MAIN TEXT: To overcome these barriers, stakeholders will need to design policies and work in ways that provide an enabling environment for innovative products and services. Inherently about people, the incorporation of community engagement approaches is necessary for both the development of social innovations and accompanying research methodologies. Whilst the 'appropriate' level of participation is linked to intended outcomes, researchers have a role to play in better understanding how to harness the power of community engagement and to ensure that community perspectives form part of the evidence base that informs policy and practice.
CONCLUSIONS: To effectively operate at the intersection between policy, social innovation, and research, all collaborators need to enter the process with the mindset of learners, rather than experts. Methods - quantitative and qualitative - must be selected according to research questions. The fields of implementation research, community-based participatory research, and realist research, amongst others, have much to offer. So do other sectors, notably education and business. In all this, researchers must assume the mantel of responsibility for research and not transfer the onus to communities under the guise of participation. By leveraging the expertise and knowledge of different ecosystem actors, we can design responsive health systems that integrate innovative approaches in ways that are greater than the sum of their parts.
ABBREVIATIONS: Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs); National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH); National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA); Health and Safety Executive (HSE).