Current Projects

Security controversies: exploring the governance of knowledge, innovation and techno-scientific risks (SECCON)

Principal Investigator: Dagmar Rychnovská

Project Member(s): Erich Griessler, Robert Braun, Anna Durnova

Project Duration: 2018-2020

Funding: European Commission, Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships, Grant Agreement number 799805

Project information: The EU is one of the key proponents of knowledge-based economy, i.e. an economic system based on research, development, and knowledge production. However, techno-scientific progress may bring not only benefits and well-being to the society, but also undesired side-effects and new dilemmas. Apart from social, ethical, or environmental controversies that scientific research opens, innovation is now increasingly linked with security controversies, characterized by the concerns over a potential misuse of science for hostile purposes. Yet with the ever-accelerating speed of scientific inquiry and the rise of interdisciplinary and international connections, it becomes impossible to clearly define and monitor “dangerous” research that could be exploited by terrorists and criminals. To balance the demands for scientific openness with national security interests, new techniques of governance are introduced in science, which integrate the existing principles of scientific responsibility with security practices restricting the mobility of scientific knowledge.

The project SECCON aims to build a unique body of interdisciplinary expertise to study security controversies in the governance of research and innovation. It will link researchers from security studies and science and technology studies with leading biotechnological stakeholders in Austria and practitioners of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) involved in ethics review of EU research projects. Specifically, the project will, first, situate the current security controversies historically and theoretically, second, map the techniques of knowledge governance in health-data governance and RRI, and third, explore what competences and skills are required in the assessment of security risks of scientific knowledge mobility in the two empirical areas. In sum, the project will set out a research agenda to study how our societies design, implement, and regulate sensitive and potentially dual-use research and innovation.

Project website:

Scientific Understanding and Provision of an Enhanced and Robust Monitoring system for RRI (SUPER MoRRI)

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler

Project Member(s): Magdalena Wicher

Project Duration: 2019-2023

Funding: European Commission, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, grant agreement no 824671

Project information: Across Europe, the need for a more dynamic governance and a better societal integration of research and innovation is increasingly appreciated. Internal drivers of change (such as the digitalization of science) and political will to better align with societal needs and concerns are bringing about aspirational policies and processes of transformation of the R&I system, including those of RRI – responsible research and innovation. In order for the aspirations of RRI to be realised, robust tools must be developed for R&I policy and practice.

Building on the MoRRI project (2014-2018), which conceptualised and implemented the first RRI monitoring system in Europe, the SUPER MoRRI continues this work, ensuring sustained data collection, curation, further assessment and refinement of the MoRRI indicators. EU-28(-27) data will be complemented by monitoring data from selected non-EU countries. Furthermore, SUPER MoRRI will go well beyond the technical efforts of MoRRI and develop a more complete scientific understanding of the complex and diverse relationships between RRI policies and practices and their societal, democratic and economic benefits. These theoretical advances together with the continuous data stream into the project form the basis of the iterative learning processes needed to create a mature monitoring system with indicators and metrics that are robust, realistic, in themselves responsible, and easy to implement.

In line with the concept of RRI itself, our learning processes will also be enhanced by participatory co-creation practices with stakeholders. Last, but not least, the project includes a series of measures to facilitate dissemination of the mature monitoring system, including international benchmarking and an easy-to-customize online dashboard system. The interdisciplinary SUPER MoRRI consortium is constituted of 9 partner organisations and coordinated by Fraunhofer ISI.

The IHS is, above other tasks, mainly responsible for the processing of the development of pathways and case studies to specify and systematise the scientific, democratic, societal and economic benefits of the six RRI keys (work package 5).

Further information can be found here.

Virtual Reality as a training environment for strengthening social skills to promote team skills in the company (Virtual Skills Lab)

Principal Investigator: Elisabeth Frankus

Project Member(s):Tamara Brandstätter, Julia Schmid, Robert Braun, Helmut Hönigmayer

Project Members: 4dimensions (project coordinator), Polycular OG, Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Karl Landsteiner Privatuniversität für Gesundheitswissenschaften

Project Duration: April 2019 – September 2021

Funding: FFG Pilot-Ausschreibung Ideen Lab 4.0

Project Information: The aim of the Virtual Skills Lab project is to investigate how virtual reality scenarios can be used for managers who train social skills such as empathy and teamwork through interaction with avatars. For the study, a prototype will be developed within a participative design process, in which the relevant needs of users are taken into account from the beginning. Based on the findings of the latest learning research regarding the use of Virtual Reality, the subjective effectiveness of the learning experience will be investigated in a series of experiments. Through the innovative use of AI-based software and an "immersive" design of the virtual scenario via corresponding emotional reactions of the virtual interaction partner, an increased emotional learning experience will be achieved. This represents a significant innovation and improvement compared to existing social skills training offerings.

New applications of DNA analysis: prospects and risks. An interdisciplinary technology assessment

Principal investigator: Erich Griessler

Project members: Alexander Lang (Project coordinator), Johannes Starkbaum, Florian Winkler, Milena Wuketich

Project Partners: Open Science (Brigitte Gschmeidler, Elena Kinz), Universität Luzern (Malte Gruber, Vagias Karavas)

Duration: March 2019 – June 2020

Funding: TA-SWISS Foundation for Technology Assessment

Project Information: The development of DNA sequencing and analysis technology has made it possible to analyze DNA faster and more cost-efficient than ever before. This has led to a more widespread use of DNA analysis for different purposes outside of established fields such as science or medicine. This interdisciplinary technology assessment study investigates new applications of DNA-analysis. It focuses on genetic tests directly marketed to consumers for ancestry research (creating a ‘genetic family tree’) and lifestyle purposes (e.g. nutrition) that can be conducted without medical counseling. Furthermore, it investigates the application of DNA analysis for the forensic goal of DNA phenotyping (recreating a person’s appearance from their DNA). The study reviews the state of the art of DNA sequencing in these application areas and analyzes related opportunities and risks. It explores the social, ethical, and legal implications and challenges related to this technology and linked social practices.

Reconfiguring research and innovation in quadruple helix processes (RiConfigure)

Principal Investigator: Robert Braun
Project Member(s): Erich Griessler, Elisabeth Frankus,Johannes Starkbaum
Project Duration: 2018-2021
Funding: European Commission, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Grant Agreement No.: 788047
Project Information: The project will enable the diversification of constellations, institutions and actors in research and innovation (R&I) by engaging stakeholders, enhancing conceptual clarity on new constellations, and disseminating best practices to practitioners and policy-makers. The project centers on stakeholder engagement in four social labs. In the social labs, actors from research, industry, the public sector, and civil society will explore how each of them can and do initiate and navigate cross-sectoral collaboration in R&I. The project enables the spread of good practices by facilitating dissemination throughout practitioners’ and policy-makers’ networks, and by providing training to key stakeholders. The project enables the change of R&I governance frameworks at multiple levels by providing evidence on how such frameworks may hinder or help new R&I constellations and by providing dialogue- and learning-opportunities to policymakers.

Excellence in science and innovation for Europe by adopting the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (NewHoRRizon)

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler
Project Member(s): Matthias Allinger,Tamara Brandstätter,Robert Braun,Elisabeth Frankus,Helmut Hönigmayer,Johannes Starkbaum
Project Duration: 2017-2021
Funding: European Commission, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Grant Agreement no 741402
Project Information: The Project sets out to promote the acceptance of RRI in Horizon 2020 (H2020) and beyond. It will work out the conceptual and operational basis to fully integrate RRI into European and national research and innovation (R&I) practice and funding. In order to accomplish this goal, NewHoRRIzon will establish altogether 18 Social Labs that cover all sections of H2020. Together with a wide-ranging group of R&I stakeholders, in these Social Labs, NewHoRRIzon will co-create tailor-made pilot actions that will stimulate an increased use and acceptance of RRI across H2020 and each of its parts. These pilot actions will address a variety of R&I actors such as academia, business, non-university research institutes, research funding organisations, policy-makers on European, Member State and global level, civil society organisations (CSOs) and the general and specific public(s) as they arise from technological controversies. Ultimately, the pilot actions to be developed and tested in the Social Labs will contribute to R&I projects that fully recognise the significance of RRI. NewHoRRIzon will stimulate learning about how to accomplish RRI in H2020 and beyond in its Social Labs, in two cross-sectional workshops and two transdisciplinary conferences. It will conceptualise and operationalise a Society Readiness Level (SRL) for R&I that focuses on the alignment between the processes and products of R&I on the one hand, and broader societal demands and expectations on the other. Finally, NewHoRRIzon will use a variety of target-group specific strategies to disseminate best practices to promote acceptance of RRI across H2020 and generate long-term impact. For that it will use existing spaces and networks as well as create new ones.

