Within MARIE, our Irish partner Southern Regional Assembly has worked with Science Foundation Ireland to enhance governance of the Southern & Eastern Regional Operational Programme (S&E ROP) 2014-2020. Together, they have adapted the programme monitoring system to focus further on responsible impact.

What does that mean exactly?

Southern Regional Assembly are Managing Authority for the S&E ROP, which promotes sustainable, smart growth, creates jobs and strengthens the regional innovation & knowledge base. Science Foundation Ireland are programme Intermediary Bodies and they manage two schemes under Priority 1, for research, technological development and innovation:

1. Research Centres Programme, to develop a set of world-leading large-scale research centres;

2. Spokes Programme, to incorporate new areas of research and establish new industrial & academic collaborations to existing SFI research centres.

The S&E ROP Monitoring Committee receives annual progress reports from their ROP Intermediary Bodies, monitoring pre-determined targets and milestones.

Southern Regional Assembly and Science Foundation Ireland used learnings from MARIE to negotiate and agree on a revised template for the annual progress report, which was approved by the Monitoring Committee in June 2019.

As a result, Science Foundation Ireland will incorporate additional reporting on RRI elements in all their Research Centre and Spokes Programmes. Specifically, they will ask beneficiaries to report on two of the RRI keys: Public Engagement and Science Education. The template includes monitoring metrics and indicators to measure these elements. With this information submitted annually (July 2020 and July 2021), Southern Regional Assembly will be able to assess the quantitative change related to the RRI indicators.

How did MARIE contribute to this?

Just the fact of having a project working on Responsible Innovation helped to raise knowledge on this theme and provided our partner with a path to approach Science Foundation Ireland. MARIE is the first project in the region directly addressing Responsible Innovation in regional policy: the topic would not have had visibility without it.

But the input goes further than that. The MARIE maturity mapping exercise gave the region a modest rating for governance and public engagement. Results from the Enterprise Surveys supported these findings. This prompted Southern Regional Assembly to concentrate on improving governance of the ROP and more specifically, focusing on reporting elements of public engagement and promotion of science education.

Southern Regional Assembly also learned from two partners’ experiences:

1. Ambition Research Development 2020 – Dev-Up (France). The governance system of this GP is in place to better manage projects in line with stakeholder input and to monitor socio-economic impact of projects. It promotes a mind-set that R&D success should not be considered solely on the basis of scientific outcomes. This programme is monitored on an annual basis by the regional council;

2. Shared vision and entrepreneurial discovery – GAIN (Spain). This GP links elements of Responsible Innovation with the establishment of a stronger governance structure to conduct analysis and increase public engagement.

Wow…!!  We already have a concrete change to the Monitoring System of a regional ERDF operational programme…and it doesn’t stop there. Over the next 2 years, Southern Regional Assembly will see the impact that this change makes and consider how it can be extended across the board.

Thanks to our fantastic partner for all their work, to their amazing stakeholders, to MARIE partners and Interreg Europe for making this important change possible!

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash