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Looking Back on 2021

by Redazione FGB [1], 21 January 2022

As another eventful year closes behind us, the Bassetti Foundation sends New Year greetings to all our readers with a look back on events over the last twelve months.


The Bassetti Foundation often receives invitations to present its work and share its expertise in responsible innovation at a broad range of conferences and events held across the world. The following offers an overview of some of last year's highlights.

In English

TRANSFORM at the 19th European Week of Regions and Cities

The European Week of Regions and Cities is the largest annual Brussels-based event dedicated to cohesion policy. Bringing together regions and cities from all over Europe, including politicians, administrators, experts and academics in a four-day event, last year saw Angela Simone and the TRANSFORM team (more about that later) present on how strategies can be developed that enable regional policymakers to best serve their populations and strengthen trust between institutions and citizens.

A comprehensive review of their presentations is available here [2].

Berlin Science Week

Jonathan Hankins participated in a science café at Berlin Science Week as closing event in the ORION Train the Trainer MOOC. Hankins presented an overview of Open-Source approaches and applications via Skype, apparently from the roadside after not being able to reach Berlin due to car issues. Although all may not be quite what it seems.

Read his review of the course and watch video of his presentation here [3].

OECD Conference on Technology in and for Society

Building Inclusivity Upstream: Engaging Diverse Actors in the Development of Emerging Technology, (the opening panel of this conference) was moderated by Angela Simone. Featuring a host of internationally renowned actors from a range of fields, the panel addressed inclusivity in terms of access to the processes of technology development, where enriching diversity of participants is linked to the creation of more socially relevant science and technology.

Find a summary of points raised throughout the conference and watch video of this and other panels here [4].


Angela Simone joined Erik Fisher and Guangxi He at the NewHoRRIzon final conference in a session entitled RRI as an Integrated Approach to Research and Innovation Across Disciplines, Contexts and Countries. The panel discussed how RRI can work as an integrated approach to promote better science, technology and innovation across different disciplines that can meet the grand challenges of society.

Video of the presentation is available on the NEW HORRIZON website [5].

In Italian

Milan Digital Week

Foundation President Piero Bassetti took centre stage during Milan Digital Week. Bassetti was joined by Federica Spampinato for a discussion on the need to develop new tools in order to manage the unknown. Moderated by Francesco Samoré, the discussion touched upon the need to not only reimagine how we think about risk but also how we propose to govern it.

Video and podcast of the conversation is available here [6].

La roadmap lombarda per la transizione ecologica

Francesco Samoré participated in the Lombardy Roadmap for Ecological Transformation conference, part of All4Climate 2021. Launched by the Italian Ministry for Ecological Transition, All4Climate fostered proactive dialogue on the challenges of the climate crisis, providing a unique opportunity for climate champions around the world to contribute directly to this September's Pre-COP meetings in Milan.

Samoré opened a discussion around the necessity and meaning of public dialogue and the co-construction of ecological transition, presenting several of the projects that the Foundation participates in (more details of which come later).

Video and podcast of his own and links to all of the other presentations are available here [7].

Oltre lo specchio di Alice, governare l'innovazione: il caso del movimento per la italica community

President Piero Bassetti presented the foreword on an evening of celebration of the European Researchers' Night in Italy. Amongst other issues, in his presentation President Bassetti proposed the need to think beyond and into the future and look for a sense in innovation, all of which might help in finding effective governance strategies

Transcription of his intervention is available here [8].

Margins and Forgotten Places

Maurizio Bettiga gave the Keynote Address Biotechnology as a Tool for Sustainable Development: on sustainability, responsibility and just transitions at the Doctoral School of Verona University's Ph.D. Conference, within a framework program dedicated to the UN 2030 Agenda. In his address, Bettiga reflects on the potential of biotechnological innovations as facilitators for sustainable development as well as on the responsibility that comes together with their potential to impact large swaythes of society.

Video of his Keynote can be found via the event website [9].

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One of the principle aims of the Bassetti Foundation website is to enable as broad a discussion as possible of the issues that arise when thinking about responsible innovation. One aspect of this aim, that of offering a broader public access to streamlined summaries of conference proceedings, has been particularly prevalent this year due to online availability. In his role as Foreign Scientific correspondent, Jonathan Hankins offered his insight into the following events.

MARIE Webinar Week

The objective of the MARIE project is to improve regional public policy that supports delivery of RRI to enterprises' product, process and service design, production and distribution. After more than 4 years in operation, the project hosted 3 days of seminars, focusing on Responsibility and sustainable strategies including how to change funding structures to support these strategies and a look into forthcoming programming.

