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The NanoBusiness Alliance is the first industry association founded to advance the emerging business of nanotechnology and Microsystems for corporations, start-ups, researchers, universities, investors and a host of other key stakeholders. The Alliance’s mission is to create a collective voice of the emerging small tech industry and develop a range of initiatives to support and strengthen the nanotechnology business community, through public policy efforts, events, research, and through the creation of partnerships.

The NanoBusiness Alliance seeks to ensure that the United States—its companies, universities and people—are global leaders in the burgeoning nanotechnology field.  And the Alliance ventures to ensure the safe, secure and beneficial use of nanotechnology and nanoscience for all people.

Support the NanoBusiness Alliance
The NanoBusiness Alliance is an active voice for the nanobusiness community.  Our efforts benefit all nanotechnology businesses.  If you would like to support our efforts and play an active role in the Alliance, please consider joining as a full member.  Contact the Alliance at 312-224-8319 for details or click here to register online.

NanoBusiness Washington DC Roundtable

NanoBusiness Washington DC Roundtable– Tomorrow’s Nanoscience Leaders
March15-17, 2010
The NanoBusiness Alliance has been committed to innovation and keeping America competitive since our inception in 2001. Announcing our 9th Annual Washington DC Roundtable which will be held March 15-17th. We will be in Washington DC starting Monday evening with a networking dinner and reception. Members please email (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to register. To join the NanoBusiness Alliance, go to this link or email (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

Hotel Rouge: $229 per night.
Please reserve your room today by contacting our Event Manager, Alisa Kronshage at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Hotel Rouge
1315 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-232-8000

6:30pm: Opening Night Dinner
Opening Night Dinner will be held at Lima
1401 K Street, NW (next door to DC Coast)
Washington DC 20005 • 202-789-2800

TUESDAY, MARCH 16: Legislative Meetings
8:30am - 1:00pm:  Meeting at the Offices of K&L Gates, Legislative Meetings

2:00pm: Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus, Co-Chaired by Joel Shapiro, Office of Senator Ron Wyden and Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBusiness Alliance. The Caucus will be held at the Dirksen Building, Room 562
• Moderator: Senator Ron Wyden, (D-OR) http://wyden.senate.gov/

4:30pm: Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) http://www.pryor.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Home

6:00-8:30pm: Dinner
Guest Speaker: Governor Howard Dean

Dinner will be held at the offices of:
McKenna Aldridge Long & Aldridge LLP
1900 K Street NW, Washington DC 20006

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17: NanoBusiness Alliance Federal Roundtable
Location: Offices of Foley & Lardner Conference Center
3000 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

Meeting Objectives
• Stimulate dialogue between NanoBusiness Alliance Members and Federal Agencies
• Find out the latest on regulatory policy/impending regulatory actions and federal research
• Familiarize NanoBusiness Alliance members with federal product approval authorities and
processes and innovation strategies, with an emphasis on pending developments

8:00am - 8:30am:  Coffee/Registration

8:30am - 8:45am:  Welcoming Remarks - Purpose of Meeting
• Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBusiness Alliance

8:45am - 9:45am:  Regulatory policy movement for nano - Cross-agency and international perspectives
• Moderator: Richard A. Canady, PhD DABT, Senior Advisor, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
• Travis Earles, Assistant Director for Nanotechnology, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President
• Steve Froggett, PhD, Science Advisor, Foreign Agricultural Service - USDA, Office of Scientific & Technical Affairs
• Shaun Clancy, PhD, Director of Product Regulatory Services, Evonik, Chairman of ACC Nanotechnology Panel

9:45am - 10:15am:  Celia Merzbacher, PhD, Vice President - Innovative Partnerships, Semiconductor Research Corporation
- The Nanoelectronics Research Initiative: How Industry Gets Value from the NNI through Public-Private Partnership

