Hello everyone,

I am Hilary Sutcliffe from a UK based Not for Profit called MATTER which focuses on Responsible Innovation. 

We would be very interested in your views on the attached Principles for Responsible Innovation. Please feel free to comment about any aspect.  But we are particularly interested in three main areas:

*   Purpose - is it realistic to think that such a voluntary initiative will have a useful role as we have envisaged it?  If yes or no, it would be helpful to know why.

*   Content - Are there gaps or duplications or structures which you think are unhelpful?  Do you have suggestions on how that could be improved?

*   Effectiveness - How do you think this would be best implemented?  Do you agree with our concept of Radical Transparency being the tool for all stakeholders to access the information of their choice in place of armies of verifiers, or is this just unrealistic?

Please feel free to respond here or email hilary@matterforall.org.


About the project

We have two main aims:

1.        Generate positive momentum for transformative innovation for social good

Provide a framework to help businesses explore how to use innovation in a more transformative way for social and commercial good. Working with stakeholders in this process can help stimulate new thinking and make new connections whilst also helping quantify risks and understand concerns in advance. Where disagreements remain, perhaps on benefit, impacts or the emphasis of HSE activity or regulation, then a process is clear from which companies underpin their claims of trustworthiness.

2.        Create shared expectations to help build trustworthiness & confidence

To help generate a shared expectation and understanding among businesses and their stakeholders about desirable outputs, outcomes and behaviours. In later documents we will highlight useful tools companies can use to help them with this transformation and highlight more real world examples of good practice.

But the responsibility for Responsible innovation does not begin and end with companies. We hope also to develop these Principles further, to be applied to the work of other organisations – particularly governments, researchers and their institutions and NGOs.

What does Responsible Innovation Mean?

The term is new, so definitions are evolving. We have decided not to make a one-line definition, but consider what it might encompass instead. We propose that it includes the following – a description which is relevant for all stakeholders:

  • The deliberate focus of research & the products of innovation to achieve a social or environmental benefit.
  • Which assesses and effectively prioritises the social, ethical and environmental impacts, risks and opportunities, both now and in the future, alongside the technical and commercial.
  • Involves the consistent, ongoing involvement of society, from beginning to end of the innovation process, including the public & non-governmental groups, who are themselves mindful of the public good.
  • Where oversight mechanisms are better able to anticipate and manage problems and opportunities and which are also able to adapt and respond effectively to changing knowledge and circumstances.
  • Where openness and transparency are an integral component of the research and innovation process.

So what next?

This is a draft of the Principles for Responsible Innovation. Though components of them have been the subject of widespread consultation and it is based on academic and action research of our own, we are now undertaking a widespread consultation to explore whether or not they have a role and if so, in what form.

We also hope to develop further research into ‘Radical Transparency’, what it may encompass and the potential benefits of companies and society.

How you could contribute?

Please give us feedback on this document

We are seeking written submissions and hope to be able to hold events to generate stakeholder input. You can contribute either anonymously or formally. Please email your comments on this document to hilary@matterforall.org

Join our ‘Cohort’ of businesses and stakeholders helping refine these Principles

Following the consultation a group of volunteer companies has expressed interest in piloting these Principles and giving us practical feedback on it’s usefulness.

If you are a company and would like to participate in this pilot, or if you are a non-business stakeholder and would like to contribute please contact hilary@matterforall.org

If you are a Funder and would like to support this work, please get in touch.

Development of an Evaluation Framework

An Evaluation Framework has been drafted and will be finalised following the consultation and pilots to help both companies and stakeholders assess the extent to which they are operating according to these Principles.

Evolution to incorporate into existing initiatives

We would also like to consult with those who administer existing frameworks, such as the Global Reporting Initiative and others. It is preferable to us that this is not yet another stand alone initiative, but is incorporated into existing good practice.

Adapt these Principles for others involved in the innovation process

We hope also to develop these principles further, to be applied to other stakeholders, particularly governments, researchers and NGOs.

Who is funding this?

The work on this document and research around it is the culmination of many years work, though the document itself was MATTER’s own in-house R&D!  We are hoping to get further funding to take the principles out to wider consultation and to help pilot the Principles and finalise the Evaluation Framework and undertake a programme of consultation with existing initiatives.

If you are a funder or would be interested in co-funding this initiative please email hilary@matterforall.org. Please!