Catalyst is a £1.9M project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPRSC), which brings together academics and communities to jointly imagine and build the next generation of tools for social change, and to explore innovative, bottom-up technology-mediated solutions to major problems in society. The project includes innovation researchers from Computing, Design Sociology and management. It unites these with community organisations – large and small – based in Lancaster, Manchester, Derry-Londonderry, and further afield by working with high-profile partners such as the Manchester Digital Development Agency, FutureEverything, the RSA, and Community Matters.
The key research questions for this project are
- What is the role of technology in grassroots, community-driven social innovation?
- What is the vision of next-generation technologies, designed explicitly with citizen-led innovation in mind?
- How can citizen innovations be scaled up and diffused across communities?
- How to reflect on the process of multidisciplinary practice itself?
These questions will be addressed through a series of research sprint projects lasting for approximately 6 months proposed by cross-disciplinary teams of researchers. In addition to these projects there will be a series of shorter community-led projects.