Wednesday 28

«Science was never intended to be in the market, but today it’s a commodity» - interview with Andrea Saltelli

Posted by Social Observatory of "la Caixa" on 28 Jun 2017

«Science was never intended to be in the market, but today it’s a commodity»

Interview with Andrea Saltelli - originally published at Social Observatory "la Caixa"

Andrea Saltelli (Italy, 1953) is adjunct professor at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities at the University of Bergen (Norway) and guest researcher at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Together with philosopher Silvio Funtowicz he has recently written a series of pieces on the post-truth debate.   


Everybody is talking about a crisis in science... What’s it about?

First of all, there is a crisis in replicability which is especially evident in the medical field, replicability meaning that a study should produce the same results if repeated exactly. Many articles have been written by people who attempted to replicate experiments and were disappointed to find how many of them failed. For instance, John Ioannidis and others have tried to replicate preclinical and clinical experiments.


What are the causes of this crisis?

This discussion can be thrown open very wide because there is a chain of causes. The main one is that science was never thought or designed to be in the market. But today science is a commodity: it is in the market, and it’s sold at a price. Historian Philip Mirowski has detailed this process in a book called Science-Mart. Privatizing American Science. It’s a play on words to express that when science becomes a supermarket, when it becomes too much of a commodity and it’s sold over the counter, the result is that its quality disappears.


Is this happening in all disciplines?

It affects all fields; it is also notable in psychology. Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman, who wrote the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, was the first person to realize that something was going really wrong because experiments could not be replicated. Auguste Comte, a mid-19th century philosopher, thought that sciences follow a hierarchy, according to how close they are to exact laws. So at the top you have mathematics, geometry, and then you have physics, chemistry, biology and the social sciences. The more you move away from the top, from exact laws, the closer you get to domains where things become messier, more complex. Nearly two centuries after Comte, Daniele Fanelli looked at reproducibility rates across disciplines. He found that the lower you travel down the hierarchy of sciences, the greater the increase in positive results, which confirmed his hypothesis that 'softer' disciplines are more prone to bias.


In this sense, where are the limits of science?

Science cannot solve every problem. Reductionism is the idea that you can take a complex system, cut it down into bits, and if you study all the bits, then you understand the complex system. But there are systems which cannot be treated in this way, for example living systems. Whenever you want to study a biological system, you have to somehow delimit it. But how do you delimit it? In organisms, everything is linked to everything else.

I know this is very controversial, but with climate this happens over and over. Climate is too complex to be predicted with any confidence by mathematical models. When a system has so many possible co-causes, effects may cancel out or be hidden by natural variability. Back in the 1960s, someone called this trans-science, to indicate those processes that can be studied scientifically but no solution can be found to the problems they create. We are unable to tackle some problems because of their dimensions. Science needs to learn humility and be prepared to admit it when a solution cannot be given.


Would consortiums of different centres and countries be a possible solution to tackle such a big problem?

Well, for example, the Human Genome Project was successful, but the idea that from human genome mapping we can infer relationships between genes and diseases has been much harder to prove. And this is exactly one of those cases in which the system has behaved as a complex system with emerging properties: you don’t detect those properties by cutting it into pieces and identifying a limited number of genes. For this reason, I believe there has been a considerable disappointment in the field of start-up companies trying to make a business out of using gene mapping. I am not saying it shouldn’t be tried, but we should beware of falling into this trap of reductionism.


Is post-truth reaching science too?

This post-truth story is very disingenuous. Now we have post-truth: why? Because we had truth before? I would strongly doubt this. Science was born in the 17th century as a combination of discovering nature purely for the pleasure of discovering nature and of dominating that very same nature. Both aspects contributed to science becoming the foundations of the modern state. But when modern markets developed, science increasingly became an instrument of domination, profit and growth, as well as the source of all kinds of wonderful things that we enjoy. This is no longer science for the sake of learning.

Yet these days, what is science for? Is it for the common good or for the profit of the few? So there is a collapse in the legitimacy arrangement between science and democracy on the one hand and science’s own governance on the other. This is the result of science being more and more in the market, even being a market itself. So for me there are two processes behind post-truth: the loss of legitimacy of science and knowledge as pillars of the modern state; and the collapse of the quality of science itself.


It seems that trust and confidence in experts is eroding... Why is this happening?

A classic example of this is the sugar story. It is explosive and I am surprised at how it passed by virtually unnoticed. People are progressively losing faith in science but I was expecting a much stronger reaction because the story is huge. Last year the journal of the American Medical Association published a report bringing to everyone’s knowledge the fact that the sugar industry has funded research that would focus attention on fat, in order to take the spotlight away from sugar. Can you imagine the consequences in terms of health effects this may have had? What if we calculate how many years of life have been lost e.g. to diabetes because of this gigantic act of corruption of research integrity?


What is the role of scientists, as individuals, in this crisis?

It’s relatively easy to get it wrong and think that you have discovered something. The physicist Richard Feynman said that “you are the easiest person to fool” because when you are looking for something, everything looks like that something. This is called confirmation bias. It means every scientist has a greater tendency to believe those results which he/she thought would be true in the first place.


Can biases like this be fixed?

You have to be tenacious, but also obsessed with the quality and accuracy of what you do. Thinker Jerome Ravetz understood scientists and their communities of practice very well. Everything that you do in the lab has many elements that you can’t find in the handbook, they have to be communicated from person to person. This is the unspoken element of a craft. Everything is personal in science, in these communities. But nowadays these communities have mostly disappeared. Science has become impersonal.

I can publish a paper and I don’t care if I am wrong, because after all, people know me through my impact factor. The higher my impact factor, the more brilliant I am, and so I am interested in publishing many papers even if they are wrong. And so, there are errors that can remain in the system for years and that nobody will ever find out.


Are people working on the edges of science more likely to be misled?

People who are really on the cutting edge of science are small communities and often less likely to make mistakes. Science can be spectacularly successful there. I am thinking, for example, of high-energy physics, or of the discovery of gravitational waves. It’s a triumph; it’s really something huge thanks to the tenacious effort of physicists.


In your opinion, what are the potential solutions to this crisis?

There are many good people doing very good work and they are trying to change the system from within. Munafò, Ioannidis, and other authors recently published A manifesto for reproducible science. We should really stop using things such as impact and citation factors, numbers which purport to describe the importance of journals and researchers. Also the peer review system has become very dysfunctional. There are recommendations for changing the situation, and I am all in favour of these approaches. We need something very powerful because I don’t think the system can heal itself.


Is there any collective effort attempting to solve these problems?

There has been an important declaration against the use of the impact factor to award grants. If you look at the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA Declaration) of 2012, it was a very important document and a very well designed set of recommendations for metrics, but nobody applies even part of them. If I want to earn a European Research Council grant they will look at my impact factor. And this brings us to the paradox that people of my age – who should be saying I don’t care about my citation numbers – are instead very careful about them.

Even when your ideological conviction is that these things are bad, you still use them, as do the research institutions that award grants. Why do they look at the impact and citation factors? Because the only alternative is to read the candidates’ papers, and this takes time. Students in many countries are requested to have three papers accepted in peer-reviewed journals to secure their PhD, and even here the quality check on the candidates is outsourced to the journals, instead of being performed in the faculty. Thus with all these driving forces, what happens is that there are 2 million papers published every year; a huge paper-generating machine.


