Responsible Innovation: Ethics, Safety and Technology. MOOC.

Delft Technical University in the Netherlands offer a free online University course on Responsible Innovation that may be of interest to readers with a few hours here and there and a thirst for knowledge that would make even Jarvis Cocker proud.

The course is flexible, you can start whenever you like and run it according to personal needs. I myself have completed it, essays and all, even writing an article about it published in the Journal of Responsible Innovation.

The course offers an overview of some of the starter points for the concept of Responsible Innovation, many of which you might have come across through the previous posts in this series. The trolley problem (the ethical issues around decision-making if damage or danger is unavoidable), the problem of innovation processes becoming difficult to steer once they are in full flow, the need for standards and those proposed on EU and UK level as described in my previous post, risk management, design and frugal innovation, to name just a few.

The course also comes with a free downloadable textbook, so it’s goodbye to roaming the isles of the library hunting for a book that somebody has already taken out.

This course also addresses implementation from a business perspective, which makes for interesting reading. Models of innovation management, including economic models that talk about determinants of innovation are also included (a bit technical for the likes of me unfortunately), and questions of how businesses could address problems of risk are also presented and described.

Case studies related to ethical concerns and risks also appear thoughout the course, addressing nanotechnology, self-driving vehicles, robots, AI smart meters for electricity, autonomous weapons, nuclear energy and CO2 capture and coolants, many of which you find addressed in other posts on this website.

One major section relates to the idea of designing values and trust into processes and their products, a centerpiece of the TU Delft approach.

There are a couple of essays to submit for anyone interested in taking the course as part of their university education, with European Education points offered (ECTS) and a certificate (payment required). You can of course just watch the video lectures too if that’s more your scene.

René von Schomberg

In this post I would like to take a look at the work of one of the most important figures in Responsible Innovation, René von Schomberg.

René von Schomberg

Von Schomberg works within the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and innovation, and over the last 12-15 years has introduced and promoted the idea of Responsible Innovation, introducing it to the Commission’s calls for funding over a decade ago, and helping to make it ever more important within research funding.

He is co-editor of the International Handbook on Responsible Innovation, has written the most widely used definition used in academia but also runs a non-academic WordPress blog.

Recent articles include on the blog an overview of our recent book, a summary of projects on RI that have been funded by the Commission, articles on open science and precision agriculture.


Once that has wetted your appetite, you should take a look at the LIVING INNOVATION website, which hosts a video interview with von Schomberg entitled Responsibility and Transformational Change in Innovation Systems. This interview is very recent and wide-ranging, addressing a series of topics and issues and covering the evolution of the concept of RRI within the European Union. Note that he is described as the Father of Responsible Innovation!

In the video von Schomberg addresses lots of interesting topics, including small business practices and local, regional, national and supranational governance of innovation systems.

The website also contains an interview with Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, Director General of Digital Europe, a leading trade association representing digitally transforming industries in Europe. The topic of Responsible Research and Innovation and the consequences of its implementation are discussed from the speaker’s own perspective, making for very interesting and thought-provoking listening.

Last but not least comes an article that I wrote in 2012 about von Schomberg’s Matrix for Responsible Innovation, published in various academic books but also in non academic terms on his blog.

Von Schomberg is an interesting and extremely influential character. A good starting point if you want to understand how the idea of introducing responsibility to research funding has developed.

International Handbook on Responsible Innovation: Launch Event in Manchester

As you may see from the cover, I have a book newly released and would like to invite all readers (who can) to join me in Manchester to launch it.

The event opens with two keynote addresses, the first from from Rene von Schomberg and the second from myself, Jonathan Hankins. A Series of short panel presentations follow with an open discussion involving panel members, speakers and audience. Wine and nibbles reception to close.


You are all very welcome to join us on Wednesday 27 November 2019 at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, (Rm BS125) to launch and discuss the new:

International Handbook on Responsible Innovation: A Global Resource

Edited by René von Schomberg, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission, Belgium and Guest Professor, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany and Jonathan Hankins, The Bassetti Foundation, Italy.

The Handbook constitutes a global resource for the fast growing interdisciplinary research and policy communities addressing the challenge of driving innovation towards socially desirable outcomes. This book brings together well-known authors from the US, Europe and Asia who develop conceptual and regional perspectives on responsible innovation as well as exploring the prospects for further implementation of responsible innovation in emerging technological practices ranging from agriculture and medicine, to nanotechnology and robotics. The emphasis is on the socio-economic and normative dimensions of innovation including issues of social risk and sustainability.

Full reference:

 Schomberg, R & Hankins, J. eds International Handbook on Responsible Innovation : A Global Resource,’ Cheltenham UK and Northampton USA:  Edward Elgar . ISBN 978 1 78471 88 5


3pm Arrival & Coffee

3.15 Introduction & Welcome

3:20 Keynote – René von Schomberg

3:45 Keynote – Jonathan Hankins

4pm Panel Presentations and Open Discussion 

5pm Wine reception

6pm close

This is a free event. All are welcome. Please register and claim your ticket here

Readers who have been following the series on Responsible Innovation will know the name of Von Schomberg too, and there is much more to come on that front. This is one not to be missed if you are in the area.

The event is hosted by SEEG, Manchester Metropolitan University’s Sustainable and Ethical Enterprise Group, and MIOIR the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research based at the University of Manchester Alliance Business School. The links will take you to places of wonder, full of interesting browsing.