The nanotechnology roadmap is the outcome of a series of co-creation workshops held in Belgium and interviews with senior staff of companies and industry-linked research projects engaged in innovation and research in areas involving nanotechnology.
The labs helped in pointing to the variation in the nanotechnology sector and the potential for and the risks relating to nanotechnologies. Most of the companies were relatively small and, it must be stated, did not seem prone to hype. Their concerns were more prosaically on getting to market with a safe product (or products) and making a profit. The reference to ‘safely’ here indicates that there was a clear ethical dimension to their activities.
The roadmap for the nanotechnology sector emphatically points to some fundamentals considered as vital for companies (or, indeed, any enterprise) involved in innovation involving nanotechnology. Unsurprisingly a major aspect of those fundamentals is concerned with risk and safety. This is pointed to as applying at all stages – from initial research; through design and preparation; production; marketing and sales; and (importantly) to product purchase and usage.
A clear responsibility applies not only for people, animals and the environment but also company employees, contractors, customers and those who transport, deliver and apply nanotechnology products. It follows that the roadmap demands that companies should have and implement codes of practice (understood and practiced by all staff) that help to embed the ‘safe by design’ ethos. Associated with this is the necessity of a heightened readiness among companies to (a) respond to new knowledge about nanotechnologies; (b) work closely with relevant industry bodies; and (c) maintain links over a sustained period with customers and users.
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