A review of the individual seminars including links to video are available here [10].

European Biotechnology and Society Online Seminar Series 2021

Run over a five-week period, the series offered presentations and discussion with 11 groups of speakers with diverse perspectives: academic and industry scientists, social and interdisciplinary researchers, and research funders. Speakers shared their practical and conceptual work on social, environmental, political and ethical dimensions of biotechnology in Europe.

The series is reviewed in two parts, both of which can be accessed here [11].

The Final Conference of the SIENNA Project

The SIENNA project addressed ethical issues in three new and emerging technology areas: human genomics, human enhancement and human-machine interaction, areas that all come with major socio-economic impact and also raise issues related to human rights. The final conference was held over three days, the first two dedicated to these three topic areas and the third to the umbrella field of the governance of emerging technologies.

Find the review with links to their policy briefs here [12].

Responsible Innovation: Industrial Biotechnology and Engineering Biology

This was an online event hosted by the Carbon Recycling Network, the Nottingham BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre, and the ENGICOIN project, in collaboration with the Institute for Science and Society, University of Nottingham. The event introduced RRI and related ideas and practices in industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology, and considered the transition towards engineering biology, exploring future prospects for these fields.

The review with links for further details can be found here [13].

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Despite the measures introduced due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Foundation continued to run its traditional program of inviting guests to present their work. The following events were all conducted in Italian and streamed live, with recordings available through the links below.

Book presentations

2050 Passaggio al nuovo mondo

Paolo Perulli presented his book Nel 2050, Passaggio al nuovo mondo, followed by a discussion of its contents between Anna Grandori, Fabio Rugge and Piero Bassetti. A summary of the discussion and links to the video and podcast are available here [14], with a review of the book itself (in English) here [15].

Red Mirror. Il nostro futuro si scrive in Cina

Simone Pieranni discussed his book Red Mirror. Il nostro futuro si scrive in Cina, before debating its merits with Juan Carlos De Martin. Angela Simone moderated a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation.

Video, podcast and summary can be found here [16].

Blockchain, cambio di paradigma? Responsabilità, istituzioni e nuovo business

Francesco Samoré introduced Nicola Attico and some of the arguments in his latest book Blockchain, cambio di paradigma? Responsabilità, istituzioni e nuovo business, before opening a discussion with the author that touched upon the fundamental structural characteristics of Blockchain and its (influence within the digital revolution. This dialogue raised issues of sovereignty, time, opinion-forming, health and currency matters and was followed by a series of questions from event participants.

Video, podcast and a summary can be found here [17].

Per soli uomini. L'ingiustizia dei dati dalla ricerca scientifica al design

Emanuela Griglié and Guido Romeo presented their latest book collaboration before a discussion about gender discrimination in datasets moderated by Francesco Samoré with the authors and guests Ilenia Picardi and Barbara De Micheli.

Video, podcast and summary can be found here [18].


As in 2020 the Foundation dedicated a series to the ongoing attempts to govern responsibly in times of pandemic. 2021 was the year of the vaccination campaign, and featured a series of events aimed at discussing the relationship between vaccination, responsibility and innovation. Video and podcast available via the links.

Voltare pagina, oltre il vaccino: chi decide le politiche in uscita dalla pandemia.

Turning the page, beyond the vaccine: who makes political decisions when we come out of the pandemic? raises the issue of how the sudden growth in influence of scientists in (political) decision-making has changed the political landscape. Where experts were once drawn from economics and the social sciences, they are now predominantly medical specialists and with less experience dealing in terms of the relation between power and knowledge. Summary, video and podcast can be found here [19].

Vaccini Globali?

Global Vaccines? addresses vaccine development and deployment from a geopolitical perspective. Vaccine development brings changes in the relationships between states but also between the state and industry (and not merely pharmaceutical), driven by availability, distribution and production capacity. Summary, video and podcast can be found here [20].

Ai tempi del vaccino

In Times of Vaccine raised a series of questions: what do citizens think about the way the pandemic response has been governed and which sources do they believe? What is the general perception of risk posed by vaccination? Which tools should we use for the most effective and responsible approach to the health emergency? Summary, video and podcast can be found here [21].

Vaccini COVID-19, Quali scelte?

