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Spinning science: The commercialisation of nanotech and financial news

M.F.E. Ebeling and G. Cooper
University of Surrey, UK

PR, financial journalism, risk communication, private investment

As nanotechnology’s risks and benefits continue to be debated in both specialist science and popular media, there has been a call for more social scientists to examine public perceptions, understandings and involvement in the governance of nanoscience and technology. There has been little research into the how nanotechnology has been communicated to the investing public and as the commercialisation of nanotechnology intensifies, this area will be more significant over the next few years.
While there has been much research and scholarship developed on communicating risk to the public through popular media and the contestations over understanding science and technology in society, there has been virtually no work on communicating financial risk or critical, sociological examinations of financial journalism. This research is investigating the primary relationships between the public relations and communication firms who are promoting the commercialisation of nanotechnology and scientists who are spinning out start-ups from their nanotechnology research, and how the financial potential (and risks) of the technology is being communicated to venture capitalists, financial journalists and the investing public.
This paper will present the preliminary findings of the year-long project that is researching the commercialisation of nanotechnology in the United Kingdom and the United States.

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