RRI & S3

TRANSFORM aims to establish more open, transparent and democratic research and innovation ecosystems in Europe by the adoption of responsible research and innovation (RRI) approaches within the research and innovation activities set up by their Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3).

What’s Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)?

Responsible research and innovation is an approach that emerged in recent years as a science policy framework that aims to align research and innovation with expectations, values and needs of society. It brings together societal actors (researchers, citizens, policy-makers, businesses, third sector organisations, etc.) during the whole research and innovation process, from agenda setting, to design, implementation, and evaluation, all working towards more inclusive and sustainable research and innovation.

The aim is to create a research and innovation (R&I) ecosystem striving for sustainable, ethical and socially desirable scientific outcomes, in which responsibility is shared between actors who are all involved in the process.






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Over the past decades, the European Union has maximised their efforts to bridge the distance between science and society and embed the RRI in the H2020 programme to fully exploit the research and innovation funding potential. In practice, RRI is implemented as a package that includes six policy agendas:

Opening R&I processes to all societal actors working together to align R&I outcomes to the values, needs and expectations of society.

Guaranteeing easier and free access to scientific results and knowledge to boost R&I.

Promoting gender balance in R&I and equal opportunities.

Ensuring research integrity and the ethical acceptability of scientific and technological developments.

Promoting formal and informal science education, increasing knowledge and skills of citizens to promote scientific vocations and participation.

Providing instruments to foster shared responsibility in R&I practices, transparent and reflective procedures, accountability and responsiveness towards society.

What’s Smart Specialisation (S3)?

In 2011, the European Commission introduced the Smart Specialisation as part of the reformed Cohesion Policy for the period 2014-2020. It was a response to overcome the economic crisis and response to a changing world driven by globalisation, automation, decarbonation, emerging, and digital technologies.

Smart specialisation is an innovative policy concept that aims to boost regional innovations by identifying and focusing on the strengths and competitive advantages of each region to boost growth, jobs and prosperity. It is based on strategic partnerships between local authorities, academia, the business sector and civil society to develop and implement long-term regional strategies supported by EU funds. Each region has to develop a Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3) in order to receive funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). RIS3 sets up long-term strategic direction for regions with operational plans on how to achieve set objectives. It is based on the following principles:


Identify the region’s own strengths and comparative assets


Prioritise research and innovation investment in competitive areas


Define a shared vision for regional innovation

The European Commission provides guidance to regional and national authorities on how to develop and implement their smart specialisation strategies via the ‘Smart Specialisation Platform’. This platform also facilitates mutual learning, data gathering, analysis, and networking opportunities for around 170 EU regions and 18 national governments. In addition to the central Smart Specialisation Platform, thematic platforms brings together regions with matching priorities to join forces and put together the resources to maximise the impact.
These thematic platforms are focusing on high value added sectors, such as hi-tech farming, smart grids, bioenergy, high-tech farming, photonics, social economy, etc.

Smart specialisation provides an opportunity for economic modernisation of regions and more market opportunities through newly established inter-regional value chains. More than 120 smart specialisation strategies have been developed, establishing R&I priorities with an allocation of EUR 67 billion. This investment supports the creation of 140 000 new startups, 350 000 new jobs and brings 15 000 new products to market over the period 2014-2020.

Smart specialisation strategy’ means the national or regional innovation strategies which set priorities in order to build competitive advantage by developing and matching research and innovation’s own strengths to business needs in order to address emerging opportunities and market developments in a coherent manner, while avoiding duplication and fragmentation of efforts; a smart specialisation strategy may take the form of, or be included in, a national or regional research and innovation (R&I) strategic policy framework.

Definition of Smart Specialisation Strategy established by the Regulation (EU) N° 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

Learn more about Smart Specialisation: 

EU flag This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 872687. This website reflects only the authors' view and the REA and the EC are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
Project Coordinator: Angela Simone Fondazione Giannino Bassetti angela.simone@fondazionebassetti.org
contact: info@transform-project.eu