10:15am - 11:15am:  Chemical and consumer product risk management policy and regulatory actions
Moderator: Charlie Auer, Charles Auer & Associates, LLC
• Lynn L. Bergeson, Founder, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.
• Jeff Morris, National Program Director for Nanotechnology, EPA/ORD—Sustainable development and EHS research priorities supporting risk management

11:15am - 12:15pm:  Policy and guidance developments for FDA
Moderator: David Rosen, Partner and Co-chair of the Life Sciences Industry Team, Foley & Lardner LLP. Member of the firm’s Government & Public Policy, and Corporate Compliance & Enforcement Practices and the Health Care, Nanotechnology and Food Industry Teams. 
• Mitchell Cheeseman, Deputy Director of the Office of Food Additive Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA
- Food additive and cosmetics guidance
• Subhas Malghan, Deputy Director for Program Policy and Evaluation, Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories FDA/CDRH
- Science and regulatory issues relevant to review of products containing nanoscale materials

12:15pm - 1:15pm:  Lunch

1:15pm - 2:00pm:  Workplace and Worker Protection Issues
• Moderator: Phil Lippel, PhD
• David O’Connor, Director, Office of Chemical Hazards (Non-metals) presenting for OSHA
• Chuck Geraci, PhD, Coordinator, Nanotechnology Research Center, NIOSH
• Kristen M. Kulinowski, PhD, Dept of Chemistry, Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology International Council on Nanotechnology, Rice University

2:00pm - 2:20pm:  Lynn L. Bergeson, Founder, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.
- Effectively Navigating Your Business around Uncertainties: Making the most from careful planning, regulatory awareness, and smart planning.

2:20pm - 2:40pm:  Richard A. Canady, PhD DABT, Senior Advisor, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
- What did we hear today and what does it mean for business? - Views on compliance, liability and investment based on the regulatory policy movements, from a former insider.

2:40pm - 3:00pm:  BREAK

3:00pm - 4:00pm:  Panel Discussion, NNI EHS Research Priorities and their relationship to risk management decision support: Taking a look at the PCAST Working Group on Nanotechnology and National Research Council’s Advisory Committee on “A Research Strategy for Environmental, Health, and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanomaterials.”
• Moderator: Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBusiness Alliance
• Terry Medley, Chair, Expert Group on Nanotechnology, The Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (and Global Director, Corporate Regulatory Affairs DuPont), and Member of the PCAST Nanotechnology Working Group
• Jenifer Sass, Senior Scientist, National Resources Defense Council and member of the PCAST Nanotechnology Working Group
• Ray Wassel, Senior Program Officer, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, National Research Council

4:00pm - 4:30pm: Anne Meagher Northup, Commissioner, Consumer Product Safety Commission

4:30pm - 4:45pm Lloyd Whitman, Deputy Director of the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, “Supporting the Nanotechnology Enterprise from Discovery to Production”

4:45pm - 5:00pm Jim Murday, Director of Physical Sciences, University of Southern California, Washington Office, Industry involvement in nanotechnology workforce and education efforts, science standards

Here is a link to the NbA Washington DC Roundtable Registration Form for our DC event. As a benefit of membership in the NanoBusiness Alliance, there is no charge for our DC event. There is a $400 fee for non-members.  To join the NanoBusiness Alliance, go to this link or email (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.

We look forward to seeing you in Washington DC to discuss a wide range of issues from Investing, Government R&D and the Reauthorization of the NNI http://www.nano.gov/.

