FAQ - Frequently asked questions
Here you will find answers to FAQs about the COMPASS Responsible Innovation self-check tool.

The COMPASS Responsible Innovation self-check tool aims to help Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in highly innovative sectors to learn how to effectively integrate Responsible Innovation practices (RI) into their company and innovation management. The tool will help SMEs to assess where their company stands, how they compare to peers, and what they can do to make their innovation practices more responsible. The COMPASS self-check tool is a learning instrument that guides a company through the most important RI practices in company and innovation management. Each question points out the importance of certain RI practices and the provides answer options in form of good practices. The tool automatically scores and benchmarks a user's results against other users' results.

It will take you about 30-60 minutes to go through all questions. It is possible, however, to work at different parts separately. All answers are automatically saved and you can re-access the tool at any time and as often as you like.

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is a term used by the European Union's Framework Programmes to describe scientific research and technological development processes that take into account effects and potential impacts on the environment and society. In a business context, the notion of "Responsible Innovation" (RI) is more common. Experience has shown that some elements of the concept of responsible innovation have been difficult for companies to comprehend. Therefore, one of the core objectives of the COMPASS self-check tool has been operationalising the concept of responsible innovation for use in a business context. The self-check tool focuses on pointing out good practices when it comes to responsible innovation and adapting the concepts of responsible innovation to company functions. For the purpose of the COMAPSS self-check tool, the concept of responsible innovation was operationalized in the broadest sense, utilizing the academic definitions (i.e. Stilgoe, Owen, & Macnaghten, 2013; von Schomberg, 2013) and the European Commission concept (European Commission, 2012). This was done to guarantee that all aspects of responsibility, as defined by various stakeholders, are addressed in the tool to ensure an all-encompassing approach to responsibility of innovation-driven companies.

The COMPASS self-check tool was developed for SMEs, but can also be used by large companies. The tool has been piloted in three highly innovative sectors - nanotechnologies, cyber security, and biomedicine. Therefore, the tool is mostly suited to companies operating in highly innovative sectors in the service and manufacturing industries.

Anyone in a company can take the assessment and self-diagnose how well Responsible Innovation practices are integrated into the way the company runs. If a respondent is not able to answer all questions, he or she can save the work and return to the questionnaire once he or she has gathered the relevant information about the specific practices. A collaboration among a few people from the same company can also be recommended to facilitate discussions and mutual learning. Completing the COMPASS self-check tool together, and discussing the issues it addresses, may yield learning effects and help in prioritizing issues and defining actions for integrating responsible innovation in company and innovation management and setting up a comprehensive and realistic improvement plan.

The tool is structured into four modules: 1. Company Management 2. Idea Generation & Research 3. Development & Testing 4. Market & Impact. Users can start with any of these four modules. They can go through all sections or just respond to questions in one, two or three of them; depending on what spikes their interest. This allows users to define their own pathway in conducting the self-check. Answers are automatically saved so that users can re-access and complete the questionnaire.

The COMPASS self-check tool is based on 43 multiple choice questions, which focus on factual information about company practices, rather than on the opinions of the user, and point to good responsible innovation practice. By doing so, the tool creates clear boundaries of responsibility and only asks about observable responsible innovation practices that are within company control. The COMPASS self-check tool – through its questions – not only allows the user to learn about responsible innovation practices, but also about how to leverage these practices. Answer options that are provided have been designed to point to a good responsible innovation practice from a number of angles. For example, when it comes to stakeholder involvement in innovation, the tool asks which stakeholders the company usually involves, how they involve them and what measures they take to ensure this stakeholder involvement is effective. In this way, diagnosis and recommendation happens simultaneously as you use the tool. Lastly, since responsible innovation in company settings is still an evolving concept, at the end of each question, an open comment option is provided, in which you can enter your company’s different approach of how they tackle that specific issue.

We suggest you select the answers that are usual company practice, rather than an ad-hoc practice that has been implemented only once. This way, the results of the tool will be most informative for your company.

After completing the questionnaire, you will be able to see your overall scores by module and by sub-sections. You will also see how your results compare to companies of your size, as well as to all other companies who have completed the questionnaire. You will further be able to download the full questionnaire including your answers, your results and the benchmark, and the questions you bookmarked for further action. Bookmarked questions can serve as an input into co-creating your tailored roadmap using the COMPASS co-creation method kit .

