International Engagement


NNI agencies and representatives participate in many international activities, including bilateral and multilateral cooperative programs, tracking foreign progress in nanotechnology R&D, and the promotion of the trade and commercial interests of the United States. Cooperation and collaboration with other nations on nanoscale science and technology R&D can further the progress of the NNI while helping our international partners achieve their own goals.

The development of a healthy global marketplace for nanotechnology products and ideas will require the establishment of consumer confidence; common approaches to nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety issues; efficient and effective regulatory schemes; and equitable trade practices for nanotechnology – not just in the United States, but worldwide.

The Global Issues Coordinator helps to coordinate international activities among the various NNI member agencies, while the White House Office of International and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) promotes international regulatory cooperation in a number of venues, including Regulatory Cooperation Councils with Canada and Mexico and the High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum with the European Union. The State Department's Office of Science & Technology Cooperation: This office establishes binding science and technology agreements between the U.S. and other nations. Among many advantages, such agreements help facilitate the exchange of scientific results and provide access to new resources, materials, and information in high priority areas including nanotechnology.

NNI member agencies participate in the following major international groups, collaborations, and projects:

OECD Working Party on Nanotechnology (WPN): A forum to advise on emerging policy issues in science, technology, and innovation related to the responsible development and use of nanotechnology. It is the premiere multilateral forum that brings governments together to discuss and create policy perspectives relating to nanotechnology.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO), as coordinated by the American National Standards Institute’s U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO TC229 (Nanotechnologies):  The world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. International Standards give state of the art specifications for products, services, and good practice, helping to make industry more efficient and effective. Developed through global consensus, they help to break down barriers to international trade. For more information, see the Nano.gov Standards Page.

Global Nanotechnology Network: A platform to address global challenges in energy, environment, health care, and public safety. The network is dedicated to promoting beneficial collaborations in four integrated nanotechnology-related program areas: research, education, facilities, and database development.

International Alliance for NanoEHS Harmonization (IANH): Founded in September 2008. IANH is a voluntary initiative of labs and other stakeholders to create toxicology-test protocols on representative nanomaterials in a “round robin” fashion.

International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON): An international, multi-stakeholder organization whose mission is to develop and communicate information regarding potential environmental and health risks of nanotechnology, thereby fostering risk reduction while maximizing societal benefit. ICON hosts forums, events, electronic databases and online publications. ICON is one of many sponsors of the GoodNanoGuide, which is intended to be a community platform to share workplace practices for handling nanomaterials.

International Dialogue on Responsible Research and Development of Nanotechnology: A biennial gathering to facilitate good governance of nanotechnology and is inclusive to all interested countries.

Meridian Institute: This group organizes international dialogues and workshops on various aspects of responsible research and development of nanotechnologies as part of its project “Global Dialogue on Nanotechnology and the Poor.”

Asia Pacific Nanotechnology Forum (APNF): This group fosters regional cooperation on nanotechnology R&D, with nation members including Australia, China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Asian Nano Forum: Founded in 2004, this is a collaborative network supported by many countries in the Asia Pacific Region. The Forum creates mechanisms for sharing information and helps to support regional development through joint projects.

European Nano Forum: An informative forum for researcher centers, universities, industries, and other nanotechnology-related parties. The forum houses information on wide-ranging nanotechnology issues including education, jobs, publications, upcoming events, and calls for research.

Nanosciences African Network (Nanoafnet): Created in 2005, Nanoafnet has a vision to emerge the African science and technology community in the developing areas of nanotechnology and nanoscience.  

Pan-American Nanotechnology Network: This group aims to provide a shared Pan-American infrastructure to foster nanotechnology research, education, and technology development in the region.