System scenarios of automated driving in passenger mobility (SAFiP)

Principal Investigator: Robert Braun
Project Member(s): Elisabeth Frankus, Matthias Allinger
Project Duration: 2018
Funding: Mobilität der Zukunft 9. AS (FFG); project number 13977050
Project Information: The increasing digitalization and automation will lead us to a significant change of the transport system, mobility and settlement structures in Austria. This is especially the case for partially automated and in particular for fully automated driving. In what form and to what extent this will happen, however, is still completely unclear. Numerous drivers and developments such as climate change, technological and demographic developments or urbanization will not only have parallel, but reciprocal intersectional effects and thus increase complexity. At the same time, however, the economy, public administrations and politicians need the most concrete possible framework for the use of increasingly automated supplies for passenger and freight mobility. This is particularly important when automated traffic (AV) shall support the objectives of sustainable spatial and transport development. There are already studies on the future development of the (national) transport systems respectively on the impact of AV. These, however, are usually very superficial and the possibilities of future research and scenario methods are exploited only to a limited extent. For Austria, such scenarios have not yet been developed. In the project “System Scenarios Automated Driving in Personal Mobility” (SAFiP), scenarios for personal mobility are developed with which the transport system is described under anticipation of the possibilities and developments in the area of automated driving. This is done on the basis of a multi-methodic approach in different scenario technics and methods of forecasting and backcasting in a broad, comprehensive and repeated dialogue with different kinds of experts and stakeholders from politics, administration, science, industry and civil society. An important basis for work is the relevant use cases within the action plan “Automatisiertes Fahren”. On the basis of these scenarios, transport relevant spectra of effects are to be estimated and quantified. The analysis – in particular – takes into account the interactions between society, settlement structure, mobility and transport. The aim is to derive the needs and necessities for various policy areas (RTI policy, transport policy, spatial planning etc.) and concrete further measures. A special focus within the project lies on the importance of fully automated driving for public transport, which will be explicitly taken into account in the scenarios.

Second Fundamental Rights Agency survey on Perceptions and Experiences of Antisemitism among Jews in selected EU Member States (FRA)

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler
Project Members: Robert Braun,Milena Wuketich (Project Coordinator)
Duration: 2017-2018
Funding: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
Project information: The second survey of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) about discrimination and hate crime towards the Jewish population in Europe will be more extensive than the last survey in 2012: Jews living in 13 EU Member States will be invited to take part from mid-2018 with results expected later that year. The countries covered will be Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
The 2012 survey has had significant policy impact across Europe. Most notably, it strongly informed the conclusions of the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council on combating hate crime in the EU, and the decision to appoint the European’s Commission’s first antisemitism coordinator to help combat antisemitism across Europe.

Genome Editing: Interdisciplinary Technology Assessment

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler
Project Members: Alexander Lang (Project Coordinator), Helmut Hönigmayer, Florian Winkler,Milena Wuketich
Duration: December 2017–February 2019
Project Partners: TU Graz (Armin Spök), Katholische Privatuniversität Linz (Michael Fuchs, Lukas Kaelin), Universität Luzern (Malte Gruber)
Funding: TA-Swiss Stiftung für Technologiefolgen-Abschätzung
Project Information: Genome Editing methods such as TALEN, ZFN and especially the recently discovered CRISPR/Cas9 method allow a more precise and efficient modification of the genome of small organisms, plants, animals and humans than their predecessors. Researchers have been using these methods for some years now and have great expectations with regards to their future application in medicine, agriculture, industry and elsewhere. They hope that yet unsuccessful enterprises become possible soon, including somatic gene therapy or xenotransplantation.
This interdisciplinary technology assessment study investigates the risks and possibilities as well as ethical and legal questions that arise from the use of genome editing methods in different domains including agriculture (modification of plants or livestock), the environment (gene drive) and human medicine (xenotransplantation, somatic gene therapy, germline gene therapy). Thereby it will focus on the Swiss context and investigates the appropriateness of existing regulation. Furthermore, it will explore the economic potentials of Genome Editing methods for Swiss companies.

Repair & Do-It-Yourself Urbanism (R&DIY-U)

