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Sparks inspires collaborative research initiatives

  • Sparks at Impact Hub Budapest

Discover how being involved in Sparks has inspired its partners to start new initiatives at local level.

ESSRG, Sparks partner in Hungary, has recently launched a new Platform aimed at matching social challenges with the best innovative solutions. Györgyi Bela from ESSRG explains:

'The Sparks project has provided a great opportunity for ESSRG to establish domestic partnership relations through a series of participatory activities. We had some very interesting discussions with experts and citizens[1] which led to formulating conclusions and steps forward to progress in an RRI perspective.


RRI and participatory research projects in general remain isolated and invisible initiatives in Hungary. There is little cooperation between individual projects which are moreover competing for the same financial resources. The current practice of having isolated initiatives shows little impact outside these initiatives themselves. The need for more cooperation and synergies among initiatives is therefore obvious.


Students in Hungary have few opportunities to carry out teacher-guided practical experiments as well as to engage in project/inquiry-based learning. What is more, informal education outside the school is rarely available. During a Citizen Science Workshop held in the frame of the Sparks project, we observed that despite enthusiasm and excitement from participants, they had little knowledge about how to interact with and contribute to research and innovation and that they faced language barriers to fully engage with the scientists.

Mobilizing young people and small enterprises to carry out DIY research activities is a challenge and the collaboration between scientists, teachers and society that seems desirable and inevitable yet requires process facilitation.


ESSRG is committed to promoting such collaborative efforts and initiates transparent, inclusive and reflexive research and innovation processes. These consist of participative problem definition mechanisms, analysis, and working with citizens, policy-makers and researchers toward mutually desirable outcomes. In order to learn how to move beyond project-based continuation, ESSRG, together with Impact Hub Budapest (host of Beyond the Lab exhibition), put forward a "Challenge" in the framework of SCHIP (Social Challenge Innovation Platform). Through this Platform, ESSRG all over the member states are looking for innovative ideas. The SCHIP Platform will reward the first rounds of selected solution providers with a EUR 30,000 support and six months of mentoring each to help them turn idea into reality. Submission deadline is 21 December 2017, 23.59 CET. Do you have an idea? Join the conversation!


ESSRG is committed to work in close collaboration and respectfully with the selected solution provider on developing a tool or service that supports collaborative RRI with and for local society in Hungary in order to enhance social innovation towards ecological sustainability and social justice.


Besides the challenge, ESSRG will continue to follow the idea of RRI in its research activities. The continuation will be based on a new EU project we are currently engaged with: InSPIRES. InSPIRES is searching for the "science shop 2.0" and evaluates best practices in order to showcase innovative solutions for institutionalizing transdisciplinary research at the science-society interface. Through InSPIRES, ESSRG hopes to strengthen further its capabilities and network to conduct research responsibly for the benefit of local communities and society at large.


Furthermore, ESSRG is a local organiser of the 8th Living Knowledge Conference from 30th May to 1st June 2018 in Budapest, where participants will discuss how to build on and enrich public engagement in research practices through RRI, Open Science, Open Innovation, Science Shops, citizen science, participatory governance, community-based research.'


ESSRG is a research and development enterprise working on the boundaries of environmental and social sciences with a transdisciplinary approach.  We nourish a collaborative and cooperative research approach, involving various communities and stakeholder groups, while paying attention to those voices that are typically marginalized or voiceless, thus striving toward social justice and ecological sustainability.



[1] List of relevant Sparks activities:

  • Citizen Science Workshop: Learn about interesting projects!
  • TEDxConversations: Health in the 21st century / Women in science / Science and democracy
  • Science Espressos: Socially responsible design / DIY biology and healthcare, self-healing patients, WeAreNotWaiting movements / Knowledge co-creation for local economic development / Go and make it! The DIY movement and being a maker, innovation from a new perspective / Citizen science at the service of research


Events date: 
Tuesday, November 21, 2017