Stakeholder Spotlight – BioNanoNet
Tell us a little about your organisation. How do the areas of nanotechnology and sustainability impact your work?
The BioNanoNet Forschungsgesellschaft mbH (BNN) is a non-profit research organisation, based in Graz (Austria), owned by the BioNanoNet Association. This Association gathers together international member organisations and aims to strengthen innovative research by promoting cooperation and synergies among people working in the fields of Health & Safety, Sustainability and Enabling Technologies. At BNN, we have distributed our core competences along with different services that we offer and implement, not only to benefit our Association members but also to external customers and partnerships. These services are[JS1] :
- Design for Technology Development: by integrating safety, quality and sustainability aspects already in the design phase of new technology, we support innovative breakthroughs in a wide range of sectors.
- Innovation Support: we share our knowledge within the technological and business field, innovation practices and strategic guidance and provide our members and customers support on getting the whole picture of their business, adding value through scouting for the best partnerships or investors, developing the best-fitting business model for it, as well as implementing the right business plan finally.
- Alliances and Clustering: we connect our members of the Association and customers to national and international strategic stakeholders. Moreover, through strategic approach and management of topics of common interests, we jointly shape the R&D&I landscape in Europe.
- Complementary Business Support: Profiting from our knowledge and experience as a participant in more than 30 funded projects on international level, BNN supports to build and manage small to large scale consortia for EU-projects, as well as through its participation in them, bringing in any of the competences mentioned.
BNN has been, since its foundation, tightly involved in the nanotechnology field and has matured along the years its expertise and activities towards one of the current topics that are of utmost importance, not only for the scientific and industrial field but for the whole society: to design and produce sustainable and innovative products and services that will allow solving important social challenges in the coming years, since our global future as a planet is linked to it. Nanotechnology has a crucial role in achieving this.
What is the newest/most innovative development in nanotechnology that you and/or your organisation is excited about now?
We are without a doubt excited about any of the innovative products or processes that are under development in any of the projects in which we participate. However, to mention some but a few, there are the Process Analytical Technologies (PAT) for Industrial Nanoparticles Production that are under development within the NanoPAT EU-project, the user-friendly Safe-by-Design decision support tool that will emerge from the HARMLESS EU-project or the wearable health monitoring system with closed-loop tactile biofeedback, that will allow first responders in hazardous situations to sense their current health status, under development in the SixthSense EU-project.
What, in your opinion, is the most important thing (tool, process, support, etc.) that is needed right now to help grow and strengthen the nanotechnology community?
Please allow me to mention two important things: it is known that nanotechnology embraces a lot of different disciplines, so the skills needed to work on it range a broad spectrum. At the same time, it is a field that is evolving very rapidly, and new engineered nanomaterials and their potential applications are continuously emerging in research laboratories from all over the world.
The first issue to be mentioned is the ability as well as skills to include and/or convert them into real products. It is still a challenge in the nanotechnology field, the scale-up of most of the manufacturing processes of such products.
The second critical point is the characterisation that needs to be done of any of these nanomaterials to comply with standards and regulations to ensure safety for the consumers and the environment.
Hence, an effort on these two issues (i.e. scale-up/manufacturing processes and standardisation and regulation) is needed and would for sure help to the growth and strength of the community.
What, in your opinion, are important factors or influences that will affect the direction of the nanotechnology community in the future?
The ultimate factor that will influence the direction of nanotechnology in the future is, without doubt, the ability of the field in convincing the society of the benefits that nanotechnology can bring to their lives and to the planet too. The nanotechnology community still needs to demonstrate that novel nano-containing products/materials/processes are safe and able to contribute to a more sustainable environment, economy and society, in a conclusive and definitive way.