#AI4STIP 2023: Eu-SPRI ECR school explores the intersections of AI, science, policy, and ethics

By Philipp Baaden, Priscila Ferri, and John P. Nelson

In November 2023, 31 early-career researchers from Europe and elsewhere gathered in Manchester, England, for the week-long Artificial Intelligence for Science, Technology, Innovation and Policy Winter School (#AI4STIP). With Eu-SPRI sponsorship, #AI4STIP brought these researchers together to delve into the intricate interplay of AI, scientific progress, ethical research, and policy shaping. Hosted by the Manchester Institute for Innovation Research (MIOIR), located at the University of Manchester’s Alliance Manchester Business School, the event offered an immersive program on the governance, ethics, scientific implications, and research applications of artificial intelligence.

To capture the collective wisdom and different insights gained during the event, we asked the participants to provide us with feedback on the most important learning they had gained while at #AI4STIP. The breadth of responses mirrored the depth and diversity of the program’s content as well as the diversity of research backgrounds. To synthesize these perspectives, we used a large language model (LLM), which offered the following summary:

“Through the AI4STIP Winter School, I’ve gained an immersive understanding of AI’s multifaceted dimensions, witnessing its potential applications and the tools available, notably large language models. This experience not only expanded my technical prowess but also heightened my awareness of AI’s ethical and societal implications, emphasizing responsible and strategic usage across diverse research domains.”

These reflections are rooted in the expertise shared across three key instructional tracks curated by leaders in the field of AI for science and innovation, showcased at #AI4STIP.

The first track, spearheaded by Philip Shapira (University of Manchester and Georgia Tech) and Justin B. Biddle (Georgia Tech), focused on ethics, societal implications, and emerging global governance structures for AI. These sessions guided attendees on the potential stakes of AI development and implementation. These ranged from job loss to intellectual property disruption to much-discussed extinction threats. The global landscape of AI investment and leadership was considered, along with the effects (or, sometimes, lack thereof) of the proliferation of AI ethics guidelines and relatively slow growth of AI regulation.

In #AI4STIP’s second track, VTT’s Arash Hajikhani and Carolyn Cole provided attendees with examples, instruction, and hands-on practice in applications of LLMs to science and innovation policy research. Attendees learned about the architecture and functioning of LLMs, available commercial and open-source tools for use of LLMs in research, and examples of use of LLMs for large-scale qualitative classification, fuzzy searches and content summaries within documents, and bibliometric trends analysis.

Throughout the week, attendees completed hands-on small-group projects using the ChatGPT API and other commercial LLM research tools to analyze and visualize documentary evidence such as journal articles and reports.

The third track, led by Barbara Ribeiro (SKEMA) and Cornelia Lawson (University of Manchester), shed light on AI’s impacts within scientific realms. Ribeiro highlighted the paradox of automating lab research leading to new “mundane knowledge work” and discussed the differential impact of AI across researchers of different levels of seniority and other demographic groups. Lawson presented on digital technologies’ and AI’s potential effects on scientific team size, collaboration, and institutional advantage, and provided preliminary findings on relationships between AI use, project initiation, and university types (among other variables).

Complementing these tracks were keynote addresses and informal evening “fireside chats” from invited speakers. Laurie Smith presented on Nesta’s experimentation with AI for social good, such as providing chatbot interfaces to support parents in dealing with health problems or designing activities for children. Alistair Nolan (OECD), advocated for adoption of AI in science as a way to increase the productivity of research and suggested policies to facilitate further development and adoption of AI for science. Elle Farrell-Kingsley (AI Curator and Dialogue Writer) provided attendees a look into the ground-level processes by which LLM developers try to make their tools safe, reliable, and comfortable—but not excessively humanlike in presentation. Parsa Ghaffari (Quantexa) offered an industry perspective on the evolution of decision-making applications from natural language processing to generative AI and LLMs. Samuel Kaski (University of Manchester and Alto University) spoke with attendees about his goals, decision-making processes, and treatment of societal consequences as a leading AI researcher.

MIOIR’s Holly Crossley and Chloe Best provided highly effective support in organizing and running the Winter School.

