RiConfigure – involving civil society in innovation

The challenges we are facing globally are complex and call for a reconfiguration of constellations across sectors in finding solutions.


Why are we overlooking civil society in the innovation process?

Traditionally the innovation process has been dominated by the industry, the public sector and research. However, the civil society possesses great creative competences too and we need to include these undervalued actors in order to let innovative solutions flourish. By bringing different voices together in new types of collaborations we avoid overlooking blind spots because every actor has specific competences and focus points. The RiConfigure project exists to make cross-sectoral collaborations thrive and overcome the challenges that the actors might face. There is a strength in including more diverse voices in the dynamic process, as diversity creates resilience and representativeness. Together we are stronger and can come up with more holistic solutions that could not otherwise have been developed had the civil society not been actively part of creating it.

Big, pressing societal problems call for innovative solutions and new ways of working together. So far, research, industry and the public sector have dominated the development of solutions to societal problems; a so-called innovation triangle called triple helix. Civil society has not actively participated in these innovation processes, despite the fact that this group has a wide range of new, creative ideas for solving societal problems. Therefore, it is essential to engage civil society in the research and innovation process in order to gain a broader input, create a more holistic approach and be able to identify blind spots in the pursuit of society’s interests. The RiConfigure project will therefore involve this overlooked group, the civil society,  in innovation and research processes.
New forms of cooperation must solve societal problems
As civil society creates the society, it is essential to involve this group. Therefore, the former innovation triangle, triple helix, has been given an extra leg and has become a quadruple helix. The DNA of the innovation process should thus consist of four groups: the public sector, industry, research and civil society. However, such collaborations can lead to different collaboration problems due to different interests, and therefore the RiConfigure project acts as a form of exchange of ideas and advice on various methodological and political measures to make the interaction work and make the good solutions come true. reality.
Social Labs – a study in collaboration
This work is carried out through four workshops, so-called social labs, spread over two years, where different projects and cases, which have all four actors in play, meet and exchange ideas and are advised in new ways of collaboration across interests. The social labs will be based on the problems that the actors from the selected cases encounter in their daily work with the project. These social labs must therefore facilitate the collaboration processes across the interests of the actors. This is done through various methods, which are presented on an ongoing basis and which must be tried to be implemented in the projects. Next, it will be evaluated which methods worked and why – and which did not work. The aim is to create best practices for research and innovation so that it can inspire other projects around the world to actively involve civil society in the innovation process. Facts about RiConfigure RiConfigure is performed by a consortium of 11 organizations from Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, Colombia, Italy, Hungary, Spain and Denmark RiConfigure is funded by the European Union under the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Program – Horizon 2020 under contract number 78804 RiConfigure started in May 2018 and runs over 36 months until April 2021.
You can read more about the project at: http://riconfigure.eu/