Dr. Ruth Freeman, Director of Science For Society, Science Foundation Ireland, writes about Science Week, the importance of research and the Creating Our Future campaign.

This week, across Ireland, we are celebrating the role and value of science in all our lives. Now in its 26th year, Science Week enables conversations about how we engage with science and technology, and how the public can participate in shaping the future.

In 2021, another initiative is very much in the spotlight: Creating Our Future, a government-led national brainstorm that is involving people right across Ireland in a conversation on the role research can and should play in addressing their opportunities, challenges and hopes for the future.

The campaign, brought forward by Minister Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, is the first of its kind in Ireland. It was inspired by similar exercises conducted in Flanders and the Netherlands in recent years but is broader and deeper in both scope and ambition.

During October, the Creating Our Future roadshow visited every county in Ireland to ask the public about their ideas for research. Over 5000 ideas have already been submitted, but many more opportunities are still available to participate in brainstorms and events as part of Science Week.

Details of activities are available on the website www.creatingourfuture.ie. The campaign is also encouraging everyone interested to host their own discussions and brainstorms and contribute ideas through the same online portal.

Everyone is encouraged to submit. No flash of inspiration is too ambitious, no interest too niche for the Creating Our Future campaign. A basic premise, that the people of Ireland should contribute to the discussion about what should be researched to make their lives better, is the lodestar for this renewed dialogue between the Irish public and the research community.

Thousands of ideas have already been submitted from every corner of Ireland, on a wide breadth of topics. All ideas are compiled, filtered, and analysed by independent experts from a broad range of backgrounds.

The specially established Expert Committee will then produce a report for the Government, with specific commentary and recommendations, that will inform Ireland’s policy on research and innovation for many years to come. The report will also be a book of inspiration for researchers.

Science Week gives us an opportunity to recognise our world-class researchers and facilities here in Ireland. Ensuring that the research community’s understand the priorities of the public will undoubtedly be beneficial to all of us.

Creating Our Future is everyone’s opportunity to feed into the broad conversation on research and innovation in this country, and Science week is the perfect time to take part.

You can submit your ideas through the dedicated online portal www.creatingourfuture.ie, which is open until?the end of?November 2021.