Sparking Innovation at cross-University Beltane workshops

Engaging Researchers came together from across the four Edinburgh universities last week to brainstorm new ways to engage the public in their research, pitching their ideas, ‘Dragons-Den’ style to an illustrious panel.

To celebrate 10 years of the Beltane Public Engagement Network, the inaugural ‘Beltane Sparks’ programme was launched to drive cross-institutional, cross-disciplinary public engagement. With public dialogue and involvement becoming an increasingly important theme across funders and government, the programme was designed to look at how different research areas can complement each other, breaking down silos that are of little public concern.

Twenty-five were selected to take part in the programme, working with researchers from their neighbouring institutions to pitch brilliant ideas to the panel which included representatives from UK Research and Innovation, Royal Society of Edinburgh, and WHALE Arts, a community partner.

The winning pitch came from University of Edinburgh and Queen Margaret University academics, who pitched ‘Its not your fault’, an initiative to break down the stigma associated with miscarriage using community gathering with arts, comedy and family orientated activities.

The highly commended group from Heriot-Watt, University of Edinburgh and Queen-Margaret University focused on stroke rehabilitation, and using comics to start dialogue with families, patients and supporters.

Dr Jenni Chambers, Head of Public Engagement Programmes, UKRI
‘It was really exciting to see such engaged researchers and fantastic ideas taking shape. The panel were really impressed that all groups were able to generate imaginative ideas and pull them into a pitch in such a short space of time – I look forward to seeing the ideas develop into meaningful engagement activities’