ETHNA System | Ethics Governance System for RRI in Higher Education, Funding and Research Centres

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 13 July 2020
Last modified on 13 July 2020



From 01/01/2020 to 31/12/2022

The goal of the project is to implement and enforce an internal management and procedural system of the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) within 6 European Higher Education, Funding and Research Centres (hereinafter HEFRC). It aims to generate a process of Ethical Governance of the Responsible Research and Innovation (hereinafter RRI) where Gender equality, Open Science, Citizens’ Engagement and Integrity Research (ethics) dimensions will be also necessarily addressed through a multi-stakeholder governance. It will be translated into a new formal organisational structure that will facilitate the compliance with all RRI dimensions in all scientific disciplines as well as assuring the innovations accomplished are made according to the needs of civil society demands.

The project uses “ethics” to refer to the proposed management and governance system: ETHNA System, which involves an office and ethical governance and management tools. And “integrity research” to refer to the dimension of the RRI that in various documents of the European Commission is named as the ethical dimension, but whose definition points to integrity and good practices.

Summarizing, the implementation of ETHNA System will put into practice institutional changes in HERCs that will contribute to the science with and for society in EU. ETHNA System will be implemented in 6 HEFRCs which come from 6 different countries (Spain, Norway, Bulgaria, Estonia, Austria and Portugal) and 3 types of contexts (Universities, Funding research organisations and Technological Parks). It is expected that ETHNA System will be institutionalised so that the changes will be sustainable after the project life-cycle.

ETHNA System is based on the discourse, deontological and procedural Ethics which will be adopted in the Project. This is a discourse ethics methodology which is based on the principle that governance models should be based on the equal participation of all actors involved and/or affected by the R&I activities . To guarantee this theoretical principle ETHNA System will use a participatory methodology based on a living-labs methodology that focuses on co-design in a QHM (quadruple helix model) and innovation-camp method to allow participants to communicate and co-create.

And to move from theory to practice, an ethical infrastructure is developed: an Ethna Office of the RRI that offers guidelines as well as a system to ethically manage the dimensions of the RRI through four tools (ethical code, ethics committee, ethical hotline and progress indicators to report). The Ethna Office will be implemented in each HEFRC that will use the same protocol but adapted to its idiosyncrasy and specificity. Moreover, tools will be the same to all the HEFRC.

The toolbox for the implementation of Ethna Office is currently under development and will include 4 main instruments:

  • Ethical code: It is the formal document where we find an explicit declaration of the values that should orient the conduct of the actors involved in the R&I process, the promotion of good practices and indicators about the organisation’s nature and personality. 
  • Ethics committee: It is a space for participation and dialogue among the different interest groups in an organisation. In the case of R&I activities, the committee is in charge of monitoring and controlling the ethics and compliance program included in the ethical code.
  • Ethical hotline on R&I: It is a communication channel to express suggestions, alerts and complaints. In any format (i.e., postal mail, electronic mail, web, etc.), it is a matter of communicating a lack of compliance with an ethical code and suggestions for its improvement. 
  • Progress indicators to report on RRI: Monitoring and controlling the fulfilment of the ethical code. These reports provide information on the impacts that are generated by an organisation in this case through the R&I activities considering its economic, social and environmental impact. 


  • Universitat Jaume I, Spain
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
  • Fundación Española para la Ciencia y Tecnología, Spain
  • Zentrum für Soziale Innovation, Austria
  • Applied Research and Communications Fund, Bulgaria
  • Danish Board of Technology Foundation, Denmark
  • European Network of Research Ethics Committees – EUREC
  • BIOCOM AG, Germany
  • Archimedes Foundation, Estonia
  • Instituto Desenvolvimento de Novas Tecnologias, Portugal
Third parties
  • Fundación Universitat Jaume I-Empresa, Spain
  • Fundación para la Ética de los Negocios y de las Organizaciones ETNOR, Spain
Associated partners
  • Austrian Agency for Research Integrity Austria
  • University of Joanneum Austria
  • European Regions Research and Innovation Network Belgium
  • European Office in Brussels. Regional Government of Valencia Belgium
  • Startup Europe Awards, European Commission: Education and R&D Belgium
  • Estonian Research Council Estonia
  • Republic of Estonia Ministry of Education and Research Estonia
  • Adriano Olivetti Foundation Italy
  • European Citizen Science Association Germany
  • European Network of Research Ethics and Research Integrity Germany
  • Regional Government of Valencia. University, Research and Science Department Spain
  • Spanish Universities Association Spain
  • Innovation Network REDIT Spain
  • Scientific and Technological Park MADAN Portugal
  • University of Porto Portugal
  • Dimitrie Cantemir University Romania
  • International Business School Bulgaria

Uta Mommert

Rosana Sanahuja

Elsa Gonzáles-Esteban

Overall budget: € 1 490 718,75
EU contribution: € 1 490 718,75

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