Responsible development of nanotechnologies has been discussed in Europe for last decade. The EU Horizon 2020 project GoNano is dedicated to the question of how different actors - from civil society to research and industry - can jointly develop visions about nanotechnology applications and products and integrate them into existing innovation and governance processes.
The European Commission's Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) concept emphasizes the importance of societal engagement in research and innovation processes. Through early-stage participation and cooperation between researchers, politicians, companies, civil society organizations and citizens, research and innovation should be aligned with the values, needs and expectations of broader society. The project GoNano (GOverning NANOtechnologies through societal engagement) aims to develop and test new approaches and forms of societal engagement in the design of nanotechnology applications.
Based on previous experiences with societal engagement in the field of emerging technologies, concrete applications of nanotechnologies will be discussed and developed in three pilot studies with participation of a variety of societal groups (citizens, stakeholders from business, politics and research). These pilot studies focus on the areas of nutrition, health and energy, and will be implemented in three European countries (Netherlands, Czech Republic, Spain). The aim of establishing and normalizing RRI outside of science in real-world contexts is at the core of the pilot studies.
The results of the pilot studies will contribute to the mainstreaming of RRI in research, innovation and governance processes. Recommendations will be derived that inform political actors on how RRI can be integrated into existing national and international technology policies, as well as how it can be used to inspire and guide applied researchers and industrial actors to seek societal dialogue at an early stage. GoNano aims at concrete changes in nanotechnology development processes with dedicated capacity-building services such as training programs (summer schools and webinars), as well as comprehensive information flow to and guidelines for citizens, civil society actors, product developers, researchers and other stakeholders. The European community of RRI practitioners is to be comprehensively strengthened throughout the project.
This EU project is coordinated by the Danish Technology Council (DBT) and includes nine other European partner institutions in the fields of Technology Assessment, university research, civil society organizations and industrial associations. The ITA will develop the project’s methodology for the pilot studies and formulate policy recommendations for the governance of innovation in nanotechnologies at the EU and national levels.
A number of concepts address safety-relevant issues of innovative materials and products. The Safe-by-Design (SbD) concept is one of these, and aims to take account of these safety issues early on and during the entire product development process. The nano-specific concepts of SbD are intended to address prevailing uncertainties about potential risks to the environment and human health at the beginning stages in the development of new nanomaterials and products. The basic assumption of the SbD concept is that risks can be reduced through the choice of materials, products, tools and technologies, making them as safe as possible. Particular attention is paid to the product development stage, when it is still possible to intervene to control the selection of these factors. In line with the precautionary principle, the early integration of safety in the innovation process is generally seen as desirable.
09/2017 - 12/2020