The RRI tools selected through the Industrial Dialogues have been tested in three different contexts
The precision medicine pilot activity was carried out by IMEGEN along with Aarhus University. The IMEGEN product on which the pilot has focused is called IMExoma, a specific DNA sequencing technique. The chosen tool has the been the End User Experience Advisory Panel, involving patients and doctors.
The pilot consisted of three main phases. In the first phase, 11 participants (5 doctors and 6 patients) took part in a half-day meeting in Madrid. The discussion, in the form of a focus group, evolved around the product life cycle as perceived by the participants. In the second phase, the focus group outcomes were discussed during a IMEGEN internal meeting, which led to the definition of 8 actions that the company can implement. An online questionnaire was then provided to all participants, with the aim of collecting feedback on the proposed actions. The third phase consisted of a webinar presenting survey’s outcomes to participants, and summarizing project next steps.
Francesco Lescai from Aarhus University describes the outcomes of the pilot and its benefit for the company
“The pilot has resulted in eight very concrete actions that the company is going to implement in the next future. One of these actions has been a concrete input in the design of the product: so, the final report of the diagnostic product will change according to some suggestions that the End User Advisory Panel has provided to the company. In general, these eight actions embraced three different categories: awareness, training and communication.
The pilot has provided an opportunity for the company to build better strategies and anticipate trends – form a technology point of view but also in terms of market trends and needs of the patients. Therefore this kind of experience can provide a long-term benefit to the company in building their business and creating new business models.”
3D printing in Biomedicine
The pilot took place with the involvement of the companies of the EU H2020 project SYMBIONICA, a Research and Innovation Action granted by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Programme. The project is coordinated by the SINTEA Plustek srl, and focuses on the manufacturing of personalized bionics, smart endoprosthetics and exo-prosthetics that require geometric and functional customization.
The pilot activities were seen as a valuable opportunity to launch a discussion aimed at revising existing rules and possibly introducing a new certification for medical 3D printed devices, based on the process rather than on the product. The two chosen tools used in the pilot are RRI Training for the SYMBIONICA consortium and a Multi-stakeholder Workshop aimed to discuss the chance to introduce a certification for 3D printing process in biomedicine and aligned with RRI principles.
Angela Simone from Giannino Bassetti Foundation explains some of the lessons learned from the pilot.
“The topic on new rules for 3Dmed is hot. There is a diffuse need to rethink the rules both to change by whom are shaped (so to have more real multi-stakeholder settings) and to change the contents of the standards, designing technical requirements in an RRI frame. Introducing RRI thanks to technical standards, so that are RRI-compliant by design, could be a practical and successful approach for companies, since standards are well-known and diffused tools for industrial actors. There are ongoing interesting approaches to look at, even if applied to other industrial innovation sectors, like for instance the ethical standards discussed under the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems.
The synthetic biology pilot was undertaken in the UK. This country has a mature governance and framework for SynBio, and several companies in UK are already aware of RRI, for example through their existing networks and the activities of the UK Research Councils albeit with slightly differing interpretations of RRI.
The chosen tool for the pilot is a repository of learning cases. The industry actors which participated are Cambridge Consultants, Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence), and Innovation and Sparkling Science Ltd, a micro biotech company. Each of them was asked to write a learning case study about what RRI meant for them, in their own context.
“The output will be three Case Studies in the form of short practitioner-authored vignettes”- Sally Randles from Manchester Metropolitan University explains. “They will help the governance layer to work through what might be needed to standardize an accreditation/certification process for companies and organizations that will incorporate RRI. An example of that is the work that we did with Cambridge Consultants, that takes a particular role as a knowledge intermediary in the ecosystem. The things that they discussed in their really interesting Case Study came from the perspective of bridging different technologies, different clients and different positions in the innovation ecosystem.”