Governing innovation of nanotechnology through enhanced societal engagement

Specific Challenge

In order to foster responsible research and innovation (RRI) in nanotechnologies, innovative processes are needed to improve the responsiveness of research & innovation processes to public values and concerns, and to ensure that research & innovation truly respond to societal challenges and take into account the social and environmental consequences from the outset.


The proposed action should build on previous EU and national projects in the field of public engagement by addressing the governance and implementation of responsible nanotechnology research and innovation. It will launch a participatory multi-actor engagement process (i.e. deliberations, workshops and/or working groups) focussing on early-stage product development in order to explore ways in which nanotechnologies can help address societal challenges while considering the needs and concerns of society. This multiactor engagement process should include researchers, producers, professional users, relevant civil society organisations and consumers/citizens.

The proposed action should take into account the diversity of cultural contexts of processes and communication within Europe and should demonstrate state of the art public engagement concepts.

The proposed project should also include an ex-post evaluation of the mutual learning process between stakeholders in previous relevant nanotechnology projects as well as societal debates on emerging technologies. Furthermore it will contribute to the concrete realisation of RRI conditions in nanotechnologies, and produce policy recommendations on how to govern research & innovation in nanotechnologies (and other emerging technologies) in a responsible way. The project must ensure a strong degree of policy alignment and be designed to deliver useful outcomes to relevant policy initiatives and innovation partnerships, such as European Technology Platforms.

Supporting activities to be undertaken in the project could include the empowering of stakeholders to co-create nanotechnology research and innovation by enabling them to formulate and communicate their needs and concerns, and designing ways to give them a voice in R&I processes. Additional activities could also include the development of: teaching material and the training of researchers and engineers in ways to include societal considerations in their work; training of researchers/scientists in science communication; establishing a 'journalist in the lab' exchange scheme; the development of balanced, reliable and easily accessible information on how nanotechnology is contributing to solving specific societal challenges and is used in daily life, e.g. published by the mass media with supplements and media micro sites or using existing multimedia and other relevant technology; guidance on how to bring about institutional changes that may contribute to a better engagement of civil society in nanotechnology-relevant R&I organisations; and policy recommendations on how best to integrate societal considerations in nanotechnology research & innovation.

This action is to be based on the concept of Mobilisation & Mutual Learning (MML) platforms. Proposals should include the appropriate disciplines of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). Gender aspects should be taken into account.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 1.5 and 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

No more than one action will be funded.

Expected Impact

  • The early and continuous engagement of all stakeholders will be essential for sustainable, desirable and acceptable innovation in nanotechnologies, where R&I is aligned to the values, needs and expectations of society;
  • The outcomes of the project are to be fed back into policy making and innovation partnerships such as European Technology Platforms, aiming to achieve a responsive R&I system and co-production of knowledge;
  • The project will lead to enhanced public understanding of nanotechnology, will build trust and foster mutual understanding between citizens, and public and private institutions, leading to co-creation of new R&I and increased confidence of companies to invest in new technologies.
Date de candidature
Sciences sociales