CORDIS - EU research results

PROmoting Global REsponsible research and Social and Scientific innovation

Final Report Summary - PROGRESS (PROmoting Global REsponsible research and Social and Scientific innovation)

Executive Summary:
PROmoting Global REsponsible research and Social and Scientific innovation (ProGReSS) linked existing international networks of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) with relevant societal actors on a global scale to analyse international efforts of focusing innovation on societal challenges and to promote the European concept of RRI globally.

ProGReSS (a co-ordination and support action) had partners in the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy (first 14 months), Australia, the US, China and India. Advisors were from the UNESCO, the Wellcome Trust, the Dutch "Responsible Innovation" program, the World Health Organization, the University of the Philippines in Manila, the European Patent Office and the University of Hokkaido.

The project was selected as a success story in EU and Africa collaboration in science, technology and innovation (

The ProGReSS project raised awareness about RRI globally through an effective and coherent multi-channel dissemination platform, advocated for a more inclusive and societally desirable form of responsible research and innovation; led debates on all continents to integrate RRI with other governance frameworks involving policy makers, academics, Industry, Civil Society and NGOs representing vulnerable and marginalised people; engaged with younger generations through a short story competition and highlighted examples of successful inclusive innovation where the role of marginalised populations as contributors to and beneficiaries of innovation was emphasized.

Project Context and Objectives:
Europe 2020 , the European Union's key strategy for the current decade, aims to foster a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. Innovation is a key element of the strategy in order to tackle major societal challenges. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) –is research and innovation which is ethically acceptable, sustainable and drives towards the common good, i.e. societal desirability.

The ProGReSS group moved RRI debates from the national or regional to the global level to achieve the following objectives:

1. Link existing international networks of RRI with relevant societal actors on a global scale to focus innovation on societal desirability.

2. Complete a major fact-finding mission comparing science funding strategies and innovation policies in Europe, the US, China, Japan, India, Australia, and South Africa.

3. Advocate a European normative model for RRI globally, using constitutional values as a driver to inform societal desirability.

4. Develop a strategy for fostering the convergence of regional innovation systems at the global level.

Project Results:
The following provides the main results:

A major fact-finding mission comparing science funding strategies and innovation policies in Europe, the US, China, Japan, India, Australia, and South Africa came to the following conclusions:

(a) to avoid eurocentrism, global discussions of RRI should make prominent reference to “inclusive innovation” in the future, a governance framework designed to reduce extreme poverty and unsustainable inequality in countries such as China, India and South Africa;

(b) the vocabulary of Grand Challenges is suitable for a global dialogue on RRI;

(c) responsible innovation linked to the Grand Challenges can open new market opportunities and ensure profitability;

(d) RRI is not established to a great extent at any funding organisation analysed, except at the level of compliance with ethical acceptability and sustainability;

(e) in inclusive innovation, it is important to promote longer-term as opposed to short-term relationships between partners (e.g. industry, marginalised end-users) to sustain trust in co-operations and

(f) an inherent tension is a challenge in European-style RRI; namely the tension between striving to create a more just and inclusive society and promoting European economic competitiveness.

Three peer-reviewed international journal publications were published during the life-time of the project, and eight papers are still in the peer-review process (most of which have now been accepted subject to revisions). The papers that are already in print are entitled: (1) "Broader impacts" or "responsible research and innovation"? A comparison of two criteria for funding research in science and engineering. (2) Towards principled Responsible Research and Innovation: employing the Difference Principle in funding decisions. (3) Agriculture Technology Choices and the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Framework: Emerging Experiences from China and India;

Our website, which includes social media (Twitter, YouTube) has been actively used by stakeholders around the world, see dissemination report.

A short project documentary produced in South Africa was selected by SciDevNet for inclusion on their website to promote the topic of indigenous knowledge and innovation (

Potential Impact:
Main impacts of the project:

1. We raised awareness amongst academics, policy advisors, policy makers and funders in China, India, the US, Australia, South Africa and Japan about European-style RRI, including the Science with and for Society Unit’s definition of RRI and their six RRI actions points.

2. Amongst European audiences we raised the awareness of the concept of "inclusive innovation". This awareness raising is essential if RRI is to have any global appeal. Whilst it is difficult to predict cause and effect, the Science with and for Society unit has since added “inclusion/social justice” as a potential 7th RRI action point.

3. We promoted and published about the claim that grand challenges of humankind should play a greater role in guiding funding decisions.

4. We created considerable awareness of RRI amongst a marginalized community in the Kalahari through the involvement of a local NGO. As a direct result of this collaboration, a large South African government grant was obtained by the NGO and ProGReSS was selected as a success story in EU and Africa collaboration in science, technology and innovation.

5. We disseminated good practice from 10 years of experience of end user engagement in university research, as the Co-ordinator's university is leading work in Europe on this topic.

6. 11 academic journal articles, many of which were written by multi-disciplinary teams, engaged with highly original topics, namely what European-style RRI could mean for China, South Africa, India, Australia and the US.

7. All relevant outputs from the ProGReSS project were made available through the Responsibility Observatory to ensure their longer term impact.

8. Remaining research and support action activities and potential collaborations were identified (e.g. promoting and developing further Res Agora’s “Responsibility Navigator” by analysing how its concept of inclusion might be suitable for global use).

List of Websites: