Grounding RRI Actions to Achieve Institutional Change in European Research Funding and Performing Organisations (GRACE)

Project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme
Grant Agreement: 824521
Duration: 36 months
Start date: 1/01/2019
The project official website

One of the objective pursued by EC is that of spreading and embedding Responsible Research and Innovation in the European Research Area through and increasing involvement of Research Funding and Performing Organisations (RFPO).

The GRACE Project is intended to contribute in this objective through the development of a set of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) Grounding Actions (GAs), i.e., actions specifically aimed at institutionally embedding RRI or some aspects of it within Research Performing and Funding Organisations (RFPOs). Six RFPOs are concerned in developing RRI-oriented actions, supported by other four organisations RRI experienced, through technical assistance and mutual learning activities. The consortium is led by the European Science Foundation (ESF). For each RFPO, a 8-year long “Roadmap towards RRI” will be developed under the project implementation period in order to set a solid platform for attaining further institutional changes during the ‘after GRACE’ 5-year period.

A suited evaluation and impact assessment scheme will be developed to oversee and monitor the project processes and impacts, applying the so-called MoRRI indicators (i.e., the indicators developed under the EC-funded MoRRi – Metrics and Indicators of Responsible Research and Innovation – Project) and those connected to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,.

The project will consist of three main phases. The preparatory phase, focused on the design of the Grounding Actions and the first draft of the six Roadmaps. The development and mutual learning phase, where both the Grounding Actions and the supporting mutual learning initiatives will be developed. The stocktaking phase ensuring the long-term (after project) sustainability of Grounding Actions and the preparation of a Guidance to support the implementing organization to successfully pursue the work outlined in the Roadmaps.

A management system and a set of communication and dissemination activities will ensure a smooth project implementation process.


The third GRACE Mutual Learning Workshop
On May 20 and 21, the Third Mutual Learning Workshop involving all the partners of the GRACE project took place online under the coordination of K&I. The workshop was focused on the sustainability of the RRI-oriented actions after the end of the project and on the design of the Roadmaps towards RRI, to be defined before the end of the project (December 2021) and implemented in the following 5-year period. The workshop included four sessions. The first three sessions, each one organised in two breakout groups, were devoted to examine the issues related to sustainability each partner implementing the RRI actions is facing and to help it find appropriate solutions. Each group has been introduced by a presentation from the team leader of the concerned partner which was subsequently commented by another partner, before to open the discussion to all the participants in the breakout group. The last session was aimed at a common reflection on how to prepare the GRACE post-project period. A summary report will be developed by K&I to capitalise on the workshop results.
The second GRACE Mutual Learning Workshop
Under the coordination of K&I, the Second Mutual Learning Workshop took place online on 3 and 4 November, 2020. The event was attended by 22 members of the 10 GRACE partner institutions.The event was preceded by a screening of the issues to be dealt with, involving both the partners concerned with the implementation of the RRI-oriented actions and the expert partners. The workshop was organised in a way favouring as far as possible the exchange among participants, also using an application for online collaboration. The workshop included four sessions. The first one was devoted to an update on the grounding actions’ implementation process, lessons learned and obstacles met. The second and third session focused on two thematic areas, namely team building and stakeholder participation. As for team building, four topics were tackled, i.e. (1) how to transfer competences in a time-limited regime due to the shift online of many activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic; (2) how to transfer of responsibilities from the project team to those who will manage RRI issues after the project lifespan; (3) how to work in the emergency context generated by the pandemic; and (4) how to accelerate the transition from negotiation to new institutional practices. As for stakeholder participation, the discussion was focused on (1) how to mobilise staff and stakeholders within each institution, especially when faced with a low level of motivation; (2) how to communicate RRI and foster awareness-raising processes, using online tools and innovative ways; (3) which methods can be used to mobilise managers and address leadership turnover; and (4) how to activate organisational learning processes on RRI-related issues. In the last session, specific issues related to the RRI keys have been dealt with.
Grounding Actions detailed implementation plans
Three documents have been delivered in December 2019 where the detailed implementation plans of the grounding actions to be conducted in 6 GRACE partner organisations are defined. These documents provide suggestions and resources about how to develop the grounding actions and orientations about the main risks and obstacles to be coped with. They have been prepared, that on Public engagement by SEERC, that on Open Access and Science Education by Aarhus University and ECSITE and that on gender equality and research ethics and integrity by K&I and the University of Groningen.
Definition of Grounding Actions and Roadmaps
The design process of the Grounding Actions and Roadmaps towards responsible Research and Innovation ended at the end of October 2019, with the delivery of a design document prepared by K&I. The process involved all the project partners and led to the identification of 37 grounding actions that will take place in 6 of the 10 partner organizations. For each organization involved, a Roadmap to RRI was also defined to be implemented in the 5 years following the end of the project.
The first GRACE Mutual Learning Workshop
Taking place on 28-29 May 2019 in Brussels, the 1st GRACE Mutual Learning Workshop brought together 19 participants from the 10 partner institutions forming the GRACE Project consortium. The aim of the meeting was to set-up the micro-environment for the co-creative development of RRI-oriented Grounding Actions, at the six GRACE implementing organisations. The meeting was composed of thematic working sessions respectively devoted to Citizen Engagement (led by SEERC and ECSITE), Open Access and Science Education (led by Aarhus University and ECSITE), and Gender equality and Research Ethics and Integrity (led by K&I and the University of Groningen). The workshop was hosted by the Delegation of Catalonia to the European Union in Brussels.
The GRACE Project is started
On February 6 and 7 2019, the GRACE (Grounding RRI Actions to Achieve Institutional Change in European Research Funding and Performing Organisations) project Kick-off Meeting was held in Strasbourg hosted by project coordinator, the European Science Foundation (ESF). The first day, the project leader, Ildiko Ipolyi (ESF), introduced the meeting and provided an overall presentation of the project followed by a contribution by Luciano d’Andrea (Knowledge & Innovation) who illustrated the logic of the project. Afterwards, all the Work Package (WP) leaders presented their own WP. In this framework, Fabio Feudo (K&I) presented the WP3 “Governance and Mutual Learning”, led by K&I. Then, a discussion was held on the main critical aspects of the project, with special reference to those pertaining to the first year of implementation of GRACE. The discussion continued also in the first part of the second day while the last part of the meeting was devoted to the communication and dissemination of the project activities. Christopher Niehaus, project officer for the Research Executive Agency (REA), and Linden Farrer, Policy Officer at the EC DG Research and Innovation, also participated in the meeting through an at-distance speech.