Sunday 07

Obstacles, opportunities and ideas for responsible research and innovation

Posted by University College London on 07 Jun 2015

Significant opportunities for businesses and scientists could come from Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), according to the findings of a series of workshops organised by the RRI Tools project. Opportunities include the chance to increase competitiveness, to build new networks and to develop new R&D agendas.

Throughout the Autumn of 2014, 400 stakeholders, representing the business, research, policy, education and NGO communities from more than 30 European countries, met in a series of one-day workshops to consider what RRI means to them. In particular, the workshops set out to discuss stakeholder understandings of RRI, what they saw as the opportunities and obstacles in moving towards this approach and their ideas of practical measures to help implement RRI.

RRI Tools stakeholder workshop in Bordeaux, France

One of the RRI Tools stakeholder' consultations in Bordeaux, France

Participants identified a large number of opportunities that could come from adopting RRI practices, procedures and cultures, including: 

  • Improving the culture of science and scientific careers by expanding the role of scientists in society and giving research a problem oriented focus;
  • Creating better innovations, new markets and increased competitiveness and creativity through wider input, problem focus and new networks; 
  • Improved learning by connecting research and practice; 
  • Democratic benefits from more engaged citizens and the chance to bring science and society closer and avoid future controversies;

The main obstacles that participants felt hindered progress towards RRI goals related to attitudes, knowledge, skills and resources - in particular a lack of buy-in and understanding of what RRI means to each stakeholder, resistance to change and the tendency to focus on short term goals and economic benefits in research, innovation and policy. The unpredictability of science was also highlighted as this makes it difficult to control and plan scientific outcomes. 

To help encourage greater take-up of the ideas within Responsible Research and Innovation, participants suggested developing a definition of RRI that is clear and common to all stakeholders, whilst at the same time bringing the concept to life for the different stakeholders; providing opportunities for networking and to build relationships between the various stakeholders and the stakeholders and the public; developing training and guidance on how to ‘do' RRI.

Over the next few months, the RRI Toolkit project will be working with this advice to develop tools that encourage and support stakeholders in taking up the concepts and practices associated with RRI. To get involved or be kept up to date, join our mailing list.

For more information, you can read here a 4-page summary of the stakeholder's consultation report, or the full version of the stakeholder's consultation report.

Melanie Smallman

  Melanie Smallman works on RRI Tools at UCL in London, the RRI Tools Hub for United Kingdom.

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