Nanotech Environmental, Health & Safety: Progress and Priorities

Nanotech Environmental, Health & Safety: Progress and Priorities

Nanotechnology continues to fuel innovative solutions for many of the grand challenges facing our society ranging from the cure for cancer, to the next generation of computing, to solutions for clean water and clean, renewable energy. As nanotechnology has become more prominent, concerns have arisen regarding the Environmental, Health and Safety (EH&S) aspects of nanotechnology. These concerns are fueled by laboratory studies that indicate that certain nanomaterials might cause adverse effects in animals, although to date no EH&S incidents have been linked to any of the hundreds of nanotechnology-enabled products on the market. In response to these concerns, the federal government and industry, building upon their existing authorities and obligations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act have taken the following actions:

EPA, with the support of the nanotechnology industry, is developing a voluntary stewardship program, and consulting with companies on specific nanomaterials;

NIOSH has issued “Safe Approaches to Nanotechnology”, which makes recommendations for interim steps in employing the range of control technologies, work practices, and personal protective equipment demonstrated to be effective with other fine and ultrafine particles

Companies are taking a proactive approach to managing risks in the workplace by implementing engineering controls and training programs.

EHS Standards are being developed and research needs have been identified.

Mechanisms to limit the potential toxicity of these materials are being developed.

To maintain and accelerate this progress, the Federal Government should:

Fund the prioritization of the EH&S research needs identified by the NNI. The NNI has developed a list of EH&S research needs which need to be prioritized using a risk-based approach, with associated costs subsequently determined. This process will require an estimated $1 million.

Fund agencies to execute on high priority research needs. Agencies such as EPA, NIOSH and NIH should be fully funded to bear the costs of executing on the high-priority research needs identified by the process mentioned above. This will require an estimated $100 million.

Support the development of voluntary programs. EPA and NIOSH should receive adequate funding to develop and implement their voluntary programs.

Clarify the application of existing regulatory frameworks to nanomaterials. Agencies should clarify how existing regulations under the TSCA, FIFRA, and other statutes apply to nanomaterials.

Nanotechnology: Old Materials with New Applications

Today nanotechnology is found in approximately 80 consumer products, and over 600 raw materials, intermediate components and industrial equipment items that are used by manufacturers [1]. While this represents a very small percentage of total consumer goods in the marketplace, the products are remarkably diverse and range from tennis balls, clothing, cosmetics and beer bottles to catalytic converters, fuel cells and cancer therapies. It is predicted the nanotech could account for between $1 trillion and $2.6 trillion (~15%) of our global manufacturing output by 2014 [2]. The current low volume of nanotech products provides an opportunity to implement measures that will prevent, or minimize the risk of, adverse effects on human health and the environment.

Nanoparticles themselves are also not a novel substance in our environment. Carbon nanoparticles in the form of carbon black and ultrafine soot have been a growing component of our aerial environment since we began combusting petroleum or coal based fuels. Nanoparticles of gold, used today to make sensors change color, were manipulated (albeit unknowingly) by Venetian glassblowers to make glass change color since the Renaissance.

The many forms of nanomaterials and the diversity of uses makes the process of characterizing risk for new nanomaterials a challenge. However, although some nanomaterials exhibit distinct properties from their macro-sized counterparts, these properties can often be found in other materials that are already known and used. For example, while aluminum at the macro level is extremely widespread and safe (e.g. soda cans, aluminum foil etc.), nanoscale aluminum can be highly explosive. In context, however, the explosive qualities of nanoaluminum are similar to the metal oxide powders commonly used in thermites which are widely deployed in everything from air bags to welding torches. In fact, nanoaluminum embedded in an iron oxide gel results in a “sol-gel” explosive that is much safer to produce and use than thermite [3].

Thus, while nanomaterials can exhibit different properties from macro scale counterparts and are widely diverse in their use and composition, it is important that the risks of nanomaterials be considered in the context of existing materials with similar properties, compositions and exposure levels.

Nanotechnology Promises a Cleaner Tomorrow

Nanomaterials are amongst the most promising new materials for water remediation, cleaner industrial processes and cleaner energy.

Arsenic is widely distributed throughout the earth’s crust and also a by-product of fossil fuel combustion. Through these sources it often finds its way into drinking water. Researchers from the Center for Biological and Environmental Technology at Rice University have developed a means for arsenic removal from drinking water through the use of nano-sized particles. These experiments are significant because arsenic removal technology, as it currently exists, is both expensive and complicated and makes use of high pressure pumps requiring electricity. The new method developed at Rice can be used in areas of the world that do not have reliable electricity or funding, such as Southeast Asia. This new research also opens the door to means of decontaminating drinking water on a household scale without the use of electricity [4].

