Meet the Team – Interview with Elías Sanz Casado from Carlos III University of Madrid

Members of INAECU, including Elías Sanz Casado (fourth from left)

Professor Elías Sanz Casado, Head of the research institute INAECU, who is leading the Carlos III University of Madrid’s participation in SciShops, talks about their involvement in the project.

Q: Firstly, tell us a bit about Carlos III University of Madrid

University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) is a public University founded in 1989. Its mission is to contribute to the improvement of society through the teaching of the highest quality and cutting-edge research in line with stringent international guidelines. The University aspires to excellence in all its activities, with the aim of becoming one of the top universities in Europe and is included in the QS Top 50 Under 50 world university ranking.

Those of us involved in the SciShops project are part of the INAECU research group, which is an interdisciplinary and interuniversity research centre run jointly by UC3M and the Autonomous University of Madrid. Our research includes: culture and policy on public awareness, research evaluation and scientometrics, policy and university management; innovation, transfer and entrepreneurship and advanced research methods and techniques.

 Q: What is the motivation behind you getting involved in science shops?

INAECU is a multidisciplinary team of researchers from different fields (library and information science, robotics, geography, etc.). We have participated in activities such as ‘Science Week’ or ‘European Researchers’ Night’ as well as some projects related to the dissemination of scientific information. Working with (and for) society with a science shop is a new perspective. Building bridges between society and the university and problem-solving together is our main challenge. For us, the science shop concept is a new approach to how we do science and could change our vision about how science is used to solve society issues.

Q: Tell us about the science shop that you will be setting up during the SciShops project?

Our intention is to set up a new university-based science shop with a focus on topics such as gender issues; science health and patients; open innovation; local business opportunities and sustainability. To date, we have identified some civil society organisations working in areas related to the expertise of the future science shop and we are developing a dissemination plan with the aim of spreading the word about us and getting in touch with other societal groups. We are very excited about what kind of issues are going to arise and the whole process of problem-solving. It will bring an added value to our research process at all levels.

Q: What challenges do you envisage?

One of the main challenges that we are facing with the new science shop is how to maintain the engagement of the society during the whole process and to co-produce new knowledge together. However, being in the project, as well as other networks, will make the path to creating a new science shop a lot easier. Another challenge is to change society’s views towards universities: making universities more accessible and building trust.

Q: SciShops will be holding its first summer school for partners in Spain in July 2018. Tell us a bit about it.

The first summer school will be held from 16th to 20th of July in Castelldefels (Barcelona). The purpose is to provide training to SciShops partners setting up new science shops. The programme will include sessions about operational models, dissemination strategies, stakeholder involvement and starting a science shop and consist of a mixture of lectures, workshops and hands-on activities. It will also be a great opportunity to get more familiar with participatory research methods and ways to involve different societal actors. In addition, we will visit two Spanish science shops: the UOC Science Shop at the online open university Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and the Living Lab for Health.