Are you pessimistic in this aspect?

I am more pessimistic than optimistic, yes. In spite of all these declarations and manifestos just mentioned, it would be very difficult to fight the perverse incentives which head in the direction of cheating. If you love science you have to defend science and this implies being critical. But many people prefer to hide the problem because, they say, if you attack science you will jeopardize funding for science. But I wouldn’t be against jeopardizing funding for science if the science involved is not properly conducted. Why should we pay for bad science?


Taking into account the context you depict, can we identify initiatives that have led to an improvement at system level? Or any good practices that are already working to improve the current situation?

We can register – ironically, not as a suggestion for the west - that in China, prison terms or even capital punishment can be used against those who submit fake data in drug trials. 

Ironies aside, initiatives such as Brian Nosek’s Reproducibility Project in psychology, John Ioannidis’ Meta-research Innovation Centre at Stanford, and Ben Goldacre’s are all worthy undertakings which are not only setting about changing things, but also fostering a new climate of reform. Add to this Retraction Watch, which does an invaluable job in keeping up the pressure on journals and their editors. I am also convinced that the direct involvement of scientists on the side of citizens in societal and environmental problems is a precious contribution helping to generate trust between science and society. The case of water pollution in Flint, Michigan, and the role of scientist Mark Edwards, comes to mind here. Back in the seventies, a group of scientist-activists called the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science sought to change the world by first changing science itself: something of this sort is perhaps needed now.


Interview by Núria Jar for Social Observatory "la Caixa"

Thursday 22

Roll the RRI Dice!

Posted by Antonina Khodzhaeva and Andrea Troncoso on 22 Jun 2017

The Ecsite team created for the RRI Tools toolkit a dice that gives the oportunity to provoke conversations, reflections and create scenarios, especially thought for RRI Trainings or RRI meetings.

You can download the RRI Dice from here. A ready to print-glue-use dice template plus a script with ideas of how to use it are ready for you to be put in action. We hope the dice will spark interesting conversations, useful starting points and will reflect one of the core principles of RRI: openness to discuss and share points of views about science, innovation and technology. Feel free to adapt the script and get in touch with us with your feedback.

Monday 12

First workshop on Exploring the Application of RRI to Innovation Ecosystems EARRI’17

Posted by Francesco Niglia‎ on 12 Jun 2017

We invite empirical and methodological contributions focusing on the adoption of one or more pillars of RRI perspective to contribute to the definition of guidelines for the application of RRI in innovation ecosystems that include citizens and the territory. The adoption of RRI principles can significantly enhance the explanation of dynamic phenomena such as organizational capabilities and routines, strategic behaviour, entrepreneurship, organizational learning, and innovation.

List of topics:

  •  Original Best Practices of application of one or more of RRI pillars (public engagement, science education, ethics, open access, gender) in an Innovation Ecosystem and its communication to the public via courses or events.
  • Methods and examples of research, businesses and organisations (both for-profit and non-profit) creating synergies in new strategies, products, services and concepts that provide answers to ethic and gender issues.
  • Contributions on how the RRI approach affects the development and implementation of policies targeting the dynamics of innovation systems are also welcome.

Important Dates

A two-stage selection process will be adopted and will follow a double quality check by the organisers:

  • 15th June 2017. A first stage will check a 1-page description about the relevance of the contributors’ talk with the main theme of the workshop
  • 15th July 2017. The second stage will ask for a full paper of 7-8 pages by July 15th. The papers will be reviewed by at least two organisers, only papers accepted / with minor corrections will be selected.

For more info visit

Tuesday 30

Conference "Responsible Research and Innovation in the health industry"- key messages from round tables

Posted by RRI Tools on 30 May 2017


The way forward: key messages from round tables 

Closing remarks by Ignasi López at the Conference “Responsible Research and Innovation in the Health Industry” held at the EESC premises, in Brussels, on 18 and 19 May 2017.

I would like to thank all speakers and the moderator. This Conference is a joint initiative of the ELSI Board of the EIT Health and the Final Conference of the Responsible Industry project, together with the European Commission, the EESC and the “la Caixa" Foundation, who I do represent.  I would like to thank them all.

 I was asked to wrap up. And it is an honor to do so. 

 1st day – some key messages:

  • “No research and innovation about me without me”: there is a bottom up claim from society
  • And a political answer:  the framework of RRI 
    • A number of challenges are ahead
    • In a very complex context

And a headline from EESC: “RRI - or however we call it - seems to be mature enough to embed it in the biggest R&I funding programme in the world: FP9”

In the 1st round table we saw amazing experiences of citizen engagement in different fields of R&I in the health sector: engagement of patients in the editorial process, as end users of innovation, as innovators… Through living labs, maker spaces, citizen science, biolabs, science museums, in industry (big corporates, SMEs and entrepreneurs...)

And in the rest of round tables we saw different ways of improving social responsibility of business in the health industry.  And how social responsibility is indeed a competitive advantage, and we are not fully aware. 

The constellation of different constellations of participation is increasing dramatically; it is even difficult to keep track of them. 

I had certain feeling of urgency: that bottom-up structures (such as hackatons, patient innovators...) go much faster than the high policy level. The question is: are we really able to give appropriate answers to the requests of society in this sense? (from funding structures, from the policy level...)

The pace of innovation goes at a huge speed. And there is a certain surprise and paralysis by institutions to give appropriate answers.
But innovation has long times of return: it needs patient funding, it is very uncertain, it does not work linearly, and it is a collective endeavor...  And engagement processes and the implementation of RRI are processes of innovation themselves, which need governmental and paneuropean support. 

So what are the challenges? How do we fund good responsible innovation? How do we do engagement? 

  • Who are the stakeholders?  
  • Costs 
  • Regulatory barriers
  • Intellectual property
  • Safety, reliability
  • The most important challenge: changing mindsets of the community of people involved in co-design. Institutional change (Carlo Mango, Fondazione Cariplo)

And as advice: 

  1. Find RRI champions in organization. 
  2. Educate scientists:
    • Joint capacity building for all stakeholders (Magda Rosenmöller)
    • Thinking by themselves about societal issues
    • Ethics education should be mandatory in all disciplines (Alexei Grinbaum) 
    • But as well Magda Rosenmöller, who works in a business school: mapping skills
  3. Tools are not enough: RRI assessment service provider that assesses companies to make the change (Bernd Stahl)
  4. Broaden CSR to include R&I activities
  5. Next steps: labeling, standardization… Maybe. Let´s act. We have been thinking that RRI can be ISO standard for a long time. Do it!!!!!! B Corps is one best case to follow. 

Some other ideas:

  • The role of the State…??????  Is it disappearing in front of civil society, NGO's…????? Are we going from a representative democracy to a participative democracy to a….??
  •  How do we leave “the coalition of believers??

