"The paper discusses why specific efforts aimed at establishing direct relationships between social inclusion problems and research and innovation projects are needed, what the main difficulties to achieve this are, and how can these difficulties be addressed. Its concrete anchorage comes from the successive calls for applications of a program implemented by the Research Council of the Universidad de la República, Uruguay, “Research and Innovation Oriented to Social Inclusion”. A critical appraisal of this experience and the main lessons learned are presented through the lens of an analytical tool: a circuit in which different types of actors interact, starting with the recognition that a social inclusion problem exists and ending with an effective solution for the problem. None of these notions are taken as given; on the contrary, they are closely examined with the help of different theoretical approaches. The paper analyzes with some detail the possible shortcircuits that may occur at each stage of the circuit and what its causes might be. It analyzes as well the transformations undergone by the aforementioned program and its attempts to avoid the short-circuits, evolving in that way towards a more hands-on strategy to link research and societal needs."