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Establishing a process and a platform to support standardization for nanotechnologies implementing the STAIR approach

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Accelerating nanotechnology standardisation

An EU-funded consortium has put nanotechnology on the road to international standardisation that will improve quality, safety and Europe's competitive position in a huge global market sector.

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The NANOSTAIR project's process for nanotechnology standardisation was based on the Standardization, Innovation and Research (STAIR) process of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC). Its foundation was the fast and effective development of new work item proposals for standardisation opportunities. Partners envisioned the NANOSTAIR process as a turbine to accelerate the screening and preparation of those proposals. Scientists set up a mechanism to identify standardisation opportunities based on projects co-funded by the European Commission or by national research programmes. The mechanism exploited existing networks and initiatives such as NanoSafetyCluster, NANOfutures and the network of national standardisation bodies in various Member States. Needs identified by stakeholders were assimilated via the platform, a virtual round-table bringing together stakeholders to share common needs and solutions. The platform provided the bridge between experts in the research, industrial, standardisation and policymaking communities. Having identified standardisation needs and opportunities, the consortium launched new work item proposals. NANOSTAIR has created a toolbox that enables researchers to determine whether or not the results of their projects might serve as the basis for new standards in the field of nanotechnologies. Interested scientists can submit through the project website a document describing outcomes. The tool analyses potential standardisation opportunities. Within three weeks of submission, the applicant receives the results of the analysis together with recommendations of contacts for initiating new standardisation procedures. In addition to hosting the tool, the website serves as a central information portal for nanotechnology standardisation. It provides links to existing standards and regulation, to other similar projects, and to publications and presentations of project activities at conferences and workshops. NANOSTAIR took on the challenging task of developing a mechanism for expediting and streamlining the nanotechnology standardisation process. In addition to a flurry of recently published standards, the project's success is witnessed by its procedures, toolbox and practical guidelines that structure and thus ease the development of new documentary standards. Utilisation of the tools will enable Europe to progress rapidly and reliably, significantly enhancing its competitive position in a booming global market.

Keywords

Nanotechnology, nanotechnology standardisation, toolbox, nanotechnologies

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