Published on March 3, 2017

Relaunching Sciencewise

Citizens & science Sciencewise

By Simon Burall

Simon Burall is a Senior Associate of Involve. He has extensive experience in the fields of democratic reform, governance, public participation, stakeholder engagement, and accountability and transparency.

We are delighted to announce that we have been selected by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to run the Sciencewise programme for the next two years, until April 2019.

Over the 11 years of its existence, Sciencewise has positioned the UK as the world leader in engaging publics, scientists and stakeholders in policymaking relating to scientific and technology innovation. Sciencewise aims to improve the effectiveness of policymaking by strengthening the evidence on public perspectives and values about scientific and technological innovation. It does this by providing financial support and specialist advice on dialogue good practice to Government departments.

This next phase of Sciencewise will build on this success. It will support the delivery of Government priorities, such as the new Industrial Strategy, by strengthening evidence about public views on emerging science and technology applications.

Role of BEIS

A core new feature of this phase of the Sciencewise programme is that dialogue projects and their evaluation will now be commissioned through a framework contract coordinated by BEIS. This will significantly reduce the length of time it takes to develop and commission dialogue projects and enable Sciencewise to be much more responsive to the needs of policy makers and the policy process.

BEIS will also have a much greater role in managing the programme overall and in supporting government departments to identify potential dialogue projects.

Role of Involve

Involve’s role within the programme will be to:

  • Provide independent external assurance to ensure that all dialogues that are commissioned through the programme meet the Sciencewise principles;
  • Provide support to government departments commissioning public dialogues by further developing and strengthening the existing, and highly valued, Dialogue and Engagement Specialist (DES) network;
  • Lead on the development of innovative public engagement tools to deliver public dialogue more effectively and efficiently;
  • Build the capacity of government officials to commission and deliver high-quality public dialogue projects that impact effectively on policy;
  • Build on the existing resource library of case studies and lessons learnt to support a wider understanding within government about the role that public dialogue can play in effective policy making; and
  • Develop a light-touch evaluation framework to integrate ongoing learning into the development of the Programme.

The Involve Team and DES Network

While the programme is led by Involve, we are supported by a wider team of some of the most respected dialogue practitioners in the country. Our core team consists of:

  • Simon Burall as Programme Director responsible for the strategic direction of the programme;
  • Hally Ingram as Programme Manager;
  • Kaela Scott responsible for developing and promoting Sciencewise materials;
  • Matthew Harriot as project officer supporting this core team;
  • Diane Beddoes from Deliberate Thinking as senior DES, providing quality assurance for the support that we offer and helping to deliver on lesson learning and evaluation;
  • Diane Warburton from Shared Practice supporting the development and integration of evaluation throughout the Programme;
  • Roland Jackson, senior consultant, providing input to the business case assurance process and networking support; and
  • Paul Manners and Sophie Duncan of the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, providing challenge and support, and widening Sciencewise’s research networks in support of awareness raising and project identification.

The Sciencewise DES network will continue to support government departments to commission and deliver world class dialogue projects. The network consists of:

  • Alison Crowther;
  • Andrew Acland;
  • Daniel Start;
  • Kaela Scott;
  • Steve Robinson; and
  • Suzannah Lansdell

Next Steps

It has been nearly a full year between the end of the last phase of the Sciencewise programme and the start of this one. We are in the process of re-establishing communication channels, updating the Sciencewise website (which will be moving onto gov.uk – the site containing materials and news up until March 2016 is here) and reinvigorating the extensive Sciencewise network of supporters inside and outside government. The immediate programme priorities will be to support the BEIS team to identify opportunities for public dialogue projects. We will keep those interested in Sciencewise updated through this blog.

If you are interested in exploring the opportunities for commissioning a public dialogue project, or would just like more information about Sciencewise, please contact Simon at simon@involve.org.uk or the BEIS team at Sciencewise@beis.gov.uk.

 

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