> 4-5 May 2022
15th Meeting of the BNCT Working Party
>8-9 June 2022
Vienna Workshop, Technology assessment and foresight project
> 28-29 September 2022
Korea Workshop “Policy strategies to support innovation, scale-up and delivery of critical health technologies”, in Seoul, Korea
* STIP Covid-19 Watch - OECD monitor of science and innovation policy responses to the Covid-19 crisis
* 2019/20 monitoring the implementation of the Recommendation on Assessing the Sustainability of Bio-Based Products
The Working Party on Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Converging Technologies (BNCT) is focused on policy issues in emerging technology fields related to bio, nano and converging technologies. It aims to contribute original policy analysis and messages to the global community, to convene key stakeholders in the field, and to make ground-breaking proposals to policy makers. Themes include:
Meet the team - find out more about the BNCT Secretariat in the biennium 2021-22
Governments, along with partners in the private sector, are developing experimental forms of collaborative spaces and common resources to provide better linkage between research and technology commercialization. Such collaborative platforms are institutional arrangements that aim to coordinate actors and produce collective advantage for technology development.
Aim and objective
This study aims to support policy makers and innovators to realise the potential of well-designed collaborative platforms to advance emerging technologies. It analyses multiple case studies of collaborative platforms within each of these three technological fields to identify trends and best practices:
• Genomics and biobanks for personalised health
• Advanced nanomaterials
• Engineering biology
• BNCT workshop “Collaborative platforms for personalized health: realizing the potential of genomics and biobanks”, 17-18 September 2019, Stockholm, Sweden (agenda here)
• BNCT workshop “Collaborative platforms for innovation in advanced materials”, 4-5 November 2019, Braga, Portugal
• BNCT workshop “Workshop on Collaborative Platforms for Advancing Engineering Biology: Focus on the COVID-19 Pandemic”, 29 July 2020, online
• OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 95 ("Collaborative platforms for innovation in advanced materials")
Health innovation requires a sound legal, regulatory and institutional framework that public and private stakeholders in academia and markets can rely on. Fundamental ethical values and legal frameworks direct the responsible translation of research into products. Principles form the basis for the development of specific guidance in technology governance. The question is how to develop principles that are relevant for the different technological areas (e.g. AI, synthetic biology, gene editing, nanotechnology, neurotechnology) and that can be applied in different cultural contexts.
Aim and objective
The project aims for the development of a set of Principles for Responsible Innovation in Neurotechnology. Through a step-wise approach, the development of Principles could lead to an OECD Recommendation. Its objectives are to:
• Convene stakeholders to discuss, and reach consensus about the scope and content of the Principles;
• Develop, and publish the Principles;
• Possibly initiate the development of an OECD Recommendation based on the Principles.
• 2019 working paper: "Responsible innovation in neurotechnology enterprises"
• BNCT workshop “Minding Neurotechnology: delivering responsible innovation for health and well-being”, 6-7 September 2018, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China (agenda here)
Thirty countries either have a dedicated bioeconomy strategy or policies consistent with developing a bioeconomy. Bieconomy strategies seek to gradually replace fossil-based with bio-production, representing a major change in existing energy and materials regimes. Such a transition would help address several grand challenges for humanity – climate change mitigation, energy security, and resource depletion. Expanding bio-based production requires policy inputs at the upstream research, R&D and deployment stages.
A number of policy challenges sit underneath BNCT’s work in this area:
• Sustainability: international policy alignement on standards in order to help reconcile food/feed and industrial needs of the future
• Capacity building in industrial biotechnology especially in biorefinery scale-up finance: de-risking, debt management, innovative PPPs.
• Bio-based materials: competing with fuels in integrated biorefineries.
• Promoting the use of waste streams.
• 2019 policy paper: "Innovation ecosystems in the bioeconomy"
• 2018 policy paper: "Realising the circular bioeconomy"
• 2018 book: "Meeting policy challenges for a sustainable bioeconomy"
• Water cycle management and municipal bio-waste exploitation in the context of circular economy: from concept to standard practice, Ecomondo 2018, Rimini, November 08, 2018.
• Circular bioeconomy: national case studies of innovation ecosystems, Ecomondo 2018, Rimini, November 07, 2018.
• Building a biomass innovation ecosystem in a circular bioeconomy in Poland, Kraków, June 07-08, 2018.
• The circular bioeconomy industrial ecosystem project, Paris, May 03, 2018.
• Strategic debate: What will drive bioeconomy-innovation in the future?, German Bioeconomy Council/OECD, Berlin, April 19, 2018.
