International Handbook on Responsible Innovation
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International Handbook on Responsible Innovation

A Global Resource

Edited by René von Schomberg and Jonathan Hankins

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.
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Chapter 22: From technology assessment to responsible research and innovation in synthetic biology

Dirk Stemerding


This chapter discusses our experiences with anticipatory governance in synthetic biology as a new and emerging engineering science of life. Our engagement with this field comprised a range of activities, in which we gradually moved from technology assessment (TA) to responsible research and innovation (RRI). As we argue, RRI not only builds on established forms of TA, but also challenges TA approaches as predominantly framed by a concern with impacts and the governance of risks. By shifting our focus to the purposes of innovation, RRI invites us to engage with technological innovation in new and more aspiring ways. Inspired by the notion of RRI, we have thus been moving in our engagement with synthetic biology from a technological options-orientated approach to a societal objectives-orientated approach. Both approaches we see as vital and complementary modes of sociotechnical integration, the first firmly established in various modes of TA, the second highlighted by the aims of RRI.

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