ORBIT, an important joint venture between Oxford and De Montfort Universities promulgating responsible research and innovation in ICT, launched at the House of Lords on Tuesday 30 January.

Led by Professors Marina Jirotka of Oxford University and Bernd Stahl of De Montfort, ORBIT (the Observatory for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT) will be working to ensure that ICT research is sustainable, desirable and socially responsible. ORBIT provides services to the research and innovation communities in both academia and industry. It supports projects and individuals with workshops, seminars, webinars and training courses in research departments and their support networks. ORBIT also consults on individual research proposals and can provide tailored training in responsible research and innovation principles according to the nature of the proposal.

At the launch, Professor Stahl commented, “Our vision is for ORBIT to provide the tools that will enable us to manage the way new technologies are introduced into society. If large amounts of resources are made available for research and innovation, then society has a legitimate right to be informed and involved.”

Professor Jirotka agreed, adding, “Researchers, funders, companies and others involved in research and innovation in ICT have a duty to consider how their work meets society’s needs.”

Alongside its suite of services, ORBIT will form the hub of an online community of interested scholars. These voices will contribute to the newly launched ORBIT journal, an open access portal for discussion and dissemination of the role of ICT in modern society

ORBIT is the Observatory for Responsible Research and Innovation in ICT. Led by Oxford and De Montfort Universities and funded in the launch phase by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), ORBIT provides policy advice, training on responsible research and innovation (RRI), consultancy, project assessment, support services, and an online community for ICT researchers. Further information can be found at www.orbit-rri.org.
Martin de Heaver is managing director of ORBIT, formerly Executive Director at CPC and has founded and run a number of new and established enterprises. He has also been supporting new entrepreneurs as a judge and mentor at the London Business School since 2004. He has delivered research projects funded by EU frameworks 4/5 and 7 and InnovateUK, and is a former Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King’s College London.
Professor Marina Jirotka is Professor of Human Centred Computing at Oxford University and ORBIT investigator. She undertakes work focused on deepening societal comprehension of the impacts of technology and ameliorating negative effects by anticipating outcomes. She leads the human centred computing group, an interdisciplinary research group that aims to understand the ways in which technology affects communication, collaboration and knowledge exchange within scientific, work and home settings.
Professor Bernd Stahl is Director of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility at De Montfort University and ORBIT investigator. His interests include philosophical issues arising from the intersections of business, technology, and information. This includes the ethics of ICT and critical approaches to information systems. He specialises in advising on the ethical issues arising from emerging technologies and how responsible research and innovation principles can use anticipatory governance approaches to help ensure improved outcomes for research.
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