To improve your performance in any of the four sections of the COMPASS self-check tool, have a look at some of the services and resources collected here!


The scoring system of the COMPASS self-check tool is facilitated through the awarding of points for each answer option you select. Throughout the questionnaire, points are awarded for each positive choice of a provided answer option. In most questions, the more answer options you select, the more points you will score. Points can only be gained, as the tool does not deduct points. The COMPASS self-check tool is also based on a principle of equal weighting. Therefore, each sub-section per module carries the same weight. The questionnaire does not prioritise some responsible innovation elements over others and all questions have an equal share of points. For a detailed description of the scoring system, please see COMPASS project deliverable D3.1 at https://innovation-compass.eu/deliverables-2/.

Your scores in the overall questionnaire and by section will be benchmarked against companies of your size as well as all companies in the tool database. In this way, your company’s performance is not assessed in absolute terms, but rather in comparison to your peers who have completed the questionnaire. You can only see how you compare when you complete a section. Your overall by section and sub-section scores will be automatically compared to the average scores of 1) companies of your size and 2) all companies in the database that have also completed these parts of the questionnaire. We recommend checking in with the tool once in a while, because as more companies use the tool, the benchmarks will also change.

The COMPASS self-check tool is not a certification scheme. Since COMPASS does not verify your answers, the scores cannot be used for public communication. Your scores and benchmarking results can be used for internal communication.

Once you complete the questionnaire and view your results, you can start working on improving your innovation and company management. Throughout the tool, there is an option to bookmark your answers about a specific practice as an action point. After you complete the questionnaire, you can see and download these bookmarked questions and then carry them over to build your own tailored roadmap towards Responsible Innovation.

To improve your performance in any of the four sections of the COMPASS self-check tool, have a look at some of the services and resources collected here!

COMPASS self-check tool is fully aligned with the Co-creation methodology for creating your roadmaps to responsible innovation. Therefore, the questions you bookmarked can serve as an input into co-creating your tailored action plan to improve responsibility in your innovation process. Learn more about the COMPASS Co-creation methodology here .

We recommend taking the questionnaire the first time to self-assess the current state of your company and prioritise actions for improvement. The second time, the tool can be used after some improvements have been implemented in your company to see how that changes your scores and how your company compares to peers.
You need to register in order for your answers to be saved and compared to other companies in our database. You can also use the tool without registration offline in an excel version, but you will not be able to see the benchmark nor bookmark questions.
Information will be used internally only for traffic analysis and academic research. If the user provides unique identifying information, such as name, address and other information on forms stored in the Tool, such information will be used only for statistical purposes and will not be published for third party access. All your data is stored in secure servers in full compliance with GDPR regulation. Only aggregated anonymized data is accessible to tool administrators and may be used for aggregated analyses about responsible innovation in a business context.

All information will be handled in full accordance with our Privacy Policy, our Terms of Reference and general research ethics. If you still do not feel comfortable sharing your answers online, you can download the excel version of the questionnaire, which will allow you to self-diagnose offline. However, you will then not be able to benchmark your company’s results to others. Download the excel-based tool here (coming soon).

The COMPASS self-check tool has been developed as part of a European Union H2020 funded project COMPASS (Grant agreement number: 710543). The authors of the tool (Tharani, A., Jarmai, K. & Nwafor, C.) at the Institute for Managing Sustainability at the Vienna University of Economics and Business developed the tool with the support of the COMPASS (710543) project consortium and the COMPASS advisory board. To learn more about the project and how the tool was developed please visit www.innovation-compass.eu.

The COMPASS self-check tool questionnaire and answer options have been developed by the COMPASS team at the Institute for Managing Sustainability at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in close collaboration with COMPASS Consortium partners through extensive review of academic literature, empirical evidence, project reports, responsible innovation-specific assessment tools, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) tools and standards, as well as through extensive consultations with experts, practitioners and company representatives. For a detailed description of the tool development process please see COMPASS project deliverable D3.1 at https://innovation-compass.eu/deliverables-2/.

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