Tampere Regional Council and Tampere University have worked together, with support from our MARIE project, to introduce responsible criteria to their regional funding programme. Thanks to interregional cooperation and a lot of hard work, entities applying for funding for Artificial Intelligence projects have also been asked to ensure that their innovation is not only technically excellent, but also ethically excellent.

The call for projects related to responsible artificial intelligence (AI) was funded by 'Sustainable growth and jobs 2014 - 2020 - Finland's structural funds programme'. The call targeted projects proposing AI in fields of business where it is not commonly used yet and which have multidisciplinary challenges and high innovation potential.

The objective of the call was to create new and sustainable cooperation and innovation models for the region, between the public sector, HEIs, research organisations and private sector.

For this call, for the first time in the ERDF regional funding programmes in Tampere, an additional regional new RRI evaluation criteria was included created focusing on RRI and its including four elements: ethics, engagement, openness/transparency and safety/reliability. RRI evaluation criteria are one of the 10 criteria sets for evaluating project proposals and making the final decisions of funding. For this criteria, applicants had to describe how the four elements of RRI will be implemented in project plans and activities.

MARIE project has contributed to this policy change thanks to interregional exchange since the project outset. Within MARIE, partners undertook a regional analysis to map RRI maturity and needs. This revealed that the ethical evaluation in project funding was lacking in Tampere. Given the challenges of transparency and safety in AI technologies, openness and reliability were also relevant.

MARIE project exchange of expertise was used to gain understanding on RRI indicators. The good practice from Ireland “Broadening the Scope of Impact”, owned by Science Foundation Ireland, was an inspiration on where to focus evaluation to the specific elements of RRI and on the technical execution of the evaluation tool.

The improved funding call was opened in December 2018 and closed 4th of March 2019. The evaluation tool is currently being used in the evaluation process of the received proposals.

Is this the start of something wonderful? Let’s hope so! Over the next period, our partners will evaluate the results of this call in comparison to other calls that did not include RRI criteria. This evaluation will be used to provide strategic recommendations for other calls in Tampere region.

Responsible Innovation funding is possible! Thank you to Tampere, to MARIE partners and to Interreg Europe for showing us that!

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash