Including RRI in S3. Update from Emilia Romagna

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Including RRI in S3. Update from Emilia Romagna

Public engagement strategy in Emilia Romagna

Through the use of Public Engagement and Science Education, together with an inclusive governance dimension, the Regional Development Agency of Emilia-Romagna region, ART-ER, expects to develop a methodology to include RRI dimensions in the implementation of its regional Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) for 2021-2027.

The Emilia-Romagna Region has been awarded technical assistance by the OECD on Public Engagement. This award was distributed by the European Commission through the “Call for expression of interest for managing authorities and intermediate bodies to participate in a pilot action on engaging citizens in the implementation of cohesion policy”. The European Commission and the OECD kicked off the first pilot project to stimulate genuine and meaningful citizen engagement in implementing cohesion projects on the ground. As part of this collaboration, authorities managing EU funds will receive top class expertise and tailored assistance in setting up new initiatives to involve citizens and promote transparency and accountability. 

Public Engagement will allow ART-ER to engage actors other than clusters, universities, and industry in defining regional priorities and governance. ART-ER will co-design and test a participatory process that allows the opening up of the S3 (all phases from design to monitoring) to stakeholders and organisations from civil society and non-profit sector. On the other hand, Science Education will provide new frameworks and tools to involve more and more technical schools, formal and non-formal training institutions, and organisations dealing with citizen science to enhance training policies within the S3.

The co-design phase of the transformative experiment

As part of the work on TeRRItoria, a co-design phase has been carried out. This was done in order to inform the design of the 5 transformative experiments through a co-creation process aimed at involving all principal actors active in the selected five territories. For each region, a series of activities has been done: at least 3 preparatory bilateral meetings were organised with local stakeholders; one writeshop involving all the main actors from the territorial milieu was organised in order to lead to participatory design of the experiment; on the basis of the writeshop results, a draft version of the Transformative Experiment was produced.  

Thanks to this co-design phase, ART-ER have a better definition of the objectives and focus of their experiment. Moreover, the Regional Development Agency of Emilia Romagna is now more focused on Public Engagement and Science Education when it comes to aspects of the S3 implementation phase (the call for proposals), rather than in the definition of S3 priorities. From this co-design phase it emerged that the relevant importance of the establishment of an inclusive Quadruple Helix S3 governance model should be a new priority.

ART-ER, not only improved the definition and the objectives of its experiment, but also the expected results. Civil society should be heavily involved during the implementation phase of the project. In addition, the civil society actors who deal with science education issues should be involved in several small focus groups. The involvement of territorial organisations that deal with social issue are also needed in order to define the public engagement processes so as to make R&I ecosystems more pro-active in answering local needs.

The concluding event of their co-design was held on the 25th of September 2020. ART-ER, together with Fondazione Giannino Bassetti, Fondazione Adriano Olivetti and CISE-Camera di Commercio della Romagna co-organised an event to discuss RRI and the Quadruple Helix model of innovation in a European context with focus on the Italian environment. The main idea was to gather perspectives and suggestions from different European projects on how to deal with RRI in the framework of regional strategies.

The first intervention by Fondazione Olivetti on Quadruple Helix approach was related to RiConfigure, a project which focuses on the Social Lab method to involve different stakeholders in strategy development. The importance of a Quadruple Helix approach in defining research and innovation strategies was highlighted. The second intervention by Fondazione Bassetti showed the first results from the project TRANSFORM, and in particular the main findings from the research phase related to three different approaches: 1) participatory research agenda setting (region of Lombardy), 2) design for social innovation (Brussels region) and 3) citizen science (Catalonia). The third presentation, by CISE, saw the audience talk about tools and instruments to engage enterprises in RRI dimensions and keys, with a view of an innovation center which decided to set up an internal unit on responsible innovation. Then, the results of Interreg projects ROSIE and MARIE were shared. Last, the intervention by Ms. Morena Diazzi, head of the Emilia-Romagna region Directorate General for Knowledge Economy, Work, and Enterprise, allowed the audience a look at the Emilia-Romagna Smart Specialisation Strategy, which will include RRI as a strategic approach to deal with territorial innovation, and social innovation as a transversal topic to invest in. The transformative experiment of Emilia Romagna will formally start in mid-October with an open consultation process guided by an external advisor. Before the end of the year, a draft of the paper will be issued and discussed, both with stakeholders and through the EROI open innovation on-line community.

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