Research and Innovation are a key pillar in the strategy of the European Union to create sustainable, inclusive growth and prosperity and address the societal challenges of Europe and the world. The need to gear the innovation process to societal needs is reflected in many high-level policy, strategy and programming documents, such as the Europe 2020 strategy (2010) and the Horizon 2020 framework programme proposal (2011). Furthermore, for example the Lund Declaration (2009) underlines the importance of addressing societal needs and ethical questions in research and development, as well as the Council conclusions on the Social Dimension of the European Research Area (2010).
To achieve better alignment of research an and innovation with societal needs a number of initiatives have been undertaken by EU Member States and the European Commission. These initiatives have shown that there is a need for a comprehensive approach to achieve such an improved alignment. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) refers to the comprehensive approach of proceeding in research and innovation in ways that allow all stakeholders that are involved in the processes of research and innovation at an early stage (A) to obtain relevant knowledge on the consequences of the outcomes of their actions and on the range of options open to them and (B) to effectively evaluate both outcomes and options in terms of societal needs and moral values and (C) to use these considerations (under A and B) as functional requirements for design and development of new research, products and services. The RRI approach has to be a key part of the research and innovation process and should be established as a collective, inclusive and system-wide approach.
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