Chelatech, a company based in Montana, has developed a means of extracting metal from ore with significantly higher yields and better efficiencies than traditional mining techniques. Current extraction techniques use toxic solvents that need to be dumped and require massive energy inputs over long periods of time to extract metals from ore. Chelatech’s method employs molecules that bind specific to the metal being extracted (ligands) tethered to nanoparticles. This uses 20% less energy than current means, extracts more of the targeted metal faster, produces no backend toxics or acids that need dumping and has a smaller footprint [5].

Nanostellar, a company in California has developed a nanomaterial for use in automotive catalysts that significantly decreases the amount of platinum metal required. Given that platinum mining harms the environment, and requires large quantities of ore to yield relatively small amounts of platinum, this translates to a saving not just for the consumer, but for our environment[6].

Nanomaterials have also shown potential as additives to fuel. Oxonica, a U.K. company, produces cerium-oxide nanoparticles which are being utilized as a diesel fuel additive and have resulted in decreased emissions. There is also evidence to show that this is accompanied by an over 6% decrease in fuel consumption [7].

Nanotechnology can also significantly reduce our consumption of energy and thus the pollutants produced by energy production. Nanomaterials are used for lighter materials for vehicles, more efficient light sources, better power transmission materials, innovations in solar and wind power and more effective heating and cooling solutions for housing. One estimate states that eight key nanotechnologies could result in a decrease in annual energy consumption in the U.S. of 14.6% [8].

Mechanisms are Being Developed to Limit Potential Toxicity

To date, there have been no environmental, health or safety related incidents linked to any of the hundreds of nano-enabled products in the marketplace. Most nanomaterials, given their low volume and usage, present a risk of exposure and hazard that is lower or on par with other materials performing the same function. Concern over nanotech EH&S comes from certain studies that have indicated that the use of some nanomaterials might warrant caution. Because of their size, unbound nanomaterials might have greater mobility in the body, in soil and in water [9]. There have also been studies that indicate that some nanomaterials might cause lung inflammation as a result of inhalation [10]. Certain nanomaterials like quantum dots also contain heavy metals which can be toxic [11].

However, there is a growing body of work that shows pathways to reduce or eliminate the potential toxicity of these nanomaterials where it has been identified. For example, the CBEN research facility at Rice University has discovered that the potential toxicity of carbon nanotubes can be significantly reduced by simple modifications to the surface chemistry of the nanotubes [12]; NIOSH research indicates that “for most processes and job tasks, the control of airborne exposure to nanoparticles can most likely be accomplished using a wide variety of engineering control techniques similar to those used in reducing exposures to general aerosols” [13]; and Lawrence-Berkley labs demonstrated that coating quantum dots with polyethylene glycol significantly reduces their genetic toxicity in cells [14]. Nanomaterials can also be processed to reduce their environmental impact. For example, researchers at the University of Oregon have developed a way to synthesize gold nanoparticles without using the toxins benzene and diborane [15] and researchers at Brown University have developed a technique to “wash” carbon nanotubes, removing the bio-available metals they contain [16].

The Nanotech Industry is Proactive about EH&S

Consumer confidence is crucial for the success of the nanotech industry. To ensure that their workplaces and products are safe, nanotech companies are engaging in open and cooperative relationships with regulatory agencies.

NIOSH has issued a guide for safe use and handling of nanomaterials in the workplace, and is working with companies to gather and share knowledge on potential hazards associated with nanomaterials. As part of the NIOSH program, companies such as Altairnano in Reno, Nevada and Luna Innovations in Blacksburg, Virginia have invited NIOSH into their facilities to monitor and evaluate nanomaterial handling techniques and air quality. Smaller companies have also participated. This initiative allows the gathering of data from small companies that find it prohibitively expensive to shoulder the costs of the cutting-edge equipment required to measure nanoparticles. NIOSH used the data collected from Altairnano to provide the company with recommendations on how to improve workplace safety.