And as well: 

  • How do we improve collaboration and avoid double work (overlap) between different/ similar projects funded by the EC? Beyond the project based….
  • Funding structures. Ulrich Samm, EESC: collaborate!!!! (He said as well: make it simple!!!!)
    • New modes of funding - Crowd funding, as well venture philanthropy.
    • Foundations have been named several times as funders of innovative projects.
  • Ethics of invention. Increase of inequalities by technology. Risk. Different sectors

So it seems a extremely complex issue: engagement has to come with a deep process of reflexivity, taking into account ethical issues and moral values as inclusivity (as gender equality), transparency, responsiveness and it has to take into account the sustainability and desirability of the outcomes . But this is what RRI is all about. Nobody said it was going to be easy. 

Why doing it? Many reasons were brought up during the two days. 
Let's remember what is going out there:

  • Europe with increasing inequalities, where we are not assuring a better future for next generations, with a huge tension between the will of solidarity and the question of security 
  • Raise of (what some might call) populisms(and others): a normal reaction to those tensions
  • In a world dominated by science and technology with a huge separation between science and society (0,2% in H2020)
  • Opening the process of innovation and RRI is not the only solution for a better innovation. And its efficiency and positive impact is only a hypothesis. But it looks now as a quite strong one. "It looks mature enough". And we probably need to be courageous in the context that we are to do things differently. 

FP9 is a great opportunity to flexibilize funding schemes and incentivize more responsibility (no matter if you call it RRI, Open Science....) in research and innovation. 

If you are worried about the costs we can remember the words of the champion of biomedical research and philanthropy in the 50's: "If you think biomedical research is expensive, try disease” 
I see ourselves now in a similar conundrum: If you think RRI is expensive, try irresponsibility, and we will continue finding ourselves in the situation that we are now. 
Thank you very much

Ignasi López Verdeguer is Director of the Science Department at “la Caixa” Banking Foundation


(*) For more information about the Conference you can visit this page - there you will find programmepictures and presentations.






Monday 10

Responsible Research and Innovation in the Health Industry

Posted by RRI Tools on 10 Apr 2017

Responsible Research and Innovation calls for innovation that integrates societal concerns in all the phases of R&I, from the design of the research agendas to the commercialization of research outcomes. The idea of RRI is that anticipating the social needs and concerns of novel technologies by integrating wider society will facilitate better innovation. 

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology, the European Economic and Social Committee and the EU project Responsible-Industry organize the conference “Responsible Research and Innovation in the Health Industry” to be held at the EESC premises, in Brussels, on 18 and 19 May 2017.

The conference will discuss how RRI can help to boost innovation in biomedicine and health with a special focus on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). It will ask how social values and needs can be “integrated from scratch” and which drivers and obstacles RRI encounters when implemented in companies.

Registration is now open, and while it is free of charge, seating is limited. The deadline for registration is 16.5.2017.

An interpretation will be provided from English and French into English and French.

For budgetary reasons, the Committee will not be able to pay transport costs and other expenses but participation in the event is free.

For more info see here

Tuesday 28

How can early career researchers make their voices heard in public debates? - join us at the "Standing up for Science" workshop

Posted by Kathryn Brian - Sense about Science on 28 Mar 2017

Sense about Science EU is running a workshop for early career researchers exploring the representation of science in the media and policy-making. The ‘Standing up for Science" workshop will involve interactions with experienced researchers who have previously engaged with the media and policymakers, as well as science journalists and policymakers.

How can early career researchers make their voices heard in public debates?. Sense about Science EU aims to do this by building a network to cultivate in the next generation of European researchers the ethos of taking responsibility for public discussion, and to give them the confidence and the know-how to do it, addressing one of the main RRI aims.

I am the current intern at Sense about Science EU and I have had the pleasure of previously attending a "Standing up for Science" workshop in the UK. I thought I would give you a personal insight into how I viewed the day to give you a flavour of what to expect. 

The day started with tea and coffee, over which I was struck by the overwhelming interest researchers held in ensuring their work is presented correctly to the public. My enthusiasm was further encouraged during the workshop by a press conference style discussion with academics who shared their experiences with the media. The session focussed on the potential dangers of communicating with the media and how researchers can avoid these dangers. Overall it became clear that communication is key! The take home advice we were given at this point was to be clear with our message and stick to our guns.

After a break (and further caffeine hit) it was time to take on the panel of journalists! The insights they provided were fascinating and did a lot to improve my perception of science journalists. In the past, I attributed any misrepresentations in the media to the extreme pressure placed on journalists to create an interesting story. Although the journalists agreed the pressure is extremely evident, they made it very clear they don’t want a mistake published as it would tar their name.

To round up the insightful day, we discussed the exciting ways we, as early career researchers, can participate in public outreach making it apparent that whether you’re a public speaker or more of a computer whizz, you can find ways to promote the momentum of your research in an approachable, interesting way. The workshop I attended in the UK focussed on the media and was detached from policy making meaning the event in Brussels will have an extra focus! The additional time to talk with policymakers makes the ‘Standing up for Science’ workshop in Brussels an amazing opportunity not to be missed. I can guarantee, it’s a brilliant way to spend your day!

The workshop is free to all early career researchers (PhD, postdoc etc.) and scientists in all sciences, engineering, medicine and social science. To make the most of this amazing opportunity apply through this link before 09.00 on 09/05/17 or click here for more information. If you want more information on the event, contact Sofie Vanthournout (

Monday 27

Post-doc at University of Leiden - “Optimizing the responsible researcher: towards fair and constructive academic advancement”

Posted by Sarah de Rijcke on 27 Mar 2017


Job description

Project: “Optimizing the responsible researcher: towards fair and constructive academic advancement”
This 2-year project is funded through the new ZonMW program Fostering Responsible Research Practices (FRRP). Recent years have seen high-profile initiatives to improve current criteria for assessing academic achievements (e.g. the Leiden Manifesto, the Metric Tide, Science in Transition, DORA, METRICS, Reward Alliance). Some institutions are implementing improved and innovative incentive and reward systems. It is yet unknown whether these systems will counter unintended effects of evaluation systems and unwarranted uses of performance metrics, and help to foster responsible conduct of research by selecting the scientists with a multidimensional profile (i.e. more than a good publication and citation record) and a skill-set that enables them to undertake and supervise both innovative and societally relevant research. This project aims to describe the optimal profile of researchers in terms of their propensity to foster responsible conduct in research, and will compare this profile with existing academic incentive and reward systems. It will result in an evidence-based framework and a set of concrete policy recommendations for designing (or adapting) academic reward systems aimed at fostering excellent, socially responsible research.

Key Responsibilities
You will (help to) conduct:

  • A systematic literature review in which debates about organisational integrity work are traced, and in which one or more ideals of responsible conduct in research can be theoretically developed; 
  • Expert interviews with relevant stakeholders from different levels of the research governance system (including deans, policy makers, a selection of heads of departments) involved in the institutional arrangement of academic advancement systems in biomedicine;
  • Focus group interviews with biomedical researchers, to collect views and opinions about responsible conduct in research and characteristics of responsible researchers, and how they think reward systems should be shaped;
  • Desk research and expert interviews with recruiters, HRM policy makers, evaluators, and staff advisors at different UMCs to further map how incentives towards responsible conduct in research are currently institutionalized;
  • Comparisons in two different UMCs of the effectiveness of new and existing reward systems in terms of fostering responsible conduct in research.


