21/09/21 Karraskan


An uncertain and complex world also requires complex R&D&I, the combination of diverse agents, knowledge, and practices, based on a Quintuple Helix model that is open to social and cultural aspects. Transforming the framework and the imaginary of how R&D&I is understood, and how plans are designed, networks are configured, and research and innovation resources are distributed.

Iranzu Guijarro and Ricardo Antón (ColaBoraBora)

August 2021



Also available in Spanish and Basque.


One of the issues KARRASKAN has been involved with concerning the Creative and Cultural Industries within the RIS3 Euskadi framework has been to consider the conceptual framework for the application of R&D&I in the Cultural and Creative Sectors. This process involved two parts: in the first part a working group of local agents made progress in defining the framework (with the participation of Ricardo Antón from ColaBoraBora on behalf of KARRASKAN with the support of Aitzol Batiz from Kultiba, which concluded with an initial report coordinated by Aintzane Larrabeiti from the Basque Observatory of Culture); the second part involved comparisons and contributions to finalise the framework, including other national and European level experts (a process coordinated by Cristina Ortega of 3Walks, with the participation of Iranzu Guijarro and Ricardo Antón of ColaBoraBora and Roberto Gómez de la Iglesia of Conexiones Improbables on behalf of KARRASKAN).


The process was very enriching and constituted a significant evolution from the starting point, the result of collective intelligence and the co-responsible work of the different agents involved. It will soon conclude with the organisation of an open international conference to present the work carried out, in the hope that it may prove useful, not only in a Basque context but also in the field of R&D&I in general.


But until that moment – when all of the materials generated will be shared – at KARRASKAN we wish to continue to reflect on and recover some of the ideas that have been at the core of our contributions to the process. To point out the key points we believe it is important to focus on if we seek to question, transform, enrich, and broaden the general framework of R&D&I, beyond its continuist translation-adaptation to the cultural aspect of traditional R&D&I (closely linked to strict techno-science and a commercial focus).




During the process of reflection, when considering the analysis conducted in previous documents on R&D&I in the field of the arts (mainly the Frascati Manual 2015, published by the OECD, pp. 70-71), we found that there is a legitimate recognition of the research FOR and ABOUT the arts, however, research FROM the arts is questioned and there is no research WITH the arts.


This is a long-standing controversy that has an interesting reference in the paper “The debate on research in the arts”, published in 2006 by Henk Borgdorff, from the Amsterdam School of the Arts, where the question is approached from different perspectives: the ontological (depending on the nature of the object of research), the epistemological (according to the knowledge it contains-generates) and the methodological (according to the methodology used).


At KARRASKAN we consider that the prepositions FROM and WITH are the principal or driving factors when considering R&D&I in the arts and that FOR and ABOUT have a more applied and instrumental role towards the arts themselves. This is briefly explained below.


> The research FROM

The arts produce profound and systematic research and innovation on everything related to a wide range of issues ranging from materials, technologies, forms, and compositions, to languages, imaginaries, symbolic orders, and subjectivities, as well as forms of relationship, organisation, and behaviour. Moreover, the arts are characterised by critical practices, by taking ideas and practices to their ultimate consequences, posing new questions, breaking conventions, and limits.


The fact that the methods employed by the arts and creativity differ from those habitually used in the scientific-technological spheres that characterise and condition what is still today understood very restrictively as R&D&I, does not invalidate such alternative methods nor the agents that practice them. Regardless, this raises a debate that should diversify and broaden the range of potential methods and agents and, therefore, the possibilities for research, collaboration, hybridisation, and transfer (which are already becoming increasingly richer and more frequent).


To move in this direction, it is necessary to overcome prejudices or partial and negative biases, such as those projected from the Frascati Manual itself, in which R&D&I FROM the arts is confused with the idea of “artistic expression”. A reductionist idea that relegates the arts to non-objective-comparable-mensurable subjectivity; associated with the personal, emotional, experiential, and not to the more formal and systematised, supposedly more rigorous fields of research. A Manichean view that turns its back on history, in which the arts have always been a fundamental field for research, with a very direct link to the sciences or other fields of knowledge (one need only look at the legacy of ancient civilisations such as the Egyptian or Chinese, Classical Greece, the Renaissance or many of the avant-garde movements). A biased view that should also look beyond means of contrasting, formalising, sharing, or transferring R&D&I, and not be so limited by the criteria and logics of indexed scientific publications, marketable patents, or pre-established indicators from the techno-scientific-commercial sphere, which penalise and/or obscure the research and innovations generated in other areas.


