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NWO Responsible Innovation Update
May 2016
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> Conference of 10 June
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Conference of 10 June
Looking forward to the conference

This Update focusses on the special EU Presidency 2016 edition of the annual conference of the NWO-MVI programme. Professor Jeroen van den Hoven, co-founder of the NWO-MVI programme, will give an introduction to the theme. He is looking forward to it: 'The conference will allow participants to share experiences and best practices from the NWO-MVI programme. We also discuss some urgent matters. Think of the rise of the smart city and the associated issues concerning the use and analysis of big data.'

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Big data: threat or public good?

ICT is being used to facilitate urbanisation and enhance urban life. The City of Amsterdam is one of the Dutch cities experimenting with 'smart' streetlamps: these will have cameras, microphones, and sensors that can 'follow' citizens in the street and also perform a range of measurements (air quality, traffic congestion). Cities can also develop other ways to collect data from the behaviour of citizens. A city 'on remote control'? Professor Dirk Helbing, a very well known and imaginative expert in the field from Zürich, is warning about this trend.

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Drones: responsible flying robots?
Nico Nijenhuis is CEO of the start-up Clear Flight Solutions. He and his team design drones for all kinds of purposes. 'Think of bird control around airports, but also of inspecting agricultural or natural areas to see where wild or endangered animal species are living.'
Drones are relatively new, but they play an increasingly important role in society, from freight to earth observation and disaster response to warfare. There are many ethical and legal aspects associated with the use of drones. Nijenhuis encounters these legal aspects on an almost daily basis. 'Drones are forbidden around airports, for obvious reasons. But the whole purpose of flying there with our "robird", which looks exactly like a bird of prey to real birds, is to keep the birds away from the aeroplanes. So there is a clear paradox.'

Professor Peter-Paul Verbeek at the University of Twente has teamed up with Clear Flight Solutions to investigate both the legal and ethical aspects. Verbeek: 'We will develop a tool to anticipate both aspects so that these can be developed and integrated in the development and use of drones. It is no use trying to stop the rise of these new kinds of technology that could threaten our privacy, for instance. Rather we should be prepared and take these risks seriously so that we can anticipate them.'


Foto: Olivier Middendorp

At the conference on 10 June in the morning Nijenhuis and Verbeek will give a presentation on their work with drones.

See VPRO Tegenlicht about the 'invasion of drones' with contributions of both speakers [in Dutch] >
Why Royal HaskoningDHV joined a NWO-MVI project on emotions

Emotions in innovation processes. With his experiences as a project manager, Carl de Cock is very familiar with this subject. 'I have worked at Royal HaskoningDHV for nearly twenty years. Four years ago I stepped back from a management position and became a senior project manager. All of the projects I have been a part of since then have involved social impact or stakeholder management. I have repeatedly observed that dealing with emotions is a key success factor for finding support for a project and, when necessary, being able to make the right adjustments.'


Image: Luuk Kramer

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Three parallel sessions to choose from

After lunch, conference participants can attend one out of three parallel sessions. All of them have to do with putting RRI into practice:

  1. The Societal Incubator - a tool for responsible innovation
  2. German life-saving alarm als showcase for responsible design
  3. Three European projects contributing to putting RRI into practice
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Calls and grants
Submit your pre-proposal for Responsible Innovation (NWO-MVI)

Researchers may submit pre-proposals for the new round of NWO's Responsible Innovation (NWO-MVI) programme until 14 June 2016. The programme is for joint projects of researchers engaged in the humanities, physical and natural sciences, and the social and behavioural sciences. Together with companies and civil society organisations, they identify at the development stage of innovations which potential ethical and societal issues may arise. Addressing these issues at an early stage will increase support among stakeholders and improve the chances of an innovation becoming successful. The call for proposals for the new NWO-MVI registration round is aligned with all top sectors and the Dutch National Research Agenda.

More information >
Last call: register now for the NWO-MVI conference 2016

Come to the NWO-MVI conference Responsible Innovation. Societal challenges and solutions on 10 June in Amsterdam! More information and registration on the NWO website.

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Responsible Innovation

The Responsible Innovation research programme (NWO-MVI) identifies at the development stage which societal aspects play a role and what societal context is needed to have the innovation succeed. This creates more support in society and helps prevent innovations from unnecessarily coming to a standstill. Furthermore, as a result of this research complex and cost-increasing adjustments later on can be avoided. This provides opportunities for better products and services through societally inspired innovations.

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