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Emerging technologies

Workshop on Minding Neurotechnology: Delivering responsible innovation for health and well-being

 

 6-7 September 2018 

 Shanghai, People's Republic of China 

 

The rapidly evolving field of neurotechnology is full of economic potential and is quickly becoming part of research laboratories and advanced therapeutic applications. As novel neurotechnologies redefine what is possible in research, therapy, and human capabilities, considerations regarding the potential ethical issues and social implications are needed.


This workshop focused on exploring some of the unique ethical, legal, and policy challenges raised by health-related applications of brain science and its integration into cutting edge neurotechnologies. A key aim was to provide a forum for innovators to discuss strategies for delivering responsible innovation in neurotechnology for health and well-being applications.

Context

Governments, academia, industry, and private foundations are increasingly making substantial investments in brain research and neurotechnology, and a host of national and international “brain projects” have sprung up across the public and private sector. These programmes are in response to calls at highest national and international policy levels to address challenges associated with mental illnesses and neurological disorders that cause great human suffering and loss of economic productivity. For instance, more than 25% of all years lived with disability and over 10% of the total burden of disease is attributable to mental, neurological, and substance use disorders. And these issues will most probably worsen in face of aging populations with increasing prevalence of dementia and other neurological disorders.


Many of the large-scale international brain projects seek to accelerate our understanding of the brain through improved technology – whether it be through improved computational models, transformative research tools, or new simulations of human brain functinon. But these major “brain projects” are also part of the broader policy goals of fostering innovation and increasing productivity. Sales in neurotechnologies for neuroprosthetics, neuromodulation, neurorehabilitation, and neurosensing are expected to reach USD 12 billion in 2022. Beyond health, neurotechnologies have potential in the fields of education, and information and communication technology.


In addition to a focus on the role of public-private partnerships and the business sector, the workshop – in its panels and attention to invitees – sought to engage two themes at the core of the OECD Working Party on Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Converging Technologies (BNCT): digitalisation, and technology convergence.


This workshop was convened by the OECD in collaboration with the China National Center for Biotechnology Development (CNCBD), Beijing, People’s Republic of China. The event was hosted by the Tongji University School of Medicine (TUSM) in Shanghai.


Contact: For further information, please write to sti.bnct@oecd.org

 

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