Monday 12

Reconnecting the Balkans – the final SEE Hub event

Posted by Center for the Promotion of Science on 12 Dec 2016

While responsible science is an old notion that has been raised and achieved to a different extent during the past, both locally and globally, the RRI concept as proposed by the European Commission seemed to be a novelty among various stakeholder groups in the Balkans.

The RRI has been extensively travelling this region for the past three years, during the course of the RRI Tools project. Coordinating the activities in as much as five countries, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, we had the opportunity during this period to meet representatives from many institutions, governing bodies and CSOs.

With a different level of experience with the EU programmes and funds, the RRI concept still seemed to be unfamiliar to many stakeholders. The RRI as such even had a negative connotation and was perceived as yet another set of rules, a mere reflection of the EU bureaucracy. However, while unfolding the idea of responsible research and innovation, especially in the past year when the training sessions embarked on all over the region, this perception has started to change. Different possibilities within different countries have certainly shaped the vision of the RRI implementation, however, even though many tools from the platform come from the EU countries, they seemed to offer guidance towards solutions to many regional and national challenges that Balkan scientists and other stakeholder groups have been experiencing in their work. More than 200 stakeholders were trained on the topic.

The SEE Hub conference

The final event of the SEE Hub, called “Responsible Research and Innovation for Better Societies”, scheduled for the December 16th, 2016, will gather the key stakeholders that we have met along the way. The five countries of the RRI Tools SEE Hub share many analogies: transitional economies and lack of resources in the field of R&D, the same or similar challenges on their way towards the sustainable growth. The final event will serve as a meeting point for all these actors. With similar economic and social “settings” and a fair amount of challenges to overcome, it seems more than reasonable to meet and learn from each other – where we’ve been, to what extent and how we managed to make success along this demanding path. The SEE final event has also an ambitious goal: to empower and inspire new networks and partnership in between the countries that have been disconnected on many levels, caused by political instabilities in the past couple of decades.

Authentic and intriguing practices from the SEE region will be presented. Speakers coming from the region, but also from the EU countries will offer a specific knowledge on the RRI: particular needs of the local communities, but also wider EU perspectives.

As a result of more than 20 advocacy meetings held around the region, the RRI concept seems to be recognized at the highest policy maker level: for the final event, we managed to gather representatives of Ministries of sciences from all five countries.

Among the best practices, one in particular seems to have excelled – marked at the very beginning of the RRI Tools project as an inspiring practice, the BioSense Institute from Novi Sad, Serbia has recently won the first Teaming H2020 project in the region – a generous grant of 14 million Euros that will help evolve this institute into the Centre of Excellence for advanced technologies in sustainable agriculture and food safety.

Apart from this, during the panel called “Towards the better understanding of science and responsibility” different RRI policy agendas will be discussed with experts coming from Albania, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, each of them giving their unique perspective.

Last, but not the least, the final SEE event will gather key international speakers. Jean-Pierre Alix of EuroScience will give an overview of the concept development and its future perspectives. Alexander Gerber, Chair of Science Communication at Rhine-Waal University, Germany, will offer some insights into the idea of shared responsibilities in science and innovation communication. The audience will also have the opportunity to hear from Mikko Myllykoski, Experience Director at Science Center Heureka from Finland, about the science centres as the pillars of scientific culture.

The full programme is available here.

Ivana Horvat

Ivana Horvat works on RRI Tools at the Center for the Promotion of Science in Belgrade (Serbia), the RRI Tools Hub coordinator for South-East Europe

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