Sharing experiences and learning from other RRI projects: Participating at the final conference of TeRRIfica and RRI2scale projects

Conveying some of the lessons presented and learned about the ways to embed Responsible Research and Innovation in other European regions.

Dec 12, 2022

In the following article, WBC-RRI.NET partners aim to convey some of the lessons presented and learned about the ways to embed Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in other European regions, from a perspective of the creation of smart and in particular also climate resilient regions. The projects RRI2scale and TeRRIfica came to Belgrade, Serbia on 23 November 2022 to share their experiences in their final conference.

In the afternoon of the event, the light was shed on WBC-RRI.NET. Our colleagues Anđela Pepić and Kejt Dhrami presented the project concept and achievements and highlighted possibilities of sharing in the session ‘Learning from each other: cross-regional cooperation in EU projects’ talking about the benefits of cross-regional cooperation in EU projects and the good practices that our project has mapped for example. While the Western Balkan region faces quite a few challenges, which they also transparently addressed in their intervention, our exercises (Mapping Western Balkan Territories’ R&I ecosystems, Inter- and Intra-regional Quadruple helix dialogue on the role of RRI in enhancing territorial R&I ecosystems in WBs, Reflection and Co-design of RRI “anchor” initiatives, Implementation of RRI “anchor” initiatives towards more efficient and inclusive R&I ecosystems, Sustainability and Policy Recommendations) resulted in some intermediary lessons they could share:

  • Engage with stakeholders early in the process, already from the mapping (participatory and in depth mapping).
  • Engagement of all quadruple helix actors can be difficult, but proves to be beneficial for the process and is essential for sustainability of outcomes
  • Enable actors to have the sense of ownership: providing the participants with information on the project and the upcoming co-design activities; organizing preliminary ‘focus groups’ and informative meetings, particularly with the regional actors and key ‘players’ in the region.
  • Engaging external partners (outside project consortium) in working groups related to RRI dimensions enhances the quality of the outcome of the processes (open events, activity development, etc.)
  • Co-design and co-creation!

Their presentation is available here and the recording of the event can be found on YouTube (the WBC-RRI.NET presentation starts at approx. 6:52:00). The event included possibilities to exchange and learn together with various European and regional stakeholders.

The keynote of the conference was delivered by Rene von Schomberg (philosopher, senior researcher and former policy officer at the European Commission) who spoke about the role of RRI for achieving sustainable European regions. He reflected on the use of deliberative democracy to address governance deficits in science and technology and the challenges of implementing ideas in projects. He considered different regulatory approaches to public goods (state vs. market regulation) and respective effects, advantages and disadvantages on individuals, society and environment. The innovative aspect of “responsibility” that allows quadruple helix actors to work together on the problem definition and how to learn from each other. As different paradigms of innovation are also predominately state- or market-oriented, he discussed the responsibility aspects therein – to operate with vision, ethics, foresight, morality, etc. and how to deliberatively drive innovation towards socially desired ends. Mission orientation, focus on challenges, outcomes and social desirability, public-private partnerships, collective co-responsibility and ethics are in his opinion the key for responsible innovation. He asked the audience to consider which type of innovation is desired to address e.g. climate change.

Norbert Steinhaus from Bonn Science Shop who coordinated TeRRIfica among a variety EU projects in the area discussed that the term “RRI” has less prominence in these years, but the concepts are (probably even more fruitfully) implemented as an aspect in current calls of Horizon Europe. In this project, geographical outreach in the region of South East Europe was rather wide as the partner CPN from Serbia was able to involve stakeholders and citizens widely in the development of Climate Change Adaptation Plans. Introducing some of the project’s success stories, he highlighted participation of city administration: authorities took up ideas from the project’s participation workshops for the development of new green areas. Scientists and stakeholders as well as citizens need a continuous cooperation from data collection (e.g. crowd mapped local data about climate hot spots) to implementation. Which results can be transferred? The open source crowd-mapping tool can be highlighted and for the Western Balkans the report on the state of the art of climate change adaptation and mitigation in South East / Central Europe prepared by the Serbian partners is particularly interesting.

The sister project RRI2SCALE, introduced by Monica Bezzi from APRE (Italy), is similarly addressing governance processes in research and innovation in regions who experience dilemma to support development and economic growth while at the same time focus on sustainability and inclusiveness. The work identified surprisingly big differences in the dynamics and culture of stakeholder consultation on R&I strategy development between the European regions involved, but good practices already existed as well with several cross-regional learning opportunities. She recommended the “Scenario Exploration System Method” developed by the JRC and tailored to the context and virtualised. Similar to the objectives of WBC-RRI.NET, one of the region also addressed the RRI aspect in Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3).

Complementarities and synergies between EU-funded project in similar areas, based on similar objectives but using different methods are addressed explicitly by Tjitske Holtrop who was involved in another project (called SUPER-MORRI) which brings together ten more projects in an “ecosystem” in relation to monitoring and evaluation. She also highlighted the diversity and difference between projects and the challenges of actually profiting of each other’s results.

The event on 23 November was followed by the conference “Open Science Communication” held at the same premises two days after, organised by the Serbian Center for the Promotion of Science. WBC-RRI.NET also exchanged experiences with a focus on using the methodology of “citizen science” in this event. More on that on our blog post on New Opportunities fir Citizen Science Initiatives.