A public dialogue sought input on framing issues for the Longitude Prize 2014, which rewards innovations in science and technology that solve publicly relevant challenges. The process contributed to the Prize's content and development; it was positively perceived by participants.
Problems and Purpose
The aim was to create a public dialogue to feed into the development of thinking towards the creation of a £10 million prize for Longitude 2014.
The objectives of the project were to ensure that:
- Through consultation with stakeholders and dialogue with the public, the public voice informs the scope and framing of a new Longitude prize for innovation in science and technology
- There is a high degree of transparency around the process for developing longitude challenges
- The outcomes from the stakeholder workshop and public dialogue frame and develop specific ideas and topics for potential challenges under each challenge theme by engaging with the public.
Additionally, a set of secondary objectives were drawn up, namely to:
- Frame and develop ideas and topics for potential challenges under each challenge theme
- Understand the public response to each theme and challenge
- Develop new potential ideas for prize challenges/themes
- Understand language and priorities of the general public.
Background History and Context
In 1714, the original Longitude Prize sought to find a solution to one of the great challenges of the day – to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea by knowing its longitude. Being able to do this led to safer sea travel and opened up global trade. The prize, valued at £15 million in today’s terms, was won by John Harrison, a watchmaker and carpenter, who created the marine chronometer.
300 years on, a new prize for a new century was launched. Longitude 2014, which has been developed and is being run by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, is a groundbreaking global challenge prize of £10M. It aims to catalyse an ‘ideas race’ for innovations that solve publicly important challenges.
Longitude 2014 began in April 2013 with a meeting at 10 Downing Street where a group of the UK’s most eminent scientists met to discuss ideas that could be presented to the public for a new, world-leading challenge prize. Following this, the Prime Minister announced the UK’s intention to recreate the Longitude Prize.
The Longitude Committee, chaired by Lord Martin Rees and backed by leading scientists, major foundations and the UK Government, used the insights of experts and the public (through this public dialogue project) to shortlist prize challenges. In May 2014, the shortlisted challenges were aired on BBC Two’s ‘Horizon’ programme and put to a vote by the general public. The result was announced by Alice Roberts on BBC One’s ‘The One Show’ in June 2014. 
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Total cost of the project: £157, 032
The project was commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Nesta. The dialogue was designed and delivered by Ipsos MORI, in close collaboration with Nesta and Sciencewise. Sarah del Tufo of Sarah del Tufo Evaluation Associates, were the independent evaluators of the project. Sciencewise provided expertise and contributed £48,825 to the budget for the dialogue.
The lead Department is the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and is the commissioning agent for Longitude 2014.
Nesta is an independent charity that works to increase the innovation capacity of the UK and is managing development of the Longitude prize.
Dialogue Delivery. Ipsos MORI, part of the Ipsos Group, is a leading UK research company, specialising in social & political research and public dialogue on complex and sensitive issues.
Sarah del Tufo
The evaluation Contractor, Sarah del Tufo is an independent consultant specialising in organisational growth and change through participatory research and evaluation 
Sciencewise-ERC is a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills funded programme to bring scientists, government and the public together to explore the impact of science and technology in our lives. It helps Government departments and agencies commission and use public dialogue to inform policy making, involving science and technology issues. Its core aim is to develop the capacity of Government to carry out good dialogue, to gather and disseminate good practice, have successful two-way communications with the public and other stakeholders, and to embed the principles of good dialogue into internal Government processes.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
- Public Participants: 32 in workshops in Leeds, Cambridge and London
- Stakeholders: 16 at workshop in London
It was planned to recruit a diverse sample of public participants that reflected a range of different backgrounds and views. The street recruiters were asked to recruit 12 public dialogue participants per venue with at least 8 participants agreeing to take part in vox-pops (a short video that recorded what they thought about the topic) after workshop 2 in Leeds and Cambridge.
‘Hard quotas’ were set for recruitment around occupation, interest in science, gender, age, ‘social grade’ and ethnicity but participants were also sought who were creative and willing to contribute to the discussion as much as possible, though they did not need any prior understanding or experience of science or current challenges facing society. The ‘soft' quotas focused on creativity, though this was only formally tested for in Cambridge. Feedback from participants suggested that generally there was satisfaction that an interesting and diverse group of people had been recruited. 
Methods and Tools Used
The following processes and activities were undertaken in the delivery of this project.
Wider stakeholder engagement activities – undertaken by Nesta
Public dialogue Workshops from 24 October to 7 November 2013 in London, Cambridge and Leeds - undertaken by Ipsos MORI. The public dialogue events involved three groups of around 11 members of the general public at each, totalling 32 people overall. In each location, the public participants came to two workshops: Workshop 1 and Workshop 2. Each workshop lasted around three hours. The Cambridge workshop was for young people only. The evaluator observed both London workshops, and a Sciencewise Dialogue and Engagement Specialist (DES) attended the Cambridge event.