EPA is in the process of developing a similar Nanomaterials Stewardship Program that is more broadly focused on the entire lifecycle of nanomaterials and on human health and the environment. The first drafts of this program were made available for public comment, and the nanotech industry played an active role in providing feedback and guidance.

In addition, in a recent survey by the International Council on Nanotechnology, a consortium managed by Rice University, showed that the majority of the surveyed companies that handled nanomaterials had developed a nano-specific EH&S program, were proactive about health and safety training for their employees, used “nano-specific” engineering controls such as fume hoods and glove boxes, provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees handling nanomaterials, employed cleanrooms to limit the dispersion of their materials, filled out Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to communicate the potential hazards of their materials to their customers and disposed of nanomaterials as ‘hazardous waste’ through a professional waste-management company [17].

Progress is Being Made in Developing Standards and Research Needs

America is heavily involved in the development of international standards for nanotechnology. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 229 on nanotechnologies is an international body developing plans and roadmaps that will advance the efforts to develop globally harmonized standards for nanotechnology. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has established a U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) as its liason to the ISO TC 229. July of 2006, more than seventy-five delegates from sixteen countries gathered for the second plenary meeting of the ISO TC 229 to advance the committee’s efforts. This technical committee approved a U.S.-submitted proposal for a work item addressing occupational safety relative to nanotechnologies. The occupational safety work item will be led by the ISO TC 229 working group on health, safety, and the environment, which is convened by the United States [18].

There has also been considerable progress in concretely identifying what needs to be done to further our fundamental understanding of nanotech EH&S. In September 2006, the NNI released a comprehensive list of EH&S research needs for nanomaterials for public comment [19]. This document covers the research needs for progress in metrology, standards development, terminology and nomenclature, understanding biological responses and exposures to nanomaterials, safely transporting and disposing of nanomaterials, developing means for environmental monitoring and surveillance and in risk management approaches for companies to decide on best practices. The initiatives enumerated in this initiative need to be prioritized using a risk-based approach. The required resources then should be made available so that the research can be conducted.

The NanoBusiness Alliance supports both the NNI and ISO efforts as crucial to furthering our understanding of nanotech EH&S issues.


To maintain the momentum in nanotech EH&S progress and keep pace with the growth of the industry, we recommend that the U.S. government focus on the following:

Fund the Prioritization of the EH&S Research Needs Identified by the NNI. The NNI has developed a list of EH&S research needs which need to be prioritized using a risk-based approach, and have associated costs determined.

The NNCO and the Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications (NEHI) committee of the NNI have developed a research needs document. The initiatives listed in this document need to have their costs and required resources determined. These initiatives then need to be prioritized on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis. It has been estimated that this process will require approx. $1 million. We believe that the Board of Environmental Safety and Toxicology (BEST) group at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a good candidate for conducting this study.

Fully Fund Agencies to Execute on High-Priority Research Needs. Agencies such as the EPA and NIOSH must be adequately funded to execute on identified, high-priority nanotech EH&S research initiatives.

At present, less than four percent of the National Nanotechnology Initiative budget is devoted to researching health and environmental implications. Given what’s at stake, that figure is woefully inadequate. We believe it is imperative that the agencies involved (particularly NIST, NIOSH and EPA) be fully funded to execute on the high-priority initiatives identified by the study mentioned above.

The funding requirements based upon the detailed, bottom-up plan have not been finalized, but several outside estimated have pegged the figure at approximately $100 MM. That figure may seem high, but it is actually a relatively modest investment for risk mitigation. 

Support the Development of Voluntary Programs. Agencies with voluntary programs should receive adequate funding to continue the programs.

