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Innovation pathways

We have established three pathways to enable dutyholders, licensees and other stakeholders to engage with us on innovation. These have been developed to increase ONR’s understanding of a subject and provide a framework to feed into relevant guidance. These should not be taken as constrictive and we welcome any engagement related to innovation within the nuclear sector and will aim to tailor our support accordingly. Talk to your site inspector directly or contact the innovation team for more information.

Innovation cafés

Hour-long engagements for inspectors and other ONR staff members to discuss new ideas, products or processes in a safe environment. Innovation cafés are often a first point of engagement with the innovation hub, and their outputs have fed into staff training and development.

Expert and advice panels

Discussions chaired by an ONR inspector with input from other ONR specialisms and, where necessary, external subject matter experts. The output is typically a paper on the topic published, where possible, on our website. Topics have included blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and modelling for security applications.

Sandboxing (or regulatory laboratories)

A regulatory sandbox is a safe environment in which new technologies or processes can be considered by the regulator outside normal regulatory interactions. They typically take a number of months and will feed into developing our guidance and processes to regulate the industry. The output of a sandboxing exercise will, where possible, be shared on the ONR external facing website. For example, we have recently completed a sandboxing pilot to look at the regulation of AI. This was a significant undertaking supported by the regulators Pioneers Fund (link) and carried out in partnership with the Environment Agency.