COVID-19 Vaccines, which choice? For an overview of this discussion see this post on the TechnologyBloggers platform [22], a summary (in English) written by Jonathan Hankins. Summary, video and podcast can be found here [23].

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The year also saw two interview series, one in Italian and the second in English.

Interviews Conducted by Gabriele Giacomini (In Italian)

The Foundation also hosted a series of interviews conducted by Gabriele Giacomini. The objective of the series was to analyze the main challenges posed by the ever more pervasive spread of ICT and discuss theoretical and practical proposals made across a broad spectrum of actors.

With Marina Calloni [24], Giacomini raised issues such as the effect of the internet upon power relationships, feminism, the problem of online public manipulation and crisis for democracy. With Giovanni Ziccardi [25] topics such as the political roles played by large digital companies, EU data protection laws, digital rights and its use for political manipulation.
With Marco Delmastro [26]the conversation revolved around issues with big data, power relations between users and platforms and possible consumer advantages brough about by the widespread use of new datasets.

All of the links above lead to video, podcast, introductions to the speakers and a transcription of the questions asked (several of which were asked to each participant so offer a comparative perspective).

The whole series can be found here [27].

Art in Responsible Innovation (in English)

The first two Art in Responsible Innovation interviews were conducted by Jonathan Hankins. This semestral series introduces a 'talk show' format to the Foundation website, with guests working at the crossroads between art and responsible innovation invited to explain their approaches and work. The first two episodes brought Rodolfo and Lija Groenewoud van Vliet [28]from In4Art into the virtual studio, while in the second Maurizio Montalti [29]explained his love for all things fungal. Video and podcast through the links above.

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Alongside publications carried on the website, the Foundation collaborators and the Foundation itself often participate in third-party publications. Reports, guidelines, perspectives and academic articles authored by staff are a regular occurrence, as are translations and partnerships. The following offers a selection from 2021.

In English

Responsibility-by-design - Guidelines to develop long-term strategies (roadmaps) to innovate responsibly

The Foundation offered its expertise in the drafting process of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) CWA 17796 Responsibility-by-design - Guidelines to develop long-term strategies (roadmaps) to innovate responsibly. The guidelines aim to help organizations achieve socially desirable outcomes from their innovation processes, encouraging a "responsibility-by-design" approach that integrates considerations of technical, ethical, social, environmental, and economic aspects all along the research, development, and design process leading to an innovation.

Learn more and download the text here [30].

Academic Publications and Perspectives from Bassetti Foundation Collaborators

Angela Simone and Jonathan Hankins both celebrated articles published in the Journal of Responsible Innovation in 2021.

Simone co-authored the influential paper RRI legacies: co-creation for responsible, equitable and fair innovation in Horizon Europe with Douglas K R Robinson, describing how the move from the H2020 funding framework to the new Horizon Europe programme has led to a change in focus and new requirements on RRI and the RRI community. Hankins saw the publication of his review of Responsibility beyond growth. A case for responsible stagnation, summarizing some of the questions raised in the book: How would Responsible Innovation develop if it could be uncoupled from its aim to drive economic growth? Could such a conceptual development be conceived as Responsible Stagnation?

Hankins went on to develop an extended version of the review (published in Glocalism) in which he developed the arguments laid out in the book to propose the term 'response-able' innovation as response to some of the criticism made in the book.

An overview and links to the JRI articles can be found here [31], and Glocalism awaits you here [32].

In Italian

Innovazione nella Partecipazione dei Cittadini al Decision Making Pubblico e Nuove Istituzioni Democratiche

Within the framework of the TRANSFORM project (more to follow), the Foundation prepared and presented highlights in Italian of the OECD report Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions: Catching the Deliberative Wave. The aim of the publication (in Italian: Innovazione nella partecipazione dei cittadini al decision making pubblico e nuove istituzioni democratiche) is to further spread awareness of public deliberation and citizen engagement tools amongst both policy-makers and the broader public alike.

The report is available here in Italian [33] and also in English [34].

Bitcoin: decentralizzazione concentrata

In Bitcoin: decentralizzazione concentrate, Alessandro Scoscia raises the question of what happens when the enormous calculation resources necessary for the production of cryptocurrency (bitcoin) becomes concentrated in so few hands? Scoscia discusses the both the geopolitical and ethical implications from a broadly democracy-based perspective.

Read more here [35].