Principal Investigator: Michael Jonas
Project Member(s): Simeon Hassemer, Astrid Segert
Project Duration: 2017-2020
Funding: bmvit and FFG (“Stadt der Zukunft”, 4th call), project number 861708 (FFG)
Project Information: In Vienna – as in other cities in Europe – tons of electrical appliances, furniture, textiles, toys and other everyday items are thrown away even though they could frequently still have been used further had they been repaired, maintained or shared. The resulting large quantities of energy and resource intensive garbage are the result not only of production and usage practices in the business sector or lifestyle and milieu specific consumption practices in the private sector, but also of the virtual absence of corresponding urban infrastructures. At the same time, a rise in sharing projects, recycling measures, DIY activities and repair initiatives – subsumed in research under the label DIY urbanism (revival) – can also be observed in many cities. Even if such – and other – initiatives and practices are not established in these cities on a broad scale, DIY urbanism is nonetheless attributed enormous potential when it comes to transforming non-sustainable urban areas and their infrastructures and dominant business and private household practices into resilient areas. The project takes up these observations in the repair and DIY sectors and will make a significant contribution to the development, planning and realization of current and future activities, services and infrastructure measures which can be integrated into sustainable city developments. The focus thereby lies on selected districts in Vienna where small networks of relevant commercial, civil society and intermediary repair and DIY urbanism (R&DIY-U) activists have already formed, yet whose potential with regard to the development of resilient urban districts has by no means been exhausted. With a transdisciplinary R&D consortium that comprises a fundamental and applied research group (IHS), an intermediary organization ("die umweltberatung") as well as commercial and non-profit R&DIY-U practitioners (HausGeräteProfi, Sit-In, LORENZI, Recycling Kosmos, Wiener Hilfswerk), the research project incorporates multiple perspectives and R&DIY-U practices. In the project international good practice examples, field analysis in specific districts, the development, carrying out and monitoring of R&DIY-U experiments, an analysis of the transformative potential of R&DIY-U with regard to the development of resilient urban districts, a stakeholder workshop and, last but not least, scenario development will be combined.

Participation Processes at local government level in Vienna

Principal Investigator: Michael Jonas
Project Member(s): Simeon Hassemer
Project Duration: 2017-2018
Funding: Arbeiterkammer Wien
Project Information: For several years one could observe a rise of various consultative as well as deliberative forms and modes of participation in the Viennese context. However, in a scientific and political discourse there is argued from specific positions, that these ‘increasings’ of practices, in which actors are involved, are unequal distributed through time and space. To approach this issue, the project follows the aims to study and analyze current processes of participation in the Viennese context at a local government level hereby focusing particularly on socio-economic aspects and on possible forms of in- and exclusion. Therefore, an extensive empirical collection of data (i.e. visual data, documents, expert interviews, observations, home page memos) is conducted, that especially gives insights in the spatiality and geographies of inequalities as well as in those based on ‘gender’, ‘age’ and ‘ethnicity’.

Joining Efforts for Responsible Research and Innovation (JERRI)

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler
Project Member(s): Elisabeth Frankus,Magdalena Wicher,Milena Wuketich,Alexander Lang
Project Duration: 2016-2019
Funding: European Commission, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, grant agreement no 709747
Project Information: JERRI aims to foster RRI transition in Europe by developing and testing good RRI practices in two pilot cases, for further upscaling among the RTOs in the EU28. A Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) plan will be developed and implemented at the biggest European RTOs, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).

European Network of Research Ethics and Research Integrity (ENERI)

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler
Project Member(s): Marlene Altenhofer, Robert Braun,Elisabeth Frankus,Helmut Hönigmayer
Project Duration: 2016-2019
Funding: European Commission, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, grant agreement no 710184
Project Information: ENERI brings together European initiatives involved in research ethics and research integrity and establishes an operable platform of actors in these areas. The network aims to strengthen activities of education and training in research ethics and research integrity, promote a culture of integrity, and foster the development of and compliance with joint rules and norms. Moreover, it will be strongly linked to other relevant EC funded projects and thus lead to new collaborations, implementations, and incentives for the European Research Era (ERA) and civil society.

Dying worlds in Austria: perspectives on “good dying“ (Sterbewelten)

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler
Project Member(s): Elisabeth Frankus,Alexander Lang,Florian Winkler, Julia Schmid
Project Duration: 2017–2018
Funding: Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB), Anniversary Fund of the National Bank of Austria, project no 17075
Project Information: The project “Sterbewelten in Österreich” (“Dying worlds in Austria: perspectives on 'good dying'’”) aims to explore the perceptions on the process of dying of those affected, relatives, close people as well as other persons involved (especially caregivers). It does not prescribe a definition of “good dying”, but deals with questions such as: What does “good dying” mean? How is the process of dying co-determined by societal and institutional circumstances (arrangements of care, social networks, etc.)? How and under what conditions is “good dying” possible? The project will also describe recent Austrian debates on “good dying” and analyse the requirements of “good dying” within. The project employs an approach of dispositif analysis, which focuses on the relationship between different types of public discourses (media, politics, economy, etc.) and everyday talk, practices, and knowledge. Its results will be communicated and discussed with different societal groups and stakeholders. They will not only be used to identify further relevant research questions, but also to promote discussion on necessary transformations regarding regimes and systems of end-of-life care.
The project is coordinated by the Institute for Palliative Care and Organisational Ethics (IFF Vienna), Alpen Adria University (Prof. Dr. Katharina Heimerl). Other partners involved are the Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna (IHS), the Institute for Ethics and Law in Medicine (IERM), University of Vienna, and the Institute for Practical Philosophy/Ethics, Catholic-Theological Private University Linz.

