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Coordinated by Ecsite, Sparks was an ambitious engagement project on the topic of technology shifts in health and medicine. It raised awareness and communicated the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) to Europeans in 29 countries.

Sparks organised an interactive touring exhibition called "Beyond the Lab: the DIY Science Revolution". 230 innovative participatory activities such as science cafés, pop-up science shops, incubation activities and scenario workshops took place. Creative disruptions —in the form of artistic inputs and questioning—  helped to engage more stakeholders.The European dimension of the project paired with a strong emphasis on local implementation through 29 experienced science communicators that adapted the exhibition and activities to their contexts and established local multi-stakeholder collaborative partnerships.Sparks’ methodology emphasised interdisciplinary (science, art, policy, industry, research, science education) and participatory approaches to promote RRI in relation to health. This was a highly relevant research topic which is able to kickstart citizens’ and other stakeholders’ engagement in science and research.

The project also had a learning and policy component. Data was gathered from visitors of the exhibition in order to further build the capacity of science actors and policy makers to promote RRI and better understand society’s vision, interests and readiness concerning RRI in health.

Sparks used various levels of interaction and engagement (physical as well as virtual, including social media) to inform a very large number of stakeholders on the relevance of RRI and promote collective stewardship of research activities to the benefit of society. The combined networks of the organisations gathered around Sparks had a potential outreach of millions of individuals and organisations across Europe. The project engaged over 1 million individuals who either visited the exhibition and/or took part in its participatory activities. 


SPARKS has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement no. 665825


  • #Exhibition design
  • exhibitions
  • Participation
  • RRI
  • workshops
  • activities
  • #horizon2020

List of project partners

European Network of Science Centres and Museums (Ecsite) - BE
Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD) - NL
Science Museum - UK
Copernicus Science Centre - PL
Bonn Science Shop - DE
European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN) - BE
Ars Electronica - AT
KEA European Affairs - BE
European University Cyprus - CY
Institute of Social Innovations - LT
Labworm Science Shop at Sapientia University - RO
Neulogy - SK
Luxembourg Science Center - LU
Università della Svizzera italiana - CH



Practical guide or toolkit

This Toolkit is an easy to use guide to identify the activity that best fits your objectives and resources, to understand and to prepare Science Espressos, Reverse Science Cafés, Pop-up Science Shops and Scenario Workshops.

Education & learning
#sparks #RRI #Health #participatoryactivities

The current document's main objective is to conceptualise the knowledge acquired in the SPARKS project, in order to contribute to the development of a wider Responsible Research and Innovation governance framework across Europe. It presents the results of the empirical research undergone throughout the project with the purpose of measuring SPARKS outcomes. The learnings can be strapolated to other project on public Engagement and RRI.

Education & learning
#survey, #sparks, #rri, #Health, #exhibition, #Activities
Policy recommendations from the Sparks Project - Shaking up science and society relations

This document puts forth five key policy recommendations from the Sparks project. European, national and regional policymakers are invited to reflect on how they can be integrated into policy and implemented on the ground. The recommendations were drafted by the Sparks consortium and validated by 150 participants of the project's final Forum.

EU and governance
DIY science, policy recommendations, RRI, citizen science, museums
Material for workshops and exhibitions, Practical guide or toolkit

Guidelines for each of the organisations hosting the Sparks Exhibition "Beyond the Lab: The DIY science revolution" - with a wider scope: discover Responsible Research and Innovation in action and get a deep insight on how to run innovative participatory activities.

Developed in 2016 as part of the Sparks project.

Education & learning
Participation, dialogue, sparks, science cafés, #rri, Responsible Research and Innovation, healthcare, medicine

The goal of this report is to offer to all the partners of Sparks a common understanding of the technological shifts that are influencing the fields of health and medicine and of how RRI can be identified, discussed, and modelled in the activities that will be developed for Sparks. The report provides an overview of current and future trends at the intersection of technology, health, and medicine. These trends are contextualized in the practice of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI).

Education & learning, EU and governance

Sparks: a three-year journey rethinking innovation together!