RRI in Practice will serve as a space for users to get to know events and action deployments from the project, classified by different focal thematics. The dissemination of each topic will depend on the month in which the project is taking place, with each upcoming month focusing on a different category. 

    Scroll down for more information on RRI and S3 & S4!

Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI) 

How to define it 

Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI) is an approach to research & innovation (R&I) that anticipates and assesses its potential implications and societal expectations of it to make it inclusive and sustainable. RRI has been used in the Horizon 2020 programme to group cross-cutting concepts of societal aspects of science and innovation within the objective of the Science with and for Society (SwafS) agenda. It is also set to play a major role in the Horizon Europe programme.

What role should it play in R&I? 

RRI can assist in managing the relations between different Quadruple Helix stakeholder groups, for example between civil society and those running R&I initiatives. It is an effective solution that allows for a transparent and interactive process in which social and different actors, both responsible and not responsible for innovation, become equally responsible for the innovation process. It achieves impact by allowing sufficient incorporation of scientific and technological advances in our society.

Six keys to rule them all 

RRI supports advanced R&I strategies. To help embed it into the way researchers and innovators work, the five key themes have been defined for policymakers to consider, usually referred to as the RRI principles:

  • Gender equality: tackles gaps between women and men, for example by making sure that gender dimensions are taken into consideration in R&I, decision-making, the allocation of funding, and the makeup of teams and organizations.
  • Open access: tries to make science transparent and accessible. It stresses that the results of publicly funded research (publications and data) should be made freely accessible for public use online.
  • Citizen engagement: highlights that the public scene, including civil society organisations, should jointly participate in the R&I process, and not only the traditional pillars of researchers, industry, and policymakers which have traditionally fed into it.
  • Science education: deals with the challenge of better preparing future researchers and other social actors by providing them with the tools and knowledge essential to fully participate in the R&I process, as well as supplying citizens to take part in forming science policies.
  • Ethics: requires R&I to respect fundamental rights and the highest ethical standards to guarantee greater social relevance and acceptance of research and innovation results.

 Smart Specialisation (S3 & S4)

S4+ means strengthening the S3 mission-oriented policy approach with non-neutrality, direction, and system approach to engage regions in European initiatives that deal with missions. S4+ implies a policy shift in the way that regions consider setting policy priorities to push technological innovation and their responses to regional societal challenges.

Intervention logic S3 S4+

SWOT analysis

  • Evaluate endowments in assets
  • Assess potential innovation in a territory
  • Appraise entrepreneurial basis and dynamics
  • Identify international networks and value chains
Strengthen S3, and …

S4: Position the SWOT analysis in the ecological and digital transitions of the energy, manufacturing, agri-food, housing, and mobility systems


  • Established management structure
  • Participation of stakeholders in quadruple helix Institutional and human resources capacity
Strengthen S3, and …

S4: The part of the state goes beyond being a facilitator and catalyst to co-create system transformation. This demands management reforms and capacity building to work cross-domains, cross-departments, cross-sectors, and cross-disciplines.


  • Shared vision on present and future innovation challenges
  • Strategy in a medium-term
Strengthen S3, and …

S4: Vision goes beyond the R&I system. Could be a societal vision: ‘Which is the future we want – here?’ or an industrial vision: ‘promising areas for the future’. The vision should be linked to the overall goal(s) set in time (medium-term) which is comprehensible, measurable, and ambitious.  But, always, realistic.


  • Reviewing of previous priorities
  • Identify fields of competitive advantage
  • Verify critical mass of budget to achieve each priority
Strengthen S3, and …

S4: Defining whether priorities are aligned or in the same direction as the overall EU-level investments (and regulatory changes), then the potential of reaching critical mass and crowding-in of private investment and of EU funds.


  • Broad definition of innovation
  • Balance between focused and horizontal actions
  • Upgrading existing industry using of KETs and digital
  • Experimentation within pilot actions
  • Innovation ecosystems
  • International collaboration search for value chains
Strengthen S3, and …

S4: Innovation drives the implementation but mobilises in synergy with other policy areas and investments, such as infrastructure, skills, etc. With systemic innovation and industrial transitions, the scope broadens.

Portfolio projects are created by programs and focus on developing, testing, or deploying innovative solutions. User-driven innovation, economies of scope, and public procurement are all linked to place-based experimentation and testbeds for local or foreign innovations. The value chain positioning strategy is proactive in new value chains emerging from transitions, and it creates a local articulation of EU alliances.

S4: The local context for innovation is now also European. When local entrepreneurs identify barriers or resistance to sustainability innovation, this can be channelled into ‘Green Deals’ at the national and EU policy levels.

S4: The regional thematic network facilitates collaboration and mutual learning with other change actors, but the new network externalities emerge from the reorientation of the EU network of actors (European technological platforms, European partnerships, industrial alliances, EIT Knowledge and Innovation).

Monitor and evaluate

  • Indicators with targets and baseline
  • Mechanism for data collection and analysis
  • Information used to update the strategy
Strengthen S3, and …

S4: Monitoring and evaluation extend beyond the R&I system, with indicators and targets aligned with the granularity of the vision in the regional or urban strategy. A dynamism of continuous policy learning is introduced. Particular emphasis is placed onthe early detection of signs of trade-offs between sustainability/smartness/inclusiveness.

Source: Interreg Europe (https://bit.ly/3jxqtrD)

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