The EU Horizon 2020 TRANSFORM project is coordinated by the Bassetti Foundation. Through the project, three regional governments (Lombardy, Catalonia and Brussels-Capital) are working on experimental approaches to involve citizens in local government policy-making on research and innovation (R&I), with the aim of achieving more open, inclusive and democratic territorial development. Focusing on the place-based regional Smart Specialization Strategies (S3) for innovation, the project is testing three participatory methodologies: participatory research agenda setting, design for social innovation and citizen science.

Learn more here. [36]


The Bassetti Foundation is Vice-coordinator of MOSAIC, a newly launched EU Horizon 2020 funded project. The project aims to study, proof and assess how solutions to big challenges such as leading big cities towards climate neutrality can be made possible and enhanced by actively involving all concerned actors through sound methodological approaches, focusing on understanding how the full role of citizens in co-innovation can be met and fairly rewarded.

Get involved and register for a webinar here [37].


Fair Energy Transition for All (FETA) is yet another UE funded project, in this case set up by a consortium of European foundations to ask the questions of How the EU and its member states can prevent climate policies from hitting the pockets of poorer households the hardest, policy be designed so that everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the energy transition and how the energy transition be combined with social justice. The Bassetti Foundation is coordinating a multi-level discussion with a multi-disciplinary expert group in order to produce a national policy proposal.

For more details see the FETA website [38] (in English) and this article [39] in Italian.

Incontrando il Foro regionale per la Ricerca e l'Innovazione

Meeting the Regional Forum for Research and innovation is a series of webinars promoted by the Region of Lombardy and the Foundation whose aim is to introduce the Forum members to a broader public. As regular readers will know, the Foundation was heavily involved in the creation of the Forum and its broad international expert group.

Video and podcast of the meetings is available here [40], many of which are in English.

Education, Education, Education!

Milan Polytechnic School of Design

Longevity and Responsible Innovation presents video and podcast links to a series of lectures delivered for the Design School of Milan Polytechnic. The series was promoted in partnership with the Ravasi-Garzanti Foundation, with lectures addressing robotics, ethics and rights, evidence based medicine, adaptation of housing and home services as well as offering an overview of approaches taken in Milan.

Free education here [41].

Milan Polytechnic School of Management

The Bassetti Foundation has also been contributing to scientifically reshaping the Executive Master in the Management of Research, Innovation and Technology, inserting modules, lessons and laboratories on Responsible Innovation. The Foundation will also coordinate some of these new modules.

Milan Polytechnic Foundation

Sticking with the Milan Polytechnic theme, Francesco Samoré personally particpated in the presentation of the Milan Polytechnic Foundation Design Healthcare Innovation platform developed with Polifactory, an event that offered reflexions on the project, patient engagement and innovation in Italy.

For further details of the Masters program see here [42], and more on design healthcare innovation here [43].

The Bassetti Foundation has a long history of collaboration with and reviews of both academic journals and books. The aim is to build a bridge between the academic developments in the field of responsible innovation and those who may not have access to or have knowledge of developments there.


Journal of Responsible Innovation

The Foundation has always held a position on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Responsible Innovation, and alongside submitting articles for publication therein offers reviews of each and every article [44] that the journal has carried over the last eight years. 2021 offered the opportunity to review two Special Issues, the final issue of volume 7 (2020) and the first issue from volume 8. Follow the links below for reviews and links to each article.

Luck as a challenge for the responsible governance of science and technology [45]
Special Issue on Public engagement in contested political contexts [46]
Journal of Responsible Innovation, Volume 7, Issue 3 [47]
Journal of Responsible Innovation, Volume 8, issue 1 [48]

The website also carried reviews of three open-access book publications, all of which carry links to download the publications. Click on the titles for reviews and access.

Artificial Intelligence for a Better Future. An Ecosystem Perspective on the Ethics of AI and Emerging Digital Technologies [49] is the latest book from Bernd Carsten Stahl and part of the Springer Briefs in Research and Governance series.
Assessment of Responsible Innovation: Methods and Practices [50] is edited by Emad Yaghmaei and Ibo van de Poel and presents a compendium of different approaches, methods and metrics for assessing responsible innovation practices
Implementing Responsible Research and Innovation. Organisational and National Conditions [51] is another Springer Brief in Ethics written by Christian Wittrock, Ellen-Marie Forsberg, Auke Pols, Philip Macnaghten and David Ludwig, and is an analysis of data collected in the EU Horizon 2020 RRI-Practice study.

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All at the Foundation would like to send our thanks and best wishes for the coming year to all of our readers, partners and collaborators, as we look forward to continuing to develop through 2022 and beyond.


