Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. It has the potential to shape the future of medicine, electronics, biomaterial and energy production.
With the support of Sciencewise, Demos, in partnership with the Environment Agency (EA), Practical Action, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Unilever, commissioned a public dialogue. This public dialogue explored the extent to which nanotechnology could become an arena where relationships between science, innovation and democracy could be redesigned.
The process took place over a 24-month period between April 2005 and June 2007. The commissioning bodies took four different approaches to delivering public dialogues, consisting of: a People’s Inquiry in East London; a three-day workshop with community representatives in Harare, Zimbabwe; a three-day public forum in Swindon; and four focus groups followed by workshops in Liverpool and London.
The project was independently evaluated by the University of Liverpool and the University of East Anglia.
The findings from the public dialogues have influenced EA, EPSRC and BBSRC policy on nanotechnology.