'Inspirational RRI Example'

A few weeks ago, Mistra Urban Futures received the first ever European Foundations Award for Responsible Research and Innovation.

The international jury acknowledged the ‘co-creation and stakeholder involvement, and the participatory, peer-to-peer, distributed and bottom-up’ approach, making the centre a complete and inspirational example of RRI ‘action research’.

RRI, Responsible Research and Innovation, is about involving society and societal values in the research and innovation processes. As such, RRI covers a range of aspects such as open access, gender, ethics, governance and not least public engagement. And no, RRI does NOT mean that existing research and innovation activities are irresponsible. Likewise, fundamental and basic research is NOT excluded; RRI is more like a concept for improvement of science and society links and collaborations.

Many research and innovation projects, programmes, institutions and centres already reflect the RRI values and objectives in many ways – without necessarily calling it RRI.

Closely related to RRI are the three goals set by the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas – Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World. Not least Open Science is about the kind of work that Mistra Urban Futures is doing: changing the research methodology to be more inclusive and trans-disciplinary, taking advantage of both academic and non-academic knowledge.

The EU funded RRI-Tools project, including 26 partners all over Europe, has published an RRI Toolkit online. The toolkit is meant to help researchers, policy makers and other societal actors to embed RRI principles in their respective organisations and contexts. A range of ‘Inspiring practices’ can also be found; Mistra Urban Futures is one of the about 30 examples on the RRI-Tools website.

Being selected as an ‘inspiring practice’ gave us the motivation to apply also for the European Foundations Award for Responsible Research and Innovation. More than 200 applications were received, and Mistra Urban Futures was finally selected as one of three awardees! The award is very prestigious and strengthens our work towards an open and inclusive research method, based on co-production and collaboration.

The Award jury wrote ‘What is more, they seem to be living this lesson through their institutional commitment within this specific project in Gothenburg. The project programme consists of a number of individual multidisciplinary projects, which are well developed and are comprehensively combined into a single research programme’.

We are very proud.


Jan Riise is Manager for Engagement at Mistra Urban Futures


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