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Rice UniversityCBEN
Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology

International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON)

Our current and prospective industrial partners have strongly encouraged us to go beyond the traditional structures of an industrial affiliates program to create a more inclusive and international group.  Their enthusiasm has prompted us to develop a program that welcomes not only corporate members, but also government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other academics.  This broader partnership is vital to our core mission of creating a sustainable nanotechnology industry that requires meaningful and organized interactions among stakeholders.

At their request we have launched the International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON). The mission of this organization is to assess, communicate, and reduce environmental and health risks associated with nanotechnology while in turn maximizing its benefits to society. To realize this vision, ICON seeks participation from a diverse group of parties including industry, academics, government officials, and representatives of environmental organizations. Its activities span technical research in nano-cell interactions, policy projects such as development of nanomaterial standards and terminology, and social studies of risk perception and communication. By pooling the resources of the nanotechnology industry, governments, and academia, ICON can cost-effectively provide a wide range of synergistic projects that serve the interests of all stakeholders. While we plan to manage and launch this group, it is vital that we involve and use the expertise of all academics involved in these issues.  There is widespread enthusiasm for this organization, which will create new knowledge of use to government and industry researchers and serve as a central clearinghouse for information related to health and environmental aspects of nanomaterials.   By catalyzing the formation of ICON, we are taking the first, early steps to ensuring that CBEN creates a legacy that lives beyond its ten-year NSF funding cycle.