Trends in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRITrends)

Responsible Research and Innovation is a transparent, interactive process by which societal actors and innovators become mutually responsive to each other with a view to the (ethical) acceptability, sustainability and societal desirability of the innovation process and its marketable products (in order to allow a proper embedding of scientific and technological advances in our society).

Von Schomberg, René (2013): A vision of responsible research and innovation. In: Owen, Richard; Bessant, John; Heintz, Maggy: Responsible Innovation. Managing the responsible emergence of science and innovation in society. London: Wiley, 51-74.

The RRITrends website is part of the Res-AGorA project. Res-AGorA aims to develop a normative and comprehensive governance framework for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI).

RRITrends provides an overview of current European developments in and experiences with RRI. It monitors recent activities in RRI in a number of European countries such as Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK. RRITrends provides statistical data, country reports and key documents on RRI in selected European countries.

RRITrends informs the interested public, stakeholders from research, industry, civil society, as well as policy makers at the European and national levels about recent developments in RRI and about instruments promoting RRI. RRITrends will be regularly updated to provide up-to-date information.

Selection of Countries for RRITrends

In order to achieve the overall objective of Res-AGorA to develop a governance framework for responsible research and innovation, the project studies different de facto governance situations. Res-AGorA applies an extensive programme of empirical research that involves case studies across different techno-scientific domains and governance situations. The specific contribution of RRITrends in this regard is a cross-country perspective with collection of comparable data on RRI across 16 European countries.

Previous studies, particularly the MASIS project on which RRITrends builds, have shown significant variation in national approaches to issues concerning the roles and responsibilities of science in society. The aim of RRITrends is to capture European heterogeneity in order to achieve as rich in understanding of RRI in Europe as possible. The selection of countries for RRITrends has been tailored to this end.

The choice of countries to include was based on development of an initial screening database, in which available secondary data from several sources were compiled. The main source was the MASIS database, which provided national-level information on citizen involvement in science, patterns of science communication, and use of science in policy-making. Eurostat and World Economic Forum data on innovation capacity, research intensity, and gender equality in science were also compiled. Finally, indicators of research excellence and interaction of public and private research institutions were added to the screening database. In total, 37 countries were included in the screening database which contained 20 specific indicators on issues related to research and innovation in society.

Based on cluster analyses (using selected indicators with minor data gaps and hence inclusion of as many countries as possible – 31 in total), countries were separated into six groups. Within each of these, countries shared similar characteristics – they were similar in terms of their observed values on the selected indicators. In order, then, to ensure that the RRITrends monitoring activities would be able to harvest broad and diverse examples of the governance of responsible research and innovation in national settings, the RRITrends countries were selected from across the six clusters.

Cluster 1 Cluster 2 Cluster 3 Cluster 4 Cluster 5 Cluster 6
Austria Bulgaria Ireland Cyprus Croatia Greece
Belgium Czech Republic Luxembourg Iceland Latvia Lithuania
Denmark Hungary Spain Poland Turkey
Estonia Macedonia Slovakia
Finland Romania
United Kindom

However, the seven countries represented in the Res-AGorA consortium were pre-selected for inclusion in RRITrends, along with Finland, which was also pre-selected due to collaboration with the sister project GREAT. An interesting observation was that these eight countries (marked in green in the table above) were all members of the same cluster out of the six emerging from the analysis. Their ‘science in society’ profiles were, in other words, quite similar, which emphasized the need for selecting the remaining eight countries from across the other clusters.

The eight additional countries (marked in red in the table above) were thus selected from across the other clusters, and the final list of countries included in RRITrends is presented here:

Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom