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From theory to practice: Discovery Decade kicks off campaign prototype exercises

11 Jul 2023

Ben Bleasdale
Director of the Discovery Decade
Rebecca Hill
Advocacy and Engagement Officer, Discovery Decade

Demystifying innovation, making R&D’s benefits more relevant, and opening up education opportunities. These are all motivations for stronger public engagement in Belfast expressed during CaSE’s Discovery Decade first campaign prototype workshop in the city last week.

This workshop, jointly led with our creative partner Luna 9 and hosted at CaSE member Ulster University, marks the first step in our efforts to translate the findings of our recent audience research into practice.

Advocates for research and innovation – CaSE included – have a responsibility to make a clear and compelling case for R&D being a national priority, especially at a time when public finances are tight.

For the past year, the Discovery Decade team has been generating data on different audiences’ opinions on R&D, to create an evidence base from which to start.

But data alone is not enough: it needs to be put into practice. This is what we’ll be focusing on for the next, and final, year of the project.

Our workshop in Belfast is part of a new series of campaign strategy exercises we’re hosting to bring together different organisations to explore a clear, compelling public-facing identity for R&D. All of this will be framed around specific areas, as our research identified two vital elements of effective R&D messaging: place and purpose.

Working with our creative partner, Luna 9, we are convening small groups of stakeholders rooted firmly in their localities to combine findings from our audience research with their on the ground experience to develop a collaboratively built messaging strategy that will reach new and underserved audiences.

Based on the discussions at each of these workshops, Luna 9 will be creating a set of illustrative campaign assets that bring the group’s campaign choices to life, which the group can then take forward however works best for them and their area. All the findings from this work and the various assets will be shared with the wider sector, for everyone to learn from and build on.

Our half-day workshop in Belfast brought together academia, business and public engagement experts to identify an audience and a set of aims for engagement with that group, informed by both the Discovery Decade data and their own experiences of engaging with the public.


Discussions centred on making R&D accessible and relevant, and how to convey it as a source of opportunity. Participants recognised the need to tackle the idea that the only way into research is through traditional academic career routes, to engage more people with the research happening on their doorsteps, and to do more to demonstrate R&D’s relevance to different audiences. The group identified opportunities to highlight education and support greater democratic involvement.

Participants also emphasised the need for action-led collaboration between policy and engagement teams across organisations, and we are excited to see how the ideas generated at the workshop will be brought to life by Luna 9 and then taken forward by the group.

A further three workshops will be held across the UK over coming months as part of the first wave of this work, and we welcome discussions from those who would be interested in contributing. Meanwhile, we will be producing a campaign toolkit with best practice guidance for engaging different audiences to help everyone build the findings into their own work where they can.

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