Despite a packed schedule, attendees bonded over meals and explored Manchester, engaging in activities such as visiting Christmas markets, touring the Old Trafford football stadium, and viewing the Manchester Science and Industry Museum.

The AI for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy Winter School was supported by the European Forum for Studies of Policies for Research and Innovation (Eu-SPRI Forum), the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, and the Alliance Manchester Business School. Additional support for student and faculty travel was provided by the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy and the Ivan Allen College, the Partnership for the Organization of Innovation and New Technologies (Polytechnique Montréal, Canada), and VTT Finland.

Philip Baaden is a PhD student at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and at Fraunhofer INT interested in the evolutionary process of new interdisciplinary scientific fields. Priscila Ferri is a PhD student in science, technology and innovation policy at the MIOIR, University of Manchester, and is examining how AI shapes research and innovation practices in academic laboratories. John P. Nelson is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Public Policy, focusing on ethics and societal implications of AI.

Eu-SPRI Forum Early Career Researcher and PhD Circulation Award: Call Deadline 11th March 2024

Call for proposals for Doctoral Researchers and Early Career Researchers

Next deadline: 11th March 2024 

The circulation of Early Career and PhD Researchers between the member organisations, is an important element of the training activities of the Eu-SPRI Forum network. It is part of the development of the European Training Platform, which the Eu-SPRI Forum aims to develop in the area of science and innovation policy studies. It addresses our objective of offering a European pathway to Early Career and PhD researchers in this field. 

Member organisations are:

  • Université Paris-Est, Institut Francilien Recherche Innovation Société (IFRIS)
  • Copenhagen Business School (CBS)
  • Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Spain
  • Consiglio Nazionale delle Richerche (CNR), IRCRES Research Institute on Sustainable Economic Growth, Rome
  • Politecnico di Milano
  • AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
  • CIRCLE, Lund University, Sweden
  • University of Manchester, Institute of Innovation Research
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • NIFU, Norway
  • University of Twente,  Institute of Innovation and Governance Studies (IGS)
  • VTT, in collaboration with Helsinki Institute of Science and Technology Studies (HIST)
  • UiO, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo
  • SPRU, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex
  • Innovation Studies, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development , Universiteit Utrecht
  • TNO, Netherlands Organisation of Applied Scientific Research
  • TUD, Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund, ZWE der TU-Dortmund
  • Rathenau Institute — KNAW

This call is open to Doctoral Researchers, in member organisations, in their second year of PhD thesis or beyond and Early Career Researchers, in member organisations, who have completed their PhD within the past 36 months.

Topic Areas supported

This mobility call is restricted to research topics relating to science, technology and innovation policy including studies of science, technological innovation processes and entrepreneurship which may have relevance for policy.

Candidates can decide to apply for a short mobility call (up to one month visiting) or a regular mobility call (at least 3 months of visiting).

How to apply

  1. You must first discuss your proposed short term or regular visit with a potential supervisor at your chosen host institution. Both the ‘Home’ institute and ‘Host’ institute must be members of the Eu-SPRI Forum Network. You must confirm that they are prepared to accept you if your proposal is selected.
  1. Send the following documents to Deborah.cox@manchester.ac.uk

(This does not need to be signed by all parties at application stage)

  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • Letter / email of support from Host Supervisor
  • Letter / email of support from Home Supervisor
  • 1 other academic reference
  1. Your application will be evaluated by a committee from the Eu-SPRI Forum Training Group. You will be informed of the outcome when a decision has been made (within 1 month).

