WBC-RRI.NET took part in ESOF2022

WBC-RRI.NET project took part in EuroScience Open Forum - the largest conference of its kind in Europe.

Sep 26, 2022

This year, the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) was held online and in Leiden, Netherlands in the period 13-16 July 2022. This edition of the ESOF marks the EuroScience 25th anniversary and the 10th Edition of the ESOF.

The overarching theme of ESOF2022 was “Crossing Borders, Engaged Science, Resilient Societies”. Over 120 sessions and more than 500 speakers from 60 countries, made this was a very interesting edition. ESOF2022 put the spotlight on seven thematic lines: Sustainable Environment, Cultural Identities and Transformation, Space for Science, Healthy Societies, Freedom and Responsibility of Science, Science and Business and Sustainable Academic Careers.

WBC-RRI.NET project’s part in the event

Our team had a chance to organise the virtual session SS3.11 Responsible Research and Innovation in the Western Balkans on 16.07.2022 where we introduced a series of RRI good practices and moderated a discussion. Chair of the session was our very own Adam Brandstetter-kunc (European Science Foundation), with other members of our consortium present on the panel discussion as well – our project coordinator prof. Goran Stojanovic (Univeristy of Novi Sad) and Elke Dall (Centre for Social Innovation).

The session explored the current state of play of RRI by highlighting good practices and success stories of the inclusion of the countries and their actors into the EU networks, and the steps the region takes to modernize its research and innovation systems and its economies in line with RRI pillars and dimensions.

Good practices

A serious of good practices that were identified within the framework of the activities of our project were presented during the session and follow up with a panel discussion on the state-of-play.

The first good practice was presented form Rudina Toto (Co-plan, Institute For Habitat Development) on the RRI practice focusing on Research Governance within the International PhD Program “Double Degree” of POLIS University in Albania and the University of Ferrara in Italy. This presentation addressed four aspects of Research Governance:

  • Transparent, Reglective, Future-oriented internal  and cross-university procedures
  • Participatory governance of research
  • On the ground research combined with citizen science and stakeholder engagement
  • CSO involvement – the cooperation with Co-PLAN & citizen science

Next was Biljana Kosanovic (University of Belgrade) who presented one of their practices UVIDOK – Prevention and Support Service for PhD. After facing with unfortunate high level plagiarism, the Universities are now obliged to make the PhD dissertation, prior to its defense, available to the public open in electronic form. University of Belgrade now installed dSpace repository (UviDok), where they currently have around 5600 PhD thesis in the last 8 years.

The third good practice was presented by Jana Prodanova (Macedonian Academy of Science and Art). She presented two activities that started in 2021 that show great potential to grow continuously in the future. The initiative STEM it like a girl! consists of interventions in elementary and secondary schools across North Macedonia with around 1000 young girls. The aim is to reduce the gap in education of young women and men, the professional segregation of women and the stereotypical division of “male” and “female” occupations. The second initiative OHRID Hi-Tech Excellence Camp focuses on modern and highly effective teaching and learning methods, consisting of both theoretical and practical sessions at medium or advanced coding and robotics levels.

Velibor Boskovic (Science and Technology Park of Montenegro) talked about the best practice for Responsible Research and Innovation in Montenegro especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Within the project “3DP Research and Innovation for Covid-19”, they invented a special bracelet printed with 3D technology with temperature-dependent PLA filament that changes color when the temperature of the carrier is higher. This product, which result was later published as a scientific paper in a scientific journal as well, made Montenegro recognizable in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Selka Sadikovic (STAR Center, University of Novi Sad) presented the citizen science project “Emotional reactions during Covid-19 lockdown”, where they carried out daily monitoring on the emotional and other aspects of well being during the 8 weeks of the state of emergency. They had real time day-by-day results presented on their platforms so people could monitor the differences in emotional reactions with tips how to cope with various stressors.

The next best practice was Gender Equality Plan at the University of Banja Luka, presented by Andjela Pepic (University of Banja Luka). With no analysis of the current state of affairs in terms of gender equality and no gender-disagregated data, UNIBL set up a team for GEP audit and development. They first drafted the Gender Equality Plan with specific actions under 6 domains: Institutional setting; Work-life balance and organizational culture; Gender balance in leadership and decision-making; Gender equality in recruitment and career progression; Integration of gender dimension into research and teaching content; Measures against gender-based violence including sexual harassment). After having internal and external reviews, the final Gender Equality Plan was published, which now  represents a starting point for continuous improvement and regular monitoring of gender equality at the University.

