Responsible Research and Innovation

Contributing to SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals)

The concept RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation) had significant EU policy relevance in the last years, in particular in the context of the Horizon 2020 Strategy and in the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Science in Society Programme. The concept RRI aims to better align science and innovation to societal needs and ethical acceptability through an inclusive and deliberative process of stakeholder involvement and public engagement. As ZSI has been involved for many years in science communication, participatory design, research and innovation policy development and evaluation, issues of gender and inequalities in S&T, and corporate social responsibility, we are also involved in dialogues around the concept of RRI.

ZSI participated in one of the RRI flagship projects supported by the European Commission - RRI Tools - and bases its work on the understanding developed in this project (RRI Tools Policy Brief):

RRI’s aim is to create a society in which research and innovation practices strive towards sustainable, ethically acceptable, and socially desirable outcomes; and RRI does so in such a way that the responsibility for our future is shared by all people and institutions affected by, and involved in, research and innovation practices.

We recognise that research and innovation practices themselves require modification, for instance, because they fail to address societal needs, leave open implementation gaps, or spur controversy. Apart of the RRI Tools (FP7-funded) project, which aimed to be an umbrella project, acting as a gateway to other projects and relevant initiatives, ZSI participates and participated in RRI-ICT ForumNewHoRRIzon, SMART-map and is highly active in the national dialogues, with representatives of different stakeholder groups (industry, science, education, policy maker, and civil society).

An Austrian platform on RRI, meant for exchanging of information and sharing of resources on RRI, has been set up in this regard, as well as an Austrian "Responsible Science Allianz" launched by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research, and Economy, which ZSI joined in August 2015.

The RRI Community of Practice is growing; also within ZSI. Our director, Klaus Schuch, and senior researcher, Katharina Handler, have been interviewed about the topic (in German) - the extensive interview can be read here, along with an article in the Austrian newspaper "Der Standard" here. Numerous employees in all three departments are directly active in the development within RRI-related projects.

Furthermore, ZSI is contact the node of the Social Innovation Europe Network, established by the Young Foundation. ZSI applies the Code of Ethics of the International Sociological Association (ISA) and the RESPECT Code of Practice for Socio-Economic Research. ZSI is also member of PCST - Public Communication of Science and Technology (

Almost all ZSI projects can be linked with RRI concepts, as they are usually open, transdisciplinary, following participatory designs, and supporting good governance in research and innovation. ZSI  ranks amongst Austria's most experienced scientific organisations dealing with science communication, participatory research, citizen science, open access, etc.

We define Responsible Research and Innovation as a mindset, and ZSI is contributing to its dissemination, measurement, and implementation across different user groups.

Ansprechperson: Dr. Margit Hofer

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