with a number of ongoing and upcoming programmes and will inform research through a variety of initiatives over the coming years.
“I would like to thank all of those involved, the Ambassadors, Advisory Forum Members and Members of the Expert Committee and Working Groups, and Science Foundation Ireland, it was through this combined effort that we have ultimate success.”
Creating Our Future was the first of its kind public engagement dialogue to be undertaken in Ireland. All 18,062 ideas submitted by the public during 2021 were considered by an independent Expert Committee and grouped under 16 thematic areas.
The outputs and recommendations from Creating Our Future are integrated into the Government’s new national research and innovation strategy Impact 2030, and will inform the National Challenge Fund, as well as being aligned with future public engagement campaigns such as Science Week.
The outputs from the campaign can be viewed below:
The Creating Our Future Campaign Report and Expert Committee Report can be found here: Creating Our Future » Reports and Data.
The digital Book of Inspiration – the database of submissions can be viewed here: https://creatingourfuture.ie/the-ideas/.
Notes to the Editor:
The Creating Our Future campaign ran over five months from July to December 2021. People of all ages, from different sectors and communities across Ireland and further afield, made submissions via an online portal and various in-person events, including roadshows and group brainstorms.
From science, the environment, health and education to poverty, the arts, diversity, and inclusion – all ideas submitted will provide researchers with inspiration to make a better future for Ireland.
The campaign asked the Irish public to submit research ideas based on a flexible, open-ended question:
‘Tell us your idea for what researchers in Ireland should explore to create a better future?’
The submissions were grouped under the following 16 thematic areas:
- Enhancing a Human Centred Approach to Health and Social Care
- Reimagining Learning and Development across the Life Course
- Advancing Solutions for Housing
- Safeguarding Public Interest and trust in the Digital World
- Improving Policymaking and the Political System
- Promoting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Ireland
- Fostering Regional Strengths
- Valuing and Connecting Communities
- Embedding Climate Action across Society
- Supporting Innovation in Farming and Food
- Future-proofing Energy and Water Systems
- Connecting Ireland through Green Transport Schemes
- Nurturing the Humanities, Culture and the Arts
- Harnessing the Benefits of Fundamental Research
- Building Resilience and Preparedness: Insights from the Pandemic
- Strengthening the Research Landscape and Public Engagement
Inclusive dialogue was a fundamental tenet across all aspects of the campaign. The campaign was designed to create a space for those that would not, in usual circumstances, have an opportunity to engage with, or influence, research decisions.
The Creating Our Future roadshow visited every county in Ireland at least once. Forty roadshow events were held and 36 stakeholder information and campaign support events were facilitated. In total, over 1,500 online and in-person brainstorms and events were held to gather ideas. The engagement campaign was supported by an Advisory Forum chaired by Julie Byrne, Global Head of Nokia Bell Labs External Collaboration Programs.
An Expert Committee consisting of nine experts across various research disciplines, supported by seven working groups with over 50 domain experts, were responsible for reviewing the submissions, synthesising the findings and making recommendations. The Expert Committee was chaired by Professor Linda Hogan, Trinity College Dublin. The Expert Committee Report made the following recommendations:
- Solutions for the future cannot be developed in silos – everything is connected Researchers should explore ways to live within our planetary boundaries with integrated sustainable solutions
- Accelerated research efforts are required in mental health and infectious diseases to improve quality of life and strengthen Ireland’s resilience in the face of future disruptions
- Researchers should design, implement, and evaluate bespoke Irish solutions for services and infrastructure (from housing to transport and energy). These efforts should account for our unique geography, society, and heritage so that they benefit all
- Irish research needs to be at the cutting edge of emerging digital technologies that improve people’s lives, increase public trust, and make for a more inclusive and fair society
- Research is required to harness the power of communities to generate local and systemic change in Ireland (from green initiatives to education and the future of work)