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People Behind the Council of Coaches – Episode 3

After the first 2 episodes, covering The Netherlands and Spain, it is time to visit beautiful Copenhagen and meet with our Danish partner DBT (The Danish Board of Technology Foundation).

The Danish Board of Technology Foundation

The Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DBT) is a non-profit corporate foundation working for the common good. The mission of the Foundation is to ensure that society’s development is shaped by informed and forward-looking cooperation between citizens, experts, stakeholders, and decision-makers. To this end the Foundation performs and facilitates public engagement, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), co-creation processes, technology assessment, research and foresight, and new forms of governance. In the Council of Coaches project, the role of the DBT is to develop and monitor the RRI-work throughout the project in order to facilitate that abstract notions of responsibility are thoroughly deliberated and fleshed out in relation to the concrete subject matter and find their way into the development process as well as into the final product. In February the Council of Coaches RRI Vision was finalized. In March an RRI intervention was carried out at the Valencia Hackathon. At the moment, the project team is occupied with developing the overall strategy and practical implementation plan for the RRI work throughout the project period, as well as preparing the next intervention which will take place at the Technical Integration Week in Enschede towards the end of this month.


Rasmus Øjvind Nielsen, MA, PhD, Project Manager DBT

I got onboard the Council of Coaches project from the beginning but was never involved in writing the proposal. The project is a good fit for my research profile, however, since my main focus is on new institutional and organizational forms in the responsible governance of science, technology and innovation. The Council of Coaches project has from the start been designed to implement quite a few of those forms and has at the same time left a lot of space in the project planning for new ideas about how to implement responsible research and innovation in practice. The project is organized so that a lot of different methods are brought into the mix: user involvement, stakeholder dialogue, lead user involvement, and more. We lead and support several of these methods, but in the middle of all this my main focus is on facilitating dialogue internal to the consortium about how RRI is to be understood in the context of the particular development ambitions of the project. This can be approached in different ways, of course. At the point where I got onboard the project, the consortium had already paid quite a bit of attention to the European Commission’s interpretation of RRI, i.e. the RRI ‘keys’ (public engagement, ethics, gender, open access, and science education). And a lot of the work we do follows up on that. But I also see our role as looking beyond compliance with the keys towards issues of responsibility that are specific to this project. In this respect we are very inspired by Arizona State University’s program for Socio-Technical Integration Research (STIR). The Council of Coaches is about producing a virtual coaching software. So perhaps it would be relevant to look at the ethical standards that human coaches must live up to and ask ourselves if and how the program ought to live up to the same standards. This is just one example of how we try to facilitate (or ‘stir’) reflection in the consortium and how we try to move from the sometimes very abstract to the immediately concrete and practical. Participating in the project in this role is really teaching us something about how to work in a very hands-on way with RRI at the project level, and I think we are very fortunate to be given the opportunity to work with this extremely competent and open-minded consortium of people. No doubt, the lessons learned here will help to strengthen our own RRI consultancy practice as well.



Sita Ramchandra Kotnis, MA in Anthropology, PhD candidate, Project Manager DBT

Sita is the new kid on the block, in the Council of Coaches project as well as in the DBT.

I gate-crashed both in mid-February, where the RRI Vision had just been launched, and since then it’s been full-on learning by doing – working my way down the engine room of the Council of Coaches project and into the DBT-way of thinking RRI while simultaneously trying to be strategically visionary, methodologically creative, empirically meticulous, and completely calm. So, I sleep quite sound at night. At the DBT I will be chiefly working with health-related technology and bioethical questions. In my previous research, I have been specializing in new and emerging technologies, particularly within the so-called new biological sciences-complex (e.g. neuroscience, synthetic biology, psychiatric genetics, functional neuroimaging). I am particularly interested in how new possibilities of understanding and intervening in lived life, and life itself on many levels, frame and influence our notions of identity, self and society. Furthermore, I have a keen interest in the prospects and perils posed by these technologies in relation to questions of responsibility, (generic and mental) health and quality of life, and how they influence and inform more analogue approaches to ‘work on the self’ such as mindfulness, psychology and psychoanalysis. For me the Council of Coaches project is a very unique opportunity to deepen my understanding of these matters in yet a new direction and from a new angle. I find the project very interesting, very ambitious – and very fun! Am looking forward to getting this baby further up and running 😉


