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22 February 2017

European innovation prize for Mistra Urban Futures

Mistra Urban Futures has been selected as a winner of a European award for responsible research and innovation. According to the award citation, the programme has carried out superb work on issues relating to responsible and innovative research, and done so in a close dialogue with citizens.

In the EU, responsible research and innovation (RRI) is an increasingly important concept. The idea is that research should involve more operators to a higher degree, so that it can correspond better to citizens’ values, needs and expectations.

‘It’s a way of emphasising that perspectives other than the purely academic should be given more space in research. This applies in many areas, not least urban development where we work,’ says Jan Riise, Engagement Manager at Mistra Urban Futures.

To support this development, the European Foundations Award for Responsible Research and Innovation, or in short the EFARRI Award, has been set up. The initiative for the prize was taken by a range of leading European research foundations.

In conjunction with the RRI Tools Final Conference at the end of 2016, the prize was awarded for the first time and Mistra Urban Futures was one of three winners.

The selection process was a long one. In an initial stage, 200 programmes and projects were assessed. Of these, 15 were then shortlisted for the final stage.

‘All the finalists were scrutinised thoroughly. For our part, it involved two jury members coming here last summer to judge our work on the spot.’

Clear citizen influence a strength

The characteristics Mistra Urban Futures chose to stress were, first, that its research is done in close cooperation with various operators and, second, that it involves interested citizens and stakeholders. The fact that many of the programme projects have dual project management, one management team representing academics and the other practitioners, seems to have aroused the jury’s interest.

After the finalists presented their initiatives, delegates to the EU conference were also able to vote for the winner of their own choice. In this forum, too, the award went to Mistra Urban Futures.

‘We were incredibly pleased and proud when it became clear that we were among the winners. Our hope is that the prize can help to give our research a higher profile in the European research community, not least among research funders.’

Besides the honour, Mistra Urban Futures receives EUR 20,000 in prize money. This sum will be used to develop internal work.

‘Exactly how we’re going to use the money hasn’t been decided, but it will be something that benefits everyone in the Centre. And we’ll have to celebrate, too — we haven’t got round to that yet.’

Of the two other winning research projects, one seeks to develop and promote strategies for sustainable management of water resources, involving public participation, in Vietnam. The other winner aims to develop a telediagnostic system that can help to meet global health challenges.

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