Blueprint for a self-sustained European Centre for service provision in safe and sustainable innovation for nanotechnology

Effie Marcoulaki*, Jesús M. López de Ipiña, Sven Vercauteren, Jacques Bouillard, Martin Himly, Iseult Lynch, Hilda Witters, Neeraj Shandilya, Birgit van Duuren-Stuurman, Valentin Kunz, Wolfgang E.S. Unger, Vasile Dan Hodoroaba, Delphine Bard, Gareth Evans, Keld Alstrup Jensen, Marika Pilou, Anna Kaisa Viitanen, Anthony Bochon, Albert Duschl, Mark GeppertKarin Persson, Ian Cotgreave, Petru Niga, Maria Gini, Konstantinos Eleftheriadis, Simona Scalbi, Bastien Caillard, Alfonso Arevalillo, Emeric Frejafon, Olivier Aguerre-Chariol, Valeria Dulio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The coming years are expected to bring rapid changes in the nanotechnology regulatory landscape, with the establishment of a new framework for nano-risk governance, in silico approaches for characterisation and risk assessment of nanomaterials, and novel procedures for the early identification and management of nanomaterial risks. In this context, Safe(r)-by-Design (SbD) emerges as a powerful preventive approach to support the development of safe and sustainable (SSbD) nanotechnology-based products and processes throughout the life cycle. This paper summarises the work undertaken to develop a blueprint for the deployment and operation of a permanent European Centre of collaborating laboratories and research organisations supporting safe innovation in nanotechnologies. The proposed entity, referred to as “the Centre”, will establish a ‘one-stop shop’ for nanosafety-related services and a central contact point for addressing stakeholder questions about nanosafety. Its operation will rely on significant business, legal and market knowledge, as well as other tools developed and acquired through the EU-funded EC4SafeNano project and subsequent ongoing activities. The proposed blueprint adopts a demand-driven service update scheme to allow the necessary vigilance and flexibility to identify opportunities and adjust its activities and services in the rapidly evolving regulatory and nano risk governance landscape. The proposed Centre will play a major role as a conduit to transfer scientific knowledge between the research and commercial laboratories or consultants able to provide high quality nanosafety services, and the end-users of such services (e.g., industry, SMEs, consultancy firms, and regulatory authorities). The Centre will harmonise service provision, and bring novel risk assessment and management approaches, e.g. in silico methodologies, closer to practice, notably through SbD/SSbD, and decisively support safe and sustainable innovation of industrial production in the nanotechnology industry according to the European Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100337
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
There are multiple tools and data to support safe innovation of nanotechnologies and NMs, developed through projects supported by the EU and other funding schemes. These should be made widely available as practical and reliable services that address the needs of industry, public authorities, regulators and civil society to protect the investment and maximise the utility of the tools. This paper presents a blueprint for the operation of a sustainable and permanent European Centre of collaborating reference laboratories and research centres to provide and maintain such tools and services. This Centre aims to meet the needs of industry and other parties concerned with the safe and responsible innovation of nanotechnology, by establishing a one-stop shop for a wide variety of nanosafety related services, and providing a central contact point for questions about nanosafety in Europe and beyond.

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the project EC4SafeNano , grant agreement N° 723623 . This paper reflects only the authors' views, and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Business plan
  • Catalogue of services
  • EC4SafeNano project
  • European Centre
  • Nano-enabled product
  • Nanomaterial
  • Nanoprocess
  • Nanosafety
  • Safe innovation
  • Safe(r)-by-design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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