Back in 2006, Presenter’s founder, Randi Wågø Aas, had the idea about Presenter. In her job as an occupational therapist, she had experienced that research rarely was used when new interventions were developed or services were implemented.
This is her story:
«I have studied sickness absence and disability pension for 15 years, with a special focus on the effect of different services and interventions. This has mainly included producing long and tiresome reports, but also giving the media information when new results are found. The research does get some attention when new results are presented. The media writes about it, some people read it, we get some phone calls, but then it becomes quiet. The next time we present new results, the same happens. Whenever new results are presented, it is like the entire society has lost all its previous knowledge on the topic. This made me frustrated. We had to start over again and over again, every time. I was disheartened by the fact that relevant research was not put on the table and integrated when important decisions were made by politicians, in the social insurance offices, in the health services, or in schools and workplaces. New knowledge did not have consequences; it did not provide change. The problem was fundamental, and I became more and more confident that research was the guilty actor in this vicious circle.
After a while I had a rather “airy” idea – some people would say it was a demanding idea. I named the idea Presenter, and it was concerned with building an innovative bridge no one had ever seen the likes of; a bridge between research and the decision makers in the practice field, politics, schools and workplaces. The bridge would have two opposing races, be for pedestrians only, and have beautiful viewpoints in the middle, where we would provide music, humor, poetry and art. This would be a place we could stand and look at both the society and the research together, talk about what we saw, and build common understanding and solutions. The idea was tested in academia, but it was unsuccessful.
When I was working in the USA some years ago, I heard about social entrepreneurship (SE) for the first time. As an old entrepreneur myself, I understood the benefits of using the entrepreneurship model. Presenter was redesigned as a SE, right there and then. It was formerly registered when I returned to Norway, on October 1st, 2013. Presenter moved in to the innovative milieu in Stavanger Innovation Park. This was an important decision. Since 2015 we have also been part of the Community Centre (Samfunnssentralen) in Stavanger, an environment for social entrepreneurs created by investor TD Veen. Now we can finally focus on further developing this bridge between society and research. We have an excellent crew in and around Presenter, and I can’t wait to continue with the work! “