Institutional changes for Responsible Research and Innovation

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Institutional changes for Responsible Research and Innovation

The TeRRItoria final conference on Regional Research and Innovation (RRI) Institutional Changes for Improved Regional Governancehosted a second session on January 20, 2022 dedicated to the topic of Institutional Changes for Responsible Research and Innovation.

Moderator George Eleftherakis from SEERC presented a series of recommendations emerging from the TeRRItoria project with panelists supplementing these points by providing their first-hand experiences with them.

The first set of policy recommendations focused on the design-phase of regional innovation policies and Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3). Kristian Mancinone from ART-ER shared his experience with this in the Emilia Romagna region’s use of a challenge-based approach through which they included civil society organisations and citizens in the first part of shaping the S3, which was the basis for the R&I agenda to be designed by the government in the coming months. The adoption of Online consultations and collaboration using a Regional Open Innovation Platform (ROIP) in Emilia Romagno showed how principles of RRI were very useful to design steps of the strategy in terms of implementation, getting grants, and thematic priorities, and overall served as a good tool to get feedback and engage others.

From the Region of Central Macedonia, Kallitsa Pantazi shared their experience of seeking out representation across the quadruple helix, which required intentional effort on their part to ensure there was representation from different fields. To engage target stakeholders early and ensure follow-up communication, they designed a two-way process that provided space for participants to feel a part of the process and continue to contribute their comments or ask questions even after meetings ended.

Daniele Mezzana of Knowledge and Innovation, expert partners supporting the Emilia Romagna region discussed how the tool of organizational mapping is an important form of knowledge management that uses knowledge stored in different archives and sources and adds value by increasing capacity to identify suitable actors, including non-traditional actors, such as religious communities and professional associations.

In the industrial municipality of Gabrovo, two of the biggest challenges in the past were insufficient engagement with the public, and weak cooperation between universities and companies, according to Desislava Koleva. Through this pilot project and the recognition that design processes of regional R&I polcies should be open and transparent to the public, the region was able to start overcoming these challenges.

The recommendations for integrating the RRI principles and dimensions into implementation stage were divided into four themes: anticipation, inclusiveness, reflexivity, and responsiveness.

Kristian Mancinone discussed how in the Emilia Romagno region, they enhanced anticipation using foresight exercises on the thematic priority of health and well-being and involved stakeholders to co-create a grand mechanism to solve this challenge in conjunction with territorial partners and research labs. They discovered that in order to anticipate the future, they needed to change the relations amongst territorial actors and involve more citizen organizations.

To create inclusiveness in the Central Region of Macedonia, Kallitsa Pantazi discussed how they are promoting the inclusion of equality principles in RIS3 by including a theoretical section, a declaration of principles, and the consideration of gender equality principles throughout the strategy. In the region of Gabrovo, conducting a citizen survey on territorial development an ensuring all major stakeholders were represented in a focus group for the development of S3, helped prevent potential conflicts that often arise.

A recommendation to foster the reflexivity of S3 and regional innovation policies, states that “‘self-analysis’ and ‘self-criticism’ should always be made while designing and implementing such policies” and should be received at all times with a receptive-to-change attitude. The final recommendation for the implementation phase is on responsiveness, including the ability to adapt and re-adjust in response to new policies, priorities, and pressures, with Desislava Koleva noting that regional specificity should be implemented in all policies at the regional level.

At the monitoring and evaluation stage, the recommendations suggest that principles of social responsibility can be integrated into the S3 impact assessment, and that evaluation criteria for R&I projects could also assess the impact specifically related to RRI keys.

The suggestions proposed include recognizing that regional size matters – therefore urban and rural areas will always follow different paths, and their unique differences and features should be considered when developing RRI driven regional policies, and that regions should be prepared for effects and changes of regional structures or political shifts on regional policies.

In terms of enhancing sustainability of RRI-driven policies, it is a prequestite to find an actor to ‘anchor’ the results, and it is important to recognize that funding can enhance ‘results’ sustainability, thus it may be beneficial to look for or include alternative funding sources, such as public-private partnerships.

The roundtable portion of the session was opened by Zoya Damianova, Programme Director of the ARC Fund, who shared her experience as Coordinator of the RRI Leaders project, which found that the situation across different regions engaging in RRI regions is very diverse and their policy focus areas cover a range of topics. When it comes to mapping different experiences of stakeholder groups, research and academia best know and can apply the RRI framework.

Manuel Paris from GAIN discussed how the need to elaborate an S3 strategy was initially a challenge for the public administration and stakeholders, as there wasn’t a culture in co-design and collaboration, however this culture developed through the introduction of RRI principles in several ways across the region. When it comes to implementing RRI at the regional or local level, Manuel suggests that is dependent on what dimension is being looked at, as it is easier to involve stakeholders at the local level because the impact is immediate and the consequences easier to see, whereas with ethical issues it is often easier at the regional level to have rules to follow.

Marianne Hörlesberger, from the Austrian Institute of Technology and DigiTeRRI project discussed how they worked to co-create with stakeholders on goals, the future, and action plans by applying a forward-looking methodology and road-mapping.

By developing futures together with all affected stakeholders, they are also able to address gender, ethics, openness, and transparency. She suggests that some of the main barriers to implementing RRI at the regional level include: different cultures across different regions, lack of engineers, and the extent to which a region’s democracy is developed.

Daniele Mezaana suggests that territorial RRI is an approach under construction, and when RRI is applied to the dynamics of the territory, an effort must be made to adapt it into the different contexts. He proposed that a policy of territory making involving RRI must have two components: territorial orientation (desire of change in the territory) and governance frameworks (concrete methods for territory making).

This session not only provided the policy recommendations and suggestions for implementing RRI in regional innovation policies and S3, it also featured valuable experiences, insights, and knowledge shared by actors and regions involved in the TeRRItoria project. RRI has the potential to be transformative at the regional level, however further development is needed to apply it to address some global challenges facing regions today, and further work is needed to educate and communicate the principles of RRI with citizens, to fully engage them in the work. The policy recommendations that emerged from the TeRRItoria project will serve as its major outcome and will be widely promoted to provide knowledge on and encourage the use of RRI in territorial development.

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