Is your research in the Grand Challenge of Transformative Technology? Want to increase the impact of your work by engaging with London organisations?

UCL has funding from Research Councils UK for a project called Ingrained, which aims to connect UCL’s research relating to Transformative Technologies to the needs and concerns of the communities living and working in London.

We have four community partners who are keen to work with researchers in a variety of areas under the theme of Transformative Technology: Sustrans London, Kings Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association, The Calthorpe Project and Soapbox. You can find out more about these organisations below.

What’s going to happen?

The four community organisations will work with UCL researchers to develop a pilot engagement activity, bringing together their interests and yours, and helping to influence the UCL Grand Challenge of Transformative Technology. What will actually happen in these activities is currently quite open, and the next steps are to bring researchers and organisations together to devise activities that work for both parties. If you’d like to know more about the specific interests of each organisation, get in touch and we can tell you more.

I’m interested: what next?

By Thursday 14 December, contact publicengagement@ucl.ac.uk to find out more, and tell us a bit about your research (brief bullet points are fine) and the organisation or organisations you’re interested in working with. If it looks like your research is a good match, we will ask you to attend and contribute to a planning and scoping meeting on 10 January, 1:30 - 3:30pm, then work with us to develop and deliver an engagement activity in February or early March. There’ll then be an end of project meeting to discuss the outcomes and consider the long-term legacy of the project. The partner organisations have been given a small amount of funding in order to facilitate this engagement - how this is spent will be discussed with matched researchers during project planning.

The four partner organisations:

Sustrans London is a charity that makes it easier for people to walk and cycle. They aim to connect people and places, create liveable neighbourhoods, transform the school run and deliver a happier, healthier commute. The team involved in the Ingrained project delivers community-led street design projects, working with local residents and school children to identify areas for improvement, in terms of air quality, road safety, public space and seating, green space and improved opportunities for walking and cycling. They run pop-up events in the street, design workshops in community centres and programmes in schools.

Sustrans are particularly interested in working on the themes of social impacts of technology, data for good and nature-inspired engineering. They work with seldom-heard groups from a range of areas across London and of all ages, from infant school pupils, to secondary pupils and teachers, to parenting groups and elderly residents. They are interested in how new technology changes the way that citizens engage with their local area, citizen-led data collection and interpretation, and street design.

King’s Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association is a local organisation that aims to reduce health inequalities in King’s Cross, enable local people to develop their potential, reduce social isolation, and promote good community relations and a safer, better and more sustainable environment.

They are particularly interested in working on the theme of social impacts of new technology. The organisation has excellent contacts with the over-60s, particularly from black and minority ethnic groups. The organisation has observed that many older people with whom they come into contact feel increasingly socially isolated or excluded as new technologies transform our society. They would like to work with UCL researchers to explore how elders from across the community can work together to share skills, knowledge and perspectives.

The Calthorpe Project. The Calthorpe Project is an inner city community centre and garden where people grow and learn together, taking care of each other and the environment. Specifically, it exists to improve the physical and emotional well-being of those who live, work or study in Camden and surrounding areas. They work with a wide range of people in the local area.

The Calthorpe Living Lab is based on a localised, closed-loop food system that demonstrates an integrated approach to the use of water, energy, waste and land. The Lab integrates micro anaerobic digestion with on-site food growing using raised beds, polytunnels and hydroponics. Food waste from the on-site community café is digested to produce biogas (used for cooking and extending the growing season) while the liquid fertiliser by-product supports plant growth. Food harvested supplies the café to close the loop. Through the Living Lab, they would like to explore themes of nature-inspired engineering and food.

SoapBox is an open-access, 21st Century Youth Centre, working with socially excluded young people between 11 and 25 years old. They’re part of the Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust, which aims to use technology to improve young people’s lives.

They’re particularly interested in the themes of social impact of new technology, disability innovation, and data for good. Project leaders from the organisation find that socially excluded young people are often reduced to the role of passive consumers of technology, and feel this is a missed opportunity to access the creativity and experience of a large section of society. They already offer courses in technology including 3D printing, robotics and virtual reality, among many other opportunities for young people, and would like to bring researchers together with young people to explore the issues.

Any further questions?

Email the Public Engagement Unit by Thursday 14 December to find out more: publicengagement@ucl.ac.uk

The Ingrained project is an opportunity for you to develop an impactful public engagement activity with support from the UCL Public Engagement Unit. Get in touch!

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