Lastly, in the face of the recurrent argument that not all art is research, we believe it is necessary to reflect on the limits and criteria for differentiating between what is an artistic practice and what is an artistic practice that constitutes research from the arts. But this is equally evident in other techno-scientific disciplines whose legitimacy as part of the R&D&I system is not questioned for this very reason.


In short, we must free the scientific method and the R&D&I system from the “prison” in which they have become trapped by those who claim to protect them but in reality constrict them, preventing their enrichment by factors such as imagination, subjectivity, affection, poetics, desire, and emotion.


> The research WITH

From the perspective of the instrumental and social value of the arts, it is essential to point out that the challenges ahead require dialogue and hybridisation between different fields, knowledge, and practices. The arts, in addition to constituting a disciplinary field for inclusion in this relational equation, are by their very nature especially conducive to fostering disruptive innovation, cultivating imagination, creation and applied creativity as values and instruments that transverse the entire R&D&I process.


It is therefore increasingly important for research groups to be transdisciplinary, and that cross-pollination and improbable connection processes occur, in which the arts occupy a space that is as legitimate as it is relevant (in the same way that other disciplines now largely undervalued, mainly linked to the social sciences, the humanities or ancestral and popular knowledge, should be incorporated).


> The research FOR and ABOUT

In terms of the intrinsic value of the arts beyond everything related to FROM, both FOR and the ABOUT are also important, understanding their role as being more applied and instrumental in terms of the arts themselves as recipients or subjects of study. It is a matter of contributing new tools, technologies, methodologies, or materials, as well as helping to analyse, systematise, evaluate, conserve, scale or transfer in a qualitative manner, the knowledge, experiences and other material and immaterial resources generated.


In all of this, the different links in the value chain of the Cultural and Creative Sectors must be considered and other disciplines and other specialised agents (in many cases universities and scientific-technological centres) also come into play, which should not replace the artistic and cultural agents themselves, but rather complement them.




As we pointed out when talking about research WITH the arts, the multilevel and complex challenges we face in all spheres of life require new approaches that are more relational, dialogical, and transdisciplinary, more adaptable to different contexts and situations, with greater flows and feedback between research and innovation areas, agents, and processes.


To this end, it is necessary to move towards more open and collaborative research, experimentation, and value generation rationale, with more co-production. A multi-agent co-production rationale that requires the necessary and urgent expansion and diversification of the agents considered a part of the R&D&I ecosystem. An ecosystem that has become restrictive and self-referential, reducing the framework mainly to universities, scientific-technological centres, and other business R&D&I units (with the very limited presence of the social sciences, humanities, and arts). This is slowly changing, however, thanks to the Quintuple Helix approach and the incorporation of much more transversal approaches, in which all actors and disciplines are understood and related as interdependent peers.


The logic of co-production means being aware that a single agent cannot and must not fulfil on their own all of the criteria that define R&D&I as such (novel/relevant, creative, uncertain, systematic, and transferable/reproducible), but rather teams must be created that complement each other and provide feedback. Teams based on relationships involving trust, recognition, and reciprocity (banishing paternalistic, instrumental and/or dependent relationships), where the different experiences and roles that are created to tackle each challenge are valued, based on the use of multiple intelligences and collective intelligence.


> The Quintuple Helix approach (and the role of social 

and cultural actors)

As we have stated, the Quintuple Helix approach is proving decisive in attempting to break away from the established rationale in prevailing R&D&I systems. It enables an innovation ecosystem to be developed that must cultivate significant relationships and transversal alliances between different agents, in a more open and transversal manner, and be both co-responsible and proportional (in terms of responsibilities, rights, competencies, etc.).

The Quintuple Helix approach exceeds the Triple Helix model of innovation (public administration + university and research centres + companies); by first expanding into the Quadruple Helix, approach by adding competencies, knowledge, and levers from civil society (organised and non-organised citizenship); and then incorporating the Fifth element, that is, the conditions and particularities of the context, of the habitat, of the situation, as the medium in which R&D&I is generated and deployed.


In this scenario, it is important to not divide up roles amongst the different helixes, but rather to encourage much greater flow, interaction, and mixed-hybrid relations. And in this sense, it is essential to deploy the full potential of the fourth helix, because it is the new helix and the one that could perhaps introduce – if we are open to it – more disruptive changes in the way we approach R&D&I processes and seek and perhaps achieve other types of results.


