RRI (responsible research and innovation) is an emerging governance approach for research and innovation aiming to anticipate impacts on the environment and society and assess alternatives in an early phase. It aims to align and respond to the values, needs, concerns and aspirations in society, and orient towards the global challenges of our time such as climate change, sustainable energy and food security.
In addition to taking elements of research ethics, transparency, gender equality and open science into account, RRI aims to address questions such as what problem is the technology aiming to solve? Are there alternatives to solve this problem? And What kind of society do we want? It thereby stimulates reflection on what kind of future is envisioned by different groups within society and whether a particular technological development actually contributes to this or not. To be able to understand and reveal these visions and different values, needs and aspirations in society, it places significant emphasis on collaboration with stakeholders (e.g. researchers, citizens, policy makers, business, third sector organisations). RRI thereby stresses the importance of public engagement and to have iterative, inclusive and participatory methodologies in all stages of the research and innovation process as well as in the formulation of policy.
Within the past years, RRI has particularly gained visibility and interest in an European policy context, which is reflected, among others, in high-level policies, strategies and guidelines for ‘Responsible (Research) and Innovation’, such as RRI as a ‘cross-cutting issue’ in the European research program Horizon 2020. More recently, RRI is taken up in the Norwegian context as well, as illustrated by the critical role it has gained in the ‘Digital Life’ initiative of the Norwegian research Council for biotechnological research and innovation, where all research is “underpinned by the principle and practice of Responsible Research and Innovation”.
RRI has gained much attention in both policy and academic spheres and much theoretical investigation on the concept has been – and is still being – done. The key characteristics are starting to sediment now and attention seems so shift from formulating a definition and a framework of RRI, to the implementation and enactment of RRI, as well as how to evaluate and assess the uptake of RRI. GenØk aims to investigate how to implement and enact RRI, and thereby contribute to develop RRI further as a governance approach.