Workshop Set To Show Strength Of New Co-Production Programme

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A new programme to explore the potential of knowledge ‘co-production’ between researchers and non-academics has captured the imagination of academics, public and voluntary sector representatives and businesses alike, ahead of its first workshop event on December 5, 2014 at The Edge in Sheffield.

The N8 has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to work with industry partners, the policy community and the voluntary sector to examine how co-production can shape approaches to social sciences research.

The co-production of research stresses the importance of collaboration between academics and research users, changing the way social science research is conducted and applied. This programme aims to explore how this potential can best be harnessed and thereby enhance the value of social science research to new and existing research users.

The workshop has attracted more than 50 attendees from across the academic, policy, voluntary and businesses communities and aims to clarify the key opportunities and barriers associated with the co-production of knowledge, and identify the issues and innovative practices which might be explored. A significant number of attendees already have proposals for pilot projects in the field of co-production.

The N8 already has a strong track record in creating pioneering research collaborations in science and engineering by forging strong links with industry and matching demand from the private sector with the world-class research carried out in the N8 universities.

However, this kind of collaboration is relatively under-developed in social sciences research. The ESRC funding is enabling a multi-disciplinary team from the N8 to work alongside non-academics and practitioners.

The programme is being co-ordinated on behalf of the N8 Research Partnership by the University of Sheffield and it will be able to draw on the experience of the highly successful N8 Industry Innovation Forum, which connects leading businesses with research intensive universities and other key organisations involved in innovation.

Professor Heather Campbell, Principal Investigator of the co-production programme, said: “Closer working between researchers and the designers, deliverers and recipients of goods and services has the potential to generate insights which can better address the big challenges facing contemporary society.

“We’re delighted that so many people, from such a broad spectrum of sectors and backgrounds, will be coming together at the workshop to exchange knowledge and ideas.

“Overall, the programme will help social science researchers gain a better understanding of the theory and practice of co-production and identify opportunities for co-produced research.”

Adrian Alsop, ESRC Director for Research, Partnerships and International, commented: “We recognise that to achieve excellence with impact, co-production arrangements of this kind are necessary as they provide the opportunity for collaboration between academic and non-academic researchers, which ultimately enhances the value of social science research across a number of pressing challenges facing society today.”

Small group and plenary discussions at the workshop will be stimulated by contributions from speakers with a variety of backgrounds including Professor John Forester from Cornell University and Martien Kuitenbrouwer, District Mayor for West Amsterdam and Director of the Programme for Public Mediation at the University of Amsterdam.

The outcomes of the research will be presented in a report examining the opportunities and challenges associated with co-production for academics and research users, and the results are expected to be published in 2015.