Dr Sally Randles, Senior Research Fellow at the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR), has been appointed Scientist in Charge of the Innovation 4 Sustainability (I4S) Marie Curie Initial Training Network.
The network, funded by the European Commission and co-ordinated by the Academy of Business In Society (ABIS), combines PhD and early stage researcher training with substantive research on a range of sustainability related topics such as: values-centred leadership; new business models for sustainability; organisational change; multi-stakeholder networks; and systems thinking.
The project is now in its fourth and final year, and Sally was asked to step up to the role following the sad death earlier this year of Nigel Roome who had been the driving force behind I4S.
I4S is a network of seven leading business schools in Europe, including Alliance MBS, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa. All have specialisms in sustainability and CSR, and are noted for their excellence in doctoral training.
As Sally explained: “The overall objective is to demonstrate excellence in doctoral training around the topic of sustainability, and innovation for sustainability. That excellence can take many different forms, whether looking at multi-stakeholder platforms, leadership qualities, or working on new business models within a systems-thinking frame. The point is that innovation can occur at many different levels within and across organisations, and it is about how you tap into that and then spread it throughout multi-organisation complexes.”
Each of the business school partners brings to the project a working relationship with a practitioner organisation or company, a link that is then turned into a case study.
For instance the Alliance MBS PhD, Oliver Laasch, traced the process through which a large UK retailer sought to integrate and translate a new business model for sustainability artefact, into the in-practice business model of the organisation.
In her role Sally will now work closely with ABIS to progress the final year of mentoring, dissemination, engagement, and reporting to the European Commission, including chairing the final conference in Brussels in October.
Meanwhile, Sally has also secured grants worth almost €300,000 from the latest round of EU Horizon 2020 funding.
One grant is towards the creation of ‘SMART-Maps’ for Responsible Innovation which will bring together industrial players with research and civil society organisations in three health technologies (synthetic biology, precision medicine, and 3D printing). They will participate in workshops which will co-design and then pilot the implementation of the SMART-Maps.
Adds Sally: “For companies this is about being consciously aware of the connections across social responsibility and innovation, for example working collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders and the public to steer innovation to address health and environmental challenges. It is also about combining values-centred leadership with entrepreneurship to create futures-oriented visions, scenarios and strategies for action.”
The second grant is towards a project that is looking at how institutional change occurs, and MIoIR will be working with Fraunhofer and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) , the two largest German and Dutch research and technology organisations respectively. Both projects are closely aligned to MIoIR’s various research and policy initiatives on responsibility in research and innovation, and governance of new and emerging technologies.