On September 17, 2021, the first citizen roundtable as part of the FRANCIS project took place. Our aim of the project consortium was to gain more insights about motivations and barriers with which civil participants are confronted during projects with governmental, scientific institutions or industrial partners.

Before the roundtable, we conducted a literature review on the motivational aspects and barriers to get a first glimpse in the topic. Additionally, we interviewed other Horizon2020 EU projects (the so called SwafS – Science with and for CitizenS), which have already gained first experiences in working with citizens especially in international EU projects. T SwafS projects that were interviewed were:

  • MICS
  • NewHoRRIzon
  • Critical Making
  • The literature and interviews give us hints that good participation conditions depend very strongly on local circumstances and the target groups we want to address in our challenges. So our starting position for the first citizen roundtable was to confirm on the one hand the already gained information and on the other hand to get specific information about the target groups we want to address in the first challenge with BSH home appliances group (topic: culinary world, home care).

    Beforehand we had decided that the roundtable would take place as a digital workshop (not as initially planned as a local event at the Fraunhofer IAO Frugal Innovation Lab) because of the still ongoing COVID-19 situation in summer 2021. The benefit was that we had the possibility to address citizen representatives’ organizations on a national level and not only locally in one city or region of Germany. The challenge was to get the analog interactive workshop into a digital format.

    To make it as interesting as possible for the roundtable participants, we decided to use different formats, such as:

  • polls with the app “Forms” from “MS Teams”, with which we checked how the own experiences are related to the literature
  • the tool “Concept Board” for the digital visualization of our workshop white board and
  • open discussions with the video conferencing tool “MS Teams”.
  • On the first roundtable, we had the pleasure to work with the following persons:

  • Annika Kröller (Verband kinderreicher Familien),
  • Kristin Küter (Wissenschaft im Dialog),
  • Lisa Weis (Allianz für Beteiligung),
  • Anna Zierer (Stadtmedienzentrum Stuttgart)
  • We started with a short check-in and introduction round with the question “what is your favorite item that you need for you daily work or life”. After a short presentation of the FRANCIS project and a clarification of the most important project wordings like “frugal innovation”, “citizen science” and “open science/innovation”, we jumped into the first working round (topic: motivation and barriers in citizen participation projects) of, in sum, two rounds. Each round has a poll as an introduction into the topic. This made us gain insights on the type and deepness of experiences the participants already have made in their work with citizens.

    After the short poll we opened the concept board where each participant was given 10 minutes to fill out their personal canvas about their main target groups they worked with. The canvas presented the basis for the 30 minutes of open and very fruitful discussion afterwards.

    Leading questions in the canvas were e.g.:

  • What values characterise the citizen group?
  • What does the group want to achieve together?
  • What do the individual group members need to be able to work successfully? What does the group need? What are the reasons for the target group to get involved? Motivations?
  • Risks and obstacles of citizen participation
  • What advantages does the target group have in participating in your offers? What are the benefits for the target group’s environment? How do the individual citizens benefit?
  • After a short digital coffee break, we repeated the procedure with focus on the recruitment of participants for projects and the ongoing motivation of participants during the project. One of the most difficult parts in citizen driven projects is to maintain participants’ interest on the project topic. Leading questions in the canvas were e.g.:

  • Framework for activities (What time aspects need to be taken into account? What framework must be created so that the target group can be involved/participate? What is particularly attractive for the target group?)
  • Communication & Activities (Which communication channels do you use to reach the target group? Which ones have been proven particularly effective? How often do you use them? What language/approach do you use? How do you start and maintain communication with your target group)
  • Finally, after three hours of intensive discussions, we achieved a very colorful digital whiteboard with plenty of important insights from different points of views.

    We want to thank all participants of the first citizen roundtable and we are looking forward to the next citizen roundtable at November 11, 2021 where we want to jump into the topic of frugal innovation processes more specifically and discuss how to address the target groups to be part of the frugal innovation movement. If we already have awakened your interest, let us know and join the next citizen roundtable in November. Please contact us via email at liza.wohlfart@iao.fraunhofer.de.