The Commission's research advisory board has urged sustained engagement between researchers and societal actors as 'crucial' to transforming more research into innovation.

"Successful innovation will require not only the cooperation of academia and business, but also a close engagement with societal actors," states the Commission's research advisory board, EURAB, in a recent report, 'Research and Societal Engagement'. 

The report builds on the previous recommendations made by EURAB on the ways to encourage researchers to interact more with civil society and communicate science. With this report, EURAB aims to show the importance of stakeholder involvement in the research process. EURAB feels that this societal engagement is necessary to transform more research into innovation.

"Researchers should remain aware of how the actions of the past have generated negative public perceptions of research today (as in issues arising from nuclear energy, GMOs, pesticides) and that better dialogue with the public either directly or via the societal actors could have prevented much of the friction and lost potential innovative developments in these research fields," states the report.

To avoid lost opportunities and suspicion with regards R&D in the future, the report urges more societal engagement and open dialogue on emerging research fields such as nanotechnology and therapeutic food additives. 

The report thus gives a set of recommendations to the research community on how to engage in a sustained dialogue with the public. This dialogue would then help researchers take societal questions and concerns more into account in their work.

EURAB recommends:

  • That universities provide a structure to train and expose research students to different societal perspectives, encouraging engagement and a multi-disciplinary outlook;
  • that dialogue should be encouraged as a factor influencing a researcher's career prospects;
  • development of further mechanisms for societal actors to improve their research capacities;
  • expanding the role of societal actors in the European Technology Platforms; 
  • development of structures for partnerships between researchers and societal actors in the research dialogue, and;
  • a strengthening of the research project evaluation, assessment and post-assessment processes by involving societal actors where appropriate.