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Ethics and responsibility in innovation and business


The success of companies is increasingly dependent on their capability to act according to the societal norms, values and concept of responsibility. At the same time major societal changes such as globalisation, climate and demographic changes, and digitalisation alter the operating environment. Responsibility is seen as a competitive factor and source of innovation for companies. Successful implementation of responsible innovation and business creates shared value by providing sustainable solutions to customers, increased competitiveness to companies and positive societal impact for the society. A comprehensive integration of responsibility in company's operations improves its capabilities to produce societally acceptable and desirable goods and services, avoid unintended consequences and manage its commercial risks.


Responsible Research and Innovation



 Picture and video: Responsible-Industy project






My main interest is in how companies’ responsible and ethical behavior could increase their social impacts and at the same time strengthen their business. It is important to find ways, how the creation of “shared value” could take place.

PhD. Adjunct Professor Mika Nieminen, Principal Scientist, VTT


My research interests include technology ethics, social evolution of technology, and design thinking. In this context, I am particularly interested in how new technologies can best serve the quality of life and changing life goals of people. I strive to create tools for ethical assessment to serve as a means for responsible and sustainable innovation.

PhD. Adjunct Professor Jaana Leikas, Principal Scientist, VTT


Referring to my expertice in risk management and foresight I am interested in new technologies and the emerging ethical issues involved in their use. These issues should be foreseen and assessed before the application of the technologies. Therefore, new tools and discussed views are needed. If made clearly visible, ethics could create added value for the Finnish innovation and business world. If made clearly visible, ethics could create added value for the Finnish innovation and business world.

PhD. Raija Koivisto, Principal Scientist, VTT


My research interest is in the Human-Driven Design (emphasis on stakeholder engagement and empowerment) of future technologies, applications, and services and the development of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach both for academia and industry.

MA Veikko Ikonen, Senior Scientist, VTT


As a user experience expert I am interested in how different users and stakeholders are equally as well as responsibly taken into consideration while developing new technologies and innovations. Especially I am interested in how co-creating technologies together with potential end-users will affect to the use and acceptance of these technologies. Furthermore, I am interested in studying how the technology affects people's life and welfare.

MSc Minna Kulju, Research Scientist, VTT




When developing new technologies and innovations their effects on individuals and society should be discussed and evaluated at the very beginning of R&D. I am particularly interested in methods that make it possible to develop ethically sound solutions that answer to the real need of stakeholders, and are both socially, environmentally and economically sustainable.

MAS Janika Miettinen, Research Scientist, VTT


In a globalized world, in which new security threats and challenges are rising in a speed never seen before, it is possible to observe the continuous development of new technological solutions for enhancing societal security. As a social scientist with expertice in international security, I am interested in the ethical and societal aspects of new security technologies and their usage. In addition to the potential impacts that such technologies can bring for citizens' well-being and fundamental rights.

M.Soc.Sc Giovanna Sanchez Nieminen, Research Scientist, VTT


As a design-oriented researcher I am interested human-driven and future-oriented social design & innovation that is carried out with the technology-mediated ecologies. I encourage particularly the use of creative and narrative methods in research, for their possibility to increase the responsible and sustainable technology development.

DA, Tiina Kymäläinen, Senior Scientist, VTT    







NewHoRRizon in an on-going project funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The project aims at further integrating Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in the research and innovation systems on national and international levels. The Social Labs are at the core of the project, each of which is dedicated to a different section of Horizon 2020.  Social labs gather a wide range of stakeholders to define the social challenges at stake and to develop social experiments (pilot actions and activities) to overcome them. VTT in is charge of the Secure Societies section of H2020 in the project and leads the Security Social Lab activities.


SniffPhone is a Horizon 2020 funded project aimed at developing an easy to use and non-invasive plug in device for smartphones that can be used to detect diseases, especially gastric cancer, from exhaled breath. The project was targeted to represent a new concept addressing major societal challenges in health and well-being of the general population, while taking into account essential ethical and privacy aspects. Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework was implemented to the project to guarantee that the  process and outcomes of the research and innovation are societally acceptable, desirable and sustainable.


BODEGA is an EU-funded project, coordinated by VTT, that aims at developing future border checks with human factors expertise in order to enhance efficiency, border security and traveller satisfaction. The project focuses on the changes to traveller processes and border controllers’ work due to the introduction of smarter border control systems like automated gates and self-service systems based on biometrics. The project results were used to create a toolbox for border guard organisations.


