Societal engagement in the development of nanotechnology applications

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.

Strengthening responsible development – co-creation of nano-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.

Establishing RRI in research and innovation

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.



  • ITA [Hrsg.],. (2021). Co-Creation: A challenging process. ITA-Dossier no. 56en (Dezember 2021; Authors: Ulrike Bechtold, Daniela Fuchs, Vera Borrman). Wien. doi:10.1553/ita-doss-056en
  • Riedlinger, D. (2021). Ko-Kreation – ein Prozess mit Herausforderungen. Ita-Newsfeed. Retrieved from
  • ITA [Hrsg.],. (2021). Gender and Diversity in (Nano)Tech Development ITA-Dossier no. 54en, (June 2021; Authors: Ulrike Bechtold, Daniela Fuchs, Vera Borrmann). Wien. doi:10.1553/ita-doss-054en
  • ITA [Hrsg.],. (2021). Ko-Kreation: Ein Prozess mit Herausforderungen ITA-Dossier Nr. 56 (Juni 2021; Autorinnen: Ulrike Bechtold, Daniela Fuchs, Vera Borrmann). Wien. doi:10.1553/ita-doss-056
  • Riedlinger, D. (2021). Gender und Diversität. Ita-Newsfeed. Retrieved from
  • ITA [Hrsg.],. (2021). Gender und Diversität in der (Nano-)Technik-Entwicklung ITA-Dossier Nr. 54 (März 2021; Autorinnen: Ulrike Bechtold, Daniela Fuchs). Wien. doi:10.1553/ita-doss-054
  • Bechtold, U., Fuchs, D., & Borrmann, V. (2020). Collection of the GoNano policy and industry briefs Suggestions for realizing RRI conditions in nanotechnology research and innovation (GoNano Deliverable 5.5). Retrieved from
  • Riedlinger, D. (2020). Video: Das Go Nano Projekt in 90 Sekunden – Nanotechnologien durch gesellschaftliches Engagement steuern. Ita-Newsfeed. Retrieved from
  • Bechtold, U., Fuchs, D., & Borrmann, V. (2020). Collection of the GoNano white papers. Suggestions for realizing RRI conditions in nanotechnology research and innovation (GoNano Deliverable 5.3) (p. 109). Wien. Retrieved from
  • Bechtold, U., Fuchs, D., Azoulay, D., Corentin, D., Pimponi, D., & Porcari, A. (2019). Risk Governance and Research and Innovation priorities in nanotechnologies. Update on regulatory contexts and current political developments an briefing report for GoNano white papers (Deliverable 5.2) (p. 118). Wien. Retrieved from
  • Bechtold, U., Fuchs, D., & Bauer, A. (2018). Method and manuals for the pilot studies towards a GONANO co-creation approcach (GoNano Deliverable 2.1) (p. 118). Wien. Retrieved from
  • Bauer, A., Fuchs, D., & Schaber, F. (2018). Risk governance and research & innovation priorities in nanotechnologies - First briefing report with a focus on food, health and the energy sector (p. 67). Wien. Retrieved from
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Conference Papers/Speeches

Conference Papers/Speeches

  • 17/11/2021 , Metz
    Ulrike Bechtold,  Daniela Fuchs: 
    Co-creation as an example of revealing needs and creating value
    Science & You. Thematic Workshop: Science & Policy
  • 18/09/2018 , Klagenfurt
    Alexander Bogner,  Daniela Fuchs,  Anja Bauer: 
    If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail: Technology bias in invited participation on emerging technologies
    2nd STS Austria Conference – Innovation and Societal Transformation: Science, Democracy, and Sustainable Futures
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09/2017 - 12/2020

Project team

  • Daniela Fuchs