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.
 
Short JOB DESCRIPTION

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.  
 
Requirements

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.
 
ABOUT THE PROJECT TEAM

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. 
 
PRACTICAL INFORMATION ON INTERVIEWS
The starting date of this position is May 1 2017. Interviews are planned for 12th April.
 
HOW TO APPLY
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: http://www.wur.nl/en/Respond-to-vacancy-page.htm?vacancyurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.connexys.nl%2Fwageningenurpublic%2Frun%2Fregister%24.startup%3Fz_f_taal%3D2%26z_kan_advertentie_id%3D38404 .
 
INFORMAL INQUIRIES

Before submitting an application, you may wish to discuss the post further by contacting Vincent Blok on vincent.blok@wur.nl (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/GLEAF.3062.2006.au.00007.
  • 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.

Contact: int-events@eesc.europa.eu


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 http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/bseer 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


Friday 30

Ready to take off? Embark on a new journey in 2017 with the RRI Toolkit

Posted by The RRI Tools coordination team on 30 Dec 2016

After three intense and rewarding years, the RRI Tools project is coming to an end by 31 December 2016, leaving the Responsible Research and Innovation Toolkit as a legacy. This Toolkit, which contains nearly 500 tools, 28 guidelines, 50+ training resources, and a self-reflection tool, is meant to serve the community and further grow and develop.

As a participatory Toolkit, it belongs to everyone. Whether you belong to the research or the education community, whether you work in policy-making, in industry and business, or in civil society organisations, we have collected resources adapted to your specific field of activity, on a variety of topics such as public engagement, governance, science education, gender equality, open access, ethics... If you have not done so yet, create an account and join our 1000+ members so you can also add your own tools!

Many thanks to the 250+ participants in the RRI Tools final conference, on 21-22 November in Brussels, who made this meeting a vibrant and insightful event. You will be pleased to hear that the presentations and videos of the conference will be shared with you very soon. Stay tuned, we will inform you on the RRI Tools blog and in our social media. Meanwhile, the much-praised RRI Tools practical guide to Responsible Research and Innovation circulated in your delegate bags is already available for download here.

Our warmest thanks to all of you, dear readers, supporters and contributors to the RRI Toolkit. Its success is also yours. We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year 2017!

The RRI Tools team 

Photo credit: "Up into the balloon cavity 2" by Richard White (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Wednesday 21

RRI legacy in Bulgaria: pay it forward

Posted by Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 21 Dec 2016

RRI Tools as a project is coming to an end, as all other good things do, but partnerships will endure beyond the project lifetime and the RRI Community in Bulgaria will continue to grow. And this is precisely what happened at the last training session organized by the Bulgarian-Romanian RRI hub on 19 December in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The name of the event was “RRI legacy in Bulgaria - pay it forward”. Leaving a legacy means you entrust a dear thing to the secure hands of its successor. That is why we chose to leave RRI as a legacy to the oldest higher education institution in Bulgaria - Sofia University, St Kliment Ohridski, educating the future scientists, engineers, policy makers - citizens.

Invited by the Faculty of mathematics and informatics to organize a training session on the RRI Toolkit, we have established a promising partnership in order to collaborate and cooperate in bringing science closer to the society in Bulgaria.

Together with professors, lecturers and assistants, we have dived deep into RRI waters to discover a wealth of RRI tools gathered on the platform www.rri-tools.eu.

The RRI Tools leaflet is available in Bulgarian on RRI Tools media room.

We discussed RRI opportunities in Horizon 2020, we went through how to “incorporate RRI in higher education institutions” and how to “design an RRI-oriented project proposal” and had a look at the self-reflection tool. Information about enRRIch and HEIRRI projects, promoting integration of RRI in formal and informal education, was also presented.

The training helped us all reflect on the opportunities RRI could bring us now and in the future. It equipped us with knowledge and tools on how to apply RRI not only in our daily practice but also to pay it forward, as it is the only way we will keep the RRI community growing.

Petya Gancheva

Petya Gancheva works on the RRI Tools project at Ruse Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Bulgaria, the RRI Tools Hub for Bulgaria and Romania.


Tuesday 20

RRI in practice for schools: A handbook for teachers

Posted by European Schoolnet on 20 Dec 2016

The readers of this blog will agree on that the integration of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) principles in educative contexts is certainly beneficial for students, as it supports them - among others - in the development of critical, creative and open-minded thinking and furthers cooperative learning aptitudes. Moreover, it upholds transversal educational frameworks that can benefit collaborative planning in school activities and promotes the introduction of multidisciplinary learning exercises in the classroom.

In that manner, it is essential to construct principles that will support the implementation of RRI in academic teaching and learning activities, both at primary and secondary level. Particularly, it is recommended that educators consider applying continuous self-reflection processes, to determine how RRI-oriented their practices are. 

Along these lines, European Schoolnet has developed an educational handbook entitled “RRI in practice for schools. Handbook for teachers” with the aim of helping educators to develop and implement RRI practices in the classroom as well as to include self-reflection processes in their everyday practices.

The handbook contains a variety of resources. For a start, it includes a set of short exercises to be used as a starting point to analyze how RRI-oriented educators’ practices are, specifically focused on the mapping of RRI obstacles and opportunities, the development of school project simulations and of exercises involving different stakeholders.

The documents’ main feature is a set of guidelines and practice templates to integrate RRI in everyday school activities and, specifically, to support educators in designing academic practices integrating RRI dimensions and principles. The guidelines provide with instructions to set up a dynamic process of creation of educational resources that should equally foster capacity building and cooperation among teachers and among any other relevant stakeholders in the educational community.  

Additionally, the set of templates is designed for different subjects and is addressed to both primary and secondary school levels, depending on the activity. Particularly, it contains a (1) generic template/guide that describes the other templates’ rationale and which can be used for any type of practice and (2) three extra templates designed for specific activities, namely: (A) Getting started with RRI (B) Experiments and labs activities and (C) Reflection and dissemination.

Overall, we hope this resource helps teachers among Europe to become more RRI-oriented in their daily practices!

Those curious about Responsible Research and Innovation applied to education might also be interested in these two 'how-tos': How to integrate RRI in secondary education and How to introduce RRI at school through project- and inquiry-based learning in STEM.

 

By Marina Jiménez Iglesias

Marina Jiménez Iglesias works on RRI Tools at European Schoolnet

 


Monday 19

EFARRI rewards inspiring research practices

Posted by Jeroen van den Hoven and Sara Heesterbeek on 19 Dec 2016

On Monday 21 November 2016 three European research projects that are contributing actively towards the development of a smart, inclusive and sustainable society were honoured by the European Foundations Award for Responsible Research & Innovation (EFARRI). The Swedish Mistra Urban Futures, Italian water management project IMRR and Spanish miCROWDscopy were selected by a scientific jury from more than 200 applications to receive a prize of €20,000 to continue their valuable work in diverse fields.

The EFARRI finalists and laureates at the RRI Tools final conference (21 November 2016)

These three projects champion inclusive approaches to some of the biggest challenges we are facing as society today in health, in resource management and in the urban environment. Mistra Urban Futures also convinced the audience of the RRI Tools final event most and received the ‘Public Vote of the RRI Community’. According to the jury this project radiates an institutional commitment to co-creation of knowledge and co-design of participation methodologies. Their brand new, open access co-creation manual is very comprehensive and provides us with novel insights and important RRI lessons. To quote one: ‘Everyone is a knowledge holder, everyone is a knowledge producer, everyone is a knowledge user’, stressing our mutual interdependence.

EFARRI laureates: MISTRA Urban Futures

Inclusiveness is also key in the Italian IMRR project. This integrated water management project provides tools and capacity to allow Vietnamese institutions involved in water resource management to negotiate sustainable policies in a participatory bottom-up way. It is based on a transparent, intuitive web-based platform that provides iterative stakeholder input, sharing existing knowledge and giving relevant stakeholders the opportunity to have access and genuinely contribute with questions and indicators. This project fills a niche that is needed in informed decision-making that secures its political relevance.

EFARRI laureates: the IMRR project

miCROWDscopy is a citizen science project that identifies the major grand challenge to give people access to diagnostics and ultimately to prevent deaths. This is done in a very inclusive, innovative and creative way: people are involved in crowd diagnostics in a gaming format with low-cost technology. The underlying idea is to translate medical protocols into digital micro-tasks that can be packaged into video games and performed by the gaming community around the world. The result is that lay people are engaged in a non-professional, but very efficient, iterative process of data collection and analysis. They just play their game and can simultaneously save many lives.

EFARRI laureates: miCROWDscopy

Not only these three laureates, but many of the applications we received show a creative approach to tackling societal challenges by implementing RRI in their daily research practices. They set an example for RRI because they exemplify a strong commitment to moral concerns and a dedication to harness the potential of technology, allowing them to anticipate potential implications and accommodate legitimate expectations of stakeholders with regard to research and innovation in their projects.

EFARRI is a joint initiative by the King Baudouin Foundation (Belgium), “la Caixa” Foundation (Spain), Fondazione Cariplo (Italy), Lundbeck Foundation (Denmark), the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Germany) and the European Foundation Centre Research Forum. These Foundations have a shared aspiration to encourage researchers to reflect on their work in terms of RRI and to actively incorporate methods that will align their research with the needs of society.

