Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research (2008)

Subject Area:
NNI Strategic Documents
EHS-related Documents
Author: Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology, Committee on Technology, National Science and Technology Council
Publication Date: Feb. 13 2008

Description:

Outlines the NNI strategy for nanotechnology-related environmental, health and safety (EHS) research.  Includes an analysis of EHS research needs outlined in the previously published NNI document, Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Needs for Engineered Nanoscale Materials (September 2006) and a summary of the then-current NNI EHS research portfolio across five primary research categories: (1) Instrumentation, Metrology, and Analytical Methods; (2) Nanomaterials and Human Health; (3) Nanomaterials and the Environment; (4) Human and Environmental Exposure Assessment; and (5) Risk Management Methods.  Also includes an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in the then-current NNI research portfolio, a recommended framework for addressing the identified research needs, and a recommended implementation and adaptive management process.  Tables showing research projects funded in 2006 by NNI agencies in each of the five EHS research categories are included as an appendix.


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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