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  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Redazione FGB
  2. 2] /en/focus/2021/11/transform_at_the_19th_european.html
  3. 3] /en/focus/2021/01/orion_open_science_train_the_t.html
  4. 4] /en/focus/2021/12/oecd_conference_on_technology_.html
  5. 5] https://newhorrizon.eu/rri-as-an-integrated-approach-to-research-and-innovation-across-disciplines/
  6. 6] /it/focus/2021/04/milano_digital_week_presetnazi.html
  7. 7] /it/focus/2021/11/transizione_ecologica_disegnar.html
  8. 8] /it/focus/2021/09/notte_europea_del_ricercatore_.html
  9. 9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZi21cKiYZc
  10. 10] /en/focus/2021/10/marie_webinar_week_an_overview.html
  11. 11] /en/focus/2021/07/european_biotechnology_and_soc_1.html
  12. 12] /en/focus/2021/03/notes_from_the_sienna_project_.html
  13. 13] /en/focus/2021/02/responsible_innovation_industr.html
  14. 14] /it/focus/2021/11/2050_passaggio_al_nuovo_mondo_.html
  15. 15] /en/focus/2021/06/nel_2050_passaggio_al_nuovo_mo.html
  16. 16] /it/focus/2021/07/red_mirror_il_nostro_futuro_si.html
  17. 17] /it/focus/2021/05/blockchain_cambio_di_paradigma.html
  18. 18] /it/focus/2021/03/per_soli_uomini_lingiustizia_d.html
  19. 19] /it/focus/2021/07/voltare_pagina_oltre_il_vaccin.html
  20. 20] /it/focus/2021/05/vaccini_globali.html
  21. 21] /it/focus/2021/02/ai_tempi_del_vaccino.html
  22. 22] https://www.technologybloggers.org/science/covid-19-vaccines-which-choice/
  23. 23] /it/focus/2020/12/vaccini_covid-19_quali_scelte.html
  24. 24] /it/focus/2021/09/la_rete_ha_un_ruolo_ambivalent.html
  25. 25] /it/focus/2021/06/solo_una_politica_coerente_eur.html
  26. 26] /it/focus/2020/12/i_big_data_vanno_governati_ma_.html
  27. 27] /tags/le%20interviste%20di%20Giacomini
  28. 28] /en/focus/2021/04/art_in_responsible_innovation.html
  29. 29] /en/focus/2021/09/art_in_responsible_innovation_.html#
  30. 30] /en/focus/2021/10/responsibility-by-design_-_gui.html
  31. 31] /en/focus/2021/08/two_recent_academic_publicatio.html
  32. 32] https://glocalismjournal.org/responsabilty-beyond-growth-a-case-for-responsible-stagnation-by-s-de-saille-f-medvecky-m-van-oudheusden-k-albertson-e-amanatidou-t-birabi-m-pansera/
  33. 33] /it/segnalazioni/2021/10/onda_deliberativa_-_lancio_del.html
  34. 34] https://www.oecd.org/gov/innovative-citizen-participation-and-new-democratic-institutions-339306da-en.htm
  35. 35] /it/focus/2021/03/bitcoin_decentralizzazione_con.html
  36. 36] /en/focus/2021/01/transform_for_a_more_open_incl.html
  37. 37] http://mosaic-mission.eu/
  38. 38] https://fair-energy-transition.eu/
  39. 39] /it/focus/2021/01/dialogare_con_la_societa_per_u.html
  40. 40] /it/focus/2021/07/incontrando_il_foro_regionale_.html
  41. 41] /it/focus/2021/05/longevita_e_innovazione_respon.html
  42. 42] https://www.som.polimi.it/en/course/mit-master-in-management-of-research-innovation-and-technology/
  43. 43] https://www.fondazionepolitecnico.it/eventi/design-healthcare-innovation/
  44. 44] /tags/Journal%20of%20Responsible%20Innovation
  45. 45] /en/focus/2021/05/jri_special_issue_2_luck_as_a_.html
  46. 46] /en/focus/2021/05/journal_of_responsible_innovat_19.html
  47. 47] /en/focus/2021/02/review_journal_of_responsible.html
  48. 48] /en/focus/2021/09/journal_of_responsible_innovat_20.html
  49. 49] /en/focus/2021/06/book_review_artificial_intelli.html
  50. 50] /en/focus/2021/04/assessment_of_responsible_inno.html
  51. 51] /en/focus/2021/11/book_review_implementing_respo.html
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