Virt-EU – Values and ethics in Innovation for Responsible Technology in Europe (EU Project)

Executive summary

Virt-EU is an H2020 project led by the Department of Management and Production Engineering at Polytechnic University of Turin, where the legal team is investigating the regulatory issues concerning will study the emerging innovation landscape of European hardware and software entrepreneurs, maker and hacker spaces, and community innovators whose work leverages personal sensing technologies, open data and open hardware. The Virt-EU project will pay particular attention to the technologies developed for the data economy and the Internet of Things (IoT), which are increasingly present in the automation of everyday communication functions as a result of more responsive sensing tools. Virt-EU will empirically examine how these communities share information, form opinions, and enact ethical values. These values can vary in the expectations that users and technology designers have for how data moves and what is enabled by the data collected. The Nexa Center is part of this project and leads the dissemination activities.


Recent policy, such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation, reflects mounting public concerns around emerging data practices, RRI, data ethics and privacy. Virt-EU addresses these concerns at the point of design through researching and intervening upon the development cultures and ethics of the next- generation IoT innovators. We ask how to do European IoT innovators and developers make ethically consequential decisions – about code, hardware and data – for new connective devices? What assumptions about human behavior, privacy and freedom underpin European cultures of IoT innovation?


VIRT-EU will analyze and map the ethical practices of European hardware and software entrepreneurs, maker and hacker spaces, and community innovators. Our goals are 1) to identify and understand from a virtue ethics perspective the ethical and social values of these innovators as they consider data and human behavior, 2) to trace how these values manifest in design decisions and 3) to generate tools that enable ethical and social self-assessment procedures.


The Nexa Center developed the Dissemination Plan of the project and the communication strategy which foresaw the writing of contents for the website and the management of the Virt-EU online presence.