Towards citizen-based research agendas

EU’s work programme Horizon 2020 (2018-2020) has been launched. This is good news for researchers but also for European citizens. As something new, the research programme has direct links to visions formulated by more than 1000 European citizens through the project CIMULACT.


“Project like CIMULACT has enabled direct interaction with citizens”, is stated by the European Commission in the introduction of the new Horizon 2020 work programme (2018-2020). This statement indicates that visions for a sustainable and desirable future developed by more than 1000 citizens have been integrated in EU’s major research and innovation funding programme.

“We are happy to see that the European Commission has listened to what European citizens find important to prioritise in research and innovation”, tells CIMULACT’s coordinator Lars Klüver who is proud to see several years effort towards engaging citizens and other actors in EU’s research and innovation agenda settings has been fruitful.

CIMULACT stands for ‘’Citizen and Multi-Actor Consultation on Horizon 2020’ and aims to engage European citizens in the development of Horizon 2020. The 29 project partners, coordinated by the Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DBT), has since the project was launched in 2015 consulted more than 1000 citizens in 30 European countries along with experts and stakeholders in order to formulate topics that research and innovation communities can apply funding for through Horizon 2020.

Research agenda

The principle of engaging citizens in research and innovation is as such not new in EU where public engagement is a core value in EU’s vision for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). But although it has been politically supported to involve citizens more, it is often difficult in practise. To turn theory into practice DBT has since 2009 focused on developing methods to engage citizens in research agenda settings. This initially resulted in the project CIVISTI (Citizen Vision on Science, Technology and Innovation). Through CIVISTI, DBT tested methods for citizen-based research agenda settings by consulting citizens from seven European countries about their visions for the future, converting these to relevant research topics.

In 2015, the European Commission financed CIVISTI’s more mature sister CIMULACT – at present the most ambitious initiative to engage citizens in EU research agenda settings. From the launch of CIMULACT to the final formulation of 23 concrete suggestions for citizen-based research topics for Horizon 2020, the European Commission has been positive about the project progression and its results.

To what extent the 23 citizen-based topics has been integrated in the current Horizon 2020 work programme is still unclear, but several of the topics show similarities to the citizens’ visions. The final analysis of the project’s impact on Horizon 2020 will be published in the coming months. However, CIMULACT has already proved that it is relevant to engage citizens in the development of research and innovation agendas and that it is feasible to do.

Photo: Strategic Design Scenarios

Vision catalogue: 179 visions for Europe

Photo: Strategic Design Scenarios


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Horizon 2020 Work Programme (2018-2020)