Stakeholder dialogue workshop on 18 November 2013 in London - organised by Nesta with the design, facilitation and reporting responsibilities being with Ipsos MORI. This event involved 16 scientists, academics and experts from a range of fields meeting for three hours with Nesta staff and Sciencewise DES.
The governance and management of the dialogue process involved the Longitude Committee and the Project Management team. The Project Management team was made up of funders of the project (the Director of the Innovation Lab at BIS; Sciencewise senior manager); Nesta’s Chief Executive, the Nesta Prize team, Sciencewise DES and after appointment as dialogue delivery agency, Ipsos MORI team members.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The discussion at the start of the first public dialogue workshops was based on homework assigned at the time of participant recruitment. It revealed the societal issues which the participants were concerned about and allowed the facilitators to identify how the public’s spontaneous views of societal challenges reflected, or differed from, the ways the experts conceptualised and categorised potential prize challenges. The facilitators then introduced the Longitude Prize, using a video in two of the locations. The workshop then involved eliciting views on Nesta’s six suggested thematic areas and the 19 potential prize challenges.
In addition, to ensure the public participants were not constrained by the experts' suggested themes and potential challenges, they were invited by the facilitators to suggest alternative societal challenges which could be solved by Longitude Prize 2014. At the end of the session, participants were asked to choose their top challenge in each theme.
Especially in the first workshop in London, much of the time was spent not in dialogue but with the facilitator reading out the problem from the sheets in front of the participants, and paragraphs on whether it was likely to be solved in a decade and why might the prize be the right response. The ‘solution within a decade' paragraph was left out in the other workshops as it caused confusion and took up dialogue time. Each group of challenges under the six themes was given 15 minutes discussion time, but the participants were promised that though this was a ‘staying on the surface’ review, there would be time in the next session to discuss some of the challenges in greater depth. However, because of time pressures, the public participants In London never got the chance to reflect more deeply on the challenges and so it was somewhat instant reactions; more time was given to this at the start of workshop 2 in other locations. Initially this approach stimulated some good discussion but the group became very tired towards the end of the session; they did not drop out but became much less animated.
An important element of public dialogue is giving participants enough time and information to be able to develop their own views. Some participants and observers felt the process was rushed and they were rushed through the agenda in order to meet the objectives of the dialogue. Giving participants more time to explore complex issues at their own pace, possibly using more visual approaches, could have aided participants understanding of the issues better.
The second workshop built on the homework task around what life might be like in 2030 and what could be improved by then. The group then broke into smaller groups to design a poster using materials they had brought, as well as using magazines available on the table, to illustrate future societal challenges and how science and technology could help make a better future. The group then compared their lists of priorities for the prizes discussed at the end of workshop 1, and compared this list to the Nesta listing. Whilst in workshop 2, the views were broadly the same; however, some people, having reflected upon the issues and information presented in workshop 1, did reconsider their initial views i.e. thinking more globally such as feeding the planet. One observer noted that when voting on issues participants seemed to use different criteria – some were personal focused and others issue-based.
The group then identified prize selection criteria from the public perspective. The session also enabled discussion and debate on Nesta's suggested prize criteria and participants were asked to consider a series of mocked-up 'criteria' statements (e.g. should the whole of society benefit, or particular groups in society, provided any impact was life-changing). The session also involved developing ideas to prompt public and innovator engagement in Longitude Prize 2014 and ideas for sustaining public interest during the lifetime of the Longitude prize.
The poster exercise was fun for some participants and disliked by others. The exercise was designed to counter the somewhat negative framing of technology by the first group in London as well as give a more creative outlet. However, observers felt it did not aid discussion or develop insights and was under designed. The section on the prize worked well as it got people thinking and arguing and changing their minds.
Education and behaviour change and preventing wars came up a number of times in different workshops but the London facilitator said these could not be considered because they were not open to science and technology solutions. The lack of clarity about the scope of science and technology was also present in the stakeholder meeting discussions- some Nesta staff clearly had a wider view of what constituted science and technology than had been communicated to the facilitators. 
The participants felt that identifying criteria for choosing the challenges was more important than the themes within which the challenges were categorised. The criteria identified by the public were that the challenges should:
- be ambitious but solvable – Longitude 2014 should reflect the scale and significance of the original Longitude prize
- be interconnected – tackling or solving one challenge to help resolve other problems
- have global reach – specifically, promoting global equality between developed and developing countries
- benefit the whole society – unless the prize has the potential to make a ‘life-changing’ impact for specific groups.
Opinions tended to diverge when the public began to trade-off perceived benefits and drawbacks of using criteria for prize selection. The criteria that did not have public consensus were:
- proven impact – needed evidence of demand for emergent technologies so it would be adopted by society and would solve a problem
- advances existing work – while some supported harnessing and building on what is already happening, others felt this would give organisations already receiving funding an unfair advantage, and most did not want large companies to make a pro t as a result of prize success
- innovation – some were concerned that the criteria may stifle innovation, so wanted to avoid restrictive criteria.
The challenges with most public support (from those proposed by Nesta) were:
- tackling food shortage
- tackling malnutrition
- tackling pollution and contamination
- improving ecosystems
- providing a reliable energy supply to all
- helping people to live independent lives.
- The public also suggested some alternatives to the challenges proposed by Nesta:
- tackling Alzheimer’s Disease
- mental health/blindness/’killer diseases’
- combating obesity
- water shortage and quality.
There was a tension between the public and stakeholder views relating to Nesta’s suggested prize challenges. The public favoured global issues being tackled, whereas stakeholders prioritised challenges that were seen to have a direct impact on individuals’ views did converge around certain issues (e.g. tackling dementia/ Alzheimer’s Disease), but only when they were invited to suggest alternative challenges that they thought could be taken forward to subsequent stages of Longitude 2014. 
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
This dialogue project provided insights, helped shape ideas and provided more structure to the Longitude Prize development process through public and stakeholder dialogue. The dialogue results influenced the choice of challenges to some extent and, more significantly, influenced the criteria to select the challenges and the ways in which the public could engage with the prize. The dialogues also identified challenges that might not interest the public. As a result of the project and further Nesta challenge work, a good set of challenges was identified that could be put to the wider public vote.
The independent evaluation concluded that, despite weaknesses in the process, the public and stakeholder dialogues were of value to the Longitude Committee and the Nesta team in developing a list of potentially exciting and valuable challenges.
In addition, staff from the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) shared findings with colleagues and ministers. They were particularly interested in the public lack of interest in some challenges and the evidence on the criteria that should be used for selection. 
Analysis and Lessons Learned
What Worked Well
The process made a genuine contribution to the content and process of the development of the Longitude Prize 2014.
Public participants found the dialogue experience enjoyable and interesting and were positive about being involved in influencing scientific policy. The participants also demonstrated an appetite for engagement with the Longitude Prize.
What Worked Less Well
• More time, in general, was needed to develop the challenges and the criteria, and prepare for the dialogue events. The timescales were incredibly pressured. Development of stimulus materials involving expertise required more time and expert inputs than were available, and workshop topic guides would have bene ted from more time for development and additional expert input
• Lack of senior buy-in to the dialogue. Decision makers needed to recognise and accept the value of public dialogue if they are to use the result with confidence. It is not clear that all the Longitude Committee had fully ‘bought into’ the dialogue work, even at the end of the process. Greater shared clarity and agreement around the dialogue purpose/objectives was important. Equally as important was having clarity about why a public dialogue was the right approach to use and that its findings would be seen to have credibility, especially with respect to the size and diversity of participation. The presence of commissioning body members at the public dialogue events offered a very valuable opportunity for reflection and input, and it was a loss to the project that few attended
• Late decision to include dialogue. It would have aided the Longitude Prize immensely if the public and stakeholder engagement element had been planned in detail early in the process of developing the Prize. More time was needed for reflection and analysis by the Management Team, and time was very limited for the Committee to hear and discuss the dialogue results
• Insufficient time and resources for full deliberation. Workshops needed to be long enough to cover the content without rushing participants with sufficient time for real reflection and dialogue. In this case, there was an imbalance between the limited time available for the workshops (three-hour events) and the large number of topics to cover (19 issues). Limited budgets and lack of planning time resulted in this imbalance not being fully addressed. There was also a lack of science specialists acting as resources
• In the workshops to enable the facilitation/process and informational/content roles to be kept separate. 
The Evaluation report states that there was general agreement from those interviewed that though aspects of the process of the public and stakeholder dialogue were transparent, it was not fully clear how the results were used in decision-making processes, alongside the other inputs. There was thus not a full audit trail and understanding of the influences on the way to the decisions, though since the completion of the evaluation 
 Sciencewise (2015) “Case Study: Longitude 2014”, Sciencewise
 Sciencewise (2017) “Longitude 2014” [ONLINE] Available at: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20170110132844/http://www.sciencewise-erc.org.uk/cms/longitude-2014/
 del Tufo, S. (2014) “The evaluation of public and stakeholder dialogue to inform the development of Longitude Prize 2014”, Sarah del Tufo Evaluation Associates, December 2014