Draft 2016 NNI Strategic Plan for Public Comment

The public comment period for the draft 2016 NNI Strategic Plan closed on September 23, 2016. The document was published on October 31, 2016 and can be found at www.nano.gov/2016StrategicPlan.

Background on the NNI and the NNI Strategic Plan

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), established in 2001, is a collaboration of twenty Federal agencies and Cabinet-level departments with shared interests in nanotechnology research, development, and commercialization. These agencies recognize that the ability to understand and harness the novel phenomena that occur at the nanoscale is already leading to revolutionary new materials, devices, and structures. These advances promise to improve human health and quality of life, enhance the U.S. economy, boost job creation, and strengthen our national defense. Since the inception of the NNI, these agencies have invested more than $23 billion in support of cutting-edge research; world-class user facilities for characterization, modeling, and fabrication; and the responsible transfer of nanotechnology-based products from lab to market. As a result of these investments, nanotechnology has become ubiquitous in our daily lives and can be found in a wide variety of commercial products including healthcare products, cosmetics, consumer electronics, apparel, and automobiles. Nanotechnology is poised to revolutionize the way we diagnose and treat diseases such as cancer, help us improve our fitness, and reduce our energy consumption.

Under the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003, NNI agencies are required to develop an updated NNI Strategic Plan every three years. This document represents a consensus among NNI agencies on the high-level goals and priorities of the initiative and on specific objectives to be pursued over at least the next three years. The plan provides the framework under which individual agencies conduct their own mission-specific nanotechnology programs, coordinate these activities with those of other NNI agencies, and collaborate.

Summary of Public Comments Received on the Draft 2016 NNI Strategic Plan

Ten responses were submitted in response to the request for public comments on the draft 2016 NNI Strategic Plan. Comments fell into several broad categories:

  • Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenges. A new Grand Challenge targeted toward eliminating or reducing infant and maternal mortality was recommended.

  • Open Science. The suggestion was made to make federally funded nanotechnology documentation open source and freely available to researchers and to the public.

  • Food and Agriculture. Continued financial support for research on food and agriculture was recommended.

  • Specific Comments on Goals and Objectives.

    • One submission voiced support for the four goals in general, and objectives 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 3.1, 3.2, and 3.4 in particular.

    • It was requested that assessment reports produced in relation to objective 1.3 be made available to the public.

    • The importance of access to analytical tools and software was noted in relation to Goal 2.

    • It was noted in response to Goal 2 that nanostructured materials have been used primarily in non-structural applications.

    • It was recommended that Goal 2 include the dissemination of regulatory information.

    • Support was expressed for NNI agency participation in international activities related to the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) implications of nanotechnology.

    • The incorporation of output-oriented language about developing and sharing tools for evaluating the potentials risks of engineered nanomaterials and nanotechnology-enabled products was recommended.

    • It was recommended that the Goal 4 objectives be revised to reflect the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which was signed into law on June 22, 2016.

  • Environmental, Health, and Safety Implications of Nanotechnology.

    • One submission recommended that NNI agencies only provide technical, financial, and regulatory support for product developers who consult with their relevant regulatory agencies and provide samples for life cycle assessment.

    • The view was expressed that EHS research is not keeping pace with product development. Increased investment in nanoEHS was suggested, along with an intention to produce EHS research that informs regulation and risk management.

    • Increased stakeholder engagement regarding the vision and mandate of the NNI was recommended.

    • It was suggested that the NNI agencies review other national R&D programs to derive best practices and lessons learned.