RRI Readings

From the Latest Edition of the Newsletter

Challenges in the implementation of responsible research and innovation across Horizon 2020

The authors of this article are Raúl Tabarés, Anne Loeber, Mika Nieminen, Michal J. Bernstein, Erich Griessler, Vincent Blok, Joshua Cohen, Helmut Höigmayer, Ulrike Wunderle, and Elisabeth Frankus.

In the last decade, the European Commission (EC) developed an ambitious strategy to promote RRI across the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (H2020). This effort resulted in a significant number of European-funded projects that substantially expanded the available knowledge of the theory, methods and implementation of RRI. However, various evaluations and studies revealed a limited and diffuse implementation of the concept. In this article, we aim to shed some light on this matter with a study covering eight programme lines of H2020 (ERC, MSCA, LEIT, FOOD, ENV, SEC, WIDENING and EURATOM). We employ an extensive policy document analysis and 112 semi-structured interviews carried out with various stakeholders. We argue that the limited implementation of RRI in H2020 is the result of conflicts with existing values, science cultures, economic objectives, restricted resources for its implementation and a lack of clarification around what RRI means.

Open access to the article can be found here.


Valorising Research Through Citizens’ Engagement

This report was written by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (European Commission)

New open innovation approaches such as hackathons are particularly relevant to strengthening citizen engagement for a fast and inclusive uptake of innovative solutions. With the aim to test the hackathon model as a method to engage citizens and develop innovative and feasible solutions to citizens’ needs while valorising knowledge, DG RTD carried out a six-month experiment – CitizensHack2022. The current document draws on this experience as well as further consultations with experts and practitioners to develop practical guidelines for hackathons as a tool to valorise knowledge with citizens on the driving seat. It is intended to be used as a “living document”, to be further developed and enriched with feedback from practitioners in the field and stakeholders.

Read the report here.


Responsible Research and Innovation and the Challenges of Co-Creation 

The authors of this discussion paper are Zoltán Bajmócy and György Pataki

Inclusion is one of the key principles of responsible research and innovation (RRI). However,
the way it is formulated by policy documents and translated in the RRI literature leaves room for
various interpretations and diverse practices. Therefore, there is a need for the clarification of this
term and the challenges it implies. This paper attempted to elaborate on the issue of inclusion with
regard to RRI alongside the following issues: (1) the opportunity for participating or not
participating; (2) the roles and mandates of the participants and (3) power relations and coming back
to reality from the safe space of participation. In line with the endeavour of the FoTRRIS project, the
paper calls for ‘co-created RRI’ and analyses the challenges of such a process through the case of
Transition Wekerle Hungary.

Read the paper here.


Responsible Research and Innovation in Practice: Driving both the ‘How’ and the ‘What’ to Research

Written by Jiahong Chen, Elena Nichele, Zack Ellerby, and Christian Wagner

There have been ongoing discussions in research communities, including the field of trustworthy autonomous systems (TAS), on how researchers may meaningfully engage with responsible research and innovation (RRI). By critically reflecting on the RRI aspects of an ongoing research project focusing on the efficient capture of richer quantitative human response data (e.g., from consumer surveys), this paper offers a case study on how research development can be ethically driven. The role of RRI in the project is unpicked against the broader considerations of its possible interactions with researchers in a typology we developed: as a research safeguard, research subject, and research driver. Going beyond the more common practice of using RRI simply to safeguard how research should be conducted, it is demonstrated that it can also serve as a positive driving force to explore what should be researched. Experiences and challenges are elaborated within the main stages of research development, potentially applicable to a wider range of future projects in the field.

The open access article is available here.


Science, Research and Innovation performance of the EU 2022: Building a Sustainable Future in Uncertain Times

Written by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (European Commission)

The Commission has released the 2022 edition of the Science, Research and Innovation Performace (SRIP) report, analysing the EU’s innovation performance in a global context. It provides insights into how research and innovation policies can help build an inclusive, sustainable, competitive and resilient Europe by leveraging the essential role of research and innovation as a source of prosperity and as a catalyst for change. The report also highlights how the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine call for Europe to reinforce its preparedness to quickly and adequately react to new, unexpected challenges.

The report can be downloaded here.


RRI Readings from Past Newsletters

From Responsible to Responsive Innovation: A Systemic and Historically Sensitive Approach to Innovation Processes 

The authors of this article are Malte B. Rödl, Frank Boons, and Wouter Spekkink. 

