RRIstart | A Responsible Research & Innovation Model for Impact investment & Responsible Startups

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 08 April 2021
Last modified on 08 April 2021



From 01/03/2021 to 29/02/2024

RRIstart responds to the EU efforts to foster impact investment (investment that delivers social, environmental and economic benefits) by developing an innovative RRI-based model for startups, complemented by an RRI-based impact investment indicator list in a multi-stakeholder (beyond quadruple helix) context. Through RRIstart, the consortium aims to demonstrate the value of RRI for the STEM entrepreneurship ecosystem. At the moment, startups and investors do not adopt existing RRI principles and indicators due to the limited compatibility of existing RRI models (tailored mostly for large organizations). Nevertheless, by adopting a lean/agile approach to RRI embedment, RRIstart proposes a novel RRI model for startups blended with novel RRI-based impact investment indicators. RRIstart tests the developed innovation through a translational piloting approach (from lab to market).

Three pilots will be organized [on environmentally sustainable startups from Northern Europe, 3D printing & advanced materials in Italy and bioeconomy (agrifood) in Greece]. In each pilot, extended quadruple helix actors will be involved in order to assess the feasibility of embedding RRI in startups and to facilitate (public and private) impact investment through the RRI-based indicator set.

By adopting a multi-disciplinary approach in a multi-sectoral STEM context, RRIstart will update the SwafS knowledge base through the following: contributing to 9 MoRRI indicators and 9 SDGs; boosting societal engagement towards STEM startups; fostering the recruitment of talent for STEM startups; pairing scientific excellence with social awareness and responsibility by facilitating RRI-based startups and impact investment; creating new market opportunities; bring society closer to science and innovation through impact investment (show-casing the clear benefits of societal engagement in innovation development); and overall, making EU startups and investors more RRI-aware.


  • Objective 1 – Contextualize and test an RRI model tailored for STEM startups - RRIStart introduces a contextualized RRI model tailored for the needs of STEM startups. More specifically, this model will encompass the resource-constrained environment of startups and will help them integrate RRI in their innovation development & marketization process, increasing thus their chances of impact investment and market apprehension of the innovation/products that they develop. Therefore, RRIstart will bring RRI closer society and enterprises while also providing a novel approach towards interdisciplinarity in startups, business model innovation and impact investment.
  • Objective 2 – Research & adapt an RRI-based indicator set for impact investment - RRIstart extends and adapts a novel set of indicators (RRI-powered) based on GIIN, IRIS, ESG and MoRRI indicators to assist investors (both public and private) in their decision-making process towards the responsible investment in startups and/or innovation development. By adopting an RRI-based indicator list, the investors will be able to ensure that societal needs are better represented and linked with science development, while also enforcing (through institutional/stakeholder coercive/normative/mimetic pressures) startups & innovation developers to adopt an RRI-approach to R&D. This will lead to a deeper interaction between science, innovation and the economy while also paving the way to open science and social impact (through RRI compliance).
  • Objective 3 – Research & design a novel constellation of actors to enable RRI-based startups and impact investment - RRIstart pushes the quadruple helix approach to new frontiers in order to understand what multistakeholder constellations are required to properly enable RRI-based startups and RRI-based impact investment. This endeavour identifies new forms of multi-stakeholder collaboration, the emergence of new stakeholders and the implicitly adaptation of the RRI science of the SwafS knowledge-base to be suitable for startups and impact investment, enabling thus the achievement of the SwafS goals. The role, collaboration incentives & envisioned interactions to better enable impact investment & responsible startups will also be researched.
  • Objective 4 – Pilot the contextualized RRI model for startups, the adapted RRI-based impact - investment indicators and the newly identified constellation of actors - RRIstart tests the contextualized RRI model tailored for the needs of STEM startups in order to update the SwafS knowledgebase with evidence-based & applied models while also exploring the feasibility of the model in impact investment & RRI-based startups. Three (3) such pilots will be implemented covering sectors such as environment, advanced materials and biotechnology (agrifood) by leveraging alternate forms of investment (public & private). This will be done by also quantifying, validating & confirming the developed indicators & metrics and align/integrate them with the MoRRI indicators. Similarly, during the pilots, RRIstart will explore the relevance of the proposed multi-stakeholder approach to enabling the transition of RRI-enabled impact investment in startups in an applied manner (and potentially identify new stakeholders and hybrid actors required to support RRI-based startups and RRI-based impact investment, while also leveraging the science-society relations). This will make EU startups & investors more RRI aware & capable.







A consortium of 6 organisations from 4 European countries

  • University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy
  • Wageningen University, the Netherlands
  • Knowledge and Innovation - K&I, Italy
  • South-East European Research Centre - SEERC, Greece
  • European Business Angels Network – EBAN, Belgium
  • Youth Entrepreneurship Education Technology - YET, Greece
Overall budget: € 1 099 125
EU contribution: € 1 099 125

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