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PCAST Releases First Report on Nanotechnology R&D.

Report Finds U.S. to be Global Leader in Nanotechnology Research and Development

WASHINGTON, May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) today released the report, The National Nanotechnology Initiative at Five Years: Assessment and Recommendations of the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel. The report is PCAST's first assessment of the Federal Government's nanotechnology research efforts in its role as the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel (NNAP). President Bush designated PCAST as the NNAP by Executive Order in July 2004, thereby fulfilling the requirement in the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003 (the Act) to name an outside advisory body. The Act calls upon the NNAP to report on the Federal nanotechnology program at least every two years.

"This report is a thoughtful and highly informative assessment on the current status of the United States' research programs for nanotechnology," said John H. Marburger III, Science Advisor to President George W. Bush and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy. "The U.S. is currently the world leader in nanotechnology, but our international competitors are aggressively developing their own programs in this area. PCAST and its Technical Advisory Group are performing an important service in monitoring Federal programs in this exciting field."

"The approach PCAST took in this report was to answer what we felt were the most pressing questions the President, the Congress and the American public wanted answered," said PCAST Co-chair Floyd Kvamme. "This report confirms that we have a nanotechnology R&D infrastructure that is the envy of the world. And State, local and regional governments have been particularly active in promoting nanotechnology development."

In assessing the multi-agency National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and its work coordinating the Federal research enterprise for nanotechnology, PCAST addressed four key questions that they identified as areas of primary concern:

Where do we stand?

PCAST found that the United States is the acknowledged leader in nanotechnology research and development (R&D). The approximately $1 billion the Federal government will spend on nanotechnology R&D this fiscal year is roughly one-quarter of the current global investment by all nations. Total annual U.S. R&D spending (Federal, State, and private) now stands at approximately $3 billion, or one-third of the estimated $9 billion in total worldwide spending by the public and private sectors combined. In addition, the United States leads in the number of start-up companies based on nanotechnology, and in research output as measured by patents and publications. The U.S. leadership position, however, is under increasing competitive pressure from other nations as they ramp up their own programs.

Is this money well spent and the program well managed?

The report finds that the money the United States is investing in nanotechnology is money very well spent, and that continued robust funding is important for the Nation's long-term economic well-being and national security. Nanotechnology holds tremendous potential for stimulating innovation and thereby enabling or maintaining U.S. leadership in industries that span all sectors. The NNI appears well positioned to maintain United States leadership going forward, through both its coordinated interagency approach to planning and implementing the Federal R&D program and its efforts to interact with industry and the public.

Are we addressing societal concerns and potential risks?

The PCAST report finds that the NNI recognizes the societal implications of nanotechnology -- including environmental and health effects -- must be taken into account and that the NNI is moving deliberately to identify, prioritize, and address such concerns. In the FY2006 budget, $82 million (8 percent of the total NNI budget) will be dedicated to addressing these concerns.

How can we do better?

The report praises the NNI for organizing Federal nanotechnology research and establishing a strong national research infrastructure across more than 20 different Federal agencies, each with its own distinct mission. The members of PCAST concur with the Administration's assessment of the potential for economic benefit from investments in nanotechnology R&D and believe it is critical that the United States maintain a leadership position in nanotechnology. PCAST therefore recommends continued robust funding for the NNI.

In addition, the report offers the following recommendations aimed at further strengthening the NNI.

Technology Transfer -- The NNI needs to take further steps to communicate with and establish links to U.S. industry to further facilitate technology transfer from the lab to the marketplace. PCAST calls attention to two areas that would augment the existing suite of activities and enhance commercialization of research results.
 * Federal-State coordination should be increased -- The States perform a
 vital role in fostering economic development through business assistance
 programs, tax incentives, and other means. In addition, collectively the
 States are spending substantial amounts in support of nanotechnology R&D
 and commercialization. The report recommends improving Federal-State
 coordination in order to increase practical application of NNI-funded
 research results, to improve workforce development, and to achieve other
 national benefits.

 * Improve knowledge management and access to NNI assets -- This would
 include assets such as user facilities and instrumentation available to
 outside researchers, research results, and derivative intellectual
 property. Through mechanisms such as publicly available and searchable
 databases, the NNI can -- and should -- improve infrastructure
 utilization and the transfer of technology to the private sector.




Environmental and Health Implications -- The NNI should continue its efforts to understand the possible toxicological effects of nanotechnology and, where harmful human or environmental effects are proven, appropriate regulatory mechanisms should be utilized by the pertinent Federal agencies. PCAST encourages the Government regulatory agencies to work together to ensure that any regulatory policies that are developed are based on the best available science and are consistent among the agencies. The report also recommends strong international coordination to ensure that efforts are not duplicated unnecessarily and information is shared widely.

Education/Workforce Preparation -- A key to realizing the economic benefits of nanotechnology will be the establishment of an infrastructure capable of educating and training an adequate number of researchers, teachers, and technical workers. PCAST recommends that the NNI establish relationships with the Departments of Education and Labor to develop education and training systems to improve the Nation's technical proficiency in areas related to nanotechnology.

Societal Implications -- The NNI must support research aimed at understanding the societal (including ethical, economic, and legal) implications and must actively work to inform the public about nanotechnology.

The report is based in part on input from a Technical Advisory Group (TAG), made up of nanotechnology experts representing diverse disciplines within government, industry and academia. In addition, PCAST convened panels of experts to discuss advancements and opportunities in science and technology as well as the potential environmental, health, and safety implications of nanotechnology. PCAST also met with members of the Nanoscale Science Engineering and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) throughout the review process to discuss the NNI R&D programs and thereby understand how the initiative is organized and managed. PCAST members also attended a number of the workshops organized by the NNI over the past two years to gain a better understanding of the broad research and application opportunities. These activities, along with numerous informal interactions by PCAST members with a range of nanotechnology stakeholders around the country and worldwide, have provided the basis for this report.

For more information on PCAST and to view the full report, please visit http://www.ostp.gov/pcast/pcast.html

About PCAST

On September 30, 2001, President Bush signed Executive Order 13226 to form the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST was originally established by President George Bush in 1990 to enable the President to receive advice from the private sector and academic community on technology, scientific research priorities, and math and science education. Co-chaired by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the council's 23 members consist of distinguished individuals appointed by the President, and are drawn from industry, education, and research institutions, and other nongovernmental organizations. For more information visit http://www.ostp.gov/pcast/pcast.html

About the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Congress established OSTP in 1976 with a broad mandate to advise the President and others within the Executive Office of the President on the impacts of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The 1976 Act also authorizes OSTP to lead an interagency effort to develop and to implement sound science and technology policies and budgets and to work with the private sector, state and local governments, the science and higher education communities, and other nations toward this end. The Director of OSTP serves as co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and oversees the National Science and Technology Council on behalf of the President. For more information visit http://www.ostp.gov/.

CONTACT: Bob Hopkins of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, +1-202-456-6098, or rhopkins@ostp.eop.gov.

CONTACT: Bob Hopkins of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, +1-202-456-6098, or rhopkins@ostp.eop.gov

Web site: http://www.ostp.gov/
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