Nanomaterials are extremely varied even within a particular type. Carbon nanotubes, for example, can have significantly different properties based on differences in their surface chemistry. Research efforts often focus on mixtures or variants of nanomaterials that are not being considered for commercial use. Voluntary programs that engage industry would focus agency efforts on specific materials which are most commercially relevant and most likely to be encountered by workers and consumers. They also allow companies to share data as it is being discovered and thus help ease the burden of a large upfront cost.

Furthermore, tools for measuring exposure in the workplace and in the environment are still very new and thus prohibitively expensive for small and medium sized companies. Voluntary programs such as those undertaken by NIOSH allow these companies to be responsible stewards and help advance our understanding of nanotech EH&S.

Clarify the Application of Existing Regulatory Frameworks to Nanomaterials.

Data is being gathered to inform modifications to the regulatory frameworks for nanotechnology. In the interim however, it is important for agencies such as the EPA to provide guidance on how the existing frameworks are going to be interpreted and applied to nanomaterials that are currently being produced and introduced to the market.


[1] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2005. “External Review Draft of Nanotechnology White Paper.” Pg 3.

[2] Source: October 2004 Lux Research report “Sizing Nanotechnology’s Value Chain.”

[3] ] Lawrence Livermore National Labs. 2000. “Nanoscale Chemistry Yields Better Explosives.”

[4] Yavuz, C.T., Yean, S., Shipley, H., Cong, L., Yu, W.W., Falkner, J.C., Kan, A., Tomson, M.B., Colvin, V.L. ““The Effect of Nanocrystalline Magnetic Size on Arsenic Removal”. Science and Technology of Advanced Materials (2006/December )

[5] Chelatech, Inc. http://www.chelatech.biz/technology.htm

[6] Nanostellar. “Clean Energy and Clean Air with Cost Reduced Nanocatalysts” http://www.nanostellar.com/06242004.html

[7] Oxonica. Envirox Case Study. http://www.oxonica.com/energy/energy_envirox_casestudy.php

[8] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2005. External Review Draft of Nanotechnology White Paper. Pg 21.

[9] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2005. External Review Draft of Nanotechnology White Paper. Pg 35-39.

[10] Jia, J.G. et. al. 2005. “Cytotoxicity of Carbon Nanomaterials” Environ. Sci. Technol. 39:1378-1383.

[11] Derfus, A.M. et. al. 2004. “Probing the Cytotoxicity of Semiconductor Quantum Dots.” Nano Letters. 4(1):11-18.

[12] C. M. Sayes, J. D. Fortner, W. Guo. D. Lyon, A. M. Byd, K. D. Ausman, Y. J. Tao, B. Sitharaman, L. J. Wilson, J. B. Hughes, J. L. West, V. L. Colvin “The Differential Cytotoxicity of Water-Soluble Fullerenes.” Nano Letters., 4 (2004): 1881-1887.

[13] CDC/NIOSH. July 2006. “Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology: An Information Exchange with NIOSH.” Pg. 33.

[14] Zhang T, Stillwell JL, Grion D, Ding L, Elboudwarej O, Cooke PA, Gray JW, Alivisatos AP, Chen FF “Cellular effect of high doses of silica-coated quantum dot profiled with high throughput gene expression analysis and high content cellomics measurements.” Nano Lett., 2006 Apr; 6 (4):800-8.

[15] Warner, M. G.; Hutchison, J. E. “Formation of linear and branched nanoassemblies of gold nanoparticles by electrostatic assembly in solution on DNA scaffolds,” Nat. Mater. 2003, 2, 272-276.

[16] In conversations with R.H. Hurt and A. Kane. Brown University. 2007. Pending publication.

[17] UC Santa Barbara for ICON. November 2006. “A Review of Current Practices in the Nanotechnology Industry.” 

