The Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach supported by the European Commission since 2011 aims to encourage societal actors to work together during the whole research and innovation (R&I) process to better align R&I and its outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of society. Experience shows that strategies and practices based on RRI can open up R&I to all relevant actors, and improve co-operation between science and society, fostering the recruitment of new talent, and pairing scientific excellence with social awareness and responsibility.
Territories have a specific advantage to address the complexity of the challenges set by the interplay between science and society. Indeed local actors have an intimate knowledge of the physical territorial setting, and local ecology, i.e. the status quo of the complex relationships between cultural, social, economic and political actors, of the local dynamics, history, expectations and requirements as well as specific concerns.
During the last century, local and regional development policies have slowly, unevenly, but surely, integrated dimensions related to science, technology, and innovation (STI). For example, the European Commission supported regional technology plans in the 1990s and regional innovation strategies during the 2000s. Since 2010 the Commission has encouraged regions to develop smart specialisation strategies, based on comprehensive stakeholder involvement, to identify specific fields of industrial and research strengths with a potential for competitive advantages for the region. A more comprehensive approach involving citizens and communities is likely to result in positive impacts on STI and local and regional development.
Territories can work towards the establishment of self-sustaining R&I ecosystems that are characterised by a high degree of openness, democratic accountability, and responsiveness to need by taking action to promote all parts of RRI (i.e. gender equality, science education, open access/open data, public engagement, and ethics). This requires them to bring relevant R&I actors together, for instance citizens and civil society organisations (CSOs), universities, research institutions, formal and informal education institutions (including primary and secondary schools), governments and public authorities (including regional and local administrations and science policy institutions), businesses (including industry, the service sector and social entrepreneurs) and science mediators. New R&I working methods within and between organisations, including novel and transparent governance relations, would promote greater sustainability and inclusiveness at local, national, EU and global levels.Scope:
For the present topic, 'territory' should be understood broadly. Territories may be defined by any particular area characterised by certain geographical features, or any area with shared cultural, environmental or economic ties.
Consortia should focus activities in more than one territory in Europe (and possibly also in Third Countries), with a view to developing and promoting shared learning and diffusion of governance innovations. Local and regional authorities should be active partners of the consortia, in particular those institutions or parts of institutions responsible for research and innovation. The RRI approach should be integrated in regional development policies, e.g. spatial planning, land use planning, coastal planning, urban development and urban structuring activities (list not exhaustive). Consortia should make strong efforts to ensure the involvement of all kind of citizens, irrespective of their age, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background.
Consortia should lay out a sequence of actions that open up and transform the R&I ecosystem and governance systems so that they are more open and inclusive.
- Map their current territorial R&I ecosystem, taking into account and complementing existing mapping exercises such as the Smart Specialisation Platform, the European Cluster Observatory, and the Regional Innovation Scoreboard,
- Reflect on how the system could be more open and inclusive, and
- Consider their place within larger societal, geographical, economic and environmental framework.
- Consequently, proposals should develop concrete actions within individual beneficiaries' organisations (e.g. agenda setting and institutional changes in the fields of gender, ethics, public engagement, science education and open access) and in the territorial context (e.g. local and regional governance relations and decision-making processes).
Changes should be sustainable (i.e. last beyond the lifetime of funding), for instance through the introduction of new forms of decision making, development of business plans or co-operation agreements, and institutional changes in participating organisations.
The actions should avoid duplicating the analytical and data collection activities of the Smart Specialisation Platform. Previous project findings and good practices should be considered as and when appropriate. Projects such as ONLINE-S3 and SEiSMIC could be useful in this regard. The ONLINE-S3 project aims to assist national and regional authorities in the EU to elaborate and revise their smart specialisation agendas, in terms of policies and strategy, whereas the SEiSMiC project helps tackle Europe's biggest urban problems by engaging citizens, identifying social innovation needs, and contributing to future urban policies and research strategies.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of € 2.00 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.Expected Impact:
Consortia are expected to elaborate and implement a more open, transparent and democratic R&I system in their defined territories. Consortia are expected to evaluate their activities and provide evidence of societal, democratic, environmental, economic and scientific impacts. Involvement in the project should have a measurable transformative and opening effect on organisations involved, which should be sustainable beyond the lifetime of funding. Consortia are expected to contribute to one or more of the MoRRI indicators (for instance GE1, SLSE1, SLSE4, PE1, PE2, PE5, PE7, PE8, E1, OA6, GOV2), and to the Sustainable Development Goals (for instance goals 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16 or 17).Delegation Exception Footnote:
It is expected that this topic will continue in 2020.Cross-cutting Priorities:
See COM(2017)376 on Strengthening innovation in Europe's regions: Strategies for resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth.