Short Course on Responsible Innovation in Agri-Technology

September 18th, 2020

Helping Agri-Technology innovators explore how Responsible Innovation can be applied to their practice

Project Duration: January 2019 – June 2021

Young female farmer spraying her crops using a drone


Building capacity for Responsible Innovation: Agri-Technology

The Challenge

New digital technologies in agriculture have the potential to bring productivity and efficiency gains, as well as improved environmental outcomes, to the sector.  However, in the case of the Australian Agri-Technology innovation system, farmers want to know who will be using their data, for what purpose, what value will be generated and how benefits will be distributed. So, as these new areas of science and technology emerge, there is a need to equip all those involved with the skills to navigate the fundamental socio-technical impacts.

Without developing the skills to understand and respond to the needs and concerns of their stakeholders, those seeking to develop new agri-technologies risk wasting their time, energy and resources developing ‘shelf-ware’, or even incurring reputational damage and the questioning of their social licence.

Responsible Innovation seeks to ensure that science and technology is developed and implemented in a way that is inclusive of and responsive to individual, institutional and societal values and needs. This implies an understanding of what Responsible Innovation means in practice by those not only developing technologies but also deploying them. There is an abundance of literature on definitions of and frameworks for Responsible Innovation but what is less readily available is detailed guidance on how the concept can be practically applied.

Responding to the Challenge

To address this challenge, our team has partnered with educational consulting firm Athena Education to design a short course for delivery as part of CSIRO’s collaboration with the Australian National University’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology (CEAT) Innovation Hub.

The short course combines the latest research from CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation and Digiscape Future Science Platforms with innovative learning and teaching methods. This approach will deliver practitioner-focused and experiential learning that enables and informs the practice of Responsible Innovation in the context of the Australian Agri-Technology innovation system. The course is designed to create a dialogue with participants, allowing them to draw on their own professional experiences, and forge their own views and conduct on what it is to practice innovation responsibly. It is also designed to move beyond one-way technology transfer and science communication toward a more meaningful focus on learning that is applied and experiential.

On completion of the course, participants will be equipped to:

  • adopt behaviours that underpin Responsible Innovation
  • articulate values, motivations and assumptions in the design and/or use of Agri-Technology
  • apply Responsible Innovation tools to Agri-Technology
  • prospectively evaluate futures in Agri-Technology
  • demonstrate inclusive deliberation
  • influence decision making in Agri-Technology futures.

The aim of translating our science in this way is to support participants to contribute to meaningful and sustainable impacts through the responsible development of their Agri-Technologies and build connections into communities of practice with others in the Australian agricultural innovation system.

Project Impacts

Australia has the opportunity to be recognised as a world leader in enacting the practice of Responsible Innovation and ethical technology development of Agri-Technology. But the transition to ‘agriculture 4.0’ needs to be managed collaboratively and inclusively. This short course has been specifically designed to facilitate meaningful dialogue and practice on Responsible Innovation in emerging Agri-Technologies with government, industry, society and science stakeholders.

The first delivery of our new short course, Capacity Building for Responsible Innovation: Agri-Technology, is scheduled with CEAT in early 2021.

A second short course, Operationalising Responsible Innovation: Agri-Technology, is currently under development.


CSIRO: Simon Fielke (Project Leader), Justine Lacey, Emma Jakku and Cara Stitzlein; Athena Education: Professor Janelle Allison, Susan Clarke; ANU/CEAT: Martin Amidy, Rachael Rodney Harris, Denise Higgins

Read More

Reflections on the challenges of agri-tech innovation, Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology (

Harvesting data responsibly – a new short course