Science Shops in Spain and Portugal are joining forces to collaborate as part of an Iberian Network of Science Shops. Its aim is to strengthen community-based participatory research and citizen engagement science in the region through collaboration and knowledge exchange.
Citizen science and especially the creation of Science Shops are relatively new to Spain and Portugal, however, there a real opportunity for growth in this area. As Professor Elías Sanz Casado, Head of the research institute INAECU and one of SciShops partners that initiated the network, explains “Scientific and technological development of both countries is at a very acceptable level, despite the budget dedicated to each of the countries to R&D activities being much lower than the average for the European Union. The universities and research centres of both countries are of quality, many of them of international prestige, and they have a good output of international scientific publications. Likewise, researchers from both countries are very competitive in achieving research projects through the European framework. However, the transfer of this scientific knowledge to citizens, so that it is part of their cultural background, and is useful for their daily activities, is far from a reality. Currently, in both countries, communication between the world of research and citizens is not fluid, with the consequent loss of opportunities for all.”
The network was established at meeting organised by partners within the Horizon 2020 SciShops project (the Research Institute for Higher Education and Science (INAECU), the University of Leiden, and the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE)) on the 9 May 2019 at the Carlos III University of Madrid. Sixteen representatives of Science Shops and community-based participatory research (CBPR) initiatives from both Spain and Portugal participated in the meeting. A range of universities, foundations, companies and research centres were represented at the meeting including: University Carlos III of Madrid (Spain), INAECU (Spain), Medialab-Prado (Spain), University of Porto (Portugal), Oberta University of Catalonia (Spain), CIMNE (Spain), Ciência Aberta Platform (PCA), the University of Leiden (Netherlands), Open Science Hub (Portugal), Ibercivis (Spain), Pompeu Fabra University (Spain).
The objective of the event was to exchange experiences, to present different initiatives being carried out in both countries, to identify possible opportunities for collaboration between the different organisations, as well as to create an Iberian Network of Science Shops.
A number of areas of common interest and possible joint actions were agreed at the meeting including:
- To set up a network, with one of the first joint activities being the organisation of a joint scientific event.
- To exchange experiences and work methodologies among the participating institutions.
- To ensure the inclusion of the network in other European ones and the creation of a further one involving Ibero-American countries to place emphasis on regional initiatives and common languages (Spanish and Portuguese).
- To analyse possible sources of funding to support the continuity of existing projects.
- To identify opportunities for shared participation, such as projects and training.