Much of the academic literature on responsible innovation (RI) deals with single technologies instead of technological systems and is future-orientated without explicitly using specialised knowledge of past developments. In this paper, we present a problem-focused approach to RI that aims to support researchers and stakeholders in developing potential solutions from a perspective of systemic awareness and historical sensitivity. We then describe the application of this approach in an 18 -month long interdisciplinary research project on plastics. We show that the approach has generated new and unexpected research projects, formed new inter-, and transdisciplinary collaborations, and has impacted some participants’ understanding of the systems in which their work is embedded. We conclude that with appropriate willingness to engage by individual researchers, our approach is able to, firstly, influence highly experienced researchers to engage more responsibly with their work, and secondly, to make research projects responsive by including societal concerns and their historical emergence from the start. 

Download this article here 


Spawning Exaptive Opportunities in European Regions: The Missing Link in the Smart Specialisation Framework 

The authors of this article are Ivan de Noni, Andrea Ganzaroli, and Luciano Pilotti. 

The smart specialisation strategy (S3) framework program has been strongly influenced by the dominant perspective in the literature of evolutionary economic geography that mainly emphasizes the role of technological relatedness and knowledge complexity. However, some scholars express their concern about the capacity of smart specialisation strategy to promote radical and breakthrough innovation. From this perspective, since exaptation might play a role as a complementary source of smart specialisation, our contribution is to explore the impact of technological relatedness and knowledge complexity on the capacity of regions to spawn exaptive opportunities. In so doing, we reveal that, on the one hand, this capacity can be slowed down by a strategically predefined development process focusing on existing technologically related linkages; and on the other hand, extending the knowledge complexity of regional portfolio can positively balance the negative effect of technological relatedness in the long-run. 

Find the article here 


Smart Specialisation Strategies: Towards an Outward-looking Approach 

The authors of this article are Alessio Giustolisi, Maximilian Benner, and Michaela Trippl. 

In recent years, regional innovation policies across Europe have relied on the smart specialisation approach to support new path development. However, its focus on endogenous knowledge flows remains a major weakness of the approach. This article argues that smart specialisation has to adopt an outward-looking approach that combines knowledge flows external and internal to the region. Based on four stylised types of regions, the article proposes generic strategies that can be pursued through smart specialisation. In terms of its policy implications, the article argues that policymakers should develop their regions’ external connectedness strategically to leverage complementarities in global knowledge flows for new path development. 

Read the article here


Handbook of Service Design by Innovation Agencies – Compendium of Project Results (Innosup05): Peer Learning of Innovation Agencies

Written by Eric Koch and Ruben Peeters; European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (European Commission)

Innovation support agencies, i.e. the regional and national agencies that design and/or implement innovation support programmes for SMEs are important intermediaries for the innovation generated by SMEs. The focus, design and delivery mechanism of innovation support programmes determine to a large extent the economic impact from the supported actions and the satisfaction of the beneficiaries with the support provided. However, the transfer of good practices in SME innovation support, the enhancement of existing and the establishment of new innovation support programmes for SME remains slow. SMEs benefitting from support programmes still remain sometimes dissatisfied with the services received (Study contracted by the European Commission published in 2021). That is why EISMEA has selected good practices regarding Service Design by Innovation Agencies for increasing knowledge sharing between agencies and improve the service provision to innovative SMEs in Europe and beyond.

The handbook can be downloaded here


RRI Readings from Past Newsletters

Co-creation for Responsible Research and Innovation – Experimenting with Design Methods and Tools

The editors of this book are Alessandro Deserti, Marion Real, and Felicitas Schmittinger.

This open access book summarizes research being pursued within the SISCODE (Society in Innovation and Science through CO-DEsign) project, funded by the EU under the H2020 programme, the goal of which is to set up an analytical, reflective and learning framework to explore the transformations in initiatives and policies emerging from the interaction between citizens and stakeholders. The book provides a critical analysis of the co-design processes activated in 10 co-creation labs addressing societal challenges across Europe. Each lab as a case study of real-life experimentation is described through its journey, starting from the purpose on the ground of the experimentation and the challenge addressed. Specific attention is then drawn on the role of policies and policymaker engagement. Finally, the experimentation is enquired in terms of its output, transformations triggered within the organization and the overall ecosystem, and its outcomes, opening the reasoning towards the lessons learnt and reflections that the entire co-creation journey brought.

Download the book here


Responsible Research and Innovation – From Concepts to Practices

The editors of the book are Robert Gianni, John Pearson, and Bernard Reber.

This book provides a comprehensive and impartial overview of the European Commission’s Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework, including discussion of both the meaning and aims of the concept, and of its practical application. The book is organised into chapters covering the dimensions of ethical, economic/business, legal and governance, and political. The authors provide different viewpoints on these aspects, in order to offer guidance from experts in the field, while at the same time acknowledging the interpretative openness of the RRI frameworks.