[18] American National Standards Institute website. http://www.ansi.org/standards_activities/standards_boards_panels/nsp/overview.aspx?menuid=3

[19] NNI. 2006. “Environmental, Health and Safety Research Needs for Engineered Nanoscale Materials.”

Nanotechnology Commercialization: Barriers and Solutions

Nanotechnology Commercialization: Barriers and Solutions

Nanotechnology has the potential to create revolutionary change across multiple, key areas of human endeavor from Energy to Homeland Security to Electronics. Over the next decade, the countries that demonstrate the highest level of innovation and capture the most value from nanotech progress will exert a significant level of influence on the global geopolitical landscape. For us to maintain our quality of life and our global leadership position, the U.S. must play, not just to participate in, but to win the international nanotechnology race. The U.S. currently leads the world in this race but a number of challenges threaten our leadership position:

Slow growth of seed-stage capital for innovators. The pace of seed stage investment lags significantly behind the pace of new discovery, preventing innovators from obtaining the capital to transform ideas to applications.

Increasing investments in nanotechnology by foreign competitors. Foreign governments are investing an increasing amount in nanotech and are directly supporting businesses competing with American innovators. American companies must bear R&D risks that are being subsidized for these competitors.

To win, legislators must:

Level the playing field for American business investment in R&D. Co-sponsor the Research Competitiveness Act of 2007 (S. 41), which creates a tax incentive for investors in innovative small businesses, encourages the development of research parks, and makes the R&D tax credit permanent. This legislation will help entrepreneurs attract seed-stage capital, while boosting our rate of nanotech innovation by guaranteeing the tax credit in future years.

Maintain commitment to federal funding of nanotech research. Re-authorize “The 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act” and continue growth in funding.

Nanotechnology is Revolutionary

Nanotechnology, over the next ten years will affect most manufactured goods and be incorporated into 15% of global manufacturing output totaling $2.6 trillion in 2014 [1]. Nanotech has the most potential for near-term, prominent change in Energy, Electronics and Health Care. These changes have follow-on impacts, particularly on Homeland Security. [2]

In the energy sector, given rising global populations and power-hungry economies in Asia, the world will require, as a conservative estimate, approximately 900 MBOE (million barrels of oil per day), corresponding to 60 terawatts of energy daily – more than four times as much as we use today. As a comparison, 175,000 terawatts of solar energy hit the earth daily. Capturing 0.3% of this would solve the energy crisis. Nanotechnology is the only technology which promises an order of magnitude reduction in cost and increase in efficiency of solar cells. It is involved in the materials for making solar cells, the power lines that would carry the generated energy and the hydrogen fuel cells that would store the energy.

In the electronics sector, we are beginning to hit the limits of how small we can make our circuitry and thus how much power we can fit in a single processor or how much information we can store on a disk. The next leap in super-computing involves using nano-scale circuit components. These are wires and transistors that are no more than a few atoms thick, that are created using the nanolithography and printing technologies being developed today. Nanomaterials are also playing a key role in competing with LCD display technology. The next generation of high end display devices (e.g. televisions, computer monitors etc.) will use nano-enabled LEDs and provide a significant challenge to the current technology being used in applications such as HDTV.

In health care, nanotechnology has shown great promise in the treatment of cancer and in regenerating traumatized bone and tissue. In the case of the former, nanoparticles have been extremely successful in selectively imaging and targeting cancer cells and providing delivery vehicles for cancer killing drugs. In the latter, treated nanomaterials have been able to effect repair in damaged spinal columns and bones.

The implications of nanotechnology are significant, particularly for homeland security. Nanomaterials have the potential to save the military billions of dollars by providing wear resistant coatings and protective armors. More importantly however, breakthroughs in many of the areas impacted by nanotechnology will provide significant political and military leverage to the entity that develops them. The ability to cheaply produce renewable energy on a massive scale will put a political faction in the position to suddenly destabilize the petroleum economy or greatly increase industrial throughput for military applications. The next generation of super-computers will be able to crack high-security codes with greater ease, better process intelligence data and advance the rate of military research. Access to these computers by potential terrorists would set us back on our global war on terror. In addition, as the number of nanotech products in U.S. households increases, the country or countries that control the manufacturing and benefit from the commercialization of nanotech products will have significant influence over U.S. access to them and thus on the U.S. quality of life.

