Monday 17

Multi-stakeholder involvement in nanotechnologies - an innovative approach

Posted by NANO2ALL on 17 Oct 2016

Multi-stakeholder involvement in research and innovation

The European Commission actively promotes the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and the process of aligning research and innovation (R&I) with societal values, needs and expectations. Practices that enable such an alignment are of high relevance in all scientific and technological domains, not least emerging technologies, including the field of nanotechnologies.

Nowadays nanomaterials are widely used in all kinds of products already available on the market, from self-cleaning windows, to drug delivery devices, tennis rackets, cosmetics and food stuffs, and many others. The list is indeed long. Nanotechnologies are also considered a great promise for numerous other fields, sectors and applications.

There is, however, a lack of knowledge on the potential future impacts of the use of nanomaterials that have raised wide ethical, social, health and environmental concerns worldwide. The understanding of the possible consequences arising from current and emerging applications of nanomaterials is indispensable to guide nano R&I in the direction that is socially beneficial and acceptable.

Multi-stakeholder involvement in R&I is one of the ways to allow diverse audiences, including researchers, government representatives, industry members, media, consumer- and environmental organisations, as well as other civil society representatives to work together to better align both the research and innovation processes and their outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of the society.

NANO2ALL Scenario Exploration game

The NANO2ALL project lies on these principles and establishes a European-wide sustainable platform for mutual learning and informed dialogue among all stakeholders to improve transparency and societal engagement in responsible nanotechnology.

Image owned by JRC

NANO2ALL will use a new approach - the 'Scenario Exploration System' (SES) -, a future simulation tool developed by JRC. SES is a serious scenario-building game that will be adapted in this project and will present future nanotechnology scenario situations across multiple timelines. As part of this game, parties will take the role of other stakeholders to move them outside of their comfort zones and better understand other views in the research and policy process. It will produce important data about the concerns or interests of different publics on the use and exploitation of nanotechnology research. The ultimate objective of this multi-stakeholder dialogue tool is to develop an RRI nanotechnology innovation agenda to be used by policymakers at national and EU level that departs from societal needs, values and purposes and actively takes on board societal expectations, needs and concerns.

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Dora Fazekas

Dora Fazekas works on the NANO2ALL project

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