Engaging industry – Champions for RRI in Industrial Sectors

There is already experience with RRI issues in industry, for example in connection with Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies. Now that other domains are drawing public attention (e.g. synthetic biology, geo-engineering), the challenge is to take stock, drawing also on existing analyses, and to progress further in integrating RRI in industrial contexts.

Earlier and present activities initiated and carried by RRI 'champions' in industrial sectors can be a starting point. The early Responsible Care Programme of the chemical industry and various attempts at codes of conduct for Nano science and Nanotechnologies are quite well-known examples, as are various initiatives referring to sustainability, but one should not overlook smaller and less visible examples. There are also broad-brush initiatives related to social responsibility of organizations and sustainability (e.g. Vision 2050[1]) and which want to pay attention, explicitly or implicitly, to RRI (e.g. EIRMA Task Force on Responsible Innovation). There are the activities which go further than Corporate Social Responsibility, because they are linked to technological innovations.

There are various motives and drivers in these developments, including the importance of having or keeping a social licence to operate, i.e. an acceptance from various stakeholders and communities as a prerequisite to operations. Nevertheless, because of the variety of values and societal convictions, there will be no consensus about who or what is going to count as ‘responsible’. This constitutes a structural problem, not only because of essential contestations in our societies, but also because what is 'responsible' can be interpreted differently by different actors, while each of them wants to use it to describe how he is doing the right thing. The narrative of ‘inclusion’ compounds this problem.


Two considerations are important within the scope of this topic. First, the narrative of ‘inclusion’, also implicitly in the way terms like ‘inclusive’ are used, suggests that more actors and more inputs should be included in the work of traditional organisations. These organisations might feel beleaguered, and be reluctant. Proposals to do better often start with suggestions on how to create more access for societal actors to the ‘beleaguered’ organisations, which reinforces the storyline. Second, to reduce the effect of mutual suspicions about intentions, the proposals should create (and be themselves) a space guided by actors (or a combination of actors) who would themselves be above the struggles of suspicion and the deadlocks these create. The participants in the project will be mostly companies and industry organisations, but can also include other entities, e.g. private foundations and/or so-called third parties like organisations specialized in supporting changes toward responsible innovation or re-insurance companies. It is expected that several companies join forces to experiment new ways of developing their research and innovation activities in the line of RRI.

To address this specific challenge, proposals should have a wide geographical coverage. It is therefore expected that consortia would include at least entities from 10 different Member States or Associated Countries, although smaller consortia will also be eligible and may be selected.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 million and 3.55 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

This action allows for the provision of financial support to third parties in line with the conditions set out in Part K of the General Annexes.

Expected Impact

This action aims at the development of new approaches to innovation (be they technical, social or otherwise) in industrial context. It will use and improve existing training instruments funded by the European Commission (e.g. RRI-TOOLKIT of the project RRI-TOOLS[2]). It will help disseminate good RRI practices in industrial circles.

Cross-cutting Priorities

  • Open Science
  • Open Innovation
Date de candidature
Sciences sociales