Public Dialogue to Understand Perceptions of Specific Applications of Nanotechnology

OPM Group is currently working closely with Sciencewise, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs and the Department for Business Innovation & Skills to lead an innovative public dialogue that scopes and enhances the UK understanding of the public’s views on specific applications of nanotechnology. The final findings will help inform the Government’s regulatory agenda for nanotechnology and how they communicate and encourage openness about developments in this field.

Our approach to deliberative dialogue on this project engages a broad range of stakeholders, experts and the public in the ongoing conversation about the role of nanotechnologies in society, while also building on previous research into public perceptions in this area.

In the lead up to the public workshops, our advisory group met regularly to help guide the process and ensure our materials reflected perspectives from scientists, academics, NGOs, industry and consumer groups. As we developed our approach, we also held a national stakeholder workshop with more than 50 stakeholders to map attitudes, issues and knowledge towards nanotechnology across sectors, including government, regulators, toxicologists, industry, NGOs, academics, and scientists. Following our initial scoping, we then conducted ten in-depth interviews with stakeholders to fill gaps in our understanding and to further inform the development of the process and materials for the public workshops – three reconvened events held in Birmingham with over 40 participants reflecting a cross-section of the UK.

Throughout the public workshops, our focus has been on exploring participant’s attitudes, aspirations and concerns towards specific nanotechnologies with an emphasis on understanding the values that underpin these views.

We are now in our analysis and reporting stage of the project, which will build on findings from the public workshops and integrate these into insights we’ve gained from other parts of the engagement process. We hope to also lead a reconvened meeting during this stage, where we will present our draft findings to all participants – stakeholders, experts, policy makers and the public. This will create an open dialogue space for all participants to reflect on the dialogue process and outcomes, and hear and discuss the findings of the dialogue.