How to Support Startups in Responsible Innovation Processes: A Tool Analysis


  • Sarah Manthey Karlsruher Institut für Technologie
  • Ann-Sophie Finner Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • Orestis Terzidis Karlsruhe Institute of Technology



Responsible Innovation, Tool, Startup, RI Implementation, Compass self-check tool


Innovation plays a vital role in economic growth and addressing societal challenges such as climate change, poverty, and ageing populations. However, the impacts of innovation are not always predictable, and negative outcomes can emerge unexpectedly. Anticipating the long-term effects of innovation is becoming increasingly important as technology and innovation continue to advance at a rapid pace. Responsible Innovation (RI) is an approach that aims to govern research and innovation by involving stakeholders early on to improve anticipation of consequences and make innovation ethically acceptable, environmentally sustainable, and socially desirable. Small enterprises, particularly start-ups, face significant challenges in implementing sustainability and responsibility in their innovation processes due to limited resources. This study aims to explore existing tools for operationalizing RI in a business context and assess their applicability to start-ups. The findings reveal that while there are numerous ongoing projects and tools for RI in a business context, there is a lack of tools specifically designed for start-ups. By identifying key concepts and characteristics of tools for RI implementation in start-ups, the paper contributes to the field of RI by laying the groundwork for the development of an RI tool tailored to the needs of start-ups. The study provides recommendations for improving existing RI tools, including the development of modular and user-adaptive tools. This research expands the knowledge base on RI, offers a theoretical foundation for further research, and paves the way for the development of the COMPASS self-check tool for RI implementation in start-ups.

Author Biographies

Ann-Sophie Finner, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Ann-Sophie Finner embarked on her scientific career with a dual study program in International Business at Airbus, where she later worked as a project controller for two years. She subsequently completed a master's degree and has been a doctoral student at KIT EnTechnon since the end of 2021, specializing in circular economy.

Orestis Terzidis, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Orestis Terzidis heads the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Technology Management and Innovation (EnTechnon) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). After completing his PhD in physics, he worked at SAP from 1998-2011, first as an application developer, subsequently as assistant to CEO Henning Kagermann and director of the SAP Research Center in Karlsruhe. In October 2011, he joined KIT as a full professor.