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Structural Transformation to Attain Responsible BIOSciences

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - STARBIOS 2 (Structural Transformation to Attain Responsible BIOSciences)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2020-07-31

The loose connection between research and society could make European research unable to address the key development problems, unable to exploit its potential for innovation and competitiveness, and socially isolated. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is important, because it focuses on the subject of a stronger R&I, and even more relevant with respect to society. The sector of Biosciences is one of the most exposed to the mentioned risk, and therefore one where RRI-oriented actions are needed the most. STARBIOS2 aims to cope with this risk, by promoting the increasing alignment of European research with the needs and values of society, and a greater involvement of stakeholders.
The project has the three following main focuses/objectives.
1) Develop RRI-oriented structural change processes, by designing, implementing and evaluating 6 RRI Action Plans (APs) in research institutions from Europe (in Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, United Kingdom), and developing 3 further APs in non-European entities (in Brazil, South Africa, United States), all active in the field of biosciences. 5 RRI keys are considered: Public Engagement; Gender; Education; Open access; Ethics.
2) Develop a learning process on RRI-oriented structural change, based on implementation of APs. The following issues are considered: resistances and barriers to RRI; key factors favoring or supporting RRI; strategic options and RRI-oriented tools. This learning process is a way for better understanding and capitalizing the main results emerging from the APs for communicating, disseminating the policy of the structural change for RRI and also for scaling up. The outputs of the learning process will result in the development of a set of guidelines on RRI implementation, aimed at providing recommendations on how to deal with resistances to RRI in research institutions.
3) Develop a sustainable model for RRI in biosciences. STARBIOS2 is envisioned as a unique opportunity to strengthen a critical analysis of contents, implications, critical aspects, possible strategies and future perspectives for RRI policies in biosciences. The model would provide the staff and leaders of Biosciences Departments and Divisions with further and better formalized orientations and practical knowledge about the key issues related to the implementation of RRI and how they can be encompassed.
The work performed and the main results are summarized as follows.

Objective 1 - Attain RRI structural change in six European institutions active in the field of biosciences through the implementation of the Action Plans
Status: The six Action Plans have completed their work, and all management, support and advisory structures have been worked on a regular base. The third reporting period was characterized as a whole by the effort to consolidate the results of the Action Plans and to produce Sustainability Plans.
• Main milestones: See below

Objective 2 - Learning Process
Status: The work in WP8 and WP9 was completed. A specific approach for mutual learning has been implemented and periodically reviewed during the Steering Committee Meetings held in the reporting period.
• Main milestones: See below

Objective 3 - RRI model for biosciences
Status: The work was completed, based on activities of WP8 and WP9 (see above). The Model, and the related Guidelines, was elaborated, reviewed, finalized and published in the form of a single volume (print and online), involving the STARBIOS2 partners, International Scientific Advisory Committee and a set of external reviewers. The Strategic Document was approved by the partners, and published online. These documents have been presented and discussed during the STARBIOS2 final event. The Model/Guidelines was also the object of some webinars and, as the other main results, has been circulated through numerous dissemination activities (website, social media, networking activities with other H2020 projects or other international projects and bodies, dissemination of individual partners in the various national realities).
• Main milestones:
-MS5 – Approval of the first version of guidelines on RRI implementation by the Partners
-MS6 – Discussion among the partners about the main characteristics of the model to be implemented for implementing RRI in biosciences structure
-MS7 – Program of the final event approved
-MS8 – Approval of the strategic document for a sustainable RRI Model for Biosciences
The expected impacts can be articulated as follows:
a) Producing “tangible and measurable results in terms of organisational process and structures” and improving “the uptake of Responsible Research and Innovation in research organisations, as the Plans will continue to be implemented in the medium / long term”;
b) In the medium term, making institutional change “scalable to research institutions across EU 28 and Associated countries, thus contributing towards European Research Area (ERA) objectives”.
c) In the long term, increasing “research institutions' ability to generate innovation that reflects societal needs”.
As for a), structural change is a complex process, that has to be represented appropriately by using a variety of indicators. We are able, first, to list the impacts that the Action Plans would have produced if effectively implemented and if the desired outputs would have produced by the end of the project. We also listed some indicators that lead us to assume that those outputs consist of changes that are likely to last over the time:
- Recognition of the fact that pro-RRI changes occurred and/or are being introduced;
- Consensus towards the pro-RRI changes introduced by the Action Plans;
- The existence of pro-RRI normative changes (e.g. in the legal framework);
- The existence of pro-RRI policies;
- The presence of groups (or outstanding individuals) oriented to implement RRI activities.

Therefore, the desired impacts could be represented not only by a set of events and facts whose occurrence will happen after the project, but also events can occur during the life span of the project that will allow us think that these changes from the Action Plans are durable (irreversible).
Considering the information contained in the individual Action Plan reports during this third reporting period (WPs 2 to 7, and also WP8 and WP10), these indicators are particularly effective in describing the changes that have taken place, which are producing significant impacts, and in several cases they have already produced meaningful impacts (for instance, see the list of institutional changes, delivered separately).

Impact b) will be reached thanks to results and products that could be used for making the Action Plans achievements scalable across Europe, through the production and dissemination of the Guidelines for the RRI implementation and the RRI Model for Bioscience (assembled in a single text) (see WP9 and WP11). This impact was started to be achieved in the final phase of the project, and will be produced even beyond its end.

As for c) STARBIOS2 has contributed to the production of such impact due to the fact that orientation to RRI will be maintained beyond the conclusion of the Action Plans. Key to the creation of this impact was the definition and implementation of Sustainability Plans (see WPs 2 to 7). Such plans, produced in the final phase of the project, benefited additionally from an internal use of the Guidelines including the RRI Model for Bioscience.
Steering Committee Meeting - Oxford 2017
Steering Committee Meeting - Bremen 2017
Kick-off Meeting - Rome
Steering Committee Meeting - Sofia 2018
AAAS Conference 2019 - Washington
STARBIOS2 website
Steering Committee Meeting - Portoroz 2019
Steering Committee Meeting - Gdansk 2018
Steering Committee Meeting and UNESCO Workshop - Paris 2019