For more information about the aims of the award, the selection process and the finalists see http://www.efarri.eu/

Jeroen van den Hoven and Sara Heesterbeek

Jeroen van den Hoven is the chair of the EFARRI jury.

Sara Heesterbeek works on RRI Tools at King Baudouin Foundation in Brussels, the RRI Tools Hub coordinator for Belgium and Luxembourg.

 

 


Thursday 15

A Science Centre as an open classroom to learn, play, discuss and reflect

Posted by Ecsite on 15 Dec 2016

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

― Helen Keller

We know for quite a long time that active, inquiry-based learning is designed to help teachers build their students’ learning skills in an open environment. If we combine this learning methodology with the PBL, or Problem-based learning, we get a tantalising combination that currently young students from Tartu, Estonia are enjoying when they spend a whole day at the AHHAA Science Centre, in the context of the AHA STUDY DAY.

Credit: AHHAA Science Centre

Building upon these trends, the Aha-Study format was developed to meet the needs of students and contribute to the implementation of 21st Century learning skills through national curricula in STEM education. Liina Vaher, Head of Education, shared with us: “Companies are no longer following the traditional working schemes, where you are hired to fulfil a position. More and more, new models are being tried, basically, models that use the potential of each person to its highest levels, in terms of imagination and working capacity. For that, teams are given a task and they have to come with a solution to the problem. That is totally a new way to imagine and perform work”.

Why not making learning a fun experience? The Aha-Study approach is highly agile, focusing on finding the best organisational structure to support cooperative planning, leadership and ownership of activities instead of process-oriented orders passed down through vertical management structures. The students are confronted to a balanced combination of options and freedom to choose, with the goal of finding solutions to unsolved tasks or challenges. Once they get into their lab coats, the journey begins with choosing the theme and getting the challenges to solve. In groups and assuming active and diverse roles, they plan and try to get the best working ways to fulfil their missions.

The central principle of the format sees the science centre building act as an interactive classroom for the whole study day. It connects several subjects related to one of the following themes: human anatomy, mind and senses, health and nutrition, electricity, astronomy, geology, home yard, water, forest or mathematics.

Liina adds: “We conceive arts as a fundamental topic and approach at the same time. After they get their theoretical session and they are done with their lab work and exhibition exploration, they assist to a science show, where they participate too. In this way, they also learn by moving themselves, not only with their minds but their bodies too.”

This is a fundamental step to get into the last part of the day: the reflection meeting. At this moment of the day, they openly talk about what they liked, what they didn’t, what could have been made in different ways, or maybe better, and a deep reflection about failure and emotions.

For Liina Vaher and her team, there is no better indicator of success that the future phone call from the teacher saying she or he wants to come again with the same group of students:  “And then… we recognize among them a totally new way to relate with sciences, is like we had opened a new appetite in them, their attitude is more of a person that want to discover and learn about everything!”

The Aha Study and 8 other interesting cases from the Science Centre and Museum pitch are showcased in the RRI Quick Start Guide, edited by Ecsite and available as a PDF document in the Toolkit.

Andrea Troncoso

Andrea Troncoso works on RRI Tools at Ecsite, in Brussels, which is responsible for the mapping of stakeholders in the RRI Tools project


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


Thursday 08

Czech hub prepared the workshops all around the Czech Republic

Posted by Techmania Science Center on 08 Dec 2016

A series of workshops was held in the Czech Republic during the first week of October. The purpose of the workshop was to raise awareness of responsibility research and innovation and to present tools developed in the RRI Tools project. Training sessions took place in four regional cities, namely Ostrava (3 October), Olomouc (4 October), Liberec (5 October) and Brno (6 October) and successfully followed up the first workshop held in Plzeň earlier in June. The workshops were organised by the RRI Hub for the Czech Republic and lecturers were Miroslav Parvonič from Techmania Science Center and Jana Brabcová from Grafia, s.r.o.

The workshops were open to anybody who was interested in the topic, and mainly to the target groups, i.e. policy makers, the research community, the education community, business & industry and civil society organisations. The largest number of participants came from training and research institutions, while there were no representatives from the business sector and public administration. The total number of attendees was 47.

The response and feedback by the participants cannot be summarised into a unanimous evaluation as we reported both positive and negative reactions, but neither of them prevailed. Generally speaking, for most attendees the workshop was the very first experience with the responsible research and innovation concept.

