Boost for responsible innovation within the top sectors

Innovating with emotions?

29 April 2015

Can general and commercial access to experimental medicines be made easier in a safe and responsible manner? How can citizens, government bodies and companies remain involved in designing the smart city of the future? What can Dutch companies learn from collaboration with local entrepreneurs in Africa for innovations in the Netherlands? And how can emotions help to make innovations a success?

Boost for responsible innovation within the top sectors. Image: Shutterstock

Researchers and private parties are jointly considering these and other questions within the NWO research programme Responsible Innovation (MVI, from the Dutch 'Maatschappelijk verantwoord innoveren'). For this funding round, NWO has made a budget of 7 million euros available for this programme that relates to the top sector policy of the Dutch government. Thanks to this funding 18 new research projects can start.

The successful NWO programme Responsible Innovation started in 2008 in collaboration with six Dutch government ministries. In the period 2012-2013 a pilot study was carried out within the then new top sectors policy. In 2014, the programme received a follow-up within the top sectors Agriculture & Food, Horticulture & Starting Materials, Chemistry, Energy, High Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM), Life Sciences & Health (LSH) and Water. The aim of all the projects is to chart the ethical and societal aspects of technological innovation at an early stage so that due consideration can be given to these in the design process. This ensures a successful introduction of new technology and prevents failures and expensive adaptations afterwards.

A tried and tested approach has now been established. Research always takes place in interdisciplinary teams made up of researchers from the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences (for example a philosopher, an engineer and an economist). Such a team works closely with private partners. At least one private partner is involved in all of the projects that have now started and this party supplements the NWO funding by 25%. Furthermore, via the so-called valorisation (or utilisation) panels – in which interim results are discussed with parties that have a direct interest, which includes policymakers and end-users – the research is embedded in society. This ensures that the results obtained are actually used as well. Besides projects with a duration of 3 to 5 years, several projects with a duration of 1 to 2 years are also starting. These are aimed at current issues for which a quick result is desired.


Responsible Innovation (MVI) programme

Responsible Innovation is part of the Social Infrastructure Agenda, a joint initiative of NWO Humanities and NWO Social Sciences, to make a contribution to solving societal issues that are relevant for all individual top sectors.

Further information

YouTube films about previous Responsible Innovation projects

Source: NWO