Nanotechnology research and innovation can benefit from being open to the public. Early and continuous engagement is key to sustainable, desirable and acceptable innovations, in which R&I is aligned with the values, needs and expectations of society. Multiple civil society organisations (CSOs) strive for such open and inclusive nanotechnology developments. GoNano wants to support this cause and dedicated this page to provide information, guidelines and toolkits for CSOs who can use them along their journey.
As a CSO, you are an important stakeholder with a indispensable perspective that is very important when it comes to co-creating the future of nanotechnology. During the GoNano co-creation workshop, various CSOs helped to identify not only the needs, values and concerns of society that matter when it comes to innovation in nanotechnology, but also, through mutual exchange, worked together with other stakeholders to create a more robust and sustainable future of nanotechnology.
As you may know, co-creation can be broadly be understood as a collaborative development of new value (concepts, solutions, products, and services) together with various stakeholders (such as citizens, industry, research, civil society organisations and policymakers). It is a form of collaborative innovation: ideas are shared and improved together. During the GoNano co-creation workshops, civil society representatives emphesized that they events appreciated the process:
“The added value of the co-creation process was mostly on getting to know new types of stakeholders. As the workshops were quite intensive, and we had in-depth discussion with each other, I learned about new perspectives on nanotechnology and health and got to know some new interesting people”
Interestingly, during one of our best practices interview, an environmental organisation in Amsterdam that works in the field of energy. They initiated Carbonkiller: an initiative that enables citizens to buy emission rights in the European Emission Trading Scheme. his experience with attracting and working directly with citizens is that people (especially citizens) get motivated when they are working towards substantial outcomes and have the opportunity to become a stakeholder in the system:
“a key to the success, is that His project gives people a real opportunity to do something concrete”.
GoNano experienced that a multiple stakeholder co-creating event can help with that.
As a CSO, you represent societal issues such as patient well being, sustainability, care for nature and safety for employees and are therefore indispensable in the nanodebate. GoNano want to support your causes, so we took a closer look into your needs and wishes when is comes to making nanotechnology more socialy robust. Firstly, participating CSOs emphesized some participating boundaries: they are often financed by their members and donors and therefore need to focus their attention on those initiatives where interests of citizens are best represented. This means that the topic of the discussion must have a sense of urgency, requeres the need to act, and is close to their own mission.
The neccessity of this focus was explained by one of the CSOs from the stakeholder workshop in the Netherlands
“I really need to justify the importance of the meeting, because we are funded by public money and donations.These limited resources force us to cherry pick the most important and relevant events to go to”.
This was also acknowledged during an interview with a Dutch environmental organisation working in the field of energy, they said (with respect to the involvement of civil society)
“[..] there has to be a sense of urgency. It first has to become clear why people or civil society organisations have to react now”.
Find more interviews with the workshop participant and best practice example on the GoNano Youtube channel.
Secondly were the needs of CSOs: on the one hand CSOs are seraching for ways to include more citizens in research and innovation, and on the other, CSOs are searching for ways to themselfs have a larger impackt on research and innovation in general. To support these needs, we as GoNano have merged our experiences into various tools and materials, inculing 1) a public engagement database listing initiatives that are currently interested in involving citizens and CSOs in their debate and may ease the search for engagement options, 2) a co-creation toolkit on how you as a CSOs can become empowered during a co-creation even or yourselfs develop a co-creation event, and 3) a toolkit for citizens to help them prepare for a engament event.
Besides the tools and materials, GoNano also wrote three White papers that provide insights into different aspects of co-creation and responsiveness in the field of nanotechnology. Especially white paper 2 can be helpfull for CSOs, as it provides a strategic focus regarding how to implement co-creation. Complementary to the white papers, below you will find our policy briefs, presenting the main results of the GoNano engagement activities and provide recommendations based on the GoNano experiences.
Materials for CSOs
Three ways to become involved in the Nanodebate
One way to become involved in the Nanodebate is to search for engagement opportunities. Nanotechnology researchers and developers, like in all novel scientific advances, struggle with opportunities and uncertainties. This invites important questions about what products citizens may or may not want, and about the risks we are prepared to tolerate. Some forward-thinking companies or research centres invite you to participate in their future research and innovation processes, and would like to find out more about your concerns, needs and wishes on nanotechnology-related topics. To give you a hand in finding these initiatives, GoNano did some exploratory research and developed a public engagement database, listing organizations and projects that are currently out there looking for your feedback. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but it is a good base and gives an indication of what is out there and how to get involved. You will find three types of initiatives; EU-projects, networks or platforms, and local projects and organisations. As you will see, some initiatives would like to find out about your concerns, needs and wishes on nanotechnology-related topics, others directly invite you to join their discussion or offer guidance on how to become involved in the nanodebate . Click here for the public engagement database.