In this relationship between R&D&I and civil society (in which we would include many of the creators and cultural agents) we can propose a staircase with three steps, where the third step would be the one truly oriented towards the R&D&I co-production with a Quintuple Helix approach:


  • SOCIALISE: educate and disseminate so the public becomes more aware and responsible and more open to adopting certain innovations. Placing oneself on this first rung is insufficient because, instead of opening up the current R&D&I system complementarity and feedback with other agents, it maintains it (whether consciously or unconsciously) in a paternalistic position, within its comfort zone, perpetuating its privileges.


  • PARTICIPATE: Entrust social agents and citizens with part of the research (in general the fieldwork and testing), for example to expand and diversify it in terms of the number of samples and tests, applicable locations, etc. Here, relationships of greater recognition begin to emerge, but in general they are still very instrumental situations towards civil society (as research assistants or as cases for analysis).


  • CO-PRODUCE: Recognise that certain areas or situations exist where innovation (and even research as a conscious and formal practice), commences with grassroots agents, from the citizens themselves, from the professionals most connected with the context and with specific knowledge and practices. Moreover, this is especially true in areas related to the social sciences, humanities, and arts, where much research and innovation emerges from the very fabric, in an emergent and situated manner (as is seen in the fields of citizen innovation or community culture). For this reason, it is on this rung where we believe there would be a relationship of greater mutual recognition that would make R&D&I co-production possible. To this end, fourth helix agents must be considered as subjects who research and innovate, for whom this function must be recognised, who must be provided with resources, and must be accompanied in the search for sophistication and excellence in their research (throughout the process, but especially in its systematisation and transfer). And in this sense, citizen laboratories, creation factories and/or mediation programmes can play an important role as intermediate devices that favour the conditions for the co-production of R&D&I, building bridges between different types of agents, combining technical and expert knowledge with the amateur, experiential, and experiential.


> Intermixed and discontinuous phases

In the same way that we call for co-production between different fields and agents, we also call for R&D&I processes or phases. While in the hard sciences and technologies it may still make some sense to follow a more or less linear rationale (Basic Research > Applied Research > Experimental Development > Innovation) in the social and cultural spheres this logic and its limits are much more diffuse, and on many occasions, the phases unfold in a discontinuous order.


Policies and programmes to support R&D&I still tend to forcefully separate research from innovation and the agents that operate in each phase. But perhaps these policies and programmes should focus on the more diffuse, hybrid and non-Formal rationales that operate in the social and cultural spheres, instead of insisting on maintaining a corset inherited from modern-productivist thinking, which is increasingly obsolete and inoperative in the context of the growing complexity and uncertainty in which we find ourselves. A context in which it is often the case that aspects such as 1. Novelty criterion, 2. Working from previous hypotheses, and/or 3. A results-oriented trend (towards increasingly short-term and market-oriented results) do not make sense or generate unattainable or even inconvenient expectations. Instead, it is necessary to emphasize 1. Not losing sight of the criterion of relevance (that beyond the novelty or market opportunity, it is something appropriate, opportune and that provides value at a given time or in the face of a given challenge), 2. Reformulating the questions and twisting the assumed hypotheses and 3. Attending to the processes with all their unforeseen events (as a possible way to obtain results). All of this, moreover, at a time when innovation, beyond the flight forward from constant novelty, should be an invitation to listen, improve, deepen, reuse, transfer and transfer, commencing with much of what already exists.




The rationale for a co-produced R&D&I -from this Quintuple Helix approach and opening up to the social and cultural spheres-, in addition to a philosophical and subjective change in how R&D&I is understood, implies important changes at the operational level, in the procedures, tools and methods for recording, evaluation and transfer of both processes and results. This affects both how objectives are established and measured, and the types of agents involved, as well as how to design plans, configure networks and distribute resources.

All this means that this vast field of creation, the arts and culture cannot be included based on a rationale of automatic translation, conjunctural urgency or exceptional permissiveness, but rather implies a redefinition of the very paradigm of R&D&I and its system. A new, mestizo and mutant system, the result of mixing agents, knowledge, and practices, of celebrating diversity and deepening complexity, and of overcoming inertia and conventions. A system that must also be co-produced, including all the agents concerned in its redesign. A new system that could well be the fruit of apparently small nuances, such as, for example, the modification of the title of the initial report from which this article derives, replacing the “The conceptual framework for the application of R&D&I in the Cultural and Creative Sectors” with, for example, “The transformation of the R&D&I conceptual framework based on contributions from the Cultural and Creative Sectors”.



Also available in Spanish and Basque.

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