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H2020 sandpits 2017-07-04T13:06:48+00:00

Objectives and methodological aspects

Politecnico di Torino (POLITO) will organise four two-day sandpits in February-March 2018, hosted at Valentino Castle (39, Viale Mattioli, Turin, Italy).

Each sandpit will be related to each of the four SHAPE ENERGY topics, as follows:

According to the “Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council” website1, the sandpits are “interactive workshops with a highly multidisciplinary mix of participants”, including “active researchers and others potential users of research outcome”. Their aim is “driving lateral thinking and radical approaches to address research challenges”.

The main goal of the four SHAPE ENERGY sandpits is to gather people together who are interested in improving and innovating and who, crucially, are currently or have recently been involved in EU-funded projects on similar topics of the main issue of the sandpit. The idea is to stimulate new ideas and new contacts in order to encourage experimentation in future projects.
Each sandpit will be organized as follows:

Each sandpit will be led by a Director, a Mentor, and two Facilitators. Mentors will be topic experts, while facilitators will be POLITO researchers with the methodological qualitative skills required to manage the debate, to stimulate different perspectives and to fruitfully engage all the participating individuals.

Whilst expected outputs cannot be precisely defined, since “the Sandpit format involves a diverse group of people and forces them to catalyse and collide and collaborate, the output is often unique and innovative. Questions arise that wouldn’t otherwise have been posed, and partnerships form between people from very different scientific disciplines, universities and stakeholder organizations” (Dugan, 2010)1

[1] http://knowinnovation.com/2010/03/in-the-sandpit/ [Last accessed: 22-05-2017], the events will provide a stimulating environment to meet cross-European collaborators, discuss future project ideas with current and potential partners, and reflect on current project direction.

Participant selection

Eligibility to apply

Four current/recent EU project consortia will be selected to attend each sandpit event (more than one member of each consortium will be expected to attend). Any H2020 or FP7 consortium with an end date of 2016 or later is eligible to apply. Among the interested consortia, places will be allocated to achieve a good balance of: expertise across all disciplines, work of relevance to the topic in question, gender, and European geographical areas.

Around 500 European funded projects (H2020 and FP7)  are being contacted in July 2017. Of these, 162 projects identified as of particular relevance to one of the four SHAPE ENERGY topics, and completing in 2016-2018, will be contacted regarding that specific sandpit.

Participants will be asked to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, to ensure confidentiality of current project outputs between attendees.

Draft programme

  • Phase 1. Mapping the problem (2hrs): collective debate in relation to the specific topic managed by the director. The debate would bring participants to make formal statements to describe the problem. Each participant will propose one single statement on a colored post-it to be used in the following phase. The team of mentor and facilitators will support the stakeholders to enhance a pluralistic perspective with different visions on the same topic.
  • Break.
  • Phase 2. Visual categorization (1h30’): mentors will collect the post-it with the statements reported by participants and stick them to a paper board according to different categories such as, for example, “environmental issues” or “legal issues”. The paper board will then provide a “Map of statements” arranged by broader categories that could be further debated and re-arranged by participants. Each category will also indicate a team of people; each team will be involved later in the “prioritizing” phase.
  • Phase 3. Priorities contest (2hrs): each team will work in group to defend its statements in a collective debate. Each group will give then a “ten minutes” speech to convince the others that their category of statements is the most important in relation to the specific problem. A jury – made by the mentor and facilitators – will moderate the debate posing questions and stimulating further discussion.
  • Break.
  • Phase 4. Prioritizing (1h): a final list of priorities will be proposed by the director to the group of participants.
  • Phase 5. Propose ideas and scenarios (2hrs): with a clear understanding of the prioritized issues and helped by mentors and facilitators, the group will begin to form ideas in response to the problem. Mentors will ask participants to envisage scenarios related to e.g. the use of a particular technology, or the integration of different standards, etc. The storytelling techniques will focus on stimulating the debate about pros and cons of the proposed scenario. Differently from phase 3, here each participant should defend his/her own proposal.
  • Break.
  • Phase 6. Defining scenarios (1h): the director and the mentors will summarize a set of proposed scenarios considered as the more suitable according to the prioritized issues. The summary will also highlight the pros and cons detailed in the previous phase by the proponents. Each summary could be presented graphically – through a multimedia presentation – or simply by an oral presentation to the group of participants.
  • Phase 7. Implementing solutions (2hrs): starting from the scenarios proposed, participants -individually or in groups – will work on solutions to be implemented. In this phase, it is highly recommended that participants belonging to different consortia will work together in order to benefit from different skills and subject domains. It will be advisable that engineers will collaborate with policy makers, social scientist with technical profiles, etc. Mentors and facilitators will support actively the groups work.
  • Break.
  • Phase 8. Summary and Wrap up (45m): the director will summarize the main solutions suggested and also the general perspectives of future research directions. The final outcome of the sandpit will be an edited interactive video documenting the sandpit and the most significant phases of the team work.

Dates and locations

The dates of the sandpits are the following:

Thursday 8th February – Friday 9th February
Thursday 15th February – Friday 16th February
Thursday 22nd February – Friday 23rd February
Thursday 1st March – Friday 2nd March
The sandpits will take place at the Castello del Valentino (Valentino Castle), 39 Viale Mattioli, Torino, Italy.

This beautiful 16th century royal residence, now housing the Politecnico’s Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning, is located in the Valentino park alongside the river Po. Excellence point of Savoy historical architecture, the Valentino Castle is part of the Savoy Royal Residences tour, an extraordinarily interesting path from a historical, artistic and landscape point of view that UNESCO declared World  Heritage  Site  in  1997.  Very  close  to  the  city  centre,  the  Castle  is  surrounded  by  Valentino Park,   a   Torino   ancient   public   park,   running   along   river   Po,   the   most   important   Italian   river. The  residence,  inspired  by  French  style,  was  designed  in  1623  by  Carlo  di  Castellamonte  –  it  is  U-shaped with  four  angle  towers,  “mansard”  roof  in  transalpine  style  and  a  courtyard  paved  with  geometrical decorations of cobblestones.  Valentino Castle can be reached from the city centre (Porta Nuova, Porta Susa railway stations) in about 15 minutes by tram (line 9, stop in front of the Castle) or by Metro (closest stop Marconi, 10 minutes’ walking distance)..

Reimbursement rules

Members of the 16 consortia who will attend the Sandpits may have part of their travel paid by the Politecnico di Torino according to the project funding availability and the host institution’s regulations. During the two-day sandpits, Politecnico di Torino will provide lunches and coffee breaks.


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