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South-Eastern European countries join forces to implement RRI solutions

In the RRI Tools research project is designed to map out and share good practice in Responsible Research and Innovation across Europe. The challenge is to make the findings of the project relevant to countries spread across a wide geographic area. Countries in the South Eastern European region, for example, are constituted of a diversity of nations including both EU Member States and countries still in the process of EU integration. These encompass Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania.

It is no small task for the Serbian national Centre for the Promotion of Science (CPS), the South Eastern European hub coordinator, to reach relevant stakeholders in all of these countries. However, it is, at the same time, a privilege to engage in the role of integrating the perspective of such a broad variety of countries. Indeed, the RRI Tools project offers an excellent opportunity for smaller countries to join forces. Particularly, in the context of limited resources each of these countries allocate individually to research and innovation.

Furthermore, this is an excellent platform for South Eastern European countries to both share best-practices among themselves. The idea is that, by joining forces, we will, more effectively promote RRI principles within our communities. Meanwhile, this initiative also provides an opportunity to simultaneously network with partners from all over Europe, thus enhancing the links between science and society in the European Research Area.

The RRI Tools project will provide CPS an opportunity to establish a network of policy makers, representatives of research and educational institutions and other actors of the research and innovation process from across our region. CPS’s mandate, as a public body, is to establish cooperation with research and educational institutions in Serbia and worldwide. As a result, we work closely with government ministries, as well as with the media and the private sector. For example, last year, we invited these stakeholders to take part to the first South Eastern European conference on science promotion (SCIPROM).

Our objective is two-fold: to contribute to the RRI Tools project and to help promoting responsible research and innovation in our region beyond this project’s completion. We expect the trainers belonging to the project network to become the RRI ambassadors. In this capacity, they will help transfer the knowledge obtained from the RRI Tools project to the wider communities of practice in their respective countries. They should assist researchers to focus more on the needs of society and inspire citizens to get more involved in the process of research and innovation.

Another important part of this project is to ensure RRI is effectively advocated among policy makers. We believe those activities will facilitate creation of an environment that recognises the need of further integration of RRI principles in our countries’ research agenda. And that, ultimately, this will result in the adoption of necessary measures to support initiatives created under the RRI Tools project.

For us, this task is particularly relevant when taking into account the results of our recent surveys of the public in South Eastern European countries. They show that the public is not aware of the current scientific research, or of its goals and purpose. The public is also very concerned about some possible results and outcomes of research and innovation activities.

Therefore, we are looking forward to availing of the digital resources that will stem from the project, to support future actions aimed at raising awareness, training, dissemination and implementation of responsible research and innovation. These tools will not only be used by a wide community of practitioners in the research and innovation process. But they will also benefit all those who should be involved in the dialogue on major societal challenges. Ultimately, this project will contribute to bridging the gap between science and society in Europe, regardless of the size of the country in which they are implemented.

Aleksandra Drecun

Director of the Center for the Promotion of Science,

Belgrade, Serbia

Photo Credit: Aleksandra Drecun

 

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