Message from the Convener

Mr. Sizwe Khoza – Project Coordinator: Science Communication Division

To ensure that South Africa remains competitive within the international research community in the fast-developing field of nanotechnology, the country’s nanoscience and nanotechnology efforts are being coordinated at a national level by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) through its National Nanotechnology Strategy. In implementing this strategy, several investments have been made to promote nanotechnology development including, inter alia, the creation of nanotechnology innovation centres aimed at supporting the development of nanoscience and nanotechnology, formulation and commercialisation of nano-enabled products and provision of ring-fenced grants to purchase nanotechnology-related research equipment, with more than R950 million provided for research. However, many barriers exist to taking nanotechnology from research and development phase to commercialisation in South Africa and these include a well-defined regulatory environment.

Addressing nanotechnology researchers and stakeholders at the opening at the 5th South African Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Summer School held in Stellenbosch recently, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Mr Buti Manamela, highlighted the “importance of standards, procedures and guidelines for evaluating nanoproducts” as crucial to consumer acceptable. The Deputy Minister further revealed that with standards being developed globally, “the testing of nano-enabled products is not high on the agenda of many researchers in South Africa”. Thus, the 1st Symposium in Nanotechnology Health, Safety and Environment is a timely interventions bring all concerned stakeholders to discuss matters relating to responsible and ethical nanotechnology practices. Traditionally, the NRF│SAASTA symposium series is aimed at encouraging research and industry partnerships and the role that multiple stakeholders play in creating a society that is scientifically literate to make informed decisions about innovations. 

We therefore take pride in welcoming and hosting you to the 1st Nanotechnology HSE symposium organised by NRF│SAASTA through the Nanotechnology Public Engagement Programme. We look forward to you contributing to insightful discussions and sharing of ideas with other equally important stakeholders involved in nanotechnology developments in South Africa with a view to addressing barriers around responsible developments in nanotechnology. 

Many thanks and best wishes,

Mr. Sizwe Khoza – Project Coordinator: Science Communication Division