Magnus K. Andersson, Student in Techno-Anthropology, intern at DBT

My name is Magnus K. Andersson and I have been a part of the Danish Board of Technology Foundation as an intern since January 2018 where I also joined the Council of Coaches project. I study on the side where I am currently in the process of writing my Bachelor thesis about Responsible Research and Innovation (surprise!). My study, Techno-Anthropology examines the relations between human and technology and how those relations impacts on society. My key interests are 1) the question on how to develop responsible technology and 2) how to break down the barrier of incommensurability in processes of innovation – that means shaping frameworks for different academic disciplines to talk, discuss, and develop in a common language. Council of Coaches has put upon its shoulders to do all these things by having RRI as a key feature in the project, and therefore the project is extremely interesting and valuable to me. The DBT team that I am a part of in COUCH, and works side by side with, are primarily working as a methodology-development team for RRI in the concrete project of COUCH. We develop and execute methods for defining RRI in this project, after which we secure implementation of RRI. That means we work as a unit, exploiting our different mindsets to develop ideas together. I see my role in this project as an active co-facilitator of responsible research and innovation, and I am grateful to be a part of it.



Bjørn Bedsted, MA in Anthropology, Deputy Director of DBT

Bjørn is DBTs Deputy Director and has extensive experience with hatching methods in areas of citizen and stakeholder engagement processes and strategic project management. He has a knack for facilitating informed and democratic cooperation between citizens, stakeholders, experts and decisionmakers in developing visions and approaches as well as finding solutions for societal challenges. Bjørn has directed multiple projects, nationally and internationally, on subjects such as responsible research and innovation, IT, climate adaption and GMO. In the Council of Coaches project, he hopes to demonstrate how an RRI approach to ICT health tech development can add value to the innovation process and help deliver results that differ from those of the more traditional procedures for user involvement.


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Council of Coaches Position Paper Presentation @ ICT4AWE

For those of you who couldn’t make it to Funchal to join the ICT4AWE Conference, we have made the presentation available to view at your leisure!

If you’re interested in reading the paper – it is now available online at the ScitePress Digital Library.

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Responsible Research and Innovation and the Council of Coaches project

According to the Rome Declaration on Responsible Research and Innovation in Europe, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is the ongoing process of aligning research and innovation to the values, needs and expectations of society. Decisions in research and innovation must consider the respect of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the respect of human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. RRI requires that all stakeholders are responsive to each other and take shared responsibility for the processes and outcomes of research and innovation.

The Council of Coaches project has included a core activity in the project that focuses on the Responsible Research and Participatory Design, with the objective to ensure that the research and innovation process in the project follows the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation and ensure that the new tools and coaching methods comply. In addition the objective of this activity is to ensure that the actual R&I processes contribute effectively to the needs of future users and society at large, are aligned with societal values and ethical considerations, and have a realistic chance of succeeding in the competitive market of eHealth and e-Coaching tools. These Responsible Research and Innovation ambitions will be achieved through three interlaced processes: a) Development of a shared understanding and vision of what RRI means for the COUCH consortium and how this vision should be achieved; b) Stakeholder and user engagement processes: a series of deliberative, co-constructive multi-stakeholder workshops and c) Socio-technical integration: social scientists engage scientists and engineers in semi-structured interactions designed to enhance reflection upon research decisions and inform practice in light of broader considerations – including the stakeholder views – and societal implications.

The partners of the Council of Coaches project met in January in Copenhagen in a 2-day workshop to develop the RRI Vision, while putting RRI into practice.

The outcome of the meeting was to create a RRI roadmap and define responsibilities of researchers and innovators that are structured around: (Social) robot ethics, Codes of conduct for coaches, Quality recommendations for virtual coaches, Ethics of mHealth and Responsible ICT for an ageing society.

