Six creative ways to engage the public in innovation policy

Tom Saunders at Nesta: “When someone decides to engage the public in a discussion about science or innovation, it usually involves booking a room, bringing a group of people together and giving them some information about a topical issue then listening to their thoughts about it. After this, the organisers ususally produce a report which they email to everyone they want to influence, or if it was commissioned directly by a research funder or a public body, there is usually a response detailing how they are going to act on the views of the public.

What’s wrong with this standard format of public dialogue? Through our research into public engagement in innovation policy, we noticed a number of issues:

  • Almost all public engagement work is offline, with very little money spent on digital methods

  • Most dialogues are top down, e.g a research council decides that they need to engage the public on a particular issue. They rarely come from citizens themselves

  • Most public dialogues are only open to a small number of hand-picked participants. No one else can take part, even if they want to

  • Few public engagement activities focus specifically on engaging with underrepresented groups…(More)”.