#ResponsibleRegions dialogue – Can we measure the “wellbeing” of Regional Innovation Systems with the dimensions of RRI and the MoRRI indicators?

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8th dialogue of #ResponsibleRegions dialogue – Can we measure the “wellbeing” of Regional Innovation Systems with the dimensions of RRI and the MoRRI indicators?

TeRRItoria’s eighth #ResponsibleRegions dialogue was held on the 24th of June 2021. The topic for this instalment was the measurement of Regional Innovation Systems’ wellbeing using the dimensions of RRI and the MoRRI indicators. Academics and experts in economic development discussed the implementation of RRI in practice with Lisbet Frey, Project Manager at the Council of the Tampere Region in Finland.

Lisbet Frey presented the thinking process of the development of a plan in Tampere Region to consider the fact that future generations are going to live in the region, and to answer this important question: how is it possible to build a better future for them?

Lisbet started by presenting her region, which has a strong industrial heritage, is full of heritage and potential for the future as it is one of the most rapidly growing regions in the country. When the Council started interrogating itself on the way to build the future of the region, they found out about the book Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth, which led them to their current thinking process.

They started off their “transition” by evaluating and measuring their current situation through a doughnut that was based on Finland’s situation as a whole, considering factors such as CO2 emissions, water use, ecological and material footprints as biosphere wellness indicators. Society wellness indicators, on the other hand, include Life Satisfaction, Education, Employment, Income and more. The whole idea of this doughnut is to find yourself inside the doughnut, completing society’s wellness needs while not going over the biosphere limits that would make the balance unsustainable. With this model in mind, it was decided that Tampere’s regional plan should go more in depth and reflect special regional values and characters.

The base that is now used in Tampere’s doughnut is the University of Leeds model that gives specific measurements for both ecological indicators and boundaries, and social indicators and thresholds. Still, they decided to change and adapt certain things that did not apply to their own region, as well as being more ambitious. They also decided to use Cornwall’s Doughnut Model, that has decided to mix the doughnut with Sustainable Development Goals and make it their own.

Tampere decided to add “glazing” on the doughnut, by trying to enhance it through the use of RRI models on top of the “plain doughnut”. This allowed them to model their “enhanced Doughnut-model” with, at its core, social wellbeing which exists sustainably within the limits of the crust, within the limits of the planetary boundaries. On top of that is the “RRI glaze”, which measures the wellbeing of the Regional Innovation System through the RRI dimensions.

Lisbet then presented the possible use of a sunburst diagram to measure the different levels of importance and the scope of the RRI dimensions in the RIS. This makes it possible to measure against national and European averages, by using the MoRRI indicators developed in the Super MoRRI project.

To conclude, our main speaker for this dialogue insisted that standing on the scale is not enough, nor is measuring the situation; they should be the start point leading to concrete actions. Therefore, Tampere is now searching for answers to different questions, such as:

  • Could RRI-dimensions really measure the wellbeing of RIS?
  • Would “layering” responsibility with sustainability be the correct way forward?
  • Could this way of looking at things support the transition from S3 to S4+?
  • How could they find the correct (MoRRI) indicators to match this quest? What about actual data? Should it be national or international?
  • What would be the correct RRI “thresholds” to measure against?

This is why Lisbet is now calling on economic development academics and practitioners to work on this question with the Council of Tampere Region in order to develop a way to act on the wellbeing of Regional Innovation Systems in Tampere and in their own territories.

Following the presentation, the interventions of our two panellists allowed for interesting exchanges. Mme Ingeborg Meijer, Senior Researcher at Centre for Science and Technology Studies, and Petros Podaras, Director of the Innovation Centre of the Attica Region (ICAR) exchanged on their own experiences of S3, sustainability and Regional Innovation Systems.

First, Ingeborg Meijer talked about the difficulties of finding information and being sure of it when using it. This is why SuperMoRRI, a project she is working on, came up with two concepts: first, “credible contextualisation” as you cannot apply global indicators without knowing the local context, and looking at the context is premium. And second the concept of “responsible quantification”, as you need to be aware of the quantification you bring in to not turn it into a horse race.

Then Mr Podaras talked about the importance of not mixing Regional Innovation Systems and Strategies, which are two very different things. He then went on to talk about the potential opposition between the doughnut, RRI and S3. RRI and S3 being bottom-up and place-based actions, it can be difficult to combine them with the Doughnut model, which is made up of top-down instructions to keep the region into its boundaries.

These two interventions led to an interesting discussion between attendees that concluded on the importance of this “change strategy” coming from inside the ecosystem, making it more effective and efficient. And on the dangers of trying to use it in territories that do not have a good governance in it.

Finally, Esteban Pelayo, the Director of EURADA presented the audience some interesting opportunities for the RRI community which may be found here.

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