First corporate governance guide for responsible innovation

23rd April 2020 

Innovate UK and industry collaborate with BSI to launch the first corporate governance framework for responsible innovation

BSI, the UK National Standards body, publishes PAS 440 Responsible Innovation – Guide. It is the first national framework to help organizations to work through the demands of innovating in a responsible manner and demonstrating best practice.

Responsible research and innovation (RRI) is acknowledged by business, policymakers and government bodies as a critical component of governance systems across the European Union. Current RRI approaches focus on basic research, with the main emphasis being on the use by academics of university ethics committees. This new standardized guide covers product, service and process innovation support to companies that wish to innovate responsibly and to demonstrate their responsible behaviour.  

The fast-tracked standardization document, known as a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 440, provides a practical guide that helps companies to understand the need for responsible behaviour and chart a path through conflicting aspirations and demands of a broad range of stakeholders. It allows organizations to demonstrate that they are innovating responsibly, whilst taking account of companies’ needs to continue to innovate in a timely manner, to ensure that they remain competitive internationally.

David Fatscher, Head of Environment, Social and Governance Standards at BSI, said: “Good corporate citizens are increasingly expected to consider not only the benefits of their innovations, but also any possible adverse impacts, including unintended use, misuse or other unforeseen consequences. Until now there has been no guidance to companies on how to structure their thinking and processes. PAS 440 is the first governance guide for responsible innovation.”

Paul Mason, Director - Responsive Programmes at Innovate UK said: “Companies developing new products, services or processes in any market or technology area, will find PAS 440 directly relevant. Innovate UK has found that most innovative companies want to do the right thing. The question, in very new and disruptive areas where the potential uses of a technology are still being explored, is ‘what is the right thing?’. This standard can help companies follow best practice so they can innovate more responsibly in the eyes of customers, investors and wider society.”

The creation of this free to download standardization document has been overseen by a steering group* made-up of organizations across multiple sectors and innovation researchers. It aims to provides a responsible innovation framework that is usable in any sector of the economy where radically new and innovative technologies, products, services and processes are being developed.

Download PAS 440 Responsible Innovation – Guide for free here:

Notes to the editor:

*Steering group:

  • Arizona State University
  • Cognizant Technology Solutions
  • Croda 
  • Digital Catapult
  • i2 Media, Goldsmiths University
  • Institution of Engineering Designers (3M)
  • Knight Design Innovation Limited
  • Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, The University of Manchester
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • Sainsbury’s
  • NowNext
  • Syngenta
  • University of Cardiff