NUCLEUS | New Understanding of Communication, Learning & Engagement in Universities & Scientific Institutions

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 01 November 2015
Last modified on 29 January 2021



From 31/08/2015 to 31/08/2019

NUCLEUS was a four-year, Horizon 2020 project investigating how to make Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) a reality in universities and research institutions. What institutional barriers prevent these organisations from engaging with their stakeholders to align research with society’s needs? How can these obstacles be overcome? NUCLEUS was implementing new policies and programming in 10 international test sites to understand the DNA of RRI.

The NUCLEUS project had a four-year timeline that covered two stages: the development of an Implementation Roadmap for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), and an evaluation of the Roadmap’s performance in practice.


From 2016-2017, the NUCLEUS project focused on understanding RRI in universities and research institutions: its barriers, good practices, and how it can be brought to life in academic culture and policies.

Through interviews with leading researchers and administrators, and studies of funding policies, the project identified specific barriers to RRI in academic environments. At the same time, NUCLEUS also conducted field trips to learn how stakeholder groups such as journalists or policymakers work with research institutions. What are the challenges in these relationships? What are examples of good practice?

Reflecting on the findings, the project developed a series of action plans to implement for testing: an RRI Roadmap.


In November 2017, NUCLEUS began the exciting experiment of implementing its action plans in two categories of testing sites called Nuclei.

Embedded Nuclei facilitate RRI practices in ten research institutions, with policies and culture change led by dedicated units. In parallel, twenty mobile Nuclei test more modular approaches, such as workshops, exhibitions or science cafes.

From 2017-2019, these international sites evaluated the performance of the action plans in real organisations, refining the Roadmap and uncovering the DNA of RRI.


Throughout the timeline of the project, NUCLEUS invited discussion and reflection at annual conferences. Building a network of allied RRI stakeholders, NUCLEUS fostered a deeper understanding of the practical implementation of RRI, throughout and beyond the project’s timeline.


  • Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, Germany (Coordinator)
  • University of Aberdeen, UK, Scotland
  • Bielefeld University, Germany
  • Ruhr University Bochum, Germany
  • Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • Dublin City University, Ireland
  • University of Edinburgh, UK, Scotland
  • Ilia State University Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Université de Lyon, France
  • University of Malta, Malta
  • Nottingham Trent University, UK, England
  • University of Twente, The Netherlands


  • Beijing Association for Science and Technology, BAST, China 
  • European Union of Science Journalists' Association, EUSJA, Finland
  • European Science Events Association, EUSEA, Sweden

Extramural Institutions

  • Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Serbia
  • China Research Institute for Science Popularization, CRISP, China

Networks and Municipalities

  • City of Bochum / UniverCity Network Bochum, Germany
  • Nottingham City Council, UK, England
  • Science City Hannover, Germany
  • South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement, South Africa
  • Wissenschaft im Dialog, Germany 

Science Communication Practice and Evaluation

  • Psiquadro, Italy
  • Science View, Greece

Alexander Gerber / NUCLEUS project coordinator

[email protected]


Robin Yee / NUCLEUS communications officer

[email protected]

Total cost: EUR 3.993.632
EU contribution: EUR 3.993.632
Project reference: 664932
Funded under: H2020-ISSI-2014-1

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