The first international standard for responsible innovation in neurotechnology

How to ensure that societal
benefits of neurotechnology are maximised and risks minimised? In December
2019, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) adopted
the Recommendation
on Responsible Innovation in Neurotechnology
that provides some guidance in
this respect. This is the first
international standard
in this domain and it aims to guide governments and
innovators to anticipate and address the ethical, legal and social challenges
in neurotechnology.

The Recommendation calls OECD member states
and non-members as well as other actors to promote and implement the following nine
principles of responsible innovation in neurotechnology:

  1. Promote
    responsible innovation in neurotechnology to promote health challenges;
  2. Prioritise
    assessing safety in the development and use of neurotechnology;
  3. Promote
    the inclusivity of neurotechnology for health;
  4. Foster
    scientific collaboration in neurotechnology innovation across countries, sectors,
    and disciplines;
  5. Enable
    societal deliberation on neurotechnology;
  6. Enable
    the capacity of oversight and advisory bodies to address novel issues in
  7. Safeguard
    personal brain data and other information gained through neurotechnology;
  8. Promote
    cultures of stewardship and trust in neurotechnology across the public and
    private sector; and
  9. Anticipate
    and monitor the potential unintended use and/or misuse of neurotechnology.

These principles seek to cover
all elements of innovation process from research and technology transfer to commercialisation
and regulation. The Recommendation highlights the importance of

  1. High-level
    values such as stewardship, trust safety, and privacy in this technological
  2. Building
    the capacity of key institutions like foresight, oversight and advice bodies;
  3. Processes
    of societal deliberation, inclusive innovation, and collaboration.

The Recommendation was
developed through a 5-year process that included an international consultation
and engagement with policymakers, key stakeholders and civil society. This
included events such as the Workshop
on Minding Neurotechnology: Delivering responsible innovation for health and
that took place in September 2018 in Shanghai and brought
together diverse stakeholders including representatives from the main brain
initiatives. These events resulted in a number of publications, for example, OECD
working paper on Responsible
innovation in neurotechnology enterprises

To support the implementation
of the Recommendation, the OECD envisages the development of practical tools
and guidance including a collection of examples of best practices and lessons

Members of the Human Brain
Project (HBP) have participated in a number of events that contributed to the
development of the Recommendation. Principles of the Recommendation closely
aligns with the Responsible
Research and Innovation
approach that the HBP has been implementing in its
diverse activities including work on public
, data
and dual
where the HBP develops good practices that could be of interest for other
brain projects, policy-makers and stakeholders.

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