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Supporting Information for the NNI Strategic Planning RFI

The Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee seeks public input to inform the development of the 2021 National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Strategic Plan. A restructuring of the NNI is under consideration, and the NSET Subcommittee seeks feedback from the community to help identify effective mechanisms, strategies for communication, and priority topics to shape the future directions for the initiative. Full information on the Request for Information (RFI), including detailed instructions, is available here. Responses are requested by November 9th, 2020, at 11:59 pm ET. Please submit responses via email to NNIStrategicPlanning@nnco.nano.gov and include “RFI Response: NNI Strategic Planning” in the subject line.

This page provides additional points for consideration, as well as links to relevant background information and resources. Should the community have questions related to the RFI, this page may be updated with clarifying questions and corresponding answers. 

To aid the development of the Strategic Plan, five interagency teams have been formed focused on world-class research, commercialization, research infrastructure, education and workforce development, and responsible development. The strategic planning teams identified additional points for consideration that may be helpful as you respond to the RFI:

R&D

  • The NNI R&D portfolio is exceptionally broad, ranging from foundational research to nanotechnology-enabled devices, applications, and systems. Agency investments vary based on their mission spaces, but the overall portfolio is diverse, encompassing the full research and development spectrum.
  • Mechanisms that support this R&D include grants to single investigators, collaborative research teams, and networks; research centers; and user facilities.
  • Models of productive mechanisms and partnerships that have been employed around the world to support R&D efforts that may be useful for the strategic planning teams to consider would be of interest.
  • Mechanisms such as public-private partnerships may enable the Government to foster collaboration, despite the differing goals and incentives in industry and academia. There may be exemplars not currently used by the NNI.
  • While considerable progress has been made in nanotechnology R&D, significant challenges remain to be addressed in foundational and applied research. As noted in the RFI, community feedback regarding specific topics would be of interest.
  • The team would be interested to know how the research community finds and accesses resources and information regarding Government activities. Conversely, information on how the community shares needs with the Government, particularly when the needs span multiple agencies, would also be of interest.
  • Nanotechnology R&D is resource-intensive in terms of required instrumentation and cyber resources. Those considerations are addressed below.

Commercialization

  • The NNI agencies use a variety of mechanisms to foster commercialization of nanotechnology. For examples see Funding Programs and FAQs on Nano.gov.
  • A number of NNI activities such as podcasts, workshops, and webinars focus on sharing best practices along the technology development pathway.
  • A better understanding of knowledge gaps that hinder commercialization would be helpful to inform the strategic planning process. Challenges that are unique to nanotechnology commercialization would be particularly welcome.
  • The team would be interested to know where entrepreneurs and small businesses find and access resources and information regarding Government activities.
  • Public-private partnerships have been an effective mechanism to advance the development of targeted nanotechnology-enabled applications. As noted in the RFI, community feedback regarding specific topics for future activities would be of interest.

Physical & Cyber Infrastructure

  • User facilities are a critically enabling aspect of the NNI. These facilities provide access to fabrication, characterization, and modeling and simulation tools. Additional information on user facilities is available at https://www.nano.gov/userfacilities.
  • Various models and mechanisms have been employed at user facilities around the world (e.g., remote access). As noted in the RFI, feedback regarding exemplars would be of interest.
  • A better understanding of barriers to accessing user facilities and cyber resources and pinch points in moving between user facilities would be helpful to inform the strategic planning process.
  • The team would be interested to know how the research community finds information regarding infrastructure resources. Conversely, information on how the community shares instrumentation and cyber needs with the Government, particularly when the needs span multiple agencies, would also be of interest.

Education & Workforce Development

  • A vast array of educational resources have been developed over the past 20 years.
  • Extensive STEM education and workforce development activities have been conducted across the R&D ecosystem. Feedback regarding exemplary approaches that should be considered by the strategic planning teams would be welcome, including experiences that may inspire individuals to join the nanotechnology workforce. Also of interest are mechanisms to expand the inclusiveness and diversity of the nanotechnology workforce.
  • A key factor in promoting the commercialization of nanotechnology is the education and training of the next generation of entrepreneurs.
  • To continue to ensure laboratory and workforce safety and responsible development of nanotechnology, feedback regarding exemplar training programs and resources would be of interest.
  • The team would be interested to know how educators and students find and access information and resources relevant to nanoeducation.

Responsible Development

  • Responsible development—including environmental, health, and safety (EHS) considerations and potential ethical, legal, and societal implications (ELSI)—has been a primary goal of the NNI since its inception. Considerable knowledge has been developed, disseminated, and implemented and a robust ecosystem of scientists, regulators, and industry representatives has been established, serving as a foundation for future research and development.
  • Concepts surrounding responsible development continue to evolve and the teams would be interested to understand the community’s perception of key themes going forward.
  • Collaborations among academia, industry, and government may help advance responsible development as technology evolves. Feedback regarding mechanisms and exemplars that could inform the future responsible development framework would be welcome.
  • The team would be interested to know how the R&D community and the general public find and access information and resources regarding the responsible development of nanotechnology.

 

See box at the top for additional resources. Thank you for taking the time to respond to this Request for Information. Your input is appreciated.