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Past Featured Event

"How can we capture the possibilities but avoid the pitfalls of nanotechnology?" - Next Big Thing

This London-based event is a collaboration between the Oxford Martin School, Policy Exchange
and Nesta

It’s often called the ‘fourth technological revolution’, but is nanotechnology going to finally live up to the hype and expectation? Experts say that there is vast potential for nanotechnology to enable a deep and pervasive change in our current scientific and technology approaches. From applications with profound potential to fight global challenges, to transformations in industry through the development of high-throughput, atomically precise manufacturing, the pay-offs could be huge. Yet at the same time, there is confusion by what we mean by nanotech and frustration that it is yet to live up to all expectations. In some areas there is still a lack of understanding, and incomplete regulation of the potential risks: such as nanotoxicity, where there is ongoing exploratory research.
This event will consider:

  • What is realistic to expect in terms of nanotechnology’s transformative potential?
  • Should expectations around high-precise atomic manufacturing be fulfilled, what will this mean for future employment and industry development going forward?
  • Should the UK be focusing instead on areas of current strength such as nanomedicine and medical diagnostics?
  • Is it all good? What are the nano-risk and how do we deal with those?
  • What should policy makers be doing to enable this ‘fourth revolution’ and what’s stopping them?


  • Dr Sonia Contera, Co-Direcor, Oxford Martin Programme on Nanotechnology
  • Dr Eric Drexler, Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology
  • Professor Richard Jones, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, University of Sheffield
  • John Knowles, Chairman, Advisory Board, UK Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network

Chair: Jessica Bland, Technology Futures, Nesta

Join in on Twitter - #nextbigthing

For more information and booking a seat, please visit

This event is part of a series:

Next Big Thing

This is a series of London-based events, which are a collaboration between the Oxford Martin School, Policy Exchange and Nesta We are pleased to present a series of events exploring the tensions, triumphs and transformations likely to occur through groundbreaking technologies over the next 10-20 years. Across five events, we will hear from academics, politicians and other leading experts who...

Event Details

26 March 2013 18:30 - 19:45

More Information



1 Plough Place, London, EC4A 1DE