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Professor Richard Owen

Professor Richard Owen

Professor Richard Owen
PhD, BSc

Professor in Innovation Management

Office 4.18B
Howard House,
Queen's Avenue, Bristol BS8 1SD
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 42 84653


I am interested in the power of innovation and techno-visionary science to create futures in profound and uncertain ways, how we can engage as a society with those futures and how we can take responsibility for them.  I am interested in the politics, risks, ethics and governance of innovation and new technologies in society, from big data in financial services and planetary climate engineering to innovation for development.  My research sits at the intersection of innovation governance and science and technology studies as a critical, interdisciplinary scholar.

I originally trained as an environmental scientist, firstly as a stable isotope geochemist validating climate change records and then on the measurement and impact of pollutants on vulnerable and important ecosystems such as coral reefs.  My journey to the social sciences began when I started to ask questions about how my data was being used, by whom and for what purpose. I have continued to ask questions since. This led me first into risk assessment and risk governance, then regulation and finally innovation governance, including a spell between 2003 and 2008 at the Environment Agency where I was Head of Environment and Human Health. There my role included leading on the risks and regulation of new technologies. I set up and co-ordinated a large UK-US interdisciplinary programme of research on the environmental risks of nanotechnologies on behalf of the Research Councils, after a secondment into central Government to write its risk research strategy for nanotechnologies in 2005.  It was there that I learned about the strengths and limitations of regulation for new areas of technology, leading me to return to academia in 2008 to develop a new approach for governing innovation and technologies around the concept of ‘Responsible Innovation’.

Working closely with the Research Councils, with colleagues I developed a Framework for Responsible Innovation, which was adopted as EPSRC policy in 2013.  I am interested in working collaboratively with organisations and communities to make responsible innovation a reality in practice. This includes work within the EC funded RRI Practice project, which runs until 2019 (co-I), PhD training / supervision on the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cybersecurity (co-I) and collaboration with the Norwegian Research Council to help develop their responsible innovation approach, notably within their biotechnology programme.  I have recently begun an ESRC funded project (co-I) investigating participatory approaches to smart city development working with colleagues in Mexico, and in Education, Social Sciences and Engineering here at Bristol. I am a co-I on the recently funded Digital Futures Institute, funded by Research England.

I teach innovation management and governance, innovation systems and responsible innovation at all levels.  As of September 2018 I became Unit Director, Third Year Undergraduate Dissertations. I also lecture on the Global Business Environment Unit (Undergraduate Year 1), People, Work and Organisations Unit (Undergraduate Year 2) and Management Research Methods Unit (Undergraduate Year 2). At Masters Level I teach Research Methods and lecture on the MSc Strategy, Leadership and Change.  I also lead on the responsible innovation provision across the University's 10 Centres for Doctoral Training (EPSRC funded).

I have held leadership positions at my previous institution (Exeter University Business School) where I was Postgraduate Research Director, Associate Dean for Research and interim Dean/ PVC.       

For a number of recent publications see 'Research Output's, for a full list of publications going back alot further see my profile on Researchgate (




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