Monitoring the Evolution and Benefits of Responsible Research and Innovation (MoRRI)

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler
Project Member(s): Marlene Altenhofer, Alexander Lang, Milena Wuketich, Tamara Brandstätter
Project Duration: 2014–2018
Funding: European Commission Call for Tenders Nr. RTD-B6-PP-00964-2013
Project Information: MoRRI’s objective is “to provide scientific evidence, data, analysis and policy intelligence to support directly Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG-RTD) research funding activities and policy-making activities in relation with Responsible Research and Innovation”. The project empirically investigates the impacts of RRI activities covering the six RRI key dimensions (Citizen Engagement and Participation, Science Literacy and Scientific Education, Gender Equality, Open Access, R&I Governance, Ethics) using quantitative and qualitative data.

Higher Education Institutions and Responsible Research and Innovation (HEIRRI)

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler
Project Member(s): Alexander Lang, Milena Wuketich
Project Duration: 2015–2018
Funding: European Commission, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, grant agreement no 666004
Project Information: HEIRRI aims to further integrate RRI within formal and informal education of future scientists, engineers, and other professionals involved in research, development, and innovation processes. To this end, HEIRRI will develop, test and disseminate RRI training programmes and materials to be used at higher education institutions at different educational levels.

Analysis of participation activities of the Austrian society to cope with intense refugee movements (auxilium:at)

Principal Investigator: Elisabeth Frankus
Project Member(s): Marlene Altenhofer, Tamara Brandstätter, Anna Dibiasi, Nikolaus Pöchhacker,Berta Terzieva,Milena Wuketich,Julia Schmid
Project Duration: 2016–2018
Funding: FFG/Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT), KIRAS Security Research, project no 854740
Project Information: auxilium:at analyses activities and forms of cooperation between Austrian public safety and emergency organisations, NGOs, and civil society in the acute care for refugees. Using both qualitative and quantitative data, the project further aims to examine the impact of social participation on social cohesion and peace and will develop recommendations and measures for future similar situations and challenges.

Stakeholders Acting Together On the ethical impact assessment of Research and Innovation (SATORI)

Principal Investigator: Erich Griessler
Project Member(s): Marlene Altenhofer, Robert Braun, Helmut Hönigmayer
Project Duration: 2014–2017
Funding: European Commission, FP7 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, grant agreement no 612231
Project Information: SATORI is a platform for the consolidation and advancement of ethical assessment in research and innovation. The 4-year project aims to develop a common framework of ethical principles and practical approaches so as to strengthen shared understandings among actors involved in the design and implementation of research ethics. To achieve this aim, the project will gather private and public stakeholders from Europe and beyond in an intensive 4-year process of research and dialogue. Ultimately, the project seeks to establish a permanent platform around the framework to secure ongoing learning and attunement among stakeholders in ethical assessment.

Negotiating Truth: Semmelweis, Discourse on Hand Hygiene and the Politics of Emotions

Principal Investigator: Anna Durnová
Project Duration: 2012–2018
Funding: Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Hertha Firnberg Programme, TG592-G15
Project Information: The project advances a new concept of understanding public policy through emotions. Emotions are neither causal factors nor urges that motivate actions: the Negotiating Truth project defines emotions as performed experiences of values and beliefs that enter evidence making and evaluate the range of actors, entitling them to pronounce public concerns. As such emotions must be recognized as integral parts of truth production, with an impact on policy processes. The project set the stage with the key medical dispute of the 19th century, initiated by Viennese gynaecologist Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (see in: Durnova, 2015). Semmelweis claimed that “childbed fever,” a disease that afflicted many women giving birth in hospitals, could originate in the fact that doctors did not disinfect their hands before assisting in the birth. His thesis grew into a dispute over the duty of hand washing among physicians. The Negotiating Truth uses Semmelweis’s dispute as an analytic blueprint to investigate a range of contemporary cases that demonstrate the recurrent “attacks on truth”: one such contemporary case is represented by the public defense of scientific truth in U.S. public discourse during the first year of the Trump presidency. Their analysis shows several contestations in the relationship between scientific expertise and democratic governin that can be explained through the analysis of the role of emotions in truth production.