RRI: a different idea of responsibility

It is never easy to develop definitions, especially when we are talking about something that is emerging and changing as we speak. This is the case for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), an emerging process within European Framework Programs whose definition is new and evolving. However, we can certainly identify a number of key characteristics of RRI, which is an umbrella term including a wide variety of notions, coming from the academia and politics. All these notions have in common an essential tension towards the development of responsible practices in research and innovation.

Essentially, at the heart of the RRI concept, there is a shift in the idea of responsibility. More in detail, we shift from an individualist and consequentialist notion of responsibility to thinking in terms of collective and distributed responsibility. This means that the responsibility of the results of research and innovation are collectively shared among all the actors participating to the process of knowledge and innovation construction. Indeed, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) aims to bring together researchers, citizens, policy makers, businesses and educators to cooperate during the entire research and innovation process in order to align the outcomes of research with the values and needs of society.

RRI is a crosscutting issue in the European Commission ‘Horizon 2020’ Framework Programme. Its ultimate ambition is to address the great challenges of our time (climate change, energy, health, etc.) and encourage smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe. It is still an emerging concept and, in order to implement RRI, the concrete need for practical tools is undeniable. It is exactly there that our project steps in. Since its early beginning, the RRI Tools project has gathered and developed online resources – the RRI Toolkit – allowing closer interactions of the actors of research and innovation systems. It also addresses topics such as open access, gender in science, ethics, science education, governance, public engagement. Last March 7th, the very first version of the the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Toolkit was launched. You can find it at www.rri-tools.eu. The toolkit has been designed to meet needs and views of all the possible stakeholders of the research system, including researchers, policy-makers, business and industry, educators, and civil society organizations. It works for individuals but also for institutions.

Entering the toolkit you will find that as far as today it contains more than 350 resources. The latter are meant to help to design and bring projects to life, and to train on Responsible Research and Innovation. These resources include:

  • inspiring practices;
  • manuals, guidelines, how-tos, catalogues and online databases of resources;
  • background documents including presentations, reports, cross-analysis and pan-European surveys;
  • other European projects that developed RRI resources;,
  • a self-reflection tool to assess professional practices.

It is important to underline that the RRI Toolkit belongs to the RRI Community. In other words, it is a dynamic resource open to a growing European Community of Practice. This means that by joining the Community you will be able to participate in discussion fora and get support from other practitioners. In addition to this, anyone can contribute to the further developments of the toolkit by uploading tools and resources at www.rri-tools.eu/registration.


Valentina Amorese
On behalf of RRI Project

MMLAP and other EU Projects

Health system analysis to support capacity development in response to the threat of pandemic influenza in Asia
Making society an active participant in water adaptation to global change
Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation
Engaging all of Europe in shaping a desirable and sustainable future
Expect the unexpected and know how to respond
Driving innovation in crisis management for European resilience
Effective communication in outbreak management: development of an evidence-based tool for Europe
Solutions to improve CBRNe resilience
Network for Communicable Disease Control in Southern Europe and Mediterranean Countries
Developing the framework for an epidemic forecast infrastructure
Strengthening of the national surveillance system for communicable diseases
Surveillance of vaccine preventable hepatitis
European monitoring of excess mortality for public health action
European network for highly infectious disease
Dedicated surveillance network for surveillance and control of vaccine preventable diseases in the EU
Modelling the spread of pandemic influenza and strategies for its containment and mitigation
Cost-effectiveness assessment of european influenza human pandemic alert and response strategies
Bridging the gap between science, stakeholders and policy makers
Promotion of immunization for health professionals in Europe
Towards inclusive research programming for sustainable food innovations
Addressing chronic diseases and healthy ageing across the life cycle
Medical ecosystem – personalized event-based surveillance
Studying the many and varied economic, social, legal and ethical aspects of the recent developments on the Internet, and their consequences for the individual and society at large
Get involved in the responsible marine research and innovation
Knowledge-based policy-making on issues involving science, technology and innovation, mainly based upon the practices in Parliamentary Technology Assessment
Assessment of the current pandemic preparedness and response tools, systems and practice at national, EU and global level in priority areas
Analysis of innovative public engagement tools and instruments for dynamic governance in the field of Science in Society
Public Engagement with Research And Research Engagement with Society
Computing Veracity – the Fourth Challenge of Big Data
Providing infrastructure, co-ordination and integration of existing clinical research networks on epidemics and pandemics
Promote vaccinations among migrant population in Europe
Creating mechanisms for effectively tackling the scientific and technology related challenges faced by society
Improve the quality of indoor air, keeping it free from radon
Improving respect of ethics principles and laws in research and innovation, in line with the evolution of technologies and societal concerns
Investigating how cities in the West securitise against global pandemics
Creating a structured dialogue and mutual learning with citizens and urban actors by setting up National Networks in 10 countries across Europe
Identifying how children can be change agents in the Science and Society relationship
Establishing an open dialogue between stakeholders concerning synthetic biology’s potential benefits and risks
Transparent communication in Epidemics: Learning Lessons from experience, delivering effective Messages, providing Evidence