WASHINGTON, May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The President's Council of Advisors on
Science and Technology (PCAST) today released the report, The National
Nanotechnology Initiative at Five Years: Assessment and Recommendations of the
National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel. The report is PCAST's first
assessment of the Federal Government's nanotechnology research efforts in its
role as the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel (NNAP). President Bush
designated PCAST as the NNAP by Executive Order in July 2004, thereby
fulfilling the requirement in the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and
Development Act of 2003 (the Act) to name an outside advisory body. The Act
calls upon the NNAP to report on the Federal nanotechnology program at least
every two years.
"This report is a thoughtful and highly informative assessment on the
current status of the United States' research programs for nanotechnology,"
said John H. Marburger III, Science Advisor to President George W. Bush and
Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy. "The U.S. is currently the
world leader in nanotechnology, but our international competitors are
aggressively developing their own programs in this area. PCAST and its
Technical Advisory Group are performing an important service in monitoring
Federal programs in this exciting field."
"The approach PCAST took in this report was to answer what we felt were
the most pressing questions the President, the Congress and the American
public wanted answered," said PCAST Co-chair Floyd Kvamme. "This report
confirms that we have a nanotechnology R&D infrastructure that is the envy of
the world. And State, local and regional governments have been particularly
active in promoting nanotechnology development."
In assessing the multi-agency National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and
its work coordinating the Federal research enterprise for nanotechnology,
PCAST addressed four key questions that they identified as areas of primary
Where do we stand?
PCAST found that the United States is the acknowledged leader in
nanotechnology research and development (R&D). The approximately $1 billion
the Federal government will spend on nanotechnology R&D this fiscal year is
roughly one-quarter of the current global investment by all nations. Total
annual U.S. R&D spending (Federal, State, and private) now stands at
approximately $3 billion, or one-third of the estimated $9 billion in total
worldwide spending by the public and private sectors combined. In addition,
the United States leads in the number of start-up companies based on
nanotechnology, and in research output as measured by patents and
publications. The U.S. leadership position, however, is under increasing
competitive pressure from other nations as they ramp up their own programs.
Is this money well spent and the program well managed?
The report finds that the money the United States is investing in
nanotechnology is money very well spent, and that continued robust funding is
important for the Nation's long-term economic well-being and national
security. Nanotechnology holds tremendous potential for stimulating
innovation and thereby enabling or maintaining U.S. leadership in industries
that span all sectors. The NNI appears well positioned to maintain United
States leadership going forward, through both its coordinated interagency
approach to planning and implementing the Federal R&D program and its efforts
to interact with industry and the public.
Are we addressing societal concerns and potential risks?
The PCAST report finds that the NNI recognizes the societal implications
of nanotechnology -- including environmental and health effects -- must be
taken into account and that the NNI is moving deliberately to identify,
prioritize, and address such concerns. In the FY2006 budget, $82 million (8
percent of the total NNI budget) will be dedicated to addressing these
How can we do better?
The report praises the NNI for organizing Federal nanotechnology research
and establishing a strong national research infrastructure across more than 20
different Federal agencies, each with its own distinct mission. The members
of PCAST concur with the Administration's assessment of the potential for
economic benefit from investments in nanotechnology R&D and believe it is
critical that the United States maintain a leadership position in
nanotechnology. PCAST therefore recommends continued robust funding for the
In addition, the report offers the following recommendations aimed at
further strengthening the NNI.
Technology Transfer -- The NNI needs to take further steps to communicate
with and establish links to U.S. industry to further facilitate technology
transfer from the lab to the marketplace. PCAST calls attention to two areas
that would augment the existing suite of activities and enhance
commercialization of research results.
* Federal-State coordination should be increased -- The States perform a
vital role in fostering economic development through business assistance
programs, tax incentives, and other means. In addition, collectively the
States are spending substantial amounts in support of nanotechnology R&D
and commercialization. The report recommends improving Federal-State
coordination in order to increase practical application of NNI-funded
research results, to improve workforce development, and to achieve other
* Improve knowledge management and access to NNI assets -- This would
include assets such as user facilities and instrumentation available to
outside researchers, research results, and derivative intellectual
property. Through mechanisms such as publicly available and searchable
databases, the NNI can -- and should -- improve infrastructure
utilization and the transfer of technology to the private sector.
Environmental and Health Implications -- The NNI should continue its
efforts to understand the possible toxicological effects of nanotechnology
and, where harmful human or environmental effects are proven, appropriate
regulatory mechanisms should be utilized by the pertinent Federal agencies.
PCAST encourages the Government regulatory agencies to work together to ensure
that any regulatory policies that are developed are based on the best
available science and are consistent among the agencies. The report also
recommends strong international coordination to ensure that efforts are not
duplicated unnecessarily and information is shared widely.
Education/Workforce Preparation -- A key to realizing the economic
benefits of nanotechnology will be the establishment of an infrastructure
capable of educating and training an adequate number of researchers, teachers,
and technical workers. PCAST recommends that the NNI establish relationships
with the Departments of Education and Labor to develop education and training
systems to improve the Nation's technical proficiency in areas related to
Societal Implications -- The NNI must support research aimed at
understanding the societal (including ethical, economic, and legal)
implications and must actively work to inform the public about nanotechnology.
The report is based in part on input from a Technical Advisory Group
(TAG), made up of nanotechnology experts representing diverse disciplines
within government, industry and academia. In addition, PCAST convened panels
of experts to discuss advancements and opportunities in science and technology
as well as the potential environmental, health, and safety implications of
nanotechnology. PCAST also met with members of the Nanoscale Science
Engineering and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the National Science and
Technology Council (NSTC) throughout the review process to discuss the NNI R&D
programs and thereby understand how the initiative is organized and managed.
PCAST members also attended a number of the workshops organized by the NNI
over the past two years to gain a better understanding of the broad research
and application opportunities. These activities, along with numerous informal
interactions by PCAST members with a range of nanotechnology stakeholders
around the country and worldwide, have provided the basis for this report.
For more information on PCAST and to view the full report, please visit
On September 30, 2001, President Bush signed Executive Order 13226 to form
the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST
was originally established by President George Bush in 1990 to enable the
President to receive advice from the private sector and academic community on
technology, scientific research priorities, and math and science education.
Co-chaired by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the
council's 23 members consist of distinguished individuals appointed by the
President, and are drawn from industry, education, and research institutions,
and other nongovernmental organizations. For more information visit
About the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Congress established OSTP in 1976 with a broad mandate to advise the
President and others within the Executive Office of the President on the
impacts of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The
1976 Act also authorizes OSTP to lead an interagency effort to develop and to
implement sound science and technology policies and budgets and to work with
the private sector, state and local governments, the science and higher
education communities, and other nations toward this end. The Director of OSTP
serves as co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and
Technology and oversees the National Science and Technology Council on behalf
of the President. For more information visit http://www.ostp.gov.
CONTACT: Bob Hopkins of the Office of Science and Technology Policy,
+1-202-456-6098, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Office of Science and Technology Policy