Safe-by-Design is an approach that analyses potential short-term and long-term safety hazards arising from research and innovation. It looks at technical, ethical and social aspects. This approach is playing an increasingly important role in national and European innovation policy, which makes it worthwhile for researchers, entrepreneurs and policymakers as well as students to learn more about it.


Why is learning about Safe-by-Design essential?

Safe-by-Design is becoming increasingly vital to the success of government projects like the Green Deal. Anyone can apply the Safe-by-Design principles in their work to enhance the safety of new and existing innovations – particularly researchers, developers, designers, entrepreneurs and innovation managers. However, applying Safe-by-Design is not easy. It demands insight into the complexity of fundamental challenges, as well as knowledge of the safety problems that need to be addressed. It also requires knowing what individuals can do in their work to help design safer innovations.

Safe-by-Design teaching materials

RIVM has developed a set of teaching materials about Safe-by-Design. These materials can be used on their own or as part of existing curricula. The table below gives an overview of the materials available. They have been designed to give an overview of the knowledge, mentality and skills needed for Safe-by-Design. Teachers can incorporate these materials in their lesson plans, while students and professionals can use them autonomously.

The Safe-by-Design course (in English) outlines the basic principles of the approach by using a combination of animated clips, exercises and video lectures. The Safe-by-Design Serious Game simulates a variety of complex dilemmas in biotechnology and nanotechnology innovation processes, which are then discussed in a group setting. Other domain-specific materials delve deeper into Safe-by-Design as it applies to sectors such as chemicals, nanotechnology and biotechnology.


Cooperation: from development to implementation

The Safe-by-Design teaching materials developed so far deal with chemicals, nanomaterials, biotechnological advances and engineering. RIVM works with a number of research universities, research institutes and universities of applied sciences to develop and implement Safe-by-Design teaching. Delft University of Technology currently offers an interdisciplinary Safe-by-Design PhD course every year, for which RIVM supplies a guest speaker. The University of Twente has developed an open-access Safe-by-Design role-playing exercise with input from RIVM to simulate stakeholder dynamics in innovation processes. Lastly, Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Eindhoven has implemented the Safe-by-Design Serious Game in its Applied Sustainability course. RIVM welcomes every opportunity to provide input for the development and integration of Safe-by-Design teaching!