Identifying ethical and societal issues at an early stage and taking these into account in the design process will lead to responsible innovations that enjoy broad societal consensus. This approach also reduces failures or costly adaptations at a later stage.
The projects are implemented as public-private partnerships, so each project has one or more private partners. These are mostly businesses, but public authorities and civil society organisations can also be partners in a project. These partners may make financial contributions but also participate actively in the research or provide access to equipment or relevant data.
The research projects have already led to socially responsible innovations in multiple fields, including life sciences and health care, energy transition, agriculture and food.
Spearheads of the NWO-MVI approach are:
- A proactive creation or design perspective
Ethical and societal aspects are included in the design process of an innovation from the onset. Identifying aspects that play a role in the process and assessing an innovation’s impact on the stakeholders at the earliest possible stage allows these aspects to be taken into account during the design process, which results in societally responsible innovations.
Researchers in the humanities, natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences work together on the projects and take a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to an issue based on their respective fields. This guarantees an integrated approach.
- Societal relevance and valorisation
During the selection process, all research projects are assessed as to societal relevance and applicability of the results. In addition, each project also has a valorisation panel comprising representatives of governments, businesses, civil society organisations and citizens who use the innovations, have to take them into account when formulating policy, or who may (unintentionally) be affected by them. This ensures that stakeholders are closely involved in the research project and that research results are suitable for practical implementation.
The research projects have already led to societally responsible innovations in multiple fields, including life sciences and health, energy transition, agriculture and food, and digital society. Furthermore, the projects have led to the following tools:
- guidelines for businesses, public authorities, and other parties on how to implement societally responsible innovation processes;
- models for the design process of innovations;
- new business models.