Milan Solaja (Vojvodina ICT Cluster) talked about The EDP process during development of Smart Specialisation strategy with the priority area of ICT. As this process must include Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP)  which main characteristic is a bottom-up approach, meaning that the stakeholders form all quadruple helix had to be involved to provide the widest possible network of stakeholders for ensuring top quality of the strategy. This proved to be excellent material to inspire people to get involved. The process started with creating a list of stakeholders that can provide value, then continued with ensuring declarations of commitment, forming focus groups with the stakeholders and implementation of workshops that enabled the compiling of very detailed final reports. As a further result, thanks to the involvement of all stakeholders, a comprehensive SWOT analysis of the Serbian ICT sector was created, which is of immense value for all stakeholders.

Renata Petrevska Nechkoska (University St. Kliment Ohridski Bitola North Macedonia And Ghent University Belgium) presented Co-dreamers in the academia diffusion experiment, a special voluntary clique of co-dreamers engaged to showcase how to co-create value. Inspired by the EUvsVirus phenomenon, disruptive hack/match/launchathon facilitated by the European Commission and Global Voluntary Capabilities inspired scientists, researchers and practitioners to be proactive, creative and engaged. Multidisciplinary academics and practicioners generated enough voluntary power to sustain an academia diffusion experiment emerging with open science and innovation capabilities and created applicable science on how to co-create value together, ecosystem building synergies and emergent effects.

Lastly, Katarina Kreceva (Fund for Innovation and Technology Development) presented the project The challenge for young researchers, which main objective is to provide young people with the opportunity to participate in project based learning complementary to formal education in order to equip students with problem solving skills. the project provides finances for teachers in schools to equip their laboratories and purchase materials for research and development, so they can build n sustainable infrastructure. The challenge also encourages girls to get involved in the research activities in STEM, empowering them to break the gender stereotypes and succeed in high-tech industries.

Panel discussion

The presentations of the good practices were followed by a panel discussion consisting of 4 panelists: Ingeborg Meijer (CWTS, Leiden University), Sinisa Marcic (Regional Cooperation Council), Esteban Pelayo (Alicante Science Park) and our project coordinator prof. Goran Stojanovic (University Of Novi Sad).

“Based on the presented examples and your own experience how you perceive the state-of-play for RRI in the Western Balkans and what would be next steps for the region to become more open and responsible?”

  • No ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to RRI and the way to do it – the best way is to be focusing on co-creating, getting and working together, engaging with stakeholders in order to get everything done. The main focus should be on how the idea should go beyond project work and into ownership of actions
  • Efforts should be focused on identifying what really works, doubling down on such initiatives and cutting less effective ones. In effect, the entire process should consist of series of experiments to allow for innovative approaches.
  • Linkages of RRI and S3. It is needed more good practices on governance and on citizens’ engagement to provide a lasting impact. Diverse state of regional development and the challenges in improving the governance for smart specialization
  • How the WBC-RRI.NET fit into progressing RRI in WB region – trying to give a new momentum of developing RRI aspect in the Western Balkan countries. The project should give results and outcomes in the RRI context for borderless WB countries and network of researchers in this area. There is a strong wish to continue the collaboration, to have sustainability and to have new joint projects.

“How to achieve the multiplier effect form the good practices presented and other initiatives to change actions into policies?”

  • The multiplier effect can be achieved if the regional ecosystems where quadruple helix partners are working together reach out to ‘fellow’ partners, working on the same topic. Likewise, the regional ecosystems could connect to what you could call ‘mirror regions’ working on the same topic.
  • First, by spreading the word and promoting examples of good practice as wide as possible.  People should be given a chance to learn about the concept and motivated by listening about successful examples. Second, through effective networking.
  • Emphasizing on the governance to provide lasting changes. Showcasing implementations as for example the good practice presented of the GEP that was finally approved by the Senate.
  • Follow-up project proposals based on some of the presented good practices or based on the results of the WBC-RRI.NET could be funded under WIDERA Horizon Europe.

The conclusions and recommendations were emphasized by Elke Dall (Centre for Social Innovation). The several highlights of how the region is building trust addressing important challenges are:

  • Freedom and Responsibility of Science. Building trust. Disinformation challenges
  • Dialogue between science and policy, science and business, science and society
  • Science Diplomacy. International relations in a context of enlargement, geopolitical and regional tensions, etc.
  • Underexploited potential. Engagement of quadruple helix. Opportunities in the ecosystem

Head over to our official YouTube channel to watch the presentations of the good practices.

For everyone with a curios mind who is interested to have a ‘taste of ESOF’ and watch all the great sessions that took place during the event, make sure to access the virtual platform!

For those who missed the short version of the ESOF2022 after movie and want to relieve the event, please have a look here.