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Overview of the project

There is wide agreement that responsible research and innovation is desirable, especially in the wake of the ongoing financial crisis precipitated by the 2007/08 economic crash. Responsibility for innovative practices, of actors involved in innovation and between innovators, policymakers and the wider public are all facets of this broad desire. Responsibility forms a central part of participative research and innovation governance. It can increase the legitimacy of findings and heighten public awareness and discourse as well as making sustainable economic benefits. As a consequence there are numerous attempts to stimulate reflection upon and research into responsible practices and to embed the concepts in research and innovation governance.


Despite the many activities to stimulate and implement responsible research and innovation, there is currently no agreement on how to evaluate what it means. This is partly caused by conceptual problems, as key terms are contested. There is disagreement on what counts as responsibility, on the role and definition of the actors involved and on the way in which governance can promote, foster or judge the presence of responsibility in research and innovation practice. The theoretical benefits and disadvantages of responsible research and innovation are disputed and there is a lack of empirical evidence of the effect of the integration of responsible practices here. Briefly, there is currently no mechanism or procedure that will allow for evidence-based planning, implementing and evaluating responsible research and innovation.


The GREAT project addresses the call of SiS.2012.1.1.1-1: Governance frameworks for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), Area Relationships between science, democracy and law, Activity 5.1.1. Better understanding of the place of science and technology (S&T) in society, Action Line 1: A more dynamic governance of the science and society relationship

The GREAT project will develop an empirically based and theoretically sound model of the role of responsible research and innovation governance. The project will explore the dynamics of participation in research and innovation, and investigate the characteristics of responsible practices. It will investigate the nature of new partnerships among various stakeholders, researchers and policymakers that are developing within innovation networks and the influence that these developments have on knowledge production and policy. This will be done by:

  • determining the characteristics of research and innovation
  • involving diverse groupings and
  • determining the social processes involved in responsible research and innovation practices.

In doing so, the GREAT project will address all three issues requested in the call:

  • It will explore the knowledge and research potential of multi-stakeholder approaches in research;
  • it will investigate how responsible innovation is involved in research processes and
  • it will use this knowledge to inform policy makers on how to integrate responsible innovation in further research activities.


The GREAT project will investigate current practices in responsible research and innovation and develop a sound theoretical approach to analyse, compare, evaluate and improve these practices. Every other approach to RRI involves taking a position and working out the consequences of that prior decision, regardless of emergent conditions. GREAT’s novelty lies in not being tied to a predetermined approach, but to developing a procedure adaptable to novel scenarios. Based on a grid of analysis, the project will identify collaborative arrangements involving both, responsible research and innovation, and analyse them to identify and understand the characteristics, influencing factors and best practice of responsible research and innovation in a normative way, permitting planning, implementation and assessment of RRI in novel and unforeseen circumstances.

GREAT will do a survey on particular CIP projects of the Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme projects and choose some examples for in-depth case studies guided by previous GREAT partners’ contacts from ETICA and EGAIS in the pool of these projects.

To gain a detailed understanding of various means of responsible research and innovation, the analysis of practices in the CIP projects will provide practical examples and references for researchers to analyse and develop critical insights into responsible research and innovation.

In addition GREAT will test and develop the approach continuously with ongoing projects to assure that (theoretical) development of any framework is attached closely to the current landscape of research and development practice. Presumably, a single model that would fit for all kinds of research and innovation activity is not possible to achieve. For this reason a ‘reality check’ can be offered by partners’ own various technology development projects as a test-bed for framework.

Starting from the grid of analysis, a model of responsible research and innovation will be developed from structured analysis of a pool of case studies. This model will represent the relationships and causal effects of factors influencing responsible research and innovation. It will allow for comparative analysis of crucial success factors of responsible research and innovation. Such factors will include characteristics of responsible researchers, the aims of employing ‘responsibility’ as a modus operandi in innovative research practice (and that research aimed at producing innovative outcomes), the nature of the research or the governance structure of the project. The model will be developed in constant iteration of theoretical and empirical findings to avoid the development of blind spots in research design or theoretical framing. Survey and case studies will be used to develop it and it will be validated using independent evaluators and cases. No such model currently exists which renders it difficult to plan, implement and evaluate responsible research and innovation. The GREAT consortium is uniquely placed to create the model because of its theoretical and empirical experience of participative approaches and its involvement in the development of similar models in other domains (e.g. ethical governance of emerging technologies in the ETICA and EGAIS projects) and its close affinity to end users of the model (e.g. research organisations, CSOs, research and innovation policy makers).

As a proof-of-concept for the grid of analysis and the developed conceptual model, an agent-based model (ABM) developed in a tender study for DG INFSO (INFSO-SKIN) will be adopted to implement the findings. INFSO-SKIN is a tool for ex-ante evaluation of research and innovation networks (it simulates scenarios for collaborative research and innovation networks under various policy conditions using real-world-data). The ABM will be extended by the categories suggested in GREAT, e.g. implementing civil society agents, implementing certain preferences and needs of stakeholders etc.

Contact us

images.jpeg Contact us:

Dr. R. Gianni 


This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement n°321480

Info Box

Project type:
Collaborative project

Work program topics addressed:
SiS.2012.1.1.1-1: Governance frameworks for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

Start date:
February 2013
End date:
Feburary 2016


Dr. Robert Gianni

P. Goujon

Project Officer:
Giuseppe Borsalino

Budget :
€ 1 780 570