PCAST: Report to the President and Congress on the Fourth Assessment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (2012)

Subject Area:
External Evaluations of the NNI
Author: Executive Office of the President; President's Council of Advisors of Science and Technology (PCAST)
Publication Date: Apr. 27 2012

Description:

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is a crosscutting Federal program designed to coordinate U.S. investment in research and development (R&D) activities in nanoscale science, engineering, technology, and related efforts across 25 agencies and programs. This is the fourth review of the NNI by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) since the council was designated in 2004 as the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel tasked with reviewing the initiative.

The Federal Government has proposed $1.8 billion of funding in fiscal year (FY) 2013 for 15 agencies with budgets dedicated to nanotechnology research and development. The FY 2013 request will represent total funding of $18 billion over the life of the Initiative. Nearly 75 percent of this funding goes to three Program Component Areas: Fundamental Nanoscale Phenomena and Processes, Nanomaterials, and Nanoscale Devices and Systems. The NNI continues to support a strong and growing portfolio of research on the societal implications of nanotechnology, nanotechnology education, and public outreach. The President’s 2013 budget includes a total of $306 million—a 24-percent increase compared to 2011 actual spending—for three Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives: Nanotechnology for Solar Energy Collection and Conversion; Sustainable Nanomanufacturing: Creating the Industries of the Future; and Nanoelectronics for 2020 and Beyond. These initiatives foster meaningful interagency collaboration and serve as springboards for the rapid advancement of nanoscience and technology toward commercialization.


Nanotechnology Fact

Although federally-funded R&D yields hard-to-quantify benefits such as students educated, degrees conferred, companies started, patents and copyrights granted, developmental partnerships formed, and private sector investment inflows, there are many indicators of the impact of this ­­­­­investment.

For example, there are over 1,900 U.S.-based companies conducting R&D, manufacturing, or product sales in nanotechnology in 2016. Of these companies engaged in the nanotechnology sector, over 36% have participated in the Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer programs funded by the Federal agencies that participate in the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The most recent Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) found approximately 1,500 companies engaged in nanotechnology with approximately 1,100 of these classified as small businesses (less than 500 employees). The difference in the number of companies cited above can be attributed to the year the data was collected and other methodologies.

A noteworthy impact of the NNI has been the focused investment by NNI-participating agencies in the establishment and development of multidisciplinary research and education centers devoted to nanoscience and nanotechnology. NNI agencies have developed an extensive infrastructure of nearly 100 major interdisciplinary research and education centers and user facilities across the United States. This cutting-edge fabrication and characterization equipment provides state-of-the-art nanoscience tools and expertise for research by non-profit or business organizations, whether small or large, for use-inspired research and some of the user facilities are available free-of-charge for non-proprietary work if the user intends to publish the research results in the scientific literature.

In December 2015, Lux Research estimated that nanotechnology-enabled products generated $1.6 trillion in global revenues in 2014; and that figure is anticipated to increase to $3.5 trillion in 2018.

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