Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a critical and radical concept that seeks to involve society in discussing how science and technology can help create the world we want. It has strengths and possibilities and also the capacity of “making research and innovation investments more efficient, fostering better knowledge and innovation co-production with society, or drawing better lessons from early warnings with a view to more efficient precautionary approaches”. Nonetheless, there are some systemic barriers that slow down the implementation of RRI:
– There is a lack of recognition in the career system of academic research for RRI and trans-disciplinary approaches
– Internal resistance from the industry sector
– There are no market incentives to internalise external costs of innovation
– Researchers are insufficiently trained on RRI
– Some stakeholders fail to understand what RRI means to them
– There are institutional barriers preventing from developments of the system to better suit it for RRI
– The concept of “excellence science” is out-dated, as it should take into account a kind of science that is publicly relevant
– Communication can be problematic since actors from various fields are brought together to discuss, but they speak different languages, are triggered by different interests and move towards different goals.
These barriers are also found in the Higher Education Institutions (HEI) system, so the problem is reproduced: there is also an institutional resistance, professionals may not be familiar with the concept of RRI, and the university community is broad and has various voices. It is very important to find a way to overcome these hindrances and start a systemic change so that RRI can be truly applied. The HEIRRI project actively fights these barriers from the early stages of researchers’ formation.

In your opinion, what are the barriers that can be found when trying to integrate RRI in universities?
Please share your ideas using our social networks: Twitter account, Facebook page or LinkedIn group.

1. Expert Group on the State of Art in Europe on Responsible Research and Innovation (2013) ‘Options for Strengthening Responsible Research and Innovation’,
2. Video “The potentials and barriers of Responsible Research and Innovation”