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 in Nanotechnology (GIN) Working Group 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.
Examples of Multi-lateral Cooperation
NNI member agencies and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD): OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN) is leading an international effort by the OECD member nations and other nonmember nations and organizations to coordinate and collaborate on approaches for better understanding the environmental, health, and safety impacts and the benefits of nanotechnology. In 2008, the WPMN embarked on a cooperative international program to conduct testing on 14 nanomaterials types across 59 environmental endpoints. The EPA is leading the U.S. effort to sponsor the testing of many of these materials. NIOSH continues its leadership role in the OECD WPMN steering group on Cooperation on Exposure Measurement and Exposure Mitigation.
OECD Working Party on Nanotechnology (WPN) is 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. The U.S. Department of State was the founding chair of the WPN, and continues to play a critical leadership role on the WPN Bureau. In the current work program, the U.S. FDA is leading an effort to inventory regulatory frameworks for nanotechnology in food and medical products. Additional efforts are planned in areas such as business environments and green growth.
NNI member agencies and international standards bodies: Technical experts from multiple agencies, including DOD, DOE, EPA, NIOSH, NCI, NIST, and USDA/FS, are working to develop international documentary standards in nanotechnology through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), as coordinated by the American National Standards Institute’s U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO TC229 (Nanotechnologies). For more information, see our Standards page.
Examples of Bilateral Cooperation
EPA, NSF, USDA/NIFA, and the European Commission: EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), the National Science Foundation, and USDA’s NIFA was scheduled to make awards in 2010 through a joint solicitation entitled, “Increasing Scientific Data on the Fate, Transport, and Behavior of Engineered Nanomaterials in Selected Environmental and Biological Matrices.” This solicitation was a collaborative effort with the European Commission. The total estimated U.S. award amount is approximately $4.2 million.
EPA and the United Kingdom: EPA’s NCER under its STAR research program is funding two research “e‑consortia” teams, each at $2 million for a 4-year period, in collaboration with two research consortia teams from the United Kingdom, on the topics, “Consortium for Manufactured Nanomaterial Bioavailability & Environmental Exposure” and “Transatlantic Initiative for Nanotechnology and the Environment.”
State Department and other nations: The State Department's Office of Science & Technology Cooperation 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.
Other International Fora and Events
Global Nanotechnology Network is 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) was 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) is 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 is a biennial gathering to facilitate good governance of nanotechnology, and is inclusive to all interested countries.
Meridian Institute 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.”
Regional Fora and Events
Asia Pacific Nanotechnology Forum (APNF) 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, 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 is 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, has a vision to emerge the African science and technology community in the developing areas of nanotechnology and nanoscience.
Pan-American Nanotechnology Network aims to provide a shared Pan-American infrastructure to foster nanotechnology research, education, and technology development in the region.