Enhancing the Responsible and Sustainable Expansion of the Science Shop Ecosystem in Europe

Cyprus gets co-creative to tackle challenges

During 2018, two co-creation events were organised in Cyprus under the framework of SciShop.eu. They engaged diverse stakeholders and tested formats for identifying and solving challenges using a collaborative and quick-win approach.

Both events were organised in collaboration with other local and EU organisations and networks, under the framework of SciShops.eu. The first event, held on 29 October 2018, ‘Breaking Barriers for Women in Science’ was held at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (one of the leading and largest research institutes in CY), in collaboration with the NPO AIPFE Cyprus-Women of Europe and Cardiff University (UK). It engaged a diverse group of 35 stakeholders, from academia, business, non-profit organisations and government. The workshop used a structured participatory co-creation process with the objective of identifying gender barriers faced by Cypriot women in science. Based on the findings of this event a quantitative challenge on women in science was formulated and this was subsequently tackled during a second, 5-day, co-creation event held in December.

 

“We were really keen to ensure participants represented a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise, and feedback showed that this kind of forum to discuss societal issues was really productive and much appreciated.”

Dr Katerina Kaouri, the lead coordinator of both events (SciCo Cyprus/Cardiff).

The second Cypriot co-creation event was held at the University of Cyprus between 3-7 December 2018 and was entitled 146th European Study Group with Industry/Co-Creation Event with Society. The event was run as a collaboration between the SciShops project, the EU Mathematics for Industry Network (MI-NET, COST Action TD1409), Cardiff University (School of Mathematics), and the University of Cyprus. This intensive, week-long co-creation workshop brought together researchers and non-academic organisations (companies, NPOs, government) to work together on three identified societal challenges and develop preliminary solutions, using mathematical modelling and data analytics. Each of the three challenges had been identified prior to the event through collaboration between the researchers in the organising team and the non-academic organisations.

The first challenge was on “Optimizing the performance of a conical ceramic membrane”. This came from the SME “Smart Separations”, an innovative start-up with novel filters that purify indoor air and achieve better blood separation (they are recipients of 2.5 million funding from the EU’s SME Instrument).

The second challenge  “Breaking barriers for women in science” was identified in collaboration with the NPO AIPFE Cyprus-Women of Europe, continuing from the 1st co-creation event. Data about the progression of women in STEM in Cyprus was analysed and an algorithm for predicting a woman’s career and salary progression, in view of the large pay gap between men and women, was developed. The third challenge explored “Fuel saving strategies for tugboats” in collaboration with the SME VTS Vasilikos Terminal Services.

Cyprus Women inScience event
Cyprus Women inScience event

The five-day workshop followed the well-known format of the `European Study Groups with Industry’ that originated in Oxford University in 1968 and then spread to over 25 countries. The first half day consisted of introductory presentations about the challenges by representatives of the non-academic organisations. The presentations were followed by four days in which teams of researchers with advanced mathematical skills and community representatives worked together (in three different rooms) to refine the challenge formulation and to develop preliminary solutions and recommendations for creating long-term collaborations. On the fifth day, the teams presented their findings to a broad gathering of stakeholders, including policymakers, local administrations, community members, SME representatives and other academics.

In total, over 100 people participated in the event, with a core of 37 people working on the challenges throughout the week.

A distinguishing feature of this type of co-creation event is that it also provides quick solutions to societal challenges after their identification and refinement and it is an innovative format that Science Shops could employ in order to progress some pressing societal issues brought to them in an expedited manner.