Safe-by-Design part II: A strategy for balancing safety and functionality in the different stages of the innovation process

Manufactured nanomaterials have the potential to impact an exceedingly wide number of industries and markets ranging from energy storage, electronic and optical devices, light-weight construction to innovative medical approaches for diagnostics and therapy. In order to foster the development of safer nanomaterial-containing products, two main aspects are of major interest: their functional performance as well as their safety towards human health and the environment. In this paper a first proposal for a strategy is presented to link the functionality of nanomaterials with safety aspects. This strategy first combines information on the functionality and safety early during the innovation process and onwards, and then identifies Safe-by-Design (SbD) actions that allow for optimisation of both aspects throughout the innovation process. The strategy encompasses suggestions for the type of information needed to balance functionality and safety to support decision making in the innovation process. The applicability of the strategy is illustrated using a literature-based case study on carbon nanotube-based transparent conductive films. This is a first attempt to identify information that can be used for balancing functionality and safety in a structured way during innovation processes.