Special ProjectsThe Institute is committed to being open and transparent about its research, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds, listening to and considering their hopes, concerns and aspirations. To do this, the Institute collaborates with partners to develop new opportunities. Here you can find out more about the major collaborative projects we are currently working on.
ORIONScience and technology are interwoven in our lives; they have and will continue to transform our world. However, with this huge potential comes ethical, legal and social dilemmas. ‘Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)’ aims to explore this by broadening the engagement of society with research, to better align societal expectations with the process and outcomes of scientific research – involving society in discussions about how science and technology will shape our future.
In 2017, the Institute along with a consortium of research institutes, research funders and public/patient engagement organisations were awarded €3.2m for a four-year EU-funded project ‘ORION’ - ‘Open Responsible research and Innovation to further Outstanding kNowledge’. The project focusses on embedding RRI principles (ethics, gender, governance, open access, public engagement and science education) across the organisations involved. We are exploring these ideas through three themes:
- 'Opening up the research engine’ - producing new collaborative scientific funding schemes
- ‘Identifying risks and opportunities of disruptive technology’ – exploring when and how we engage society in the development of new technology
- 'Multi-stakeholder projects in fundamental research’ – providing funding for projects that have a variety of partners including the public.
Public DialogueIn 2014 the Babraham Institute ran a public dialogue project to discuss the importance of fundamental biological research and its impact on society. Workshops were designed to summarise key research projects and areas of new and developing science and enabled Institute researchers to discuss their research and provided them with the opportunity to listen to the public’s views. The discussions covered key issues such as UK research funding allocation, how animals are used in the Institute’s research programme, which stages of a research project would be of most interest to a lay audience and how the Institute engages with the public.
The views reported confirm the Institute’s belief that fundamental research is of utmost importance to society. Fundamental research brings benefits to society because of its role in generating knowledge and, in the long term, preventing disease.
In discussions on animal research, participants welcomed the Institute’s commitment to openness and transparency in this regard. It was reported that participants felt that animal research was necessary to advance science and was acceptable when, as at the Institute, it is carried out ethically and when well regulated.
Further information about the project can be found in this news article and the report can be downloaded here.
The project was co-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Sciencewise. The workshops were run with assistance from dialogue specialists Ipsos MORI