GRACE: An Overview

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is the on-going process of aligning research and innovation to the values, needs and expectations of society while ensuring that they deliver on the promise of smart, inclusive and sustainable solutions to our societal challenges. Building capacity for RRI and implementing institutional changes that foster RRI is an imperative need addressed years ago and specifically expressed at the Rome Declaration on Responsible Research and Innovation in Europe.

Responding to this need, the GRACE project aims to contribute to the effort of spreading and embedding RRI in the European Research Area. The project is funded through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, running from January 2019 until December 2021. The GRACE consortium is led by the European Science Foundation, France, reinforced by 10 institutions in 8 European countries, with a network of affiliated projects in the RRI domain.

GRACE pursues to achieve a cluster of well-defined institutional changes in six Research Funding and Performing Organisations (RFPOs) based on the implementation of a set of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) Grounding Actions (GAs), with visible short-term impacts during the timespan of GRACE. More than that, the project foresees roadmaps towards RRI for each RFPO in the consortium for the attainment of further and more complex institutional changes in the medium- and long-term period. GRACE builds on a combination of highly experienced partners and dynamic implementing organisations to develop a mutual learning process in a co-creation environment which will lead to a solid approach for enabling rapid institutional change for both the consortium members and for further exploitation.

Having concluded a preparatory phase, which allowed partners to self-assess their organisations in the light of RRI and its keys (gender equality, ethics, open access, public engagement, science education, governance) and define the Grounding Actions (GAs) for their Roadmap towards RRI (e.g. new organizational structures, rules, action plans, trainings etc.), GRACE has now set engines in full motion for the implementation of these actions.

Based on a mutual learning environment and built around a well-structured Mentoring and Monitoring Meetings (MMM) Framework, GRACE’s RRI expert organisations embark on numerous bilateral meeting sessions with implementing organisations, assisting them in materializing the Grounding Actions that they have opted for. During these meetings, expert organisations provide guidance to implementing organisations on devising viable and effective action plans, assistance in developing specific skills for performing the required activities and on top of that continuous assessment on the progress made on the implementation of Grounding Actions by each implementing organisation.

The Mentoring and Monitoring Meetings are still in their early stage and will span until the end of the project. Nevertheless, both experts and implementing organizations already acknowledge the value, usefulness and efficiency of the meetings in accelerating and catalysing processes of institutional change.

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