Another way to become involved in the Nanodebate is to create your own engagement opportunity. Please note, this is more challenging and costs more time and effort. To support you, GoNano developed a Co-creation toolkit in which we would like to share our lessons learned. The toolkit was initially created for researchers and engineers who would like to engage with citizens and societal stakeholders as a source of creative thinking. But the co-creation approach can also be used by CSOs interested in co-creation with other stakeholders.
The toolkit offers a six-step approach to help researchers and engineers define their goal, identify the relevant stakeholders and design, implement and reflect on the co-creation process. GoNano hopes to inspire researchers and engineers to continue this journey, working together with citizens and societal stakeholders to create value in new settings, with new topics and with creative outcomes.
Brochure with all information for a co-creation workshop.
PowerPoint presentation to support the process
Two posters (extended and simpel version) to print for your event, showing the six-step approach to co-creation
Practical and strategic canvases to support step 3: Start planning
Toolkits from other projects and organizations to support step 4: Organize your co-creation event
YouTube clips with an impression of the GoNano workshop to support step 4: Organizing your co-creation event
Questionnaire canvas used by GoNano to support step 5: Evaluation and reflection on the process
As a CSOs, you may know citizens who themselves are interested in participating in the nanodebate. To support those citizens, GoNano developed a ‘How to..’ guide on public participation. With this guide, we would like to share our lessons learned. It helps citizens to express their own needs and concerns and ensure that their thoughts are taken into account in future developments. The guide offers a five-step approach which aims to help you define your interests, identify the right opportunity and become involved in nanotechnology research and development. It’s an invitation for interested citizens to express their own needs and concerns and help shape the future directions of nanotechnologies. Click here for the ‘How to..’ guide.
White papers and policy briefs
To understand the concept and values of co-creation, with a focus on responsiveness, innovation eco-system, and gender and diversity aspects GoNano developed three white papers and seven policy briefs.
4. Policy brief
The GoNano policy briefs present the results of the engagement activities and provide recommendations based on the GoNano experiences.
About: Co-creation can enhance responsiveness
About: The move to action
About: Strategies for overcoming challenges for co-creation
About: How the value chain approach can support the implantation of RRI
About: Possible uses of co-creation in research and innovation
About: Key requirements for realising inclusion in co-creation
About: Gender issues in nanotechnologies research and innovation include
The white papers provide insights into different aspects of co-creation and responsiveness in the field of nanotechnology. Each paper addresses the question of ‘conditions for Responsible Research and Innovation in nanotechnology research and innovation from a different angle. Whit these white papers GoNano aims to 1) feedback GoNano outcomes towards the development of concrete policy recommendations for governance of research and innovation in nanotechnology for increased responsiveness to societal needs and values and 2) feedback governance recommendations widely to policymakers, industry, research and innovation partnerships and consumer groups.
White Paper one establishes the foundation as to why co-creation responsiveness makes sense in nanotechnology and describes conceptual and empirical aspects of responsiveness of researchers and engineers in co-creation processes. It mainly addresses researchers, engineers, as well as other stakeholders involved in the research system (e.g. research funding or research institutions).
White Paper two provides a strategic focus regarding how to implement co-creation, considering research and the innovation eco-system. Thus, it addresses industrial and business partners, research institutions, and policy makers who are active in and are influencing research and innovation processes.
White paper three provides guidance on how to realize co-creation considering a gender and diversity perspectives in order to better integrate these in nano-related R&I. The main addressees of the paper are organizers and/or researchers in a position to put co-creation into practice.
The GoNano approach
GoNano believes that research and innovation can benefit from being more open to societal needs and concerns. Over the course of three years (2017-2020), GoNano enabled collaborative development (co-creation) in three nanotechnology application areas: food, energy and health. We first consulted citizens about their wishes, needs and concerns regarding future nanotechnology applications. This was used as input for the first and second stakeholder workshops, which aimed to stimulate citizens, civil society organisations, industry, researchers and policy makers across Europe to co-create research aims and think about concrete (product) suggestions for future nanotechnologies. Read more about the GoNano approach and results.