Eu-SPRI Forum 2021: Science and innovation – an uneasy relationship?

In June 2021, OSIRIS co-organised the annual Eu-SPRI conference. The digital format attracted a record number of more than 400 participants for the three-day online event.  

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Foto: Anders Lien/UiO

Eu-SPRI is a member-based network of the leading research units in Europe that study science and innovation policy. Its annual conference is an important meeting place for academics and policymakers in this area, but the 2020 version had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.  The 2021 version had to be digital, and it was organised by TIK and NIFU and the three research council funded centres R-Quest, InTransit and OSIRIS. A main theme for the conference – which also marked the 10-year anniversary for the Eu-SPRI network – was a critical and reflexive discussion about the linkages between science and innovation. 

The digital three-day format attracted a record number of participants – more than 400. An upside of the digital organisation was that we had a fair number of participants from outside of Europe, and there were many active discussions in the many chat windows about specific contributions and more general aspects of science and innovation policy. The conference was divided into 23 separate tracks and organised around three main themes with close ties to the three research centres:   

  • Addressing the role of research and innovation in times of crises  

  • Impact, excellence and beyond: Reframing the science-society relationship  

  • Technology push or societal change – the widening scope of STI policies in sustainability transitions and  

In addition to presentations of academic work, the conference had three keynotes, sub-plenaries and policy sessions. OSIRIS had invited Norway’s global health ambassador John-Arne Røttingen to make the first keynote presentation, where he asked whether Covid-19 will make us take one step towards stronger collective international mechanisms for health R&D. This was followed up by comments from leading experts from the World Health Organization and the Eu-SPRI community. One of the policy sessions asked who should ultimately be responsible for the societal impact of research, another central theme for OSIRIS. Our researchers presented many papers and work-in-progress and participated as discussants, conveners and track organisers. Even though the digital format presented some unique opportunities, the community nevertheless looks forward to a regular conference in Utrecht in 2022. 

Published July 2, 2021 9:33 AM - Last modified July 2, 2021 9:33 AM