RRI Social Lab for the food and bioeconomy area

A dedicated project to promote integration of RRI

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) emerged in the H2020 programming period as a more advanced “process for better aligning R&I [research & innovation] with the values, needs and expectations of society.” It entails a closer collaboration between all relevant stakeholders to develop a more inclusive research agenda, with a special focus on gender equality, open access of knowledge, and ethics.

In the European Framework, RRI has been designed comprising six key areas: public engagement; gender equality; science literacy and science education; open access; ethics; and governance. The RRI agenda, launched through H2020, seems likely to continue into the new programming period post 2020, in the 9th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Funded by the EC, NewHoRRIzon is a project that aims at further integrating Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the research and innovation systems on national and international levels. It started in 2017 to promote the acceptance of RRI in Horizon 2020 (H2020) and beyond, working out the conceptual and operational basis to fully integrate RRI into research and innovation practice and funding. The core of the project are the 19 social labs, spanning all H2020 programmes, that aims to identify opportunities to evaluate the status quo and suggest improvements to further the implementation of RRI. Workshops of the social labs bring together experts on RRI aspects and H2020 actors to brainstorm innovative ideas for operationalising RRI in the respective programming area. 

Social labs for responsible research

In March 2018, the task leader for NewHoRRIzon’s food social lab interviewed Christine Bunthof about RRI in bioeconomy ERA-NET actions, SCAR work, and in other joint programming activities in the food and bioeconomy area and invited her to participate in the social lab for the FOOD area (agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, and bio-based industries). The social lab follows a three-act structure.

Last year’s discussion kick-started ideas for pilot actions and activities to take place during the lifespan of the project. These preliminary RRI actions were:

  1. Increasing the role and participation of the general public in EU projects
  2. Developing guidelines for facilitating family life for those working in RI systems
  3. Developing ways to evaluate and reward research communication
  4. Developing a Europe-wide course on science education for PhD students
  5. Establishing a way to evaluate multi-actor approaches

In the second of three workshops to further develop these pilot actions, the sixteen participants of the FOOD Social Lab returned to beautiful Tromsø, Norway on 19 and 20 February 2019. During this second workshop, the ideas selected in the first workshop were further developed into concrete pilot actions that will be tested during 2019.

Pilot actions for 2019

  • Coordinators’ midterm reflection to evaluate multi-actor approaches in EU projects
  • Training module to raise awareness and reflect about the existence and implications of bias in our working environment (lab, office, department)
  • Concept development for transnational R&I call with focus on stakeholder engagement for ERA-NET Cofund SUSFOOD2 An interactive platform to map stakeholders and facilitate consortium-building.

After implementation, a third workshop of the FOOD social lab will seek to review lessons learned and ways to carry these initial actions forward to other settings.

Link to NewHoRRIzon project website

Link to policy brief of NewHoRRizon

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