Cefic-lri Programme | European Chemical Industry Council

S1: Integration of societal responses into safety assessment of new technologies – Deadline: November 2, 2008


There is increasing investment in the private and public sectors in technologically driven innovations leading to new technologies and products being introduced into the market.

The safety of products is backed by natural sciences in the form of safety assessments. However, the current approach may not be sufficient since it does not take into account the question of technology acceptance. Societal concerns have been raised about the safety of new technologies and products caused by a lack of confidence in the safety assessments carried out today. These concerns need to be studied by social sciences providing robust research on human behaviour and decision-making processes as well as factors influencing these. It is important to identify and address societal concerns and expectations to ensure successful implementation and commercialisation of new technologies.

An example is nanotechnology, where there is potential for profound societal and consumer benefit, but also potential for consumer negativity and distrust in both, industry and regulatory institutions. At the present time, attitudes towards nanotechnology are not yet fully crystallised, but this will change with increasing societal debate and the market introduction of new nanotechnology products.


This project is looking to integrate social science aspects into the safety assessment of new technologies and products. A better understanding of determinants of societal acceptance based on social science should help focus the response from natural sciences.

The project's objectives are to define tailored approaches to promote new technologies:

  1. Identify social science aspects most appropriate to be considered by natural sciences and propose integrated instruments for the assessment of new technologies
  2. Based on available knowledge, portray the current situation of public acceptance of nanotechnology including drivers and future scenarios
  3. Give guidance for technology management and stakeholder dialogue strategies for the development and application of new technologies, exemplified by nanotechnology


This project should make use of available knowledge and insights from recent advances in social science research on the drivers of consumer confidence. Desk research proposals are therefore specifically invited. The research proposal should outline the methodology of the work, the status of present knowledge (including the main literature sources) and provide the basis for concrete recommendations regarding the development of a knowledge-based societally effective strategy for the introduction of novel applications across different industry sectors and for a range of consumer products. The research proposal should include social science methodology that can complement and challenge current approaches based on natural sciences (risk assessment, weight of evidence).

The final report shall contain an executive summary (max. 5 pages), a main part (max. 50 pages) and a detailed bibliography. It is expected that the findings will be developed into a peer reviewed publication, following presentation at a suitable scientific conference.

Timing: Project start end of 2008, project duration 6 months

LRI funding: Budget in the order of 50,000 Euro

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