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New strategies for responsible innovation in nanotechnology Developing nanotechnologies through societal engagement

The University of Twente recently started participating in a new European research project of two million euros, called GoNano. Ten European partners aim to investigate new strategies for responsible research and innovation in nanotechnology. At the UT, the department of Communication Science closely collaborates with MESA+ and the DesignLab to set out a research and policy agenda that is aligned with societal needs and concerns.

Nanotechnologies have given rise to great expectations in recent years, unlocking new research opportunities in areas as diverse as energy, healthcare, electronics, food and construction. At the same time, concerns have been raised about possible unintended consequences of the use of nanomaterials.

GoNano is a EU-funded initiative focusing on how future nanotechnology products can be aligned with societal needs and concerns through processes of co-creation. Co-creation is a bottom up approach of participation where various stakeholders collaborate and bring in their own values and ideas for the future development of innovations. In GoNano, citizens, industry, civil society organizations, policy makers, and researchers will participate to set out a research agenda on nanotechnology in the areas of food, health and energy. The UT focuses specifically on the application of nanotechnology in the health area.

Dr. Anne Dijkstra, the leading researcher of the UT on this project, explains: “Societal engagement is important to develop nanotechnology in a responsible way. Previous projects have been executed to mainly inform and create awareness about nanotechnology among the general public. New about this project is that we ask various groups, to actively shape the path to the future of nanotechnology”.