In the last decennium, ‘valorisation’ of scientific knowledge has become a key issue in the knowledge society. Academic research should be designed and conducted in such a way that important economic and societal goals are met. But how does this call for a more direct applicability and societal usefulness square with traditional scientific values such as autonomy, curiosity and uncertainty? What kind of knowledge do we need to address the big societal challenges facing us? How can we think or conceptualize the various roles of scientific research in contributing to these challenges? And what can insights from the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) learn us?