  • A PhD degree in Science and Technology Studies, or one of the Social Sciences or Life Sciences in combination with STS;
  • Strong skills in designing, organizing and executing qualitative research, especially interviews and ethnographic fieldwork;
  • Pertinent scientific publications;
  • Fluency in spoken English and excellent writing skills in English. Fluency in Dutch is considered an asset, but not a condition;
  • Strong analytical capacity;
  • Willingness and proven ability to work independently, but also to execute the research project in concordance with the other subprojects in the program.

Contract type: Temporary, for two years 

Employer: Universiteit Leiden

Leiden is a typical university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The University permeates the local surroundings; University premises are scattered throughout the city, and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere.

Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia.

Department: Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences 

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences comprises four institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology and Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology. The Faculty also includes the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 5,000 students and 600 members of staff. Our teaching and research programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour. 

The Science and Evaluation Studies research group focuses on a) developing a theoretical framework on the politics of contemporary research assessment; b) gaining a deep empirical understanding on how formal and informal evaluation practices are re-shaping academic knowledge production; c) contributing to shaping contemporary debates on responsible research evaluation and metrics uses (including policy implications). The group is led by Sarah de Rijcke and is based at CWTS in Leiden. The centre studies the dynamics of scientific research and its connections to technology, innovation and society. Additional information about Leiden University and CWTS can be found on  and 

Additional information

Specific information about the vacancy and a more detailed project description can be obtained from dr.  by email

Monday 20

Postdoctoral Researcher in Responsible Innovation and Circular Economy at Wageningen UR

Posted by Vincent Blok on 20 Mar 2017

Post:                                 Postdoctoral Researcher in Responsible Innovation and Circular Economy
Project name:                   Responsible Innovation Practices of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in Making the Transition towards sustainable agricultural, water and energy systems 
We offer you an employment contract for 0.9 FTE (34,2 hours a week) for 12 months. The maximum gross salary is € 3,427.00 per month (based on fulltime employment), (scale 11.0 Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities). In addition, we offer a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary.
The post is available to start on May 1st 2017.

MVI entrepreneurship is a NWO funded project that aims to explore how dimensions of responsible innovation (RI) are applied by new technology based firm (NTBFs) start-ups developing climate change innovations in the field of climate-smart agriculture, how sustainable entrepreneurs can benefit from RI, and how the innovation systems NTBFs operate in can be conductive to RI. While Post-doc one, who is already employed, focusses on the actor level of NTBFs involved in climate-smart agriculture, water, and energy systems, we are looking for a second postdoc who will focus on the systems level. 

Post-doc one has already started to explore how sustainable entrepreneurs manage socio-ethical factors at the actor level, and has identified barriers for the application of RI by NTBFs, such as the need to balance economic and sustainability (societal) objectives, customer reluctance to pay a premium and an industry with vested interests.  In post-doc two, we explore how the management of socio-ethical issues by NTBFs is impacted by the innovation system that sustainable entrepreneurs operate in. This includes the system responsible for the development of innovations (i.e. technological innovation system), but also the wider system and set of actors that influence the start-up and entrepreneurial process, such as supply chain actors, inter-firm linkages, investors, facilitating agents such as government, as well as societal actors and consumers. The research question of post-doc two is: How do innovation system dynamics interact with the implementation of RI by sustainable entrepreneurs, and what are the implications for sustainable entrepreneurship and RI?
This work will have an interdisciplinary nature, drawing on disciplines such as innovation system approaches, transitions management, sustainable entrepreneurship, responsible innovation, and potentially wider management science and science and technology studies approaches. An affinity with understanding and dealing with socio-economic and socio-ethical issues will be needed/an advantage.
Extended Job Description

Climate change requires new green technologies and transitions in socio-technical systems. A key leverage points for this transition is found in sustainable entrepreneurs (Gibbs 2006), who establish New Technology Based Firms (NTBF’s) providing innovative solutions (Leach et al. 2012). Sustainable innovations are developed and diffused into society through sustainable entrepreneurship (Schaltegger and Wagner 2011). The sustainable innovations provided by NTBFs can be considered responsible innovations (RI), since they address so-called ‘grand challenges’ of our time, such as climate change (European Commission 2013), but they are also associated with a range of socio-ethical issues. In this research project, two post-docs explore how dimensions of RI are applied by NTBFs start-ups developing climate change innovations in the field of climate-smart agriculture, how sustainable entrepreneurs can benefit from RI, and how the innovation systems that NTBFs operate in can be conductive to RI. Post-doc one will focus on the actor level of NTBFs involved in climate-smart agriculture, water, and energy systems, whilst postdoc two will focus on the systems level. 

Post-doc one already started to explore how sustainable entrepreneurs manage socio-ethical factors at the actor level, and identified barriers for the application of RI by NTBFs, such as the need to balance economic and sustainability (societal) objectives, customer reluctance to pay a premium and an industry with vested interests. In post-doc two, we explore how the management of socio-ethical issues by NTBFs is impacted by the innovation system that sustainable entrepreneurs operate in. This includes the system responsible for the development of innovations (i.e. technological innovation system), but also the wider system and set of actors that influence the start-up and entrepreneurial process, such as supply chain actors, inter-firm linkages, investors, facilitating agents such as government, as well as societal actors and consumers. The research question of post-doc two is: How do innovation system dynamics interact with the implementation of RI by sustainable entrepreneurs, and what are the implications for sustainable entrepreneurship and RI? 

To this end, post-doc two will examine the existing innovation system involved in sustainable agricultural, water, and energy systems in the Netherlands, and compare it with the emerging innovation system associated with the circular economy (CE). The creation of a CE requires a shift from a linear ‘take-make-dispose’ economy, to one that circulates materials in closed loops, reducing resource use and minimising waste. The economy within the EU is still largely based on a linear model, meaning 95% of material and energy value is lost; this includes for example the wasting of 1/3rd of food along the food chain (Mckinsey & Co. 2015). Adjusting to a CE could save business 8% of turnover and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2-4% (European Commission 2015). Achieving the transition to CE requires cross-firm integration and coordination, meaning careful design, heightened awareness, and consensus-building between a range of different stakeholders (Zhu, Kraemer, and Xu 2006; Aravendan and Panneerselvam 2014). We expect that the circular economy may provide an alternative innovation system in which the barriers of the application of RI by NTBFs are mitigated because of its strong normative focus, focus on inter-firm and chain collaboration, and the acknowledgement of the carrying capacity of the eco-systems of planet Earth.
In the context of a CE system, which constitutes a radical and transformative change, socio-ethical issues and their management can be expected to be quite prominent. The management of socio-ethical factors by sustainable entrepreneurs is likely to be impacted by supply chain dynamics for example – developing innovations for CE requires an understanding of the whole system, and collaboration with a wide range of actors. Ensuring that products have longer life cycles, means that they are often more expensive (due to the internalisation of externalities). This raises public good issues, as the costs are private, but the benefits public. In this respect, the institutions governing the design of the CE could provide support for the application of RI practices by NBTFs. 

Equally, RI by NTBFs could offer an opportunity to better manage the development of CE. CE require radical and transformative innovations, likely to impact large numbers of actors (which could result in socio-ethical barriers). Managing these different stakeholders, their differing expectations and interests is challenging. These challenges could be eased by following a RI process. Stakeholder engagement for RI can help prevent rebound or rejection.

Key questions include how the relationship dynamics/inter-firm linkages between different actors involved in the RI delivery ecosystem impact the management of socio-ethical factors by NTBFs, whether these processes represent a driver or barrier to RI in NTBFs, and whether RI can be seen as a supportive factor in the transition to CE. In order to answer these questions, postdoc two: 
1.    Will initially conduct a desk based review of relevant literature. It is expected that relevant concepts will/could be drawn from innovation system theories, circular economy/industrial ecology (cf. Graedel and Allenby 2010; Murray, Skene, and Haynes 2017), transitions management, sustainable entrepreneurship, and responsible innovation literature to identify key concepts and constructs. These will then be developed into initial frameworks and interview schedules. 
2.    Will map the innovation system in the Netherlands and the emerging CE innovation system. This task will involve the identification of the key system agents, such as relevant research and development organizations, public sector actors, policy schemes, financial actors and key industry organizations.  The character and nature of the linkages between these agents, and their motivations/interests will also be explored. This process will utilize both desk-based research as well as the conducting of 30 interviews with system agents. By collecting this information, an examination of how the system operates and what the roles of the different actors are, will be possible. In turn, this will provide information on key systems drivers or barriers to RI, as well as how RI could play a role in the development of CE.
3.    Will use these results in order a) to identify key system drivers and barriers for the management of socio-ethical factors in the innovation and start-up process (RI), and (b) provide insight of how and to what extent RI could play a positive role in facilitating the transition towards CE, such as enhancing societal embeddedness of innovations.  
Till now little is known about the driving and blocking factors that determine the development process from a linear towards a circular production model, nor the type of innovation system required. Conceptually, CE lacks consideration of social and ethical dimensions, meaning there is little understanding of how these factors impact system transition (Murray, Skene, and Haynes 2017). Finally, the potential advantages of CE for the further development and implementation of RI is not researched yet, neither is the role RI could play in the transition toward a CE. This research project therefore has potential high scientific and societal impact.  

For this research project, which is funded by NWO-MVI, we are looking for a post-doc researcher in the field of sustainable entrepreneurship, responsible innovation (RI), systems change and/or circular economy. You are an ambitious scientist and a team player, devoted to research and education. Ideally, you have completed your PhD in the field of business administration, Responsible Innovation or science and technology studies, with a clear focus on one or more of the following fields: innovation system approaches, transitions management, sustainable entrepreneurship, responsible innovation, and potentially wider management science and science and technology studies approaches. An affinity with understanding and dealing with socio-economic and socio-ethical issues will be needed/an advantage.

You are interested in research in combination with hands-on consultancy and advice, and have preferably experience with business modelling in practice.

Furthermore, you have built a strong international research network or you are in the process of building one. You have the ability to acquire externally financed projects and like to work in an interdisciplinary context. You are fluent in English and have published in international refereed scientific journals. Women are strongly encouraged to apply.

Wageningen University is part of Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR), which is a leading international knowledge institute in the fields of nutritional health, sustainable agricultural systems, and environmental quality. WUR consists of Wageningen University, eight research institutes, two applied research institutes and a training and advisory centre. WUR has 6,500 employees and over 4,500 students. The research institutes carry out strategic, applied and practical research for businesses, governments, and stakeholder groups. The research institutes and university work together closely in five areas of expertise: Social-, Plant-, Environmental-, Animal- and Agrotechnology & Food Sciences.

The Social Sciences Group (SSG) of WUR consists of the Department of Social Sciences which consists of 22 Chair Groups, the Agricultural Economics Institute (LEI) and the Centre for Development Innovation (CDI) and has approximately 750 employees. The Social Sciences Group combines the strengths of scientific research and education in the field of people and society and is extremely qualified to support governments, companies, and civil-society organisations in the choices they have to make. SSG is involved in various national and international projects. 

The management studies group (MST) conducts leading research in the field of chain and network science, with a special focus on stakeholder engagement, (responsible) innovation and internationalization. MST offers and contributes to a broad range of different educational programs for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Central in MST’s research program is the quest for understanding and managing the rapidly developing international chains and networks, with a special focus on stakeholder engagement, societal- and ethical dimensions of innovation processes, innovation management, technology adoption, transparency and sustainability. 

The research project will be embedded in the management science chair group. Dr Vincent Blok is working at the management science chair group as associate professor. He is expert in the field of RI, sustainable entrepreneurship and business ethics and currently supervises 10 PhD’s and 1 Post-doc in these fields. Next to the Management Science chair group, the knowledge, technology, and innovation chair group is involved in this project. Prof Phil MacNaghten has extensive expertise in the governance of science and technology and in the development of frameworks of responsible (research and) innovation. 
The starting date of this position is May 1 2017. Interviews are planned for 12th April.
1.    A letter of application detailing why you are applying for the job and how the project will benefit from your participation.
2.    A full cv.
3.    A two-page document setting out how you would approach this research project (appropriate theories to be used, research design and data collection approach).
The deadline for applications is April 9, 2017, 2017. Please do not email your application, but use the website to upload your application: .

Before submitting an application, you may wish to discuss the post further by contacting Vincent Blok on (06-41667469)
Reference list: 

  • Aravendan, Muthusamy, and Ramasamy Panneerselvam. 2014. "An Integrated Multi-Echelon Model for a Sustainable Closed Loop Supply Chain Network Design."  Intelligent Information Management 6 (06):257.
  • European Commission. 2013. "Options for Strengthening Responsible Research and Innovation." In, edited by Expert Group on the State of Art in Europe on Responsible Research and Innovation. Brussels: European Commission 
  • European Commission. 2015. "Circular Economy Package." In European Commission - Fact Sheet. Brussels European Commission 
  • Gibbs, David. 2006. "Sustainability Entrepreneurs, Ecopreneurs and the Development of a Sustainable Economy."  Greener Management International 2006 (55):63-78. doi: 10.9774/
  • Graedel, T. E., and B.R.  Allenby. 2010. Industrial Ecology and Sustainable Engineering Pearson.
  • Leach, Melissa, Johan Rockström, Paul Raskin, Ian Scoones, Andy C. Stirling, Adrian Smith, John Thompson, et al. 2012. "Transforming Innovation for Sustainability."  Ecology and Society 17 (2). doi: 10.5751/ES-04933-170211.
  • Mckinsey & Co. 2015. "Europe’s circular-economy opportunity." In. USA: McKinsey & Company 
  • Murray, Alan, Keith Skene, and Kathryn Haynes. 2017. "The Circular Economy: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Concept and Application in a Global Context."  Journal of Business Ethics 140 (3):369-80. doi: 10.1007/s10551-015-2693-2.
  • Schaltegger, Stefan, and Marcus Wagner. 2011. "Sustainable entrepreneurship and sustainability innovation: categories and interactions."  Business Strategy and the Environment 20 (4):222-37. doi: 10.1002/bse.682.
  • Zhu, K. , K.L.  Kraemer, and S.  Xu. 2006. "The Process of Innovation Assimilation by Firms in Different Countries: A Technology Diffusion Perspective in E-Business."  Management Science 52 (10).