The book can be purchased here


A Comprehensive Appraisal of Responsible Research and Innovation: From Roots to Leaves

The authors of this article are Martijn Wiarda, Geerten van de Kaa, Emad Yaghmaei, and Neelke Doorn

This paper identifies Responsible Research and Innovation’s and Responsible Innovation’s shared research topics, knowledge base, and academic organisation as a common ground for scholars to further their individual or joint research. It does so by conducting a keyword analysis and a collaboration analysis, combined with a reference analysis of their academic literature. This paper discusses the most influential references in chronological order and sheds light on the accumulation of knowledge. The results suggest that Responsible Research and Innovation and Responsible Innovation have matured into an increasingly cumulative and interconnected research trajectory following the footsteps of similar, more mature research areas.

Download the article here


Ethics in Corporate Research and Development: Can Responsible Research and Innovation Approaches Aid Sustainability

The authors of this article are Bernd Carsten Stahl, Kate Chatfield, Carolyn Ten Holter, and Alexander Bern.

This article looks into Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in order to examine how companies who undertake activities in the name of sustainability consider moral objectives for their research and development activities. Through investigation of the ‘responsible’ activities, these companies currently undertake, we shed light on the types of moral goals they set and their underlying ethical standpoints. By reviewing both the responsible innovation and sustainability discourses, and presenting phenomenological evidence, we demonstrate that companies have adopted some aspects of RRI, even though it might not be recognised as such. Our findings indicate that these innovators recognise some of the ethical and societal concerns associated with their activities but their approach is often piecemeal; primary focus is upon the most immediate issues and on legal compliance, to the detriment of broader societal issues and wider challenges.

Download the article here


Co-creation for Responsible Research and Innovation – Experimenting with Design Methods and Tools

The editors of this book are Alessandro Deserti, Marion Real, and Felicitas Schmittinger.

This open access book summarizes research being pursued within the SISCODE (Society in Innovation and Science through CO-DEsign) project, funded by the EU under the H2020 programme, the goal of which is to set up an analytical, reflective and learning framework to explore the transformations in initiatives and policies emerging from the interaction between citizens and stakeholders. The book provides a critical analysis of the co-design processes activated in 10 co-creation labs addressing societal challenges across Europe. Each lab as a case study of real-life experimentation is described through its journey, starting from the purpose on the ground of the experimentation and the challenge addressed. Specific attention is then drawn on the role of policies and policymaker engagement. Finally, the experimentation is enquired in terms of its output, transformations triggered within the organization and the overall ecosystem, and its outcomes, opening the reasoning towards the lessons learnt and reflections that the entire co-creation journey brought.

Download the book here


Responsible Research and Innovation – From Concepts to Practices

The editors of the book are Robert Gianni, John Pearson, and Bernard Reber.

This book provides a comprehensive and impartial overview of the European Commission’s Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework, including discussion of both the meaning and aims of the concept, and of its practical application. The book is organised into chapters covering the dimensions of ethical, economic/business, legal and governance, and political. The authors provide different viewpoints on these aspects, in order to offer guidance from experts in the field, while at the same time acknowledging the interpretative openness of the RRI frameworks.

The book can be purchased here


A Comprehensive Appraisal of Responsible Research and Innovation: From Roots to Leaves

The authors of this article are Martijn Wiarda, Geerten van de Kaa, Emad Yaghmaei, and Neelke Doorn

This paper identifies Responsible Research and Innovation’s and Responsible Innovation’s shared research topics, knowledge base, and academic organisation as a common ground for scholars to further their individual or joint research. It does so by conducting a keyword analysis and a collaboration analysis, combined with a reference analysis of their academic literature. This paper discusses the most influential references in chronological order and sheds light on the accumulation of knowledge. The results suggest that Responsible Research and Innovation and Responsible Innovation have matured into an increasingly cumulative and interconnected research trajectory following the footsteps of similar, more mature research areas.

Download the article here


Ethics in Corporate Research and Development: Can Responsible Research and Innovation Approaches Aid Sustainability

The authors of this article are Bernd Carsten Stahl, Kate Chatfield, Carolyn Ten Holter, and Alexander Bern.

This article looks into Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in order to examine how companies who undertake activities in the name of sustainability consider moral objectives for their research and development activities. Through investigation of the ‘responsible’ activities, these companies currently undertake, we shed light on the types of moral goals they set and their underlying ethical standpoints. By reviewing both the responsible innovation and sustainability discourses, and presenting phenomenological evidence, we demonstrate that companies have adopted some aspects of RRI, even though it might not be recognised as such. Our findings indicate that these innovators recognise some of the ethical and societal concerns associated with their activities but their approach is often piecemeal; primary focus is upon the most immediate issues and on legal compliance, to the detriment of broader societal issues and wider challenges.

Download the article here


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