In November, the second stakeholder workshop on health was organized in the Netherlands. Sixteen stakeholders from research, policy, business, CSOs, and citizens, deliberated on how important public values, such as well-being, responsible use of health data, and industry-research relations, can be taken into account in the development of nanotechnologies for health. The workshop was part of the GoNano co-creation methodology, and it was based on the outcomes of a citizen consultation, first round of stakeholder workshops, and a large scale European online consultation. The participants came up with action plans and suggestions for policy, research and product development of nanotechnologies and health.
The artificial pancreas, a closed loop system that continuously monitors health data and injects insulin when needed, was one of the technologies that was discussed. Stakeholders related to diabetes (including patients) regarded it as a promising technology that can take away a large burden of the disease, but the technology is still in its development. Interestingly, some of the participants posed concerns that the closed loop system might take away too much control of patients, and argued that users should have insights in their health data and get the possibility to take back the control of regulating their insulin levels when they prefer to. It was also discussed who else (e.g., caregiver, company that develops the devices) should have access to the health data. One of the members of the ‘we are not waiting’ community, who was also present at the workshop, emphasized that an open source platform where patients voluntarily share their data could help to improve the algorithms that regulate the glucose levels.
At another table, stakeholders related to sensor technologies, responsible research and innovation, policy making and industry, elaborated on how to involve industry in research on nanotechnology and health. Researchers who are at the beginning of their career and who work on novel healthcare technologies, for example better detection of cancer for personalized medicines, face challenges. They need funding to develop their technologies, but in order to attract funding they need to have private actors on board. However, industry and businesses are interested in applicable technologies, and less in technologies at an early stage of development. During the workshop various strategies for researchers were discussed, including: build a reputation as a researcher through media attention, strategically choose the application of the technology, involve users in an early stage to get know their needs and demands, and create long-term relationships with business partners through network activities.