The Council of Coaches project will be implementing various compliance strategies that are structured around the following pillars:

Public communication
– Public activism
– Public consultation
– Public deliberation
– Public participation

Science education
– Science education
– Science communication
– Co-production of knowledge

Gender equality
– Horizontal and vertical participation
– Structural change in institutions
– Gender in content

– Ethical governance
– Ethical deliberation
– Ethical reflection

Open Access
– Open Access
– Open Data

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Milestone #1 Complete!

Thanks to an excellent project start and a lot of hard work in the first 6-month period of Council of Coaches, the first official Project Milestone “Initial Design and Requirements” was successfully completed at the end of February.

In the first six months of the project, the consortium has worked on gathering user requirements, performed state of the art literature research and described existing technology platforms that will be used in the development of the Council of Coaches prototypes. In Work Package 2, a vision on how the project will adopt a Responsible Research and Innovation approach is layed out (D2.1) and initial stakeholder analysis results are reported (D2.2). In Work Package 3, a literature overview on behaviour change theories and methods was done, serving as input for the initial design of the system’s Knowledge Base (D3.1). Similarly, in Work Package 4, a state of the art overview was compiled on sensing and profiling techniques – leading to an initial design of the Holistic Behaviour Analysis Framework (D4.1). In Work Package 5, the Dialogue and Argumentation Framework design and background was compiled and reported in D5.1, while in Work Package 6 work has been done on describing existing frameworks for creating the Embodied Conversational Coaches that will form the main Human Computer Interaction element in the Council of Coaches (D6.1). In this same time period, the project has prepared its first living draft of the Data Management Plan (D1.2) and its Innovation Management Guidelines (D1.3).


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People Behind the Council of Coaches – Episode 2

In the first episode of the series “People Behind the Council of Coaches”, the University of Twente was presented. In this second episode, we travel to Spain to meet one of the key technology partners of the project, namely Universitat Politècnica de València.


Universitat Politècnica de València

UPVLC is a 45 years old institution adding up over 42.000 people, comprising 10 technical schools, 3 faculties and 2 higher polytechnic schools in three campuses, one in the city of Valencia and two externals. UPVLC-SABIEN (Technologies for Health and Well-Being) is the major research group in e-Inclusion and e-Health of the UPVLC, and one of the most relevant ones at the national level, with a research trajectory of 18 years. UPVLC-SABIEN has an extensive expertise in the application of ICT to the social and healthcare systems, in Ambient Assisted Living technologies (AAL), and Internet of Things (IoT) and also in reengineering and evaluation and validation of social and health care processes and solutions in real environments, not only dealing with the generation of indicators but also user and business centred data, including a long experience in using mobile technologies for health and social purposes.

In Universitat Politècnica de València we met with Vicente Traver Salcedo, Director of the Technologies for Health & Wellbeing (SABIEN) at the ITACA Institute, Gema Ibañez Sanchez and Alvaro Fides Valero and talked with them about UPVLC involvement in the project:

Out of your previous R&D activities, was there something that has influenced your involvement in the Council of Coaches?

Yes, very particularly the project universAAL. This was an EU-funded AAL project that would use smart environments to aid in healthy aging. It consisted on developing an entire platform, so there is a lot of knowledge about architecture, integration and pilots that we can contribute. This was followed by project ReAAL that deployed universAAL in even bigger pilots. In addition, of course, we will assist in integrating Council of Coaches with universAAL itself.


Let the audience know a story behind the existence of universAAL and its uniqueness.

One story, if you can call it that way, that we often get, is hearing from developers and service providers of healthy-aging-related services how hard it is to develop, and how having a platform and tools could help them. That is in part why universAAL came to be, but is also something we must consider when developing Council of Coaches.


How do you see the interaction with end users and particularly for the Council of Coaches.

The focus on direct interaction with the end users is something very interesting, especially having been a developer whose main “client” in previous projects were other developers. All the knowledge about how to interact, dialog and influence end users will be very interesting.


How do you judge the usual outcome of healthy-aging projects and what is there in the Council of Coaches that is happening differently?

The results of projects related to healthy-aging, or at least those we have been involved in show that, despite being helpful or meeting their objectives, they somehow always fail to gain traction in the end. When it comes to making an impact in the market, and therefore in society, it becomes very difficult to succeed. Here’s hoping that Council of Coaches innovative approach can have better luck.


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