Skip to main content

Article Category


Article available in the folowing languages:

New tool developed to facilitate responsible research and innovation in the EU

EU-funded researchers have developed an innovative tool to ensure that the EU’s research and innovation goals are more responsive to societal challenges and concerns.

The results of the EU-funded RES-AGORA project were discussed at the ‘RRI: Shaping New Horizons’ conference that was held on 14 and 15 January 2016 in Brussels. Project Coordinator Prof. Dr. Ralf Lindner, of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research in Germany, outlined the project’s key successes and how these will contribute to the development of truly Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Europe. RRI is the ongoing process of aligning research and innovation to the values, needs and expectations of society. The EU aims to become a genuine ‘Innovation Union’ by 2020, encompassing excellence in science, a revitalised and competitive industry, and a stronger, better society. As such, how the EU applies RRI principles will be a crucial element in achieving these ambitions. The three-year RES-AGORA project aimed to develop a comprehensive governance framework for RRI, and undertook three years of intensive empirical research. This included an extensive programme of in-depth case studies, literature analysis, country-level RRI monitoring, and five broad-based stakeholder workshops. Specifically, the workshops were carried out in what the project deemed its ‘co-construction method’ that supported participating actors in identifying, developing and implementing RRI measures according to their specific context and needs. The result of all of these initiatives was the creation of the ‘Responsibility Navigator’, a tool that facilitates debate, negotiation and constructive learning amongst multiple stakeholders involved in Europe’s research and innovation (R&I) efforts. The Responsibility Navigator will specifically support the identification, development and implementation of measures and procedures that can transform R&I in Europe in such a way that societal and ethical responsibility becomes inherently institutionalised. To achieve this, the project team devised 10 governance principles and requirements that underpin the Responsibility Navigator. The principles were then illustrated with fictive case studies depicting possible situations and governance challenges and dilemmas. The case studies were also complemented by relevant questions that stakeholders would have to ask themselves in order to adopt practices and actions compatible with RRI requirements. ‘When we began, we saw quickly that there are numerous governance instruments that already exist that encourage responsible practices within research and innovation,’ project coordinator Prof. Lindner explains. ‘So we decided to use what is already out there. By extensively analysing this existing governance landscape, we were able to learn from and understand better how stakeholders and institutions are already trying to instil a sense of responsibility into their R&I endeavours. Based on these insights we were able to devise and pull together our Ten Principles and bring the Responsibility Navigator to life.’ With the end of the project in January 2016, the RES-AGORA team now believes that it is important for RRI supporters to really develop a strong understanding about which institutional structures already exist for R&I and how they can be built upon or reformed in order to encourage the gradual institutionalisation of RRI principles. The Responsibility Navigator, with its emphasis on interaction, best practice sharing, and continuous learning will likely be a crucial tool in facilitating such a process. For more information please see: RES-AGORA project website



Related articles