Citizen & multi-stakeholder dialogues – organised in 2014/2015 in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, in the Netherlands and in Poland – continued NanoDiode’s involvement in the societal discussion on nanotechnologies. After being asked their general preferences for nanotechnology development in NanoDiode’s online survey and formulating their creative ideas in the idea competition for school kids and students, citizens were invited to discuss actual nanotechnology innovations with technology developers from research and industry, public authorities and CSO representatives: What innovation areas, applications or products would the citizens welcome? What are the reasons for such preferences? What would they want to know? What risks do they see?
During the dialogue series, a total of 250 citizens and representatives of different stakeholder groups took part in the national dialogue events. After introductory presentations or video clips from the perspective of research, industry and civil society organisations, technology developers were asked to pitch applications they currently work with to the audience. In moderated dialogue stations the citizens were then invited to discuss the applications and develop recommendations for their further development, together with the participating stakeholders.
NanoDiode’s citizen & multi-stakeholder dialogues succeeded in creating an open climate where non-expert citizens were able to actively discuss nanotechnologies with stakeholders. The citizens brought forward their own views and ideas: They were interested in the potential applications of new technologies, focusing especially on how they could be developed for tackling societal challenges. They also gave recommendations for industry and public authorities for the provision of consumer information.
Citizen and multi-stakeholder dialogues can be recommended for early stages of innovation or policy processes. In this stage, citizens have the opportunity to meaningfully discuss the direction of research and innovation, improving the quality and social acceptance of products or policies. Openness in terms of results, flexibility, responsiveness and a clear mandate can be however identified as key prerequisites of meaningful dialogues.