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RRI innovation

RRI innovation

RRI Innovation: Definition of Responsible Innovation

Globally, RRI Innovation stands for “Responsible Research & Innovation” or “Recherche et Innovation Responsable” in French, often referred to as “RRI.” Throughout this page, we will occasionally use “responsible innovation” interchangeably with “RRI.”

Firstly, RRI Innovation represents a groundbreaking approach that empowers leaders to drive profound and enduring transformations within their organizations. Its objective is to create a positive impact and foster collaboration with new stakeholders, especially representatives from various societal sectors.

Plus, this concept emerged in scientific literature in 2011 and became a strategic priority for the European Commission in 2014. As defined by the Commission:

        “RRI is an ongoing process striving to harmonize research and innovation with the values, needs, and expectations of society” (Rome Declaration, 2014).

In other words, it transcends legal responsibility, risk management, or addressing adverse external effects. Instead, it represents here a commitment, even an ambition, to harness research and innovation for the benefit of society, rooted in ethical principles.

To conclude,  RRI involves contemplating societal and environmental concerns, while enabling individuals to take actions for the common good, encompassing future generations. In simpler terms, it empowers individuals to align their economic activities with established societal needs through collective intelligence, steering innovation.


🔑 The “user-centric” approach, as advocated by many innovation methodologies, considers the user to be society as a whole, taking into account the broadest ecosystem perspective.

Responsible Innovation and Related Concepts​

Next, Responsible Research and Innovation is often perceived as a distinct breed of innovation. From the technical or disruptive aspects, according to the majority of leaders, researchers, and innovation stakeholders. Indeed, the line between responsible innovation and other concepts that emphasize social issues, excluding science and technology, is often blurred.

1. Responsible innovation goes beyond social innovation.

Contrary to popular belief, the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) or emerging economic paradigms such as diversity, inclusion, and collaboration is not confined to RRI. In fact, it doesn’t solely originate from social startups like SSE; it also flourishes within deep tech startups, be they industrial or scientific in nature, committed to achieving societal goals.

Whereas, RRI is a versatile, cross-cutting, open, and collaborative technical and scientific research and innovation approach. At the same time, Applicable to all existing and emerging companies regardless of size, sector, location, or scope of operations. Also, it offers a framework for critically assessing the significance of activities and how they can be aligned for the greater good.

2. Responsible innovation encompasses more than Human and Social Sciences (HSS).

Then, the integration of HSS researchers into research and innovation practices is included on RRI Innovation. In any case, it champions diversity among participants, including not only researchers, social scientists, and companies but also representatives of society, such as citizens, associations, NGOs, local authorities, and social entrepreneurs. Thus, this diversity of perspectives enables a comprehensive examination of responsible objectives.


3. Engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) does not inherently equate to engaging in responsible innovation.

Furthermore, the European Commission defines CSR as “the voluntary integration of social and environmental concerns into business operations and in their interaction with stakeholders.” While they may appear similar, RRI and CSR are distinct concepts. So, CSR describes the minimum requisites for organizations. In other words in Western markets, it is focusing only reducing environmental impact and promoting cleaner and more ethical practices, especially for well-established entities.
RRI, however, signifies a forward-thinking approach for leaders aspiring to embrace a comprehensive, altruistic, and planet-friendly outlook transcending CSR.

There is a fundamental distinction:

  • Addressing specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within your activities.
  • Leveraging your expertise and core business to support SDGs.

Consequently, understanding that CSR alone falls short, adopting a Responsible Research and Innovation approach facilitates anticipating economic transformations unveiled by recent crises.

4. Eco-design, Circular Economy, Decarbonization, Greenwashing and RRI Innovation.

Although, today’s rapidly changing landscape, embracing RRI Innovation is becoming critical. Indeed, Eco-design, fostering circular economy principles, and driving decarbonization efforts are pivotal steps in the right direction. However, these actions alone may not suffice.

In one hand, direction and ambition behind these initiatives determine their classification: RRI, CSR, or, in some instances, greenwashing. The motivation behind these endeavors raises essential questions:

  • Are these initiatives primarily focused on harm reduction or instigating a transformative shift in the business model?
  • Do they merely address the negative impacts of existing activities, or are they part of a broader transformation strategy?
  • How are these initiatives executed? Do they necessitate a fundamental overhaul of innovation management, or are they supplementary practices?
  • Are these investments fortified with long-term planning, considering forthcoming market dynamics?

In other hand, Responsible Research and Innovation is not a facade to make a product appear responsible or to compensate for adverse consequences or questionable utility. Similarly, striving for innovation alone is insufficient to ensure responsible innovation. For instance, a product targeting a public health issue, but overlooking its relevance or causing harm to biodiversity, does not qualify as responsible innovation.

Additionnaly, it entails a reevaluation of the very purpose of innovation by aligning organizational goals with a dynamic world.

  • How effectively does the company respond to genuine societal needs?
  • Is the company adept at addressing contemporary challenges through innovation, or is it confined to superficial, marketing-centric product enhancements?
  • Does the company boast an innovation strategy that sieves out unnecessary or frivolous innovation?

A New Innovation Method: RRI Innovation

At this time, in the realm of innovation, RRI takes center stage as a game-changer. While essential initiatives like eco-design, circular economy thinking, and decarbonization are valuable, it’s crucial to understand that they alone cannot drive the transformation needed.

Besides, RRI Innovation goes beyond these efforts, providing a methodological approach that embraces technical and scientific innovation. It’s more than a buzzword; it’s a cultural shift in how we approach innovation.

Why this method Matters:

1. A Path to Responsible Innovation

Firstly, many companies claim to prioritize responsible innovation, but Responsible Research and Innovation ensures it’s not just a façade. It reevaluates the purpose of innovation, aiming to align it with societal needs and goals. Finally, it’s a commitment to use innovation as a tool to improve the conditions of all living beings.

2. A Holistic Approach

Secondly, Responsible Research and Innovation doesn’t limit itself to short-term strategies. It offers a framework for aligning activities with the greater good, regardless of your organization’s size, sector, or location.

3. Not Just a Buzzword

Lastly, her methodology fosters genuine impact. Precisely, it is not just about reducing harm or making products appear responsible; it is about creating meaningful, long-lasting change.

RRI Innovation for Disruptive Change:

In this case, it has the potential to enable disruptive innovation driving fundamental transformations in your business model and core competencies. While, RRI applies to a wide range of innovations. Whether it target societal issues, public health, social cohesion, or biodiversity.


The Path Forward:

So, it’s more than a nice-to-have; it’s a long-term investment in a viable and sustainable economic model.

Consequently, societal expectations grow and movements for meaningful change gain momentum, RRI Innovation emerges as the answer to the challenges we face. It’s time to accelerate the transformation, developing innovative models aligned with the world of tomorrow.

In Summary:

RRI Innovation isn’t just another term; it’s a powerful approach that encompasses technological innovation, drives a cultural shift, and aligns with societal demands. It’s a catalyst for a brighter, more responsible future.

🔥 Embrace RRI for a transformative journey. 🔥

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