Tag Archives: Ineke Malsch

Nanotechnology and the labour market in Europe: the NanoEIS project

The Nov. 14, 2012 NanoEIS project announcement on Nanowerk was made by the EthicSchool. The source is a little unexpected (I should note that the announcement also covers the EthicSchool’s inclusion) as this a European Union FP 7- (Framework Programme 7) funded project as per their page on the Cordis website,

Nanotechnology Education for Industry and Society [NanoEIS]
Start date:2012-11-01
End date:2015-10-31
Project Acronym:NANOEIS
Project status:Accepted

Objective: Nanotechnology is an emerging area with strong implications for European society and industry. It is a challenge for the education system to integrate this interdisciplinary and transsectoral subject into curricula shaped mostly along classical disciplines. NanoEIS will evaluate how nanotechnology education has been integrated into secondary schools and universities, how cooperations between different partner institutions were implemented, and in which ways industrial and non-industrial (social) employers have been involved. [emphasis mine] NanoEIS will make, based on a thorough assessment of employer needs, recommendations for curriculum contents as well as for best practice strategies to implement them. This will help to resolve the problem that education contents are not always well matched with the needs of the job market. Improving this situation will benefit both graduates seeking jobs, and industrial / social employers who need specific skills in the professional environment. Nanotechnology education has to start at secondary schools, since nano is by now part of the daily environment and schools need to teach about relevant issues to allow informed consumers to take full advantage of nano-enabled products in a safe and sustainable way. NanoEIS will develop novel teaching and assessment tools for secondary schools. In addition, career choices start in school when decisions about study subjects are made, which should be based on full and relevant information, to achieve a good match between the interests of students and the contents of their studies and courses. A website based on the existing NANOfutures site will be set up, as one-stop shop for information on nanotechnology education for all stakeholders, including secondary school students, university students, educators and education administrators, and both industrial (large industry, SME, start-ups) and social employers (regulatory agencies, media, legal and IP services etc.). [emphasis mine]

I’m happy to see a project dedicated to an analysis of the relationship between education and industry something which is often lacking when ‘experts’ proclaim new skills, training, and education are needed (in this case, regarding nanotechnology) without reference to the labour market. As for the NanoEIS site, it is under construction and will be launched in Dec. 2102. I’m not entirely sure what the reference to NANOfutures means but that site is open.

Here’s more about NanoEIS from the Nov. 13, 2012 posting on the EthicSchool blog,

From this month, Malsch TechnoValuation participates in the EU funded project NanoEIS. Partners from all over Europe will investigate the European labour market for personnel trained in nanotechnology. The relevance of existing nanotechnology education and training in universities, vocational training institutes and secondary schools for the needs of industrial and other employers will also be explored. By 2015, a model curriculum will be made available online.

For anyone interested in EthicSchool and Malsch TechnoValuation, here’s more from the About EthicSchool page (Note: I have removed a link),

ETHICSCHOOL organises workshops and in-company training in Responsible Innovation. As a professional you gain insight in possible societal objections against the technology you are developing. The introduction of new technologies like nanotechnology, life sciences and ICT is accompanied by ethical dilemmas. You make your acquaintance with arguments for and against the development or use of your technology for sensitive applications such as healthcare, security or food. This helps prepare you for the dialogue with concerned citizens and teaches you to target your scarce resources better towards societally desirable products.

ETHICSCHOOL is an initiative taken by Malsch TechnoValuation, a consultancy in the area of Technology and Society, located in Utrecht since 1999.

ETHICSCHOOL builds upon a former European project. This original project was funded by the European Union, contract nr. 036745, 01-09-2007 until 28-02-2009. Partners in this former project were: Malsch TechnoValuation, University of Twente, Radboud University (NL) en TU Darmstadt, Germany.

I have written about Ineke Malsch (the Malsch behind Malsch TechnoValuation and I believe she’s also known as Neelina Herminia Malsch) and her work in an Oct. 11, 2011 posting (scroll down approximately 1/3 of the way). Oddly,

Nanomaterials, nanomedicines and nanodefinitions

I was chatting earlier this week, in the most general way possible, with someone in Ottawa about nanotechnology and regulations.  The individual noted that nanotechnology initiatives in various countries and regions are attaining traction and I think the evidence is in the increased (and heated) discussion/debate about defining nanomaterials. The latest twist in the discussion comes from Alok Jha, a science writer for The Guardian. In his Sept. 6, 2011 article, Nanotechnoglogy world: Nanomedicine offers new cures, he tackles the topic from the nanomedicine perspective.

The EU ObservatoryNano organisation, which supports European policy makers through scientific and economic analysis of nanoscience and nanotechnology developments, produced a report on the ethics of nanotechnology written by Ineke Malsch, director of Malsch TechnoValuation. She says the problem with regulating medical nanotechnology can be how to define a product’s area of application. “The distinction between a medical device and a pharmaceutical is quite fuzzy. …”

How do you regulate a drug-releasing implant, for example? Is Cuschieri’s nano-carrier a pharmaceutical or a medical device? One of [the] key issues, says Malsch, is that there is the lack of common agreement or definition, at the international level, of what a nanoparticle is and what constitutes nanomedicines. “There is continuing discussion about these definitions which will hopefully be resolved before the end of the year.”

Current regulations are more than enough for current technologies, says Malsch, but she adds that this will need to be kept under review. But over-regulating now would also be a mistake. Pre-empting (and trying to pre-regulate) technology that does not yet exist is not a good idea, she says.

This view was backed up by Professor Andrew Maynard, the director of the Risk Science Centre, who says: “With policy-makers looking for clear definitions on which to build ‘nano-regulations’, there is a growing danger of science being pushed aside.”

This (the fuzzy distinction between a pharamaceutical and a medical device) certainly adds a new twist to the debate for me.

Also, I should note that this article’s banner says: Nanotechnology world, in association with Nano Channels.Tim Harper (Cientifica and TNTlog) noticed in an earlier Guardian article on nanotechnology (from his July 7, 2011 posting),

My delight at seeing a sensible piece about “nanotechnology in everyday life” by Colin Stuart (@skyponderer) published in the Guardian Newspaper turned to puzzlement when I noticed that the article was “Paid for by NanoChannels.”

There seems to be some distinction between “paid for” and “in association with,” but I can’t confirm that at this time. Now back to the topic.

In my August 31, 2011 posting, I noted the latest salvo from Hermann Stamm, of the European Commission Joint Research Centre, Institute for Health and Consumer Protection where he reiterated that a hard and fast definition based on size is the best choice. In his Sept. 6, 2011 posting, Andrew where he expands on a concern (i. e. policymakers will formulate a definition not based on scientific data but based on political pressures and/or public relations worries) that I’ve given short shrift. From his Sept. 6, 2011 posting,

And despite policy makers repeatedly stating that any form of nanomaterial regulation should be science-based, I have the sense that they are scrambling to use science to justify a predetermined conclusion – that engineered nanomaterials should be regulated on the basis of a hard and fast definition – rather than using science to guide their actions.Instead, I would suggest that we need to put aside preconceptions of what is important and what is not here, and start by asking how new generations of sophisticated (or advanced) materials interact with biological systems; where these interactions have the potential to cause harm in ways not captured within current regulatory frameworks; and how these frameworks can be adapted or altered to ensure that an increasing number of unusual substances are developed and used as safely as possible – no matter what label or “brand” is applied to them.

He was a little more explicit about what he thinks are the reasons behind this preference for a “hard and fast definition” in his April 15, 2011 posting,

Sadly, it now looks like we are heading toward a situation where the definitions of nanomaterials underpinning regulations will themselves be based on policy, not science.

This scares the life out of me, because it ends up taking evidence off the table when it comes to oversight, and replacing it with assumptions and speculation on what people think is relevant, rather than what actually is – not good for safety, and certainly not good for business.

 

All this got me to thinking about the Interim Policy Statement on Health Canada’s Working Definition for Nanomaterials and the public consultation which ended August 31, 2010.  According to the website, we will be learning the results of the consultation,

Reporting to Canadians

Health Canada will make the results of this consultation available on this Web site.  Health Canada will take further steps to illustrate how the policy statement will be applied in specific contexts.  These steps could include guidance documents for specific products or substances, targeted workshops and postings of answers to frequently asked questions.  The Interim Policy Statement on Health Canada’s Working Definition for Nanomaterials will be updated as comments are received, as the body of scientific evidence increases, and as international norms progress.

If you have any questions, contact [email protected].

Strangely, there’s no mention of the 29 submissions that were made (my May 27, 2011 posting)  or a listing of who made the submissions as was done for Canada’s ‘innovation consultation’ or, more formally, the Review of Federal Support to Research and Development (which started in Oct. 2010 and ended in Feb. 2011 and received some 250 submissions).

Bridging the Nano Divide: developing, established, and emerging economies

International Cooperation Partner Countries (ICPC) is hosting a free online workshop, October 20, 2010 12.45-15.15 GMT. From the news item on Nanowerk,

The ICPC NanoNet project stimulates global networking in nanoscience and nanotechnology. This online workshop on Bridging the Nano Divide enables researchers from different disciplines interested in socio-economic and innovation aspects of nanotechnology to meet and find out about each other’s expertise, infrastructure and research interests. The invited speakers include Professor Mammo Muchie, expert in Innovation Studies based in South Africa, Professor Arie Rip, Dutch expert in Technology Assessment of Nanotechnology, and Professor Ishenkumba Kahwa, expert in Nanochemistry and Sustainable Development Issues for the CARICOM countries, based in Jamaica.

The prospective audience consists of researchers from Europe and International Cooperation Partner Countries to the EU (emerging economies and developing countries). Participation is free for registered users of the ICPC-NanoNet website (sign up free of charge).

Organizers will take the first 25 people to register for the workshop. You can contact organiser Ineke Malsch for more information [email protected] (Malsch was last mentioned here in my Aug. 23, 2010 posting about nanotechnology and emerging and developing economies.)