We took a purely practical approach to the workshops and focused on real project outcomes, namely the search engine, how-to apply RRI and the self-reflection tool. During the first part, participants were acquainted with the RRI concept and its form as it is presented by the European Commission. They were given space to actively engage in the debate on different RRI aspects while using their experience and practice. In the second pat, we went through different parts of the agenda – ethics, gender equality, governance, open access, public engagement and science education. Discussions happened with a great contribution by the attendees and concerned mostly which aspects of responsibility are relevant to them in their everyday work and which aspects they consider problematic or hard to apply for different reasons. This brought us to opportunities and obstacles to RRI. The last part of the workshop introduced the RRI tools and practical work with them. The participants tried their hands at searching for different projects and instruments using a search engine and different filters and key words and tried working with search results. Another instrument that they tried was the self-reflection tool. They filled in the relevant section of questionnaires for a selected agenda and then discussed the results in groups and tried to identify key tools for the application of RRI in their parent companies. Last but not least, we also dealt with “how-to”; however, due to a lack of time, we only went through a selected procedure and used it to explain how we can further work with it.

As we have mentioned, the overall assessment was not too clear. Negative feedback was most often provided by researchers and scientific workers. Some of them see RRI as a useless activity that will reduce their capacity that they otherwise could dedicate to the actual research. On the other hand, many of them appreciated especially the search engine tool as a source of possible inspiration for implementing RRI into practice. There was a large agreement that the existing RRI concept is too general and has to be specified. At the strategic level, the European Commission should outline the future of RRI and how the Commission intends to further work with this concept. For instance, whether RRI will become an equivalent to horizontal priorities, whether institutions applying a responsible approach in research and development will gain some advantages when obtaining public funding, etc. The attendees also think that the parameters of a responsible research definition have to be specified, e.g. in the form of indicators (not just qualification indicators, i.e. those saying what is or is not responsible research, but also development indicators, i.e. those specifying fields where the RRI principles should be applied and what different development levels are). Last but not least, it would be suitable to further elaborate the RRI Tools and to make them more practical (more specific procedures, recommendations, examples of good practice, etc.), as the current search engine is a guidepost that leads to specific projects. Those interested then have to research and go through the project structure, search for information that they need in a complicated way, which, overall, reduces the usefulness of the search engine (according to some attendees, Google can do the same job, even better, when the key words are used). Another major risk that the participants mentioned was that referenced sources are often publicly funded projects where sustainability does not have to be observed over a longer period of time. This means that such sources may soon cease to exist.

Katerini Dalasová

Katerini Dalasová works on RRI Tools at Techmania Science Center in Pilsen, the RRI Tools Hub for the Czech Republic


Monday 05

U19 – raising responsible innovators of tomorrow

Posted by Ecsite on 05 Dec 2016

Ars Electronica Center, Ars Electronica festival and above all the Futurelab are very good examples of artists and creators as stakeholders in RRI processes. This is something that has already been discussed in this blog. In its 37 years of life, the festival core mission has been to scrutinise the main issue of how society and technology influence each other and ever since, the Ars Electronica group keeps on developing new concepts and working in new processes to achieve this.

This forward-thinking attitude has resulted in the creation of a festival where children and teenagers can work together.  Every year a topic is defined and in 2016 youngsters were invited to “Save the World”. Children and teenagers were asked to playfully work on transforming what has become a place that is hostile to life into a thoroughly liveable habitat. By playing and doing instead of considering too big of a task and consequently being paralysed, kids of all ages approach to research and innovation with no fear. It is an open door for them to become informed and responsible citizens. Being responsible also means being entitled to find new solutions for all of our societal challenges. The more enjoyable we go about changing the world to make it better, the more diverse and more sustainable, the more meaningful, more inspiring and more rewarding it will be.

But this is not all, Ars Electronica has also set up a prize, the U19 prize were children and youngsters up to the age of 19 have the opportunity to imagine solutions for the world of tomorrow and to produce and present their concepts of and ideas for it.  As part of this prize and taking stock of their long lasting experience on the value of including artists and multidisciplinary teams in the RRI processes, Ars Electronica has set up the U19 agency. This agency acts as a facilitator for the children to understand the importance of being able to communicate their research and engage others, to learn the need to work collaboratively and the value of mutual learning. For the first time, winners of the u19 prize co-created together with the team the exhibition that showcased all the winners’ artefacts and inventions. They were also in charge of some of the visitors’ tours, being able to grasp why and how visitors are attracted to their work and together with them to devise improvements.

All in all, U19 is a great way of embedding RRI in the way children understand research, facilitating new ways of doing it and making children as responsible and capable of innovating as any other stakeholder.

Ecsite

Ecsite, the European Netwok of Science Centres and Museums in Brussels is responsible for the mapping of stakeholders in the RRI Tools project

Credit for the pictures: Tom Mesic 


Leave a comment

Comments on the blog are moderated before they appear on the site. Comment Policy

0 comments

Follow us: