Thematic Areas

Responsible Research and Innovation

The Centre for Social Innovation is involved in the development of tools, their implementation and policy dialogues on RRI.

The concept RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation) has gained increasing EU policy relevance in the last five years, in the context of the Horizon 2020 Strategy, and, in particular, with 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 inequalities in S&T, and corporate social responsibility, we are also involved in dialogues around the concept of RRI.

ZSI participates 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. RRI Tools is an FP7-funded project, whose main objective is to develop and compile resources to enable all stakeholders to initiatiate their journey towards RRI, and to train stakeholders in the use of these tools. Furthermore, it aims to raise awareness on the new framing of research and innovation, as well as to disseminate the concept across the European Research Area. RRI Tools aims to be an umbrella project, acting as a gateway to other projects and relevant initiatives.

RRI-ICT Forum is another project on the European level in which ZSI is involved as partner. This H2020-funded initiative is monitoring, analysing, supporting, and promoting the contribution of Social Sciences and Humanities to ICT research and innovation, as well as the RRI approach therein.

ZSI is highly active in the national dialogues, with representatives of different stakeholder groups (industry, science, education, policy maker, and civil society).

Stakeholder consultation on RRI organised by ZSI in Vienna in 2014

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.

Contact person: Dr. Margit Hofer

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