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Ireland’s Biggest Brainstorm finds ways to ‘make country better for all’

Creating Our Future campaign received 18,000 submissions on how research can shape Ireland for the better

Creating Our Future, the government-led campaign on the future of research in Ireland, will submit its final report before the end of next month. Dubbed Ireland’s Biggest Brainstorm, the campaign received 18,000 submissions from the public on how research can shape a better future for the country and its people.

"Creating Our Future provided an opportunity for everyone in Ireland to give ideas on how to make our country better for all," says Prof Linda Hogan of Trinity College Dublin, who chaired the expert committee that assisted with the delivery of the campaign.

“From science, the environment, health and education to poverty, the arts, diversity and inclusion – all ideas submitted will help to inspire researchers to make a better future for Ireland.”

The committee is composed of experts from a range of research disciplines who can provide strategic oversight of the national research system. Its overarching purpose is to analyse the public dialogue and provide comprehensive findings which reflect the public’s voice, as well as to offer expert commentary and a set of recommendations as part of the overall campaign report.


“We had a fantastic response from the public with 18,000 different ideas submitted by the end of November,” Prof Hogan adds. “We held a series of events and a roadshow which went around the country. We tried to reach out to everyone, young and old, to community groups, activists on various issues and so on. Many groups held events and brainstorms of their own on issues of importance to them where research could help. It was a very engaging and dynamic process, and we can see from the responses that it did interest all age cohorts in every county in the country.”


Analysis of the ideas and submissions began in early December and was completed by the end of February. “The committee members are all volunteers and they have done an extraordinary amount of work. In addition to shaping the discussions on how the analysis would be conducted they convened a number of expert working groups to analyse the different categories of submission.”

The committee members were assisted by more than 100 other academics from Ireland and overseas. “They helped read the submissions, categorise them, look for real gems and opportunities for Ireland, and explore what the ideas mean for our own research infrastructure. There was a huge amount of work involved in a very short time period. The objective was to understand what the people were saying in their submissions and report them in a way that accurately reflects that. We want to make recommendations to government that will support, activate and inspire future research in Ireland.”

While the report is not yet finalised, the committee has already gained some important insights. “Part of what we have been able to do with the analysis is capture discrete things like the age of the people making submissions, their location and so on as well as what’s happening in the world at the time the submissions were made. For example, climate action and the environment emerged as very important issues during COP26. We have been able to capture the issues which are of concern to people at the moment as well as more longer term and evolving concerns.”

Unsurprisingly, many of the submissions cover topical issues such as climate change, the housing crisis and public service delivery, and how research can address them. “Many of the submissions speak about how more research on these topics is important. They also speak about how to make better use of research in informing policy. A significant number of the submissions are about specific proposals for research projects and the committee report will reflect that.”


The level of engagement was heartening. “What has come out of the campaign is that people want their views to be heard in the research process,” Hogan notes. “People do understand the importance of research in improving their lives and making the world a better place.”

The aim is to have the final Creating Our Future report complete and ready for submission to government before the end of March. “I hope that as a result of this process the public will have a fuller and greater appreciation for the role of research in shaping our future lives,” Prof Hogan concludes. “And I hope that it will also result in greater recognition across government departments for the benefits research can bring.”