Smart specialisation strategies would be better with improved governance, public engagement, open access or gender inclusiveness. These are topics that would be included in the revision of the smart specialization strategies for the period 2021-2027. Regional development agencies are using the tools of responsible research innovation to improve their S3.
The European Commission defines Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) as an approach that anticipates and assesses potential implications and societal expectations with regard to research and innovation, with the aim to foster the design of inclusive and sustainable research and innovation. RRI is used in Horizon 2020 programme to group transversal concepts of societal aspects of science and innovation within the objective “Science with and for society” (SWAFS); and at the same time a ‘cross-cutting issue’ in many cases involving interdisciplinary solutions. The actions directly related to RRI have 0’5% of the total budget of the pillars of Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges.
Research and innovation have improved our world and our lives in many ways. However, alongside the positive impact on the material and physical well-being of the society, science and technology sometimes create new risks and ethical dilemmas. R&D could generate controversy and fail to solve problems. RRI answers these challenges by engaging all actors (from researchers and innovators to governments and citizens) through inclusive and participatory methodologies. To be effective, the participation takes place at all stages of the process and at all levels of governance of research and innovation: from program planning, through design, implementation and evaluation. Research and innovation will address societal challenges and be aligned with the values, needs and expectations of the general public. This is not just an ethical or societal issue. It is about improving scientific production, diversifying research programs and considering the complexities of the real world.
Beyond the opportunities to take part in EU projects supported by H2020 pogramme, you should consider the strong potential of RRI to improve the relationships between the society and the R&I programmes. It is an effective solution to provide a transparent and interactive process in which social and innovative actors are mutually responsible for the acceptability (ethics), sustainability and social convenience of the innovation process and its marketable products. It facilitates an adequate incorporation of scientific and technological advances in our society.
RRI is essential to support advanced research and innovation strategies. To help embed RRI in the research and development process, the European Commission has set out six key themes for policymakers to consider:
EURADA is the responsible of communication and exploitation of results of the European TeRRItoria project. This project includes the participation of several EURADA members: ADR Nord-Est, ART-ER, Kainuun Etu, Bsuiness Upper Austria, OKA and ARRSA from Bielsko-Biala. TeRRItoria is a Horizon 2020 project that puts regions and cities in the middle of the effort to achieve RRI. The project is going to support the adoption of RRI approach in European regional and territorial R&I systems. It contributes to the development of a “Territorial RRI” concept through a set of transformative experiments in 5 different European territories. TeRRItoria is based on the idea that RRI approaches, policies and practices, developed so far at the level of research institutions, may be adapted to that of regional and territorial governance. The TeRRItoria vision is to tackle a double challenge: to bring RRI at the forefront of the debate for developing local and regional R&I capacities; and to use RRI as a springboard for broadening the number of stakeholders involved in regional research and innovation strategies under the framework of Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3).
Written by Esteban Pelayo, Director of EURADA