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Building Bridges: Social Inclusion Problems as Research and Innovation Issues


  • This paper is intellectually indebted to the collective theoretical and empirical work done on the subject by the Academic Unit of CSIC (Comisión Sectorial de Investigación Científica): we thank our colleagues for that.


This article discussed why specific efforts aimed at establishing direct relationships between social inclusion problems and research and innovation projects are needed, what are the main difficulties to achieve this objective, and how these difficulties can be addressed. This focus came from the successive calls of a program called “Research and Innovation Oriented to Social Inclusion,” implemented by the Research Council of the Universidad de la República, Uruguay. A critical appraisal of this experience and the main lessons learned were presented through the lens of an analytical tool: a circuit in which different types of actors interact while traveling along it. The point of departure of the circuit was the recognition that a problem that hampers social inclusion exists; the end of the circuit is reached if an effective solution for that problem is achieved. Some examples from actual research projects were included to illustrate the functioning of the circuit. The article analyzed with some detail the possible short circuits that may occur at each stage of the circuit and what their causes might be. It analyzed as well the transformations undergone by the “Research and Innovation Oriented to Social Inclusion” program and its attempts to avoid the short circuits, evolving in that way toward a more hands-on strategy to link research and societal needs.