CETAF, through several of its members and its General Secretariat, has been hard at work on submitting project RESPONSIF to the European Commission call H2020 for “Supporting structural change in research organisations to promote Responsible Research and Innovation”.

Project RESPONSIF, which stands for Responsible Natural Sciences Innovation Framework, gathers a large consortium of partners through 13 countries. It will aim to enable a broad range of Research Performing Organisations (RPOs) to integrate best practices in Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). Concretely, the project will develop a practical Action Plan for implementing sustainable and measurable changes within research organisations, allowing them to embed the five dimensions of RRI (Societal Engagement, Gender Equality, Open Science, Science Education, and Research Ethics) within their institutional structures and daily practices.

RRI is a cross-cutting issue in Horizon 2020. The Science with and for Society programme seeks to “build effective cooperation between science and society, to recruit new talent for science and to pair scientific excellence with social awareness and responsibility”. The RESPONSIF project was built on the premise that RPOs will only initiate and sustain RRI-derived governance changes, through a continuous support programme that will have to address both a complex and fragmented landscape of abstract RRI guidelines that RPOs currently struggle with and the need for a cultural shift within the research community. 

Natural History Museums (NHMs), with their broad public reach and dual goals of scientific research and public engagement, are ideally placed to showcase best practices in RRI. RESPONSIF will put to the test different approaches for all RRI dimensions, benefiting from the breadth of activities of leading European Natural History Museums in research, education, conservation and social engagement. Emphasis was given to the engagement of leading Research Performing Museum across Europe. For RESPONSIF, these Museums will be used as unique test beds to pilot the implementation of an integrated approach to all RRI keys. They are acknowledged as organisations with highly authoritative voices and for long now have been setting examples of good practices for other Museums and RPOs across the world. Five leading European Museums participate in the Consortium (NHM, RBINS, MNHN, Naturalis and FUB-BGBM). Collectively they are visited by more than 10 million people each year.
The project will result in an Action Plan to support RPOs in making the necessary structural changes. This Action Plan will have a scope of a minimum of eight years and tackle mechanisms and tools, best practices and policies. The Action Plan will be complemented by an implementation handbook, an openly accessible e-dashboard to track RRI implementation progress, outreach actions, and a strong focus on the post-project sustainability.

Dr Dimitrios Koureas, from NHM London, coordinating institution of the project, commented: “Given the challenges we had to tackle, including the diversity of the partners and of course the very tight deadline, I believe we produced a good proposal overall. Our Consortium brought together 18 partners with different expertise from 13 countries. As with all H2020 Calls is very difficult to make any predictions on the outcome, especially given the expected oversubscription. (note: acccording to the European Commission, a total of 24 proposals were submitted for this call) In this journey to bring this proposal together, we managed to build new partnerships and strengthen existing ones, and that is a direct benefit that we can enjoy even before the 5-month waiting-for-results period. “ Dr Koureas also highlighted the contribution of “ Vince Smith (Head of Diversity and Informatics at NHM London), who as the Coordinator, supported the project from inception to submission, and Ana Casino (CETAF General Secretary) who triggered this initiative in the first place.”

RESPONSIF’s strength can also be found within its strong Consortium of European partners and their connection to a wide-reaching cloud of RPOs within and outside Europe. Uniquely, RESPONSIF brings together, for the first time at this scale, RPOs in natural sciences, RRI experts, Industrial partners and international collaborators. The Consortium is developed in such way that maximises the interplay between the wider RRI domain and the European network of RPOs. Participation of organisations outside the natural science sector (such as CleverFranke, Technopolis, CAIXA and several others) is also pivotal to the success of the project. CETAF, through its members, but also through its General Secretariat, is and will remain heavily involved within the project. CETAF will provide and maintain the e-Dashboard, develop the RESPONSIF communication plan and act as a facilitator for communications between partners throughout.

Consortium: 18 partners, 13 countries,
Duration: 36 months

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