Nanotechnology involves creating or using materials or processes at the nanoscale, approximately one to one hundred nanometers in at least one dimension.

Growth associated with the manufacture of nano-enabled products is conservatively expected to be in the several billion dollars range on an annual basis. Significant societal benefits being realized by advancements in energy, medicine, electronics, information technology, consumer products, and industrial applications of nanotechnology.

The diversity in nanotechnology drives many challenges. This diversity includes the fact that nanotechnology has many stakeholders and priorities, involves many industries and applications and belonging emerging risks. As this diversity is imbedded throughout broad aspects of nanotechnology, developing a systematic ontology framework for nanotechnology becomes critical if this enabling technology is to be truly realized, controlled and regulated.

NQCG portfolio of products and projects are designed to deliver a collaborative environment know as IFT that will provide a common ontology and associated tools for these diverse stakeholders and industries in order to build better communications and to accelerate insurance-driven responsible innovation in nanotechnology.

Within this environment insurers can take on risk from many different organisations and pool it. Assuming the insurers have a good estimate of the probability of each organisation claiming on its insurance policy the insurer can estimate the average cost of claims each year from all of its policies. This calculation can be performed in many ways and a typical method within the insurance industry is for actuaries to analyse historical data. Nanotechnology on the other hand can give an insurer pause for thought, as historical data does not exist and the level of knowledge is changing rapidly. The use of scientific research coupled with insurance experience may help, but a common theme in nanotechnology risk assessment is that there is lack of data to understand the exposure or even the hazard itself.

We firmly believe that the technologies developed through our projects can assist the re/insurance sector as it may reduce possible misunderstandings and legal ambiguity; clear definitions can help to avoid unexpected cover or gaps in cover. It also allows for regulation specific to nanotechnology to move forward for the same reasons. There are varied views on whether specific regulation for nanotechnology, and nano-enabled products, should exist or not. From an insurer’s point of view an environment with clear regulation is a desirable one to operate within. It is less volatile, enables increased contract certainty and the expectations on risk management by both the insurer and the insured are clearer.

Please contact us for more information about how we can help your organisation with systematic risk assessment of nanomaterials.

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Image Courtesy A. Dzurak, University of New South Wales

NQCG's primary research interest is the realization of quantum simulators capable of complex computations in the fields of nanoscience and continuum mechanics.

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NQCG is developing an open semantic e-infrastructure system and international collaborative environment for open-source research, standardization and innovation in future and emerging convergent technologies and the integration of state-of-the-art techniques of ontology design.