One of the most pressing issues that European regions face is how to introduce and develop Research and Innovation (R&I) regional policies that promote sustainable development and achieve societal inclusion and citizen participation, under a framework of democratic governance. The issue is not easy to be dealt with since, in our modern morally fragmented societies, every societal agent has their own values and perceptions regarding what sustainable and ethical regional R&I implies. The question is simple but critical: how can every stakeholder who is impacted by these changes (students, elderly, SMEs owners, researchers, policy-makers, etc.) become empowered and thus actively co-shape regional R&I policies? How to achieve regional innovation that is governed by the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and leaves nobody behind?
The aim of RRI2SCALE Project is to directly address this social dilemma in four pilot European regions: Vestland (Norway), Overijssel (Netherlands), Kriti (Greece) and Galicia (Spain). RRI2SCALE empowers the pilots’ regional ecosystems and boosts democratic processes in their R&I development trajectory through a complex, multi-dimensional stakeholder engagement strategy. The project’s ultimate goal is to deliver the RRI principles to their current regional ecosystems, thus accomplishing sustainable and inclusive institutional evolution in the governance structures. To put it simply: the project seeks to implant RRI practices and norms in the design of regional innovation strategies. The process operationalises in the triple interconnected field of “smart cities – smart transport – smart energy”, which are essential for sustainable growth. Our testbed sites offer wide coverage at the European level in terms of socio-cultural, economic, and political characteristics, thus maximising the project’s replication potentials.
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