Nanotechnology achieved prominence in the 2000s as an emerging area of technoscience, with some far-reaching claims being made about its potential societal and economic impact, which prompted both excitement and anxiety. This coincided with a period of experimentation in science policy, with new views on the roles of public engagement arising and the emergence of the notion of responsible research and innovation. This history is reviewed, with a particular focus on the UK, concluding with some reflections on the future of the responsible research and innovation agenda in an environment of slower economic growth.
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