Introduction to Responsible Innovation

EPSRC is committed to ensuring that the research and other activities that they fund are aligned with the principals of Responsible Innovation (RI). Alongside mandatory training for CDT PhD students, EPSRC's Impact Acceleration Accounts are a primary mechanism for realising this ambition and IAA at the University of Glasgow is supporting this by embedding RI throughout IAA activities. To do this we aim to provide a framework of RI support for all projects.


What is Responsible Innovation?


diagram explaining what Responsible Innovation is

Responsible Innovation is a process that seeks to promote creativity and opportunities for science and innovation that are socially desirable and undertaken in the public interest. RI acknowledges that innovation can raise questions and dilemmas, is often ambiguous in terms of purposes and motivations and unpredictable in terms of impacts, beneficial or otherwise. RI creates spaces and processes to explore these aspects of innovation in an open, inclusive and timely way. This is a collective responsibility, where funders, researchers, stakeholders and the public all have an important role to play.

Working in partnership with researchers and research organisations, EPSRC is committed to raising the profile of RI, enhancing RI understanding and culture, promoting the use of the AREA framework, and delivering our long-term ambition of ensuring that RI is business-as-usual for researchers.

EPSRC IAA Responsible Innovation Framework at Glasgow

The IAAs represent an opportunity to explore and develop ways in which RI can be embedded within the research and innovation process. EPSRC are encouraging and supporting institutions in receipt of an IAA to incorporate RI considerations into the work of their IAA. Thus, through the EPSRC and STFC IAA's at the University of Glasgow we are implementing a framework to support Responsible Innovation throughout the project lifecycle. This will help to ensure that best practice is adopted at all stages, from initial project conception and development / application, and encompassing project delivery right through to post-project follow-on activities.

Project Lifecycle and the UofG IAA RI Framework

IAA project lifecycle with RI framework intervention points

In the diagram above we show the various stages of a typical IAA project in orange. Alongside this we show how our RI framework might be utilised in different ways to enhance a project at the various stages development and delivery.

Through a partnership with RI specialists Couto-Phoenix Consulting we have produced a package of materials to support this programme. The following video explains more...

Responsible Innovation Guidance - Creating Value from New Knowledge

You can also download a transcript of this video.

Adopting Responsible Innovation to Accelerate Your Route to Impact

The EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) is flexible funding to enable EPSRC funded research to develop into activities which can lead to impact beyond the contribution to knowledge (a.k.a. academic impact).

The short video introduces you to the concept of responsible innovation and the EPSRC-endorsed AREA framework. We suggest that you consider using this framework to develop a case for support, which you can put forward for IAA funding. Our RI handbook gives a more detailed introduction to the AREA framework and contains questions you can answer to help you highlight gaps that may currently exist in your understanding of how your research could lead to impact. You can then use the framework to help you design activities to fill in the gaps. These can then be developed as a case for IAA funds.

Case Studies and Examples

The following three case studies provide good examples of the application of responsible innovation in practice during IAA supported projects. These three examples are each working towards different types of impact and are at the same time engaging with a range of stakeholders in different ways throughout the project lifecycles.


IAA RI Case Sudy Example 1 - From Research to Innovation, the Nebuflow Story

Here Dr Elijah Nazarzadeh explains how early and ongoing engagement informed the development of Nebuflow's development of next generation nebulisers to enable the delivery of life changing treatments.

IAA RI Case Study Example 2 - Impacting Policy by Building a Long-term Collaboration

In this example Prof Larissa Naylor discusses the processes involved in initiating, developing and maintaining a long-term collaboration with public sector partners like Adaptation Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council to realise public policy impacts which build upon research undertaken as part of the Dynamic Coast project.



IAA RI Case Study Example 3 - Reaching Across Disciplines to Accelerate Research to the Clinic

In our third example we show how SofTMech, a multidisciplinary group comprising of mathematicians, statisticians and NHS clinicians from multiple centres in Scotland, employ different approaches to stakeholder engagement to support and so accelerate academic research to the clinic.

SoftMech Logo


Other Examples

The EPSRC Quantum Technologies Public Dialog Report - This report gives the results of a public dialogue on quantum technologies (QTs), commissioned by EPSRC. The exercise was carried out in order to better understand how the public views and feels about the quantum technologies currently being developed by researchers and their potential applications.

The overall aim of the dialogue was to explore public views on QTs, devices, and applications.
Specifically, its objectives were to:

  • Understand public perceptions of QTs, in terms of people’s spontaneous, unprompted views, and more considered opinions in response to information, discussions, stimuli, etc.
  • Explore public values in relation to QTs, including their aspirations and priorities, and concerns or dilemmas – uncovering the principles that underpin their views;
  • Engage the public in a dialogue with experts and researchers, in order to:
    • Inform the public about the technology, services and devices which may emerge from the UK National Quantum Technology Programme and the wider community;
    • Inform the quantum community of the public’s views (through the dialogue and its outputs) about the social and ethical implications of quantum research and technologies.

The dialogue was highly exploratory in nature – contributing the first substantive knowledge of public attitudes to quantum technologies and their applications.

Responsible Innovation Training

We have run a number of responsible innovation training sessions in the recent past an will continue to offer similar sessions on over the coming years.

We are pleased to announce a further two online Masterclasses on Responsible Innovation in Practice, led by Couto Phoenix Consulting. The first workshop, ‘An Introduction to Putting Responsible Innovation into Practice’ will take place on Thursday 18th of November 11AM – 1PM

  • Learn what responsible innovation (RI) is, why it is important and where it applies along the research to innovation continuum. 
  • Learn how to start embedding RI into your research via the AREA framework.
  • Learn to distinguish between RI and other public engagement/science communication activities

Places are limited to 25. Please register in advance by following this link.

The second workshop will take place towards end of January 2022 (TBA), and will follow on from the first workshop with greater depth: ‘Responsible Innovation in Practice – Developing Your Engagement Strategy’  

  • Understanding stakeholders is key to embedding RI into your research.  
  • Work with your fellow participants to conduct an in-depth analysis of project stakeholders.
  • Develop an awareness of their interests, how they align with the approach you are taking to solve your research question   and identify whether they can influence your work. 

EPSRC Long term ambitions for Responsible Innovation

The EPSRC Delivery Plan 2019 states:

“…responsible innovation is business-as-usual for researchers, and there is more comprehensive recognition of the opportunity it offers in exploring and opening up new, more sustainable, more socially desirable pathways for innovation”


EPSRC’s approach to responsible innovation and the AREA framework are well established and more support and resources are becoming available all the time - please see the links to external resources on this page. EPSRC are also supporting RI through mandatory RI training for CDT students and their Open Plus Fellowships, and it's profile and importance is increasing. We have established a RI framework to support IAA projects at Glasgow and plan to offer other support mechanisms such as mentoring, RI champions and more in depth training in the future.

For advice please or if you have a good example of RI in practice please contact us.