ETHNA Lab method and training materials released

To truly develop and improve the ETHNA System it must be tested out in real life situations. Implement, test, refine…through an iterative process, the ETHNA Lab method is taking six organisations across Europe through an inclusive process of developing, testing, and refining the ETHNA System.

After months of development the ETHNA Lab method and training materials (Deliverable 5.3) have been released and are being put into practice. The deliverable includes a guide on the ETHNA Lab process, followed by reflections on the methodological development of the ETHNA Lab and its implementation.

“It has been an eye-opening experience to see how the ETHNA Lab process is bringing together stakeholders to co-create, experiment with, and evaluate the elements of the ETHNA System in vastly different contexts,” shared Sigrid Vedel Neuhaus from the Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DBT), the partner supporting the implementation process.

In the first step, Implementation Plans (Deliverable 5.1) have been created by the six implementing organisations. In addition, each organisation has created stakeholder engagement plans (Deliverable 5.2), providing insight into the plans for engaging Quadruple Helix stakeholders in the implementation, testing, and improvement of the ETHNA System. The engagement of Quadruple Helix stakeholders is key in the co-creative development process of the ETHNA System, ensuring its usefulness, relevance as well as is sensitivity to different social values and concerns. 

The ETHNA Lab process is currently running simultaneously in six different organisations from four different research and innovation contexts. Over the period from December 2021 to October 2022 the implementing organisations have adapted the ETHNA Lab process and the ETHNA System to fit their own, individual organisational reality.

Currently each of the organisations are facing different opportunities and challenges in their implementation of the ETHNA System. For example, in the context of a university, the Universitat Jaume I of Castellón (UJI) has led several critical external consultation workshops. UJI’s Dr. Ramón Feenstra has found that, “the implementation project has been a real challenge for the participants. Discovering the great plurality of disciplines and thinking is one of the highlights. You end up meeting a wide range of people – who said research ethics is boring!?” In the other university, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), where tools similar to those proposed by the ETHNA system are already in place, the RRI officer is exploring how successfully these instruments are integrated in the life of a department and how the ETHNA system could bring an added value.

The implementing institution, the Education and Youth Board (Harno), a government agency of the Ministry of Education and Research that deals with the implementation of Estonian education and youth policy, is moving smoothly in the process of developing ethical governance procedures. Multiple awareness raising events for internal target groups on ethics, gender, open access have been held and the appointed RRI Officer together with the working group meets regularly. The first brick in the ETHNA System set of building blocks was an in-depth treatment of the issue of gender diversity, as a result of which sections were prepared for the Code of Ethics and Good Practice. Thanks to this effort, Harno’s Gender Equality Plan for the period 2022-2027 was adopted.

At the Applied Research and Communications Fund (ARC Fund) the ETHNA System implementation is well on its way. An RRI-Officer and a working group has been formed to develop a Code of Ethics and Good Practices. The working group has conducted several interviews and are planning for a workshop with internal stakeholders as a part of developing the Code. After the finalisation of the Code, a Research Ethics Board will also be formed. Lastly, all staff members will participate in a series of trainings (research ethics; public engagement methods; gender equality and diversity issues in research; and training on open access).

Lastly, Espaitec, the Science and Technology Park at UJI, which works in the area of innovation is in the process of developing a Code of Ethics and Good Practices in terms of gender perspective. As Espaitec is not a research centre, a key challenge has been the lack of references of good practices in ecosystems such as theirs. “We have realised that there are many examples of responsible research, but not so much of innovation hubs. So, a main difficulty has been to identify good practices that can serve all the companies settled in the park, since they develop their activity in very diverse sectors such as energy and environment, ICT, health and biotechnology, among others,” noted Eva Pardo Gil from Espaitec.

Towards the end of the year, reports will be released analysing the ETHNA system implementation and collecting the difficulties found in the process.

Download the deliverable 5.1

Download the deliverable 5.2

Download the deliverable 5.3

All the deliverables of the ETHNA System project can be found here.

The deliverables have not yet been reviewed by the European Commission. Its content might therefore change as a result of the review process.