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The ReAlChem - Responsible Innovation Project

1 August 2017 - 31 July 2019

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Susan Molyneux-Hodgson

Research partners: Green Biologics Ltd (project lead, Dr Liz Johnson); BioExtractions (Wales) Ltd; Dynamic Extractions Ltd

Sponsor(s): Innovate UK

About the research

Understanding responsible innovation in practice: an analysis of the manufacture of renewable alternative chemicals

Researchers: Dr Sally AtkinsonDr Achim Rosemann

The Manufacture of renewable alternative chemicals’ (ReAlChem) project began in August 2017, is funded by InnovateUK, and is a unique collaboration between social scientists and a biotechnology company and its associates. As part of the project, a team of social scientists will conduct research on responsible innovation in tandem with the company's technical research.

ReAlChem-RI aims to investigate responsible innovation ideas in the wider context of UK industrial biotech. The project aims are:

  • to assess different perspectives on notions of responsibility among diverse stakeholders
  • to understand key challenges experienced by the industrial biotechnology sector, especially in relation to the social dimensions of the bioeconomy
  • to understand how responsible innovation ideas are translated into actual practices
  • to contribute to the further development of responsible innovation practices

To achieve these aims, we are conducting interviews with industry practitioners, policy actors and other key stakeholders, as well as documentary analysis and ethnographic research in biotech companies and research labs. Our project partners in the ReAlChem Project are four mid-size biotech companies: Green Biologics, DynamicExtration, BioExtraction, and Keit. However, we also interact with corporate staff and managers, scientists, regulators, industry bodies, funding bodies as well as civil societal organizations and NGOs from all over the UK. Findings from our project will be shared with participants and disseminated to relevant parties such as the UKRI (BBSRC, EPSRC, iUK), the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology, the UK Industrial Biotech Leadership Forum and others.

You can find out more about the ReAlChem project here.