How to effectively implement responsible innovation? (3/5)
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How to effectively implement responsible innovation? (3/5)

This article is part of a series on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). 

Not yet familiar with this concept? Check out our definition!

Many companies already think they are doing responsible innovation, it is important to realize that this is not the case in order to launch a real RRI approach.

1. RRI is not sustainable development

It is not in the strict sense of the word: it is not a question of ensuring that one’s activity takes into account and fits within the limits of the planet, but of understanding that one must reorient one’s core business towards the resolution of societal issues.

The objective is not to reduce negative impacts (waste reduction, eco-design, responsible purchasing, water and energy saving…) without rethinking one’s activity, but to reduce impacts because one changes one’s model and seeks to solve societal and environmental problems. 

The change of mindset is totally different. In this respect, RRI must lead, if it is ambitious, to reflections on the possible reduction or even suppression of activities in favor of new ones.

2. RRI is not CSR

Responsible innovation is neither an internal policy-oriented CSR action (safety, management, employee well-being, etc.), nor a philanthropic action, nor, even less, a side-project (e.g., actions of corporate foundations).

The company’s strategic priority must be to make its positive environmental and social impact the driving force behind its business strategy, in order to sustain its economic development. Otherwise, CSR and transition efforts will always have a limited impact.

3. RRI is deep innovation, R&D, but not only

RRI can have an impact on the business model.

RRI transforms R&D and business practices: broadening the company’s ecosystem through the recognition and integration of different expertise allows for the establishment of new alliances with new players such as companies outside its sector.

📣 An RRI approach implies:

  • A vision and a strategic ambition to align the company’s core business with global issues (involvement of top management)
  • The commitment of the entire company and all the business lines and corporate functions (BU management, sales, R&D, Innovation, Marketing, CSR, Purchasing and supply chain, production, public affairs, scientific and legal affairs, etc.)
  • The implementation of positive social and environmental impact criteria and an evaluation process
  • A change of mindset in research and innovation practices and ideally in all corporate practices as well as in innovation management, towards more anticipation, collaboration, openness, impact and agility
    • Continuous collaboration with a diversity of stakeholders, particularly from civil society (local authorities, associations, NGOs, citizens)
    • Experimentation and iteration, more flexibility according to impact data
    • The ability to take risks and the courage to stop projects that turn out to be harmful or useless

4. An RRI methodology recognized by the UN as a good practice for the SDGs

How to think about innovation differently? How to transform work practices?

The Future Of program is a turnkey format to support companies and industry groups in implementing an RRI approach. In 11 months, this program allows to launch multi-actor research and innovation cooperations on a strategic issue for the partner company.

It allows to :

  • Identify new innovation partners: sourcing is not only targeted at startups but also at all types of experts, researchers, social entrepreneurs, companies and industrial groups, associations and NGOs, and even local authorities, at the international level
  • Set up multi-actor collaborations and accelerate these collaborative projects over 6 months to explore sustainable research and innovation solutions
  • Engage in internal transformation in terms of work practices, acculturating teams and employees to the benefits of a multi-stakeholder and responsible innovation (RRI) oriented approach
  • This is not a startup competition, nor an impact innovation challenge, nor is it about launching projects internally only, but about working in an open and collaborative mode, both internally and with partners outside the company:

Let’s be realistic: we are not experts in this type of transformation and we need help” Philippe Gallard, Perrier International Business Unit Director, ChangeNOW Summit 2020 at the announcement of the winning consortia of The Future Of Positive Packaging program.

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