Gene editing techniques are a major advance that could have major benefits across the domains of human health, sustainability and the economy that go beyond incremental advances of past biotechnologies. In the context of agriculture and aquaculture, the potential benefits include opportunities for improved efficiency, greater productivity, broader varietal repertoires. In human medicine, gene editing technologies might lead to new cures and therapies for genetic diseases, controls for vector-borne diseases, and improved vaccines. Environmental applications of gene editing technologies could enable novel approaches to conservation, bioremediation, the control of invasive species, and the protection of biodiversity.
The gene editing project of the OECD Working Party on Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Converging Technologies (BNCT) aimed to produce a forum conducive to evidence-based discussion aross countries on the many issues of shared concern. The initiative is to help guide policy at the national and international levels and promote -- where appropriate -- cooperative governance approaches.
• Expert Meeting: “Gene editing for advanced therapies: governance, policy, and society” (6-7 July 2017, Berlin, Germany). Participants explored the core scientific, legal, regulatory and societal challenges facing the responsible development and use of gene editing in somatic cells for advanced therapies, such as regenerative medicine, cell therapy, and precision medicine. Draft report: DSTI/STP/BNCT(2017)3, upcoming.
• Gene Editing in an international Context: Scientific, Economic and Social Issues across Sectors. (29-30 Sept 2016) Ottawa, Canada with Health Canada. A cross-disciplinary event to exchange information and approaches across countries on the science, governance, and economics of gene editing innovations in: (i) Applications in Agriculture and Aquaculture, (ii), Environmental Applications, and (iii) Applications in Human Medicine.
The new health paradigm that links diet, health and disease states requires a multidisciplinary systems approach and stakeholders’ involvement given that the scientific challenges to deliver the high medical potential of this emerging area are enormous. In addition, public health policy and practices should support rapid and efficient translation of new discoveries into clinical practices, while consumers’ protection policy should ensure appropriate regulatory frameworks to guarantee efficacy and safety of the products or new applications targeting the gut microbiome for better health and wellbeing through preventative nutritional approaches, while claims for curative approaches should be thoroughly scientifically documented. Not only are dietary interventions expected to have a significant positive effect on healthcare costs, it is also opening promising outlooks for food and feed companies.
1.) Take stock of existing international and regional policy, science and medical initiatives targeting human health and well-being through nutrition and microbiota
2.) Identify current policy and scientific gaps and needs to fully realise the potential of this new area.
3.) Formulate recommendations on prioritised targets and discuss relevant action plans tailored to all stakeholders involved in order to adjust or to create (if necessary) supportive policy/regulatory/scientific frameworks.
4.) Discuss how to deliver the expected science base leading to innovative health benefits.
• The Microbiome, Diet and Health: Assessing Gaps in Science and Innovation, Workshop 30-31 May 2016 Brussels, Belgium
Ageing populations, unsustainable health care costs, and a diminished pipeline of affordable new therapies has prompted OECD countries and stakeholders to rethink traditional innovation models. Seeking to address this need, new collaborative platforms are being built around shared R&D assets and common-pool resources such as genomic, neurological, and phenotypic data as well as collections of biospecimens. These collaborate platforms are at the heart of the development and use of precision medicine, especially common material, digital, social pieces of infrastructure that helps de-risk investment, provides common gains to whole innovation sectors, and encourages a co-creative process across private and public actors. In particular, there are important policy questions at both the national and international level regarding the best use and sustainability of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) related to genetic and genomic discovery, biobanks, and big data for health. Here the treatment of IPRs in advanced technologies and personalised health plays a key role in shaping future research, driving investment, and promoting public health.
• Minding Neurotechnology: delivering responsible innovation for health and wellbeing, 6-7 September 2018, Shanghai, People's Republic of China
• OECD Session 'The Microbiome', Human Genome Meeting, 14 March 2018, Yokohama, Japan
• Expert Consultation on Neurotechnology and Society, 14-15 September 2017, National Academy of Sciences Building, 2101 Constitution Ave NW, Washington D.C.
• Personalised nutrition for better health – targeting the microbiome, 10-11 October 2017, Brussels, Belgium
The rapid advancement of convergence and the Next Production Revolution (NPR) are necessitating a timely adaptation of governance approaches. Consequently, this project aimed to find answers to the following key-questions:
1.) How does convergence impact areas of science, technology and innovation, and which (changes to existing) policies are needed, in order to make public policies fit for the advent of convergence?
2.) How have convergence and NPR changed innovation practices in firms?
The answers to these questions will ultimately contribute to the development of a guidance framework for a future policy assessment that is sufficiently flexible to accommodate rapid technological advances.
• Rethinking Policy Assessment in the Age of Convergence and the Next Production Revolution - Project Workshop 2: Policy Backcasting and Assessment (6-7 June 2018) aimed to develop and test a guidance framework for a future policy assessment that is sufficiently flexible to accommodate rapid technological advances.
