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Thursday, 30 August 2018

NANO2ALL multistakeholder debate discusses RRI in nanotechnology

by Àlex Argemí

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) practices are transforming the way science interacts with society. The ICN2 has been involved in the NANO2ALL project to organise two national debates where citizens and stakeholders debated about how to better identify and integrate societal needs, concerns and values in nanotechnology research and innovation processes. The conclusions of the national debates held in Europe are now available.

NANO2ALL is a 3.5-year-long European dialogue project that aims to contribute to the establishment of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) practices in the field of nanotechnology. It is focused on transparent co-production of knowledge through inclusive and participatory approaches, including national and EU-level dialogue sessions that engage both citizens and relevant stakeholders.

The ICN2 has been part of the project by coordinating two debates around nano-enabled brain-computer interfaces. The first one, held on June 2017 at the CCCB, was a debate involving citizens. The outcomes of the citizen dialogue were used in a following national multistakeholder dialogue, held on February 2018 at the BIST headquarters. Such debates were being held in parallel in in 6 countries: Israel, Italy, France, Poland, Spain and Sweden, each focusing on a specific nanotechnology application field. Outcomes of the multi-stakeholder dialogues were used as enriching discussion material for a broader European dialogue.

The following video summarises the methodology used during the multistakeholder debates:

The debates outcomes

More information about the debates outcomes can be found in the report entitled “Responsible Innovation Agendas at National Level”. It describes actions and interactions that are needed throughout the nanotechnology value chain to better identify and integrate societal needs, concerns and values in nanotechnology research and innovation processes from a national perspective.

The agendas show a need for greater interaction and closer dialogue between researchers, industry, policymakers, CSOs and citizens. Different dialogues events revealed different views on the scope and level of citizens’ involvement in the research and innovation process. Policy-makers were recognized as having a strong role to play in ensuring that these mediators can operate in the research and innovation system. Much was discussed about the need for deeper knowledge among the general public about nanotechnology, as a prerequisite to its engagement. Industry, researchers and policy makers were also urged to show greater openness and willingness to take societal perspectives into account. Moreover, it was acknowledged that researchers need time and funds to open up towards society and to feel that activities outside academia are considered a valuable addition to their scientific careers.

The multistakeholder dialoge held in Barcelona by the ICN2 seemed to revolve around three main themes: 1) fostering bi-directional communication between science and society, 2) promoting science as cultural identity, and 3) promoting synergies between different actors. Throughout the session, many questions were raised and explored and several specific recommendations were made.

You can find the full report and other resources in the Nano2All website: http://www.nano2all.eu/resources


Funded by the European Commission and led by SPI (Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação), the NANO2ALL project addresses the “societal engagement on responsible nanotechnology” topic of the Call for Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials and Production of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014-2015. NANO2ALL builds on previous activities deployed by other projects and aims to further the discussions on what would be needed to enhance societal engagement in nanotechnology research and innovation processes. The main aim of NANO2ALL is to contribute to the responsible development of nanotechnology by establishing a European-wide sustainable platform for mutual learning and informed dialogue among citizens and stakeholders involved in the co-production of knowledge.

Learn more at: www.nano2all.eu