Interview with Kurt Vandenberghe - Director of Policy Development and Coordination, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission.
What is the future of RRI....?
Well, I think there is an important future for RRI. It really goes to the heart of what we are trying to promote, what Commissioner Moedas is trying to promote, namely open science, open innovation; which means, user driven, data driven, but also responsive towards what society asks and expects. And that is where responsible research and innovation comes in. It is very important to show that science and innovation are not only relevant for society, but that we can also have the trust of society. And we do that by having all the ethical criteria that should be respected, by having gender equality policies, open access to data and to publications, but also by having more and more engagement with the public, with stakeholders, with citizens, on why we do science, what kind of science we do, and what we do the science for.
... we need to widen the concept of excellence in science
I think we have to always keep in mind that excellence is the prime driver for science, for the quality of science. But excellent science does not mean science in an ivory tower, it does not only mean science that ends up in publications or in patents. What we want from excellent science is impact and that can have impact in terms of value, not only for science itself, but also for society. So we need to come to a broader concept of excellent science, which is not only about publications or patents, but also about the value it can create, and it should create, for economy, for society, by engaging with society. What is important is that we promote excellence in science in a broader concept, but always respecting, following the scientific method. So what matters is applying the scientific method, but nothing says that excellent science is only science for science. It should also be science with and for society
Summary of the parallel session "Breaking walls, changing structures" coordinated by Sergio Villanueva and Ignasi López at the RRI Tools Final Conference
Structural change has become a central pivoting axis in the EU science policy priorities, and for this reason EC has directed its gaze towards new and innovative research governance structures. The RRI Tools Final Conference hosted a parallel session entitled “Breaking Walls, Changing Structures” devoted to structural change that gathered some of the most relevant actors and organizations involved in creating responsive and deliberative research governance settings in Europe.
There are so many different ways of thinking about one thing, and especially when it comes to such a thing like RRI, there are definitely many approaches and perspectives. In this session, we wanted to share new perspectives and inspiring approaches to RRI and show the examples and practices that provide solutions to the Horizon 2020 societal challenges and/or address sustainability development goals.
To achieve this aim, the format of the session had to be something innovative, and an interactive theatre intervention was perfectly suitable for that purpose. This format brought together all the participants of the session for a playful exploration of hopes and concerns regarding synthetic biology, and such format itself reflected the values of RRI. A facilitator guided the theatrical debate and the whole interaction between attendees and actors. Participants were challenged to think about, reflect upon, and anticipate the issues portrayed in several scenes – for instance, should an aging father accept his daughter suggestion to use a new life-extending biotechnology?
We asked a few representatives of the business innovation community about the most relevant inputs and benefits provided by RRI Tools (mainly incubators and entrepreneurs). They all mentioned the practical tips and guidance on how to move from an abstract concept to a more concrete approach, and how to spot the opportunities RRI can offer them.
Still, there is quite a lot of work to do in making RRI an operational concept, shared within the whole innovation ecosystem, and particularly for and within the private sector (from entrepreneurs, to business innovation centres, incubators, and investors, from SMEs, to large corporates, research centres, customers, and policy makers). The RRI Tools Final Conference represented a great opportunity to gather together different innovation players and get their views on how to scale RRI further.
The "All-Scale Innovation" parallel session aimed at providing views on how all sorts of innovation actors can work in a more open, responsible, sustainable and acceptable way.