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ETHNA System – Ethics Governance System for RRI in Higher Education, Funding and Research Centres

The objective of ETHNA System is to develop and implement an ethics governance system for grounding good RRI practices in Higher Education, Funding and Research Centres (HEFRCs). This will be achieved through the design of an organisational structure (ETHNA Office) that supports the RRI uptake by providing guidelines and tools (ethical code, ethics committee, ethical hotline and progress indicators) for management of RRI policies and actions.

Specific objectives:
• To undertake a comparative analysis, dissemination and exploitation of research results on RRI systems that will facilitate the promotion of similar ethical governance systems in European countries.
• To define a number of core ethical guiding principles that the HEFRCs themselves may recognise, incorporate and promote, so that R&I actors can carry out their activity in line with the RRI.
• To help raise the ethical standard of the science infrastructure across Europe.
• To guarantee that Research and Innovation activities are conducted in ethical manner, and through open and inclusive dialogue with all identified stakeholders (public engagement with citizens, civil society organisations and citizens' associations).

ETHNA Office is the management structure ensuring that the research and innovation processes are conducted in line with the RRI principles. To this end, ETHNA Office is supported by four tools:
• Ethical code: It is a formal document containing an explicit declaration of the values that should orient the conduct of actors involved in the R&I process. These values are related with gender equality, open access, public engagement and research integrity.
Ethical code will also promote good practices and establish indicators about the organisation’s nature and personality.
• Ethics committee: The committee is in charge of monitoring the R&I activities, thus ensuring that they are conducted in compliance with the ethical code. The committee advises on the issues regarding the interpretation and application of the ethical code; deals with suggestions, alerts, and complaints received through the ethics hotline; and informs employees and managers on the ethics requirements.
• Ethical hotline on R&I: The hotline is the main communication channel to express notifications and complaints regarding the lack of compliance with the ethical code, as well as suggestions and opinions for its improvement.
• Progress indicators to report on RRI: Annual reports will provide information about the observation of the ethical code in policies and practice. Compliance with the code will be monitored and assessed through progress indicators. The indicators will also asses economic, social and environmental impact of organisation’s R&I activities.

The institutional changes brought about by the ETHNA System will be sustainable beyond the lifetime of the project funding because ETHNA office will be implemented and institutionalised in the HEFRCs management structures. A Sustainability Plan will be developed to maximise the impact during 5 years after the end of the project.

The development of the ETHNA Office and its tools will involve a mutual learning among the consortium partners, which have different level of expertise and knowledge in the four dimensions of RRI (research ethics and integrity, gender equality, open science, citizen’s engagement). Consortium will contribute to 22 MoRRI indicators and 7 Sustainable Development Goals. ETHNA Office management system will be implemented in 6 different HEFRCs of the consortium (2 universities, 1 research funding organisation, 2 research centres and 1 technological park) from 6 countries (Spain, Norway, Estonia, Bulgaria, Austria and Portugal).

The ETHNA System project started in January 2020 and will run until December 2022. The project’s consortium is composed of the following 10 partners:
Applied Research and Communications Fund, Bulgaria
University Jaume I, Spain (Project Coordinator)
Norwegian University of Science and Technology – NTNU, Norway
Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología – FECYT (The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology), Spain
Zentrum für Soziale Innovation (Centre for Social Innovation), Austria
Danish Board of Technology Foundation, Denmark
European Network of Research Ethics Committees – EUREC, Germany
BIOCOM, Germany
Archimedes Foundation, Estonia
Uninova - Instituto de Desenvolvimento de Novas Tecnologias, Portugal

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