• Engineering biology: from the lab to products, Imperial College, London, September 21, 2018. Imperial College, UK Royal Academy of Engineering. One-day workshop attached to a major professional meeting of biological engineers will examine the policy ideas to help solve common technical barriers to commercialisation in bioproduction.
• OECD (2016). Adaptive risk governance in synthetic biology, a workshop report. DSTI/STP/BNCT(2016)3. OECD Publishing, Paris.
• Gauvreau, D., Winickoff, D. & Philp, J. (2018). Engineering biology and the grand challenges: do we need a new R&D&I model? Engineering Biology 2, 2-6.
Trend-analysis of Science, Technology and Innovation Policies for BNCTs Countries and regions are dedicating significant investments to the advancement of biotechnology, nanotechnology and ICT (information and communication technology). Recent comparative studies of the impact of policies, however, suggest that not every policy instrument is equally well-suited to create high economic impact from emerging technologies. In addition to analysing the longitudinal development of the number of policies pertaining to the advancement of biotechnology and nanotechnology over the past years, the BNCT aimed to obtain an insight into the directionality (i.e. “technology-push” versus “application-pull”) of such policies. The main questions asked at the onset of the analysis were:
• Have the number of STI policies that specifically aim to support the advancement of biotechnology or nanotechnology changed over time and with growing maturity of the technologies?
• Have the technology-specificity or the directionality of STI policies or the policy instruments they employ changed over time?
Biotechnology and nanotechnology are both disciplines of science and technology in their own right and providers of increasingly widely adopted tools to other fields of science and technology and to each other. This complex pattern of deployment signifies a growing convergence of traditional disciplines of science and engineering, and poses a formidable challenge to the creation and measurement of reliable indicators of the technologies’ development and impact. With the creation of the OECD Working Party on Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Converging Technologies (BNCT) in January 2015, the OECD aimed to re-confirm indicators and measurement methodology for these multidisciplinary and partially over-lapping technologies with a view to establishing exclusively accurate and relevant datasets.
2019 Policy paper &
Philp, J. (2021), "Carbon management policies: Global practices in sustainability indicators and assessment”. OECD Workshop Proceedings.
Philp, J. and D. Winickoff (2019), "Innovation ecosystems in the bioeconomy", OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 76, OECD Publishing, Paris.
Access the Case Study Annex
2018 Bioeconomy book:
OECD (2018), "Meeting Policy Challenges for a Sustainable Bioeconomy", OECD Publishing, Paris.
Winickoff, D., et al. (2021), "Collaborative platforms for emerging technology: Creating convergence spaces", OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 109.
Garden, H., N. Hawkins and D. Winickoff (2021), "Building and sustaining collaborative platforms in genomics and biobanks for health innovation", OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 102.
Kreiling, L., D. Robinson and D. Winickoff (2020), "Collaborative platforms for innovation in advanced materials", OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 95.
Recommendation on Responsible Innovation in Neurotechnology [OECD/LEGAL/0457]
Read also: "New Frontiers of the Mind: Enabling responsible innovation in neurotechnology" (the Forum Network 2019)
"Brain-computer interfaces and the future of neurotechnology governance" (OECD Innovation blog 2020)
Garden, H., et al. (2019), "Responsible innovation in neurotechnology enterprises", OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers, No. 2019/05, OECD Publishing, Paris.
> 8. December 2021
14th Meeting of the BNCT Working Party
> 6.-7. December 2021
> 6.-7. May 2021
13th Meeting of the BNCT Working Party
> 19.-20. May 2021
> 15.-16. December 2020
12th Meeting of the BNCT Working Party
> 14. December 2020
Webinar "Collaborative platforms for pandemic preparedness and health resilience - future directions"
>15.+22. October 2020
Virtual workshop on "Carbon management policies - global practices in sustainability indicators and assessment" in two webinars: general policy aspects (15.October) and sustainability in value chains (22.October)
>23.-24. September 2020
Virtual workshop on “Building Capacity to Implement the OECD Recommendation on Responsible Innovation in Neurotechnology – the Seoul Event”
>29 July 2020
Virtual workshop on Collaborative Platforms for Advancing Engineering Biology: Focus on the COVID-19 Pandemic (proceedings)
>27.-28. April 2020
11th Meeting of the BNCT Working Party
>2.-3. December 2019
10th Meeting of the BNCT Working Party
> BNCT workshop in Braga
4.-5. November 2019: "Collaborative platforms for innovation in advanced materials"
> BNCT workshop in Stockholm
17.-18. September 2019: "Collaborative platforms for personalized health: realizing the potential of genomics and biobanks"
> BNCT workshop in Shanghai
6.-7. September 2018: "Minding Neurotechnology: delivering responsible innovation for health and well-being" (access agenda)
> OECD Expert Meeting in Berlin