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Responsible Research and Innovation

We spend a lot of resources on research and innovation that can have social, ethical, cultural and environmental impacts. Therefore, it is vital that research and innovation is engaging with society and that it is socially responsible.

Research today has a big impact on how society will look in the future. Therefore it is important to ensure that research and innovation are aligned with the norms, values and expectations of society and thereby create value for society in an ethical and responsible way.

RRI conference in Copenhagen

11 December 2014 the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science in cooperation with Professor Maja Horst, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen, held a conference under the theme ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’.

Citizen involvement

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is about creating dialogue between researchers and citizens in decisions concerning how society should look tomorrow, which risks we should take and how we should balance the pros and cons of research and future technologies. So that we ensure that the scientific and technical development happens in alignment with the values and needs of society.

If the technical development is not aligned with the values and needs of society, we risk that a lot of our research and technical investments will be wasted or utilised poorly. The grand societal challenges will have a far better chance of being tackled if all the societal actors are engaged in the process.This engagement should happen through an open dialogue, open access to research publications, citizen involvement in the research process when this is recommendable or involving citizens in the decisions in which research areas we should priorities. A creative and constructive dialogue between all stakeholders, researchers, citizens and companies will ensure that research and future technologies will be responsible and in alignment with society.

But the benefits of RRI go beyond alignment with society, it will also ensure that research and new technologies will be used to creating smart, inclusive and sustainable solutions to the societal challenges, it can engage new perspectives, new innovators and new talents from across scientific disciplines helping to identify solutions which would otherwise not be found. Last but not least RRI will also help building trust between citizen, public and private institutions. 

RRI and Horizon 2020

The work programme Horizon 2020 aims at building an effective and cross cutting approach for cooperation between science and society, because future societal challenges stand a far better chance of being tackled if all societal actors are engaged in finding the innovative solutions, products and services.

In Horizon 2020 emphasis is on getting all societal actors to work together during the research and innovation process in order to better align both the process and its outcome, with the values, needs and expectations of society.

Science in Dialogue

During the Danish EU Presidency in April 2012, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science hosted the conference Science in Dialogue. The goal of the conference was to outline different perspectives on how to further develop the dialogue and interaction between science and society.

The challenge  

One of the questions in relation to RRI is who should secure that research is responsible and is aligned with the values, need and expectations of society, researchers? Or is it the government’s responsibility? Who should we include in the decisions? And do responsible research and innovation compromise the freedom of research?

There are many questions to be answered. Therefore it is essential that we create a platform for dialogue, so that we secure at that the resources spent on research and technology are used wisely and for the benefit of society.


last modified Jun 22, 2015