Monday 06

Save the date: Conference on RRI in the Health Industry

Posted by RRI Tools on 06 Mar 2017

Conference “Responsible Research and Innovation in the Health Industry”

To be held at the EESC premises, in Brussels, on 18 and 19 May 2017. Co-organized by the EU project Responsible-Industry, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and the European Economic and Social Committee 

Responsible Research and Innovation calls for innovation that integrates societal concerns in all the phases of R&I, from the design of the research agendas to the commercialization of research outcomes. The idea of RRI is that anticipating the social needs and concerns of novel technologies by integrating wider society will facilitate better innovation. 

The conference will discuss how RRI can help to boost innovation in biomedicine and health with a special focus on ICT. It will ask how social values and needs can be “integrated from scratch” and which drivers and obstacles RRI encounters when implemented in companies. 
Program and registration will follow soon. Join us in the discussion at the EESC premises on 18 & 19 May and share your view. For budgetary reasons, the Committee will not be able to pay transport costs and other expenses but participation in the event is free.


Thursday 23

Post-doc (3 years position) for the project 'Policy, Responsible Innovation and the Future of AI"

Posted by RRI Tools on 23 Feb 2017

The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) invites applications for a postdoctoral Research Associate for the project 'Policy, Responsible Innovation and the Future of AI'. The appointment will be for 3 years, and is based in Cambridge. 

CFI is an exciting new interdisciplinary research centre addressing the challenges and opportunities posed by artificial intelligence (AI). Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, CFI is based at the University of Cambridge, with partners in the University of Oxford, Imperial College, and UC Berkeley, and close links with industry partners and policymakers. 

This project examines the prospects for a robust safety and benefits culture within the AI industry, in anticipation of the development of increasingly powerful AI systems that will present ever-greater real-world opportunities and challenges. It asks questions including: What can we learn from the management of other powerful technologies? What are the role and prospects for regulation, and how can the technology community work with policymakers, towards mutual goals? How can industry leaders balance near-term commercial responsibilities with the need to engage with broader and more long-term challenges? With AI developing rapidly, these questions are becoming urgent; this is therefore an exciting opportunity for a talented individual to make a major contribution.

Candidates should have a PhD in a relevant field (or equivalent experience in a relevant setting), and should provide strong evidence of potential for research and publication at the highest level, as well as interest in engagement with policy and technology communities. Relevant fields include: Science and Technology Studies; Public Policy; Political Science; Computer Science; Economics; Law.

The closing date for applications is 5 March 2017. For more info see here

Friday 17

Two job offers in UK

Posted by RRI Tools on 17 Feb 2017

  • Institute Administrator at University College London - The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources

The UCL Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources delivers world-leading learning, research and policy support on a range of societal challenges including climate change and energy security. Located within the Bartlett faculty, the school is comprised of four institutes: the Institute for Sustainable Heritage, Energy Institute, Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, and Institute for Sustainable Resources. The post holder’s responsibilities would be to the Energy Institute Please see for further information.

The UCL Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources has an exciting opportunity for a proactive and enthusiastic administrator to join the administrative team to support the Energy Institute with a range of communications and administration duties. They will be responsible for the Institute’s communications, including its website, social media, drafting printed materials and events. The post holder will provide personal assistance to the Institute’s Deputy Director.

More info here

  • Research Director at NatCen Social Research 

At NatCen Social Research, we're driven by the belief that social research has the power to make life better. Our research works for society by providing a rich understanding of people's lives and enabling them to have a powerful and influential role in shaping social policy decisions. It is used by policy makers, practitioners, academics, the media and the public as a driving force behind increased understanding of the environment we live in and how it's changing.

We are recruiting an exceptional research professional to join the Household Surveys team in our Survey Research Centre. The Household Surveys team deliver rigorous social research surveys across a wide range of policy areas. These include some of Britain’s best known social surveys such as the English Housing Survey, the National Travel Survey and the Family Resources Survey.

We are looking for an accomplished professional with strong leadership and project management skills, which include the organisation of people, projects and resources. The successful candidate will have a leading role in our Survey Research Centre as part of our London based team. You will need to be a first class communicator with a proven track record of building robust and prosperous relationships with partners and potential clients.

Strong research skills are essential, with particular experience of survey design using quantitative research methods. You will be responsible for delivery of complex surveys to time and budget from initiation through to reporting and dissemination. An interest or track record in research into income and poverty would be beneficial but is not essential. You will also be enthusiastic and proactive about business generation at NatCen, helping to identify new funding opportunities and leading on successful tenders and grant proposals.

For more info see here

Friday 10

RRI in Europe: What´s next?

Posted by RRI Tools on 10 Feb 2017

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.


(*) This interview was recorded at the RRI Tools Final Conference, Brussels, November 21st - 22nd 2016.

Monday 06

The webpage of the RRI Tools Final Conference is now online

Posted by RRI Tools on 06 Feb 2017

We are happy to announce that the new webpage of the RRI Tools Final Conference is already online - if you visit the page you will find the main materials and outcomes of the conference: videos, presentations, pictures, booklet, link to posts in the blog, etc.

The Final Conference of the RRI Tools project was both a celebration of three years of intensive work and an "open market" to share and exchange ideas on how research and innovation can be built further on more open and responsible foundations. This final meeting was the icing on the cake of an enormously creative and successful project. More than 250 people attended, representing a full range of R&I actors at regional, national, European and global levels.

Visit the webage and get a real feel for what participants discussed and what the two days produced!


Friday 03

Inspire more

Posted by Antonina Khodzhaeva and Gonçalo Praça on 03 Feb 2017

Summary of the parallel session "Inspiring and being inspired" hosted by Ecsite and Ciência Viva at the RRI Tools Final Conference

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?

After the interactive play, a multidisciplinary panel of speakers shared insights and experiences gained in their RRI initiatives.

Pedro Oliveira presented Patient Innovation, an open platform for patients and caregivers of any disease and geography to share solutions they developed.

Sofie Vanthournout, from Sense about Science EU, highlighted the importance of an evidence-based approach to scientific and technological developments and how RRI can help to achieve it.

Then it was the turn of several EFARRI finalists to present their projects:

  • Sarah Dury, Dominique Verté and Nico De Witte, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussels, introduced the project Belgian Ageing Studies;

  • Alba Ardura, from the University of Perpignan and Sara Fernández, University of Oviedo, presented the Environmental DNA project 

The final discussion was focused on addressing questions from participants collected at the beginning of the session.                                        

Want more inspiration for your RRI activities? Go and check out the RRI Toolkit.


Antonina Khodzhaeva works on RRI Tools at Ecsite, the European network of science centres and museums

Gonçalo Praça works on RRI Tools at Ciência Viva, RRI Tools Hub coordinator for Portugal


Wednesday 01

Breaking walls, changing structures: an overview

Posted by Sergio Villanueva on 01 Feb 2017

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. 

Lars Klüver, head of Danish Board of Technology, stated: “structural change can be understood as changing governing structures, but it includes other levels such as articulating research organizations vision and missions towards RRI values, embed RRI in executive structures, or training research stakeholders".

Following this insight, Melanie Peters, explained how the Rathenau Institut in the Netherlands, of which she is the director, had been promoting RRI that is now becoming embedded in the national science policy. The institute helped organize the Dutch National Research Agenda according to citizen needs by a massive consultation that has gathered more than 11,000 citizen questions, that now inform the national research agenda. 

As for training stakeholders, Claire Viney, from CRAC/ Vitae, explained how initiatives such as the UK Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers had fostered the incorporation of RRI values within research systems implicating the education institutions. The Concordat was an agreement between funders and employers of research staff to implement RRI mind-sets and to improve the employment and support for researchers and research careers in UK higher education, from undergraduate to postgraduate and senior levels.

Like CRAC/Vitae, other private companies in Europe are working deeply in facilitating the incorporation of RRI in policy and research organizations. Solange Chavel and Bernardo Rondelli, from SIRIS Academic, a consulting company specialized in structural change of research institutions, explained how they facilitated co-creation of long-term research priorities in the Italian region of Calabria generating an agreement framework among 3 Calabrian Universities (University of Calabria, University Mediterranea of Reggio Calabria, and University Magna Graecia of Catanzaro) and the Calabria Regional Government. Similar strategies were shown by Hillary Sutcliffe, from Society Inside, a Strategic Advisory Firm in UK that implemented a global RRI strategy in the University of Sheffield working with a broad range of stakeholders, from young researchers to senior level champions.

Finally, the session gathered researchers and coordinators of EU-funded projects that are already working in structural change innovation and implementation. Some on-going projects are currently developing Actions Plans to redefine the governance settings of some European research institutions that made them more permeable to RRI values. Fabio Feudo, from project STARBIOS2, showed how their work will generate 9 Action Plans in Bioscience research institutions over the world: 6 in European countries (Italy, United Kingdom, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Germany), and 3 in non-European entities (USA, Brazil and South Africa). In the same line, JERRI, represented by Ralf Linder, will develop Action Plans to incorporate the RRI paradigm in 2 European RTOs (the German Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research). Anne Snick showed FoTRRIS, an on-going project in which she is involved, that aims at generating a series of CO-RRI hubs that offer efficient and effective methods for researchers, citizens, businesses and policy-makers to solve ‘glocal’ challenges.

To sum up, the session “Breaking walls, changing structures” gave room for an in-depth discussion on relevant cross-cutting issues of science policy for EC: changing structures and governance for RRI. These discussions and debates are just in its initial stages and will get stronger in few years when the described projects have evaluated their outputs, and those recently awarded EC-funded projects tackle these topics. 

By Sergio Villanueva

Sergio Villanueva was part of the RRI team at "la Caixa" Foundation - now he is lecturer at the University of Barcelona


(+) You can find all ppt presentations of the session in here

(+) If you are interested on how to create structures for implementing RRI these issues you can find more informationon in this online guideline developed by the RRI Tools project


Monday 30

All Scale Innovation

Posted by Chiara Davalli, EBN on 30 Jan 2017

Summary of the parallel session "All Scale innovation" hosted by EBN at the RRI Tools Final Conference

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. 

To set the scene and give an overview on ongoing projects and programmes addressing RRI (with a special focus on the private sector), the workshop was opened by a PechaKucha session involving the projects Global Value, SmartMap, PRISMA and COMPASS. These projects are characterized by a very concrete and practical approach. 

Particularly, SmartMap, PRISMA and COMPASS will work with European SMEs in various sectors and regions, and will pilot different methodologies supporting companies embedding the Responsible Innovation approach in their organisations, in their processes, in their products and services.

“RRI looks different in different sectors” said Adele Wiman (Institute for Managing Sustainability, Vienna University of Economics and Business).

It is therefore important to understand what are the cut-crossing issues common to all SMEs, but it is also important to understand those peculiar to each sector (nanotech, health, cybersecurity, etc.), and clearly define what drives RRI in the SME context. It is key to operationalize the RRI concept for SMEs, with and for SMEs.

SmartMap, PRISMA and COMPASS already set up a “task force” to ensure exchange of best (and worst)  practices, lessons learned, and create a wider network of SMEs interested and active in RRI. 

The “All scale innovation” session then continued with a discussion moderated by Bernd Carsten Stahl, Director of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at the De Montfort University, which involved the European Venture Philanthropy Association, Shell, the Social Innovation Factory, INSA Lyon Institute Berger and Society Inside

The debate focussed on how to make RRI meaningful for companies, particularly for SMEs. We discussed the competitive advantages the RRI approach can bring to companies (relationship with the stakeholders, organizational changes, collaboration with research actors, openess, inclusion and anticipation, etc.). 

Panelists agreed on the importance of communicating and “marketing” the added value of RRI for SMEs and the private sector in general. Advocacy remains a priority goal.

Even if from different perspectives, the panel insisted on the fact that at the heart of the whole RRI concept are societal challenges, and that today’s solutions must be impact driven. Either these are commercial, public, research solutions, social and environmental impact must be considered together with ethical implications.

Marie-Pierre Escudié (INSIA Lyon, Institute Berger) proposed to rethinking the engineers curricula from an RRI perspective and listed 3 fundamental ingredients: Humanities, Technique, Science. 

Hilary Sutcliff (Society Inside) also insisted on the importance of opening up the “R&D black box”, meaning open up innovation to stakeholders and bring society inside.

Societal acceptability of innovation is not enough, and the will of an entire generation of Millennials to be part of the solution is a clear sign – and a clear opportunity for SMEs added Kaat Peeters, director of the Social Innovation Factory.
Rigour and engagement are key for responsible companies.

Also from an investor perspective, the responsible approach is more and more considered. As mentioned by Priscilla Boiardi (EVPA), and stressed by Ewald Breunesse (Shell), companies today should go beyond Corporate Social Responsibility, and embrace a wider approach, the RRI one.
When talking with SMEs and R&D&I players, the key issue is about pointing their innovation, it’s about choosing their way to innovate. The Responsible Research and Innovation is a possible (and desirable) direction to point to.

We then came to second aspect addressed by the panel: how to help SMEs pointing the right direction? And the answer was unanimous: “build on what is already out there, and do not reinvent the wheel”. 

The RRI Tools project is a clear reference in this sense. Over the last 3 years the RRI Tools platform has been populated with a huge amount of information, tools, best practices, practical guides; and it is the meeting point of a Europe-wide community engaging different stakeholders. The panel recognized it as a fundamental milestone of RRI.

What is important now, it is to work on processes. Tools are important, but processes are key to make RRI happen. That’s the next step. 

The “All Scale Innovation” session served as a bridge between the work done by RRI Tools for the private sector and the new generation of RRI projects (SmartMap, PRISMA and COMPASS) now called to help European SMEs define roadmaps to make RRI part of their organizations, processes, products and services.

By Chiara Davalli

Chiara Davalli is project manager at EBN 

Friday 27

GenØk is looking for a Researcher on Responsible Research and Innovation in European Practice and Funding

Posted by RRI Tools on 27 Jan 2017

The GenØk Centre for Biosafety has a research position available in connection with a new EU project NewHoRRIzon.

Application deadline: February 17th 2017

The research project “Excellence in science and innovation for Europe by adopting the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (NewHoRRIzon)” sets out to promote the acceptance of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) across all parts of the Horizon 2020 (H2020) funding program and beyond. It will work out the conceptual and operational basis to fully integrate RRI into European and national research and innovation (R&I) practice and funding. 

The project will engage a wide-ranging group of R&I stakeholders in 18 Social Labs (covering all sections of H2020) to co-create tailor-made actions to stimulate an increased use and acceptance of RRI. The Social Labs will bring program staff, project coordinators, participants and other relevant experts and stakeholders together to: a) adjust existing definitions of RRI to develop a shared understanding; b) diagnose the state of RRI in each part of H2020; c) adapt existing activities as well as create and test new agreed pilot actions to promote the uptake of RRI in the specific program lines of H2020; d) transform the activities into narratives and widely disseminate them for use.

The researcher will be required to perform work in connection with several work packages of the NewHoRRIzon project. This work will include the following key tasks:
1.    Lead work package 2 focused on the “Excellent Science” arm of H2020 (including the funding programs of the European Research Council, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Future and Emerging Technologies and Research Infrastructure). Here the researcher will have specific responsibility for the social labs on future and emerging technologies and as work package leader, also responsibility for coordinating and reporting on the work of other partners.
2.    Perform the social labs connected to the sub-program of “Food” under work package 4 focused on “Societal Challenges”. This sub-program concerns food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the bioeconomy.
3.    Participate in the common task of drafting a manual for the work of the social labs, which will include the methodological concepts, guidelines, and templates necessary for planning, carrying out, and reporting on the process. There will also be some work involved in monitoring the social labs and communicating with the various social lab managers and facilitators.
4.    Write academic articles and policy briefs for RRI stakeholders based on the research findings.
5.    Present at professional conferences and/or workshops to disseminate the idea of RRI and project’s research.

For more info see here

Tuesday 24

Ecsite - Beyond RRI Tools

Posted by Antonina Khodzhaeva on 24 Jan 2017

Almost one month passed since the official end of the project on 31 December 2016, but we firmly believe that the traces and the impact the project left behind will be visible long after its end, and the connections will continue further on and hopefully lead to new collaborations and projects. 

In the past months, Ecsite together with several science centres and museums including AHHAA Science Centre (Estonia), Science Animation (France), Museo delle Scienze  (Italy), Ciência Viva – Pavillion of Knowledge (Portugal), NEMO (the Netherlands) – members of the Ecsite network, partners of RRI Tools project and beyond – has been working on the Quick Start Guide on implementing RRI in science engagement organisations

Making science engaging is vital work, but fraught with challenges. How do you stay relevant in your local community? How do you ensure activities are designed in a way that places the needs and preferences of multiple target audiences at their centre? How do you find new collaborators and effectively expand your network? If you work for a science engagement organisation and need some support or just a little direction, this quick start guide to Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) will help. Reading the inspiring real-life examples in this guide will help you to understand what RRI looks like in practice, and how the approach can help you to develop or improve your own activities.

Moreover, Ecsite is involved in several RRI-related projects, on of which is Sparks. Coordinated by Ecsite, Sparks is an ambitious engagement project on the topic of technology shifts in health and medicine. Its aim is to raise awareness and communicate the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) to Europeans in 29 countries.

Photo credit: Marije Dijkema for picture “Sparks Anouk resized”

In conclusion, Ecsite Annual Conference 2017 is around the corner and we invite you to join us in Porto and continue the discussion on RRI. The program of the conference will be published in February, so stay tuned!

By Antonina Khodzhaeva 

Antonina Khodzhaeva works on RRI Tools at Ecsite

Tuesday 17

Two-year postdoc in the BrisSynBio team

Posted by RRI Tools on 17 Jan 2017

The BrisSynBio team is seeking to appoint a Post Doctoral Research Fellow for a full-time fixed term post for 2 years commencing as soon as possible. 

The post is funded by BrisSynBio (a multi-disciplinary research centre that focuses on the biomolecular design and engineering aspects of synthetic biology) and will be located jointly with UWE Bristol's Faculty of Health & Social Sciences and BrisSynBio. 

The post is within the Responsible Research and Innovation Theme of BrisSynBio. The Post Doctoral Research Fellow will be responsible for carrying out social science/ethics research pertaining to the use of gene-editing techniques in agricultural crop breeding working closely with Prof. Keith Edward’s team in BrisSynbio. and will be supervised by Prof. Julie Kent (UWE Bristol), Dr Darian Meacham (UWE Bristol / Maastricht University) and Prof. Keith Edwards (University Bristol). 

Candidates should have some experience in social science discourses (ESLI/ELSA, RRI) surrounding gene-editing and/or agriculture, or social studies of science and technology, and a strong aptitude for inter-disciplinary research. Ability to work independently is essential.

Closing date: 18 Feb 2017

More information

Monday 09

RRI Tools Conference in the Senate of the Czech Parliament

Posted by Katerini Polák Dalasová on 09 Jan 2017

Devoted to the RRI Tools project, the Responsibility in Research and Innovations conference took place in the Czech Republic (in the Senate) on 20 October 2016. It was organised by the Plzeň-based Techmania Science Center in co-operation with Grafia s.r.o, a project partner. 

One of the themes of the conference of the RRI Tools project was care and respect for nature and mankind, but also for other space bodies as a basic viewpoint in scientific, research and innovative work. Speakers from among leading Czech and foreign scientists, research and innovation companies, agencies and others discussed the issue of responsible research and innovation on specific cases.

For example, the information presented covered responsible stem cell and nanomaterial research or exploration of planets and other cosmic bodies. Professor Steve Miller of University College London presented RRI in terms of the need to see things in a larger context on the example of malaria-bearing mosquitoes. “If we were able to eradicate them, genetically modify them so that they would no longer be able to reproduce, what would that do to the entire ecosystem? What other, perhaps even much more dangerous species would take their place?” he asked in his speech. Therefore, according to him, anticipation and reflection as well as broader cooperation with other bodies is needed in the scientific community in order to provide the public with truthful information. In Great Britain, this is done by the Science Media Centre. That said, he believes that the dissemination of unscientific rumours and misinformation in the media can never be completely prevented. 

As part of his presentation, doc. Dr. Ing. Vladimír Kebo of the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic responded to his words by stating that “the biggest barrier is the lack of creatively and logically thinking people”. This idea also resonated in other presentations. The debaters agreed that communicating science, research and innovation and their responsibility towards the world in the broadest sense is an issue whose roots extend all the way to schools, including nursery schools. In this field, science centres also play an important role as informal communicators of science and knowledge. 

The conference was attended not only by representatives of the scientific community, but also by representatives of universities, business & industry, and last but not least, policy makers. The opening remarks to the conference were given by Prof. RNDr. Václav Hampl, DrSc., Chairman of the Committee on EU Affairs, Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, and Ing. Lumír Aschenbrenner, a member of the Committee on EU Affairs, Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. 

Mgr. Michal Pacvoň, Ph.D (National Contact Point for the following thematic priorities of the Seventh Framework Programme: Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities, International Cooperation, and Science in Society) spoke about the future of RRI in the European context, and presented the planned Horizon SWAFS-2017 call focusing on measures relating to the promotion and development of responsible research and innovation (RRI).

(*) You can have a look the complete photo album of the event here

Katerini Polák Dalasová

Katerini Polák Dalasová is project manager at the Techmania Science Center, which is responsible for implementing and promoting the RRI Tools project in the Czech Republic

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