Responsible Innovation

Responsible innovation

More and more companies are expected by customers, stock holders, the government, investors and non-governmental organizations to show corporate social responsibility. Demand from society will probably go much further than personal integrity in the years to come. From high tech companies it is not only expected that they do business in a socially responsible way, but also that they innovate in a socially responsible way. It does not only concern sustainability, safety and health, but also values such as accountability, transparency, privacy and more general ethical and social concerns about intervening in human nature.

Experiences with biotechnology have taught us that insufficient social support for innovation can lead to extra costs, a delay of the innovation trajectories or even the failure of innovation and problems with respect to bearing the responsibility afterwards. Similar issues can be expected for nanotechnology and neurotechnology, and a fortiori for the convergence of new, revolutionary technology. In the United Stated and Europe the early identification of possible negative consequences of nanontechnology and converging technologies is thus high on the political agenda. Also for less controversial technology it remains the case that innovations will often be more easily accepted and more successful if they are tailored to social questions and worries in an early stage.

Grant program NWO on responsible innovation

NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, has launched a new grant program in June 2008, titled “Responsible Innovation” (“Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Innoveren” or MVI in Dutch). The new program will finance ethical and social explorations of science and technology. Research proposals have to be interdisciplinary. Prof. Jeroen van den Hoven, is chairman of the committee that has prepared the program. More information on this grant program can be found at

See also:

imageNederlands / in Dutch only:

  • Short interview about MVI with prof. Van den Hoven in NWO’s magazine ‘Geestesoog’ #3, 08
  • More extensive article about MVI in NWO’s magazine ‘Hypothese’, nr. 3, jrg. 15