EU-funded Responsible-Industry project was targeted to increase the knowledge of the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and to explore how private corporations can conduct their research and innovation activities responsibly. The RRI framework was tested in the actions of companies that develop new technological solutions for their customers. The focus of the project was on the ICT companies that produce solutions for elderly people.

Great (Governance for Responsible Innovation)

Great is a project funded from the European Union’s Seventh Framework programme that was targeted to develop an empirically based and theoretically sound model of the role of responsible research and innovation governance. The project explored the dynamics of participation in research and innovation, and investigated the characteristics of responsible practices. It investigated the nature of new partnerships among various stakeholders, researchers and policymakers that develop within innovation networks and the influence that these developments have on knowledge production and policy.


​Recent publications

Leikas, J., Koivisto, R., & Gotcheva, N. (2019). Ethical framework for designing autonomous systems. Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity (ISSN 2199-8531). Special Issue on Technology Driven Innovation, Research Management and Policy Making. J. Open Innov. Technol. Mark. Complex. 2019, 5, 18; doi:10.3390/joitmc5010018

Leikas, J. & Kulju, M. (2018) Ethical consideration of home monitoring technology: A qualitative focus group study. Gerontechonology 2018;17(1):38-47

Sanchez Nieminen, G. (2018) Technology and society at automated borders: risk of discrimination and fundamental rights. Master's Thesis. University of Tampere.

Leikas, J. (Ed.) (2017). Ageing and Technology - VTT Research Highlights 14. Helsinki: VTT Oy.

Nieminen, M. & Talja, H. (2017) Tensions, Spaces of Self-organization and Resilience. In Eskola A. (Ed.) Navigating Through Changing Times. Knowledge Work in Complex Environment. Routledge.

Stahl, B.C., Obach, M., Yaghmaei, E., Ikonen, V., Chatfield, K. & Brem, A. (2017) The Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Maturity Model: Linking Theory and Practice. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1036.

Gurzawska, A.,                  Mäkinen, M. &                  Brey, P. (2017) Implementation of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) Practices in Industry: Providing the Right Incentives. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1759.

Leinonen, A., Koivisto, R., Tuominen, A., Douglas, D., Gurzawska, A., Jansen, P., Kapeller, A., Stéphanie, G. & Brey, P. (2017) Roadmap towards adoption of a fully developed ethics assessment framework. EU H2020 SATORI Deliverable D4.3, June 2017.

Pearson, J., Gianni, R., Ikonen, V. & Haick, H. (2016). From technology assessment to responsible research and innovation (RRI). IEEE (2016), 1189-1198.

Nieminen, M. & Hyytinen, K. (2015) Future-oriented impact assessment: Supporting strategic decision-making in complex socio-technical environment. Evaluation. Sage. Vol. 21, No: 4, 448-461.

Nieminen, M. & Hyytinen, K. (eds.)(2015), STRADA – Päätöksenteko ja muutoksen edistäminen monimutkaisissa järjestelmissä. VTT Technology 218. VTT: Espoo.

Ikonen, V., Kaasinen, E., Heikkilä, P. & Niemelä, M. (2013) Human-driven design of micro- and nanotechnology based future sensor systems. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society. Emerald. Vol. 13 (2015) No: 2,  110-129. DOI: 10.1108/JICES-10-2013-0039 

Leikas, J. & Koivisto, R. Ethics Assessment in different fields: Social Gerontechnology. Report of SATORI - Stakeholders Acting Together on the Ethical Impact Assessment of Research and Innovation. June 2015.

​Events and presentations

11.-12.10.2018 Shaping Ethics in Academia and Industry, 2nd International Conference. Vilnius, Lithuania. Responsibility by Design - Experiences of implementing RRI into the H2020 project. Veikko Ikonen
Veikko Ikonen Responsibility by Design.pptx

1.-5.10.2018 EES Biannual Conference 2018. Thessaloniki, Greece. Systemic evaluation in the making: A Case Study. Mika Nieminen, Kirsi Hyytinen, Vesa Salminen & Sampsa Ruutu
Systemic Evaluation in the making_Nieminen et al.pptx

17.-19.9.2018 Multi-conference on Responsible Research and Innovation in Science, Innovation and Society: RRI-ICT, Tartu, Estonia. Rethinking Automated Borders: Risk of Discrimination and Fundamental Rights. Giovanna Sanchez Nieminen

18.5.2018 Erkin päivän seminaari. Vastuullisuus, vuorovaikutus, kansalaiset. Mika Nieminen
Kansalaistiede ja etiikka_Mika Nieminen.pdf