ICON - International Council on Nanotechnology: A partnership for nanotechnology stewardship and sustainability


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ICON - International Council on Nanotechnology

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ICON - International Council on Nanotechnology
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About ICON

Mission and Strategy
    Strategic Plan
    Organizational Structure

    Governance Structure

    Operations Structure

    Executive Committee

    Operations Personnel
ICON Fact Sheet


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ICON’s organizational plan reflects its members’ conviction that risk management must be based on agreements among different stakeholders. The management of ICON involves all stakeholders in the nanotechnology community in a flexible and transparent structure designed to respond to rapidly changing issues in the area.  Transparency in the decision-making process is essential to the effectiveness of ICON. For this reason, ICON relies on two governance committees, rather than individuals, to allocate resources, define ICON positions, prioritize ICON activities and plan ICON’s strategy: 

  • A larger Advisory Board
  • A smaller Executive Committee

Crucial to ICON’s success is its ability to engage its members broadly in activities; their contribution of time, perspective and talent is the linchpin of ICON operations. ICON working groups are the place where such volunteer work happens.

ICON Fact Sheet (pdf)

Current Governance Document (full detail, pdf format) - Covers period from October 2009 to present

Previous Governance Document  (full detail, pdf format) - covers period from February 2006 to September 2009

ICON Governance Structure
Decision-making authority and planning functions in ICON are the purview of committees instead of individuals.

The Executive Committee (EC) is primarily concerned with resource allocation and serves as the authoritative body for the final approval of policy and financial decisions for ICON.  Specific functions include authorization of sensitive communications, operational priorities and project budgets.  The EC will consist of the Director and Executive Director.

The Advisory Board (AB) serves as the advisory body for ICON strategic planning and participates in all  Working Group activities. Specific functions include ongoing refinement of the project plans, the creation and review of working groups and recommendations to the EC for project proposal funding. Membership in the AB requires individuals to declare their interest and be approved by the EC. Continued membership on the AB requires active participation in AB meetings.

The ICON Executive Director  has a key strategic role within ICON and has the ultimate responsibility for ICON’s budget and operations. This position is focused on the long-term strategies of ICON, a role that is important in shaping and communicating ICON’s strategy to all stakeholders, as well as in representing ICON externally. The Executive Director also approves all operational plans put forward by the Director, and evaluates the Director’s performance on an annual basis.

The Director is the chair of the Advisory Board and oversees the ICON operational staff. This role is an important bridge between the operational and governance processes in ICON.  This position is primarily tactical in that the ICON Director manages and directs ICON to achieve the strategic objectives identified by its members. Additionally, the Director must grow and maintain ICON’s financial and volunteer resources. The Director is a member of the Executive Committee and is responsible for reporting to the Executive Committee all aspects of ICON operations, including budget.

The Vice Provost for Graduate Research at Rice University, the current academic host for ICON, provides budget oversight and ensures all activities of the organization are compliant with the Rice mission and federal guidelines.  When necessary, or at the request of members of the Executive Committee, the Vice Provost may convene an External Advisory Board to evaluate the operation of ICON. 


ICON Operations Structure
The ICON Operations Manager is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that effective member communications and strategic objectives are achieved. Day to day questions and implementation of ICON projects and events are all coordinated by this essential staff person. The Operation Manager’s goal is to ensure that the work of ICON’s members has high impact across the globe. This position reports to the Director, and serves the Working Groups and governance committees.  The Operations Manager also has responsibility for follow-ups with external grantees and contractors who have been funded under ICON Working Group projects.

The ICON Working Groups have decision-making authority as well as operational responsibilities. In particular, ICON project funding requests can only be developed through the Working Groups where members, participants and advisors work on project objectives, scopes and outcomes.  ICON Working Groups permit volunteer members to direct their time and resources towards achieving the strategic objectives of ICON.   These groups set specific action items and tasks in each Strategic Plan, and measure their progress against these plans on a monthly-to-quarterly basis.  ICON Working Groups are also charged with developing project plans for consideration by ICON’s Advisory Board.  

ICON Grantees are individuals or groups in external institutions (academic or otherwise) who are awarded funds by ICON to complete authorized projects. This situation normally occurs when Working Groups feel that the work is best done outside of ICON staff, volunteer members or Rice University researchers. In those cases the ICON Working Group initiates a deliberative Request for Proposals (RFPs) and reviews the submitted RFPs to identify the best candidate proposal, which is forwarded to the Advisory Board for approval. The final budget authority for awarding a contract rests with the Executive Committee. Specific procedures have been developed to assure that Conflict of Interest issues are managed effectively within ICON.

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This work is supported in part by the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Initiative of the National Science Foundation
under NSF Award Number EEC-0118007.

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