Frustrations with the current EU funding models

Frustrations with the current EU funding models  

  By: Margaret on Feb. 18, 2021, 10:33 a.m.

There has been a lively discussion on the ECSA Mailing List, which we are inviting people to move over here for more people to join in (and to protect the inboxes of those not joining the discussions). There is clearly a lot of frustration in the community about the shortcomings of the current funding models. and change has indeed been frustratingly slow.

There have been many united voices towards the EU in highlighting this problem - for example in this Policy Brief from the WeObserve project: Mission Sustainable: Fostering an enabling environment for sustainable Citizen Observatories. The indications so far for Horizon Europe funding are that there will be attention paid to putting long-term infrastructure in place to support Citizen Science, primarily in the upcoming European Research Areas calls for proposals, so this is also good news. 

What have been your experiences - or recommendations to funding bodies?


 Last edited by: Margaret on Feb. 18, 2021, 10:34 a.m., edited 1 time in total.

Re: Frustrations with the current EU funding models  

  By: Norbert Schmidt on Feb. 18, 2021, 11:25 a.m.

In short: the model is not sustainable for prolonged citizen science activities. I had 4 projects coming to an end, researcher gone, money spent and all that remained was a dissapointed community (that was carefully built during the project) an outdated app, database.

Currently i am sitting on piles of citizen / crowd- science data. Not only data, but source codes of apps, technical drawings of hardware, community efforts (fora) etc etc.

The projects ranged from seed improvement programs to environmental monitoring. The apps have been taken out of the store and manufactoring of tooling has been discontinued.  

That is really a missed chance: the ideas were often brilliant. I can take the smartphone based seed improvement program for Africa (combating climate change by adapting crops and improving seeds) as an example: this showed tremendous value for the farmers in the field (deep inside Zimbabwe). But all was project based so it stopped, the student went elsewhere and another brilliant idea came to a stop. There was no plan for continuation or funding. Maintaining an app, a community and large datasets do cost money..



 Last edited by: Norbert Schmidt on Feb. 18, 2021, 11:27 a.m., edited 2 times in total.

Re: Frustrations with the current EU funding models  

  By: OpenLitterMap on Feb. 18, 2021, 5:12 p.m.


Seán here from OpenLitterMap

I would love to know what funding models are being referred to because as far as I can tell, there are no funding models.

I have been researching citizen science on litter since 2008 and working on the OpenLitterMap methodology since 2013. Despite claiming to have the best quality citizen science data on plastic pollution (155k images all manually verified), having several paying institutional clients and several business plans with massive social, environmental and scientific potential, there is not a single resource or opportunity for people like me to develop citizen science. 

I have dozens of more ideas too, but the ecosystem for citizen science just doesn't exist. Although I am about to launch my 3rd citizen science app soon, they are all significantly inadequate to realise their full potential due to the complete lack of support which should have been achieved years ago but there is nothing for citizen science startups. There is not even a shared video in the EU to teach people about how to collect data responsibly with GDPR. The whole situtation is a complete joke and totally inadequate to deal with the massive problems we are facing eg. 900 tonnes of plastic going into the oceans every hour, etc.

Many other countries around the world simply support the development of startups pioneering citizen science because its really important, but here in my native Ireland and Europe there is nothing. OpenLitterMap is now 66+ rejected grant apps in a row which is just totally boring and demoralising. Is the best we can do?

Personally I find citizen science extremely positive, exciting and compelling and I believe it is our only hope of going beyond the SDGs but the lack of opportunities for startups is extremely worrying. For example, I ran a kickstarter in 2017 and nobody even retweeted it. I launched another gofundme last October and it is stuck at 1%. Is there a citizen science community that can help develop promote open source tools for pollution monitoring? I don't see one.

I also don't see any hope of this changing anytime soon. The only hope we have is for self-funded startups working hard earning small contracts and working incrementally in baby-steps to do everything which is fine, it just takes years longer as this work ethic, passion, and ideas are completely unsupported to fix huge local and global problems of which there are many.



 Last edited by: OpenLitterMap on Feb. 18, 2021, 5:19 p.m., edited 4 times in total.

Re: Frustrations with the current EU funding models  

  By: Norbert Schmidt on Feb. 22, 2021, 2:32 p.m.


Same here. I am still developing my Dark Sky Meter app further . No funding whatsoever. But the things i learn from creating and maintaining therse projects are of incredible value (not expressed in $$). It brought me to TedX, India, USA and the knowledge i have (you to i suppose) is shared trough some EU funded projects i now work for as a consortium partner. 

What you did with openlittermap is amazing and very valuable for any citizen science project. Maybe it is good to know that the new Horizon Europe initiative is more aimed towards SME's like ours. 


Re: Frustrations with the current EU funding models  

  By: William Costello V on Sept. 16, 2021, 9:08 a.m.

Hi everyone,

My name's Bill and I'm currently working as a UX Researcher for an EU funded project called COESO (collaborative engagement on societal issues). We're working to develop a platform that aims to address issues like funding, recruiting participants and collaborating on projects. The platform would enable better co-creation and collaboration on participatory/citizen science projects, between researchers and non-researchers alike, specifically in the field of Social Sciences and the Humanities (SSH).

We're also facing problems with recruiting non-researchers for interviews, and given the passion for citizen science apparent in this discussion, I wanted to extend an invitation to have a chat about your experiences and help improve the citizen science situation in Europe and around the world.

If any of you would be interested in helping out, or have any possible contacts (citizens, non-researchers who have worked on citizen/participatory science projects addressing societal issues), it would be greatly appreciated!

You can also reach me at

Find out more about the project by clicking here

Thanks in advance and all the best,


 Last edited by: William Costello V on Sept. 16, 2021, 9:36 a.m., edited 3 times in total.
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