Application guidelines

  • The proposed location should be in a different “national system” so that the researcher experiences a different institutional environment. An application to move, for example, within the Netherlands would not be accepted.
  • Length of circulation visit should be at least 3 months for regular circulation and up to 1 month for short-term circulation. The three months can be split into tranches.
  • In the Letter of Intent, be as specific as possible about what you intend to do at your host institute.  Detail why you wish to visit that particular institute; how it will contribute to your research; what you hope to achieve.
  • Prepare your proposal thoroughly, look at the criteria for selection and make a good case.  The awards are competitive and you need to present yourself well.  Have a specific objective for the stay.  This could be to work on an area of theory with experts or to undertake fieldwork in a different country, for example.  Think about the potential benefits which may arise in the longer term.  Make sure you put in sufficient material to convince the reviewers.  If you apply for a short-term circulation you have to clearly explain why such a short-term visiting is sufficient to reach the research objective of the stay.
  • Ensure that the place you want to visit is a good match for you and your work and make sure that the researcher(s) you want to work with will actually be there and are willing to host you.  Making preliminary enquiries about practical arrangements is also a good idea.  However, if someone at another institution has agreed in principle to accept you, your proposal may still be subject to a request for further revision or rejected.
  • Ask someone (perhaps your supervisor) to review your proposal before you submit it.
  • Your research must be relevant to the Eu-SPRI Forum Network. For more information see the website.
  • Both the ‘PhD Home’ institute and ‘Host’ institute must be members of the Eu-SPRI Forum Network. Therefore, you may only apply to institutes that are ‘Early Career/PhD Hosts’ within Eu-SPRI Forum Network. Full members are listed on the website.

 The criteria for evaluating proposals are:

  • Quality of the candidate
  • Quality of the ECR/PhD project
  • Relevance of the project to Eu-SPRI
  • Expected benefits of stay for host institution
  • Expected benefits of stay for research career and/or PhD studies
  • Balance of student flows (only for regular circulation)

Further details

  • Eu-SPRI will award a lump sum of €3000 per regular visit candidate (for travel expenses and accommodation) and up to €1,500 for short-term candidates.  This will be paid once the awardee is in situ at the host organisation.
  • If your application is successful, the letter of Intent must then be signed by all parties who must agree to the terms outlined in it.
  • On completion of the circulation you must provide a Circulation Report to the Eu-SPRI network which may be placed on the website. This is a mandatory requirement.
  • If you think you need any further information please email: Debbie.Cox@manchester.ac.uk or Kate.Barker@manchester.ac.uk 

Eu-SPRI 2024 Annual Conference

Submission Deadline: now closed. 

The 2024 Eu-SPRI Annual Conference will be hosted by the Knowledge, Transformation, and Society (KiTeS) group at the University of Twente Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences in Enschede, NL, in collaboration with other groups within the university. The main conference will take place on 5 to 7 June with a preceding Early Career Event on 4 June.

The conference theme is Governing Technology, Research, and Innovation for Better Worlds, and the organising committee are now welcoming academic researchers from a broad range of disciplines, as well as STI policymakers, to submit proposals for tracks and special (stand-alone) sessions.

Governing Technology, Research, and Innovation for Better Worlds

Policies for science, technology, and innovation (STI) can, among other things, be understood as attempts to create a better world. But what world is better, for what, for whom? Political, moral, and efficiency-economic values influence the direction and instruments of STI governance, sometimes explicitly, as in the recent shifts in STI governance to mission-oriented or challenge-based approaches, and sometimes in more implicit or hidden manners. Competing worldviews of actors involved in STI policymaking go hand in hand with questions of justice and equality, importance and irrelevance. The conference invites to identify and discuss the explicit and implicit, competing and complementary normative orientations that drive STI policy and research in the many contexts where it takes place.

The organising committee now invites submissions of abstracts based on original research engaging with the theme of ‘Governing Technology, Research, and Innovation for Better Worlds’ (more details on this theme can be found here). Submissions related to other topics around science, technology, and innovation policy (broadly defined) are also welcome. 


The deadline for abstract submissions is now closed. 

Notification of decisions will be shared with authors by 29 February 2024. 

Conference registration opens early March 2024. 

Authors of accepted submissions will then be invited to upload their extended abstract or paper. 

Deadline for final submissions is planned for 17 May 2024, 23:59 CET. 

Conference registration closes on 17 May 2024.
The presenting author for each submission will need to have registered for the conference by 10 May 2024, 23:59 CET. 

The conference will be held from Wednesday 5 June to Friday 7 June 2024. 

For further details and how to submit, please visit the conference website.

If you need help with proposal submission, please contact euspri2024@utwente.nl.