Creating Our Future: ‘National brainstorm’ to identify areas for future research

Government-backed initiative seeks ideas from public to help form a better Ireland

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: “This isn’t for any one section of society, we want to engage everyone in conversations in communities across the country, to inspire curiosity and generate ideas for research that will shape our future.” File photograph: iStock

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: “This isn’t for any one section of society, we want to engage everyone in conversations in communities across the country, to inspire curiosity and generate ideas for research that will shape our future.” File photograph: iStock

 

A “national brainstorm” on ideas that should be pursued by Irish researchers to help secure a better future for the country is to go ahead with the backing of the Government.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris yesterday announced the Creating Our Future initiative.

Speaking at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin, Mr Martin said: “This is an important opportunity to contribute to shaping future research . . . this isn’t for any one section of society, we want to engage everyone in conversations in communities across the country, to inspire curiosity and generate ideas for research that will shape our future.”

He added: “As we set out on an ambitious and transformative path to build capacity and capability across the entire research and innovation system in the coming years, it’s vital that everyone has an opportunity to contribute.”

Creating Our Future will ask people and communities across Ireland to submit ideas through a dedicated online portal, which is open until the end of November. It is being managed by Science Foundation Ireland.

‘Vital role’

Mr Harris said Covid-19 had “highlighted like never before” the vital role that research could play in mitigating major challenges.

“But we have many more challenges and opportunities that research, rigour and analytical excellence can help us with to build a better future for Ireland.”

He added that good ideas and curiosity were the starting point for most research and that nobody has a monopoly on them.

“So, we are asking everyone to submit that idea that they have been thinking about or have a conversation with their neighbours, host an event with a researcher or in your local community to think about what might make a difference and let us know.”

Expert panel

Information on how to submit ideas and get involved in the initiative is available on the Creating Our Future website. Responses will be collated and shared with an independent expert panel, comprised of researchers and civil society leaders, who will distil the ideas into a report for Government.

It is an approach successfully deployed in other countries, notably the Flemish Science Agenda which in 2018 generated “an inspiration document” linking diverse scientific disciplines around fundamental questions and societal issues”.

Its goal was to strengthen bonds between society and scientific research and to promote innovation, creativity and collaboration.

It was built on a foundation of more than 10,000 questions – questions that occupy the minds of Flemish people of all ages and backgrounds. These included: How do we stay mentally healthy? How can we avoid war and violence? Will we one day live on another planet?