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Nanotechnology and Nanoscience The Royal Society

Second progress report - 30 September 2003

In discussions at the meeting on 30 July and afterwards, members of the working group agreed that they wish to consult further with a range of interested parties including scientists and engineers, industry, NGOs and policy-makers, as well as the public. A number of activities are planned and more details are given below. Further information about the study is available on the website http://www.nanotec.org.uk. The next meeting of the working group will be 19 November.

Scientists/engineers workshop (30 September 2003)
The working group will use this meeting to gather evidence from the scientific community (including industry). The meeting will focus on the first two terms of reference:

  1. define what is meant by nanoscience and nanotechnology and summarise the current state of scientific knowledge about these fields;
  2. identify the specific applications of the new technologies, in particular where nanotechnology is already in use, how it might be used in future and the most likely timeframe for such developments;

Participants will be predominantly scientists and engineers, with a number of experts who can recognize and start to consider where there might be health, safety and environmental impacts of the technology.

NGOs workshop (30 October 2003)
At this small workshop the working group will consult and discuss issues with a range of non-governmental organisations. The working group will prepare questions or issues they would like to discuss at this meeting. Participants will have the opportunity to help set the meeting’s agenda.

We plan to publish summary reports of both of these meetings on the website and there will be an opportunity for interested parties to comment.

Public consultation
The working group agreed to invite market research companies to tender for research into public attitudes to nanotechnology and this process is underway. We expect the research to take approximately two months, and it will consist of two strands:

  • a public survey with 1000-2000 people to establish what is the awareness of nanotechnology amongst members of the public.
  • one or two in-depth workshops with members of the public to explore their ideas about nanotechnology, and to identify and discuss any potential concerns or questions that might arise. During parts of the workshops, scientific experts will be available.

This work will be followed by a month-long web consultation, which will enable the public at large to engage with the project and inform the working group’s thinking.

Further meetings with health, safety and environmental experts and with regulators are planned during the study and more details of these meetings will be provided later this year.

In addition to the activities described above, the working group will have the opportunity to take further written and oral evidence. This is likely to be either on issues that the working group consider have not been fully addressed or from people/organisations they consider have not yet been sufficiently involved. We will publish more details about this once the working group have decided how they wish to proceed.

Details of the First Progress report - 2 September 2003
Details of the Third Progres report - 20 January 2004

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The Royal Society 2003
The Royal Academy of Engineering