The EU-Asia Dialogue on NanoSafety, which commenced in 2017 as a series of annual conferences organised by members of the EU NanoSafety Cluster and the Asia Nano Forum, published concept paper for the creation and activities of a new International Network Initiative on Safe & Sustainable Nanotechnology (INISS-nano) (http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5004929).
INISS-nano is based on the format of a “network of networks” that focused on synergies between Asian and European countries in science and research, with respect to (safer) nanomaterials, including standardisation and test guideline development pertaining to them. The initiative aims to bring together science, industry and government from partners all over the world, not duplicating structures but connecting with them.
‘We are proud to have been invited to directly support this important, international initiative through our efforts in advancing sustainable nanofabrication through harmonisation, standardisation and the fostering of collaborations’, says Dr Steffi Friedrichs, Director of AcumenIST, and coordinator of the NanoFabNet project that runs an international hub for sustainable, industrial-scale nanofabrication. ‘The NanoFabNet Hub already provides a collaboration platform to both public and private partners from the US, the EU, Israel and Japan, and we are delighted to support INISS-nano in its mission to harmonise the concept and implementation of Safe and Sustainable by Design (SSbD) in nanotechnology and nanofabrication by enabling the sharing of infrastructures, knowledge and skills more widely across the globe’, she adds.
The concept paper describes the following aims of the initiative:
- The focus shall be on the collaboration in different fields pertaining to nanotechnology research in general and nano-safety research in particular (incl. collaboration in terms of e.g. training, standardisation efforts, test-guidelines development, metrology, commercialisation, ethical aspects, sustainability, and joint research, supporting governance, regulatory guidance, and being open for further joint working items).
- The added value of INISS-nano shall be the collection and analysis of available information worldwide, always in collaboration with existing organisations or working groups (e.g. definitions and ontologies of nanotechnology; differences between several markets; common strategies on transfer of scientific results into policy; regulation; standardisation; harmonisation of methods, such as risk assessment methodologies).
- INISS-nano will aim at making this knowledge accessible for the global nanocommunity, and based on identified gaps and/or bottlenecks to initiate common activities.
- Joint activities could be (but shall not be limited to) development of joint funding programs, joint research projects and develop common publications, reduce/avoid duplication in research and innovation, exchange programs for students, data sharing, share of common laboratory infrastructure, expert exchange, consultancy services, support the development of harmonised and validated protocols e.g. for characterisation methods; gaining an overview on available certification protocols.
- Additionally, this initiative has the ambition to support with its scientific knowhow the work of global organisations active in the nano-field, e.g. the OECD, to contribute to international harmonisation and to the development of standardisation documents, such as OECD testing guidelines or ISO/CEN Technical Reports/Specifications. The creation of official bridges with regional metrology organisations (such as EURAMET, APMP, SIM, etc.) will be key, not only to bring metrology expertise on board, but also to help guide the activities of this community. This shall enable INISS-nano to make a real contribution to advancing pre-standardisation and validation in the field of metrology for the benefit of nano-safety issues.
The following pillars have been identified by the participants during the 4th EU-Asia Dialogue and further defined during the first meetings of the INISS-nano group (i.e. co-authors of the concept paper) as important action fields that shall be in the focus of INISS-nano:
- Support industrial understanding
- Sharing / facilitate sharing of resources/ infrastructures
- Ethical aspects
The concept paper on the International Network Initiative on Safe & Sustainable Nanotechnology (INISS-nano) is open for comments until the 17th August 2021.