The spectacular progress made by nanosciences and nanotechnologies elicits as much hope as fear. Consequently, a great number of research and training initiatives on the ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social issues regarding nanotechnology development (Ne3LS) are emerging worldwide.
In 2005, a Task Force is mandated by NanoQuébec’s University Liaison Council to conceive a Ne3LS research and training strategy for Québec. This Task Force brings together experts from universities, governments and industry working in nanosciences and nanotechnologies or in Ne3LS. The co-supervision of the Task Force is carried out by Sylvie Dillard, President and CEO of the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies and Louise Dandurand, President and CEO of the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture.
Their resulting action plan, made public in November 2006, contains several recommendations, including the creation of a knowledge network (Ne3LS Network), to be financed by the three funding partners: the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies, the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture and the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec, as well as NanoQuébec and the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail.
In December 2006, the Ne3LS Working Group, composed of Renaldo Battista, Peter Grütter and Georges A. Legault, is asked to examine how to operationalize the action plan. Charles-Anica Endo, from NanoQuébec, assists the Working Group in coordinating the project. After consulting with numerous key players concerned with the possible impacts of nanosciences and nanotechnologies in Québec, the Working Group submits in December 2007 a proposal for the creation of a Ne3LS Network.
After 18 months of incubation, the network is taking shape while focusing on the development of research and training activities. The development of a knowledge translation portfolio will enable the network to realize its full potential in the years to come.