For these reasons, it is not sufficient for the U.S. to merely be a player in the nanotech arena. To maintain its global economic lead and to keep the U.S. homeland secure, we must win the nanotech race, particularly in the sectors of Energy, Electronics and Health Care and with regards to being a dominant force in the manufacturing of nano-enabled products and benefiting from their commercial success.

The U.S. Must Play to Win

To win the nanotechnology race, while it is important have the best research and intellectual property, it is not sufficient. This is evidenced by the micro-electronics industry where U.S. research and development fueled massive manufacturing booms in Asia, providing foreign nations with the prosperity and know-how to take the lead in innovation. To prevent this, the U.S. must lead in the manufacturing and commercialization of nanotech products. This will allow the U.S. economy to benefit from the revenue generated by the export and sale of nanotech products and also from the high-quality jobs created by manufacturing. In addition, it will allow the U.S. to maintain its lead on innovation and intellectual property development.

To achieve this position of leadership in innovation, commercialization and manufacturing, we recommend that legislators:

Help small businesses by providing access to early-stage capital for innovation, attracting foreign investment and creating a level playing-field for investment in R&D.

The lack of early-stage venture capital growth is acting as a bottleneck for nanotech innovation and is limiting nanotechnology’s growth and impact. As we see from the data presented below, the amount of capital deployed to support the creation of new businesses has been in decline over the past three years. These companies drive the translation of nanoscience to nanotechnology and without them our ability to realize the commercial benefits (job creation and economic growth) of this new technology is likely to become constrained. In addition, the direct support of R&D in nanotechnology that foreign companies enjoy from their governments threatens the ability of American companies to compete on a level playing field.

Bill S. 41, “The Research Competitiveness Act of 2007” is part of Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) larger competitiveness initiative and addresses both these issues. Senator Baucus introduced the bill on the first day of the 110th Congress as an updated version of a similar bill he introduced in the 109th Congress. The bill is currently being marked up by the Senate Finance Committee.

The key elements of this bill are:

Improve the existing R&D Tax Credit

Allow tax-exempt bond authority for state and local governments working to establish or improve research parks.

Create an Investment Tax Credit to help start-up companies access capital.

The R&D Tax Credit is a proven measure that levels the playing field for business spending in R&D. Because fundamental R&D can be high risk, it constitutes a significant expenditure for high-tech businesses. Competitors, especially in Asia, are subsidized by their governments to carry out this research. The R&D Tax Credit helps to level the playing field by supporting businesses that invest in research and development. This credit’s success is proven by the fact that it has been renewed 11 times since its inception. S.41 modifies improves this credit in a few key ways:

Makes it permanent rather than renewable.

Bases it on research spending not gross receipts, thus helping companies with fluctuating sales or new, non-research ventures.

Increases the percentage of contract research spending qualifying for the credit.

Makes permanent the credit for basic research and allows for all basic research expenses to count under the regular research credit.

The development of research parks will attract global resources and help companies share the burdens of innovation. By clustering companies, research parks become magnets for foreign investment dollars and human capital. The success of this model has been proven in states like New York, where a nanotech research park in Albany attracted over $300 million in investment by Japanese Tokyo Electron Ltd. Companies co-located at the parks can exchange ideas and collaborate. Small businesses can also share the capital costs of expensive high-tech research equipment.

The Investment Tax Credit will motivate the creation of seed-stage capital. The Investment Tax Credit provides a 5% tax credit each year for 5 years. The credit goes to investors that invest in focused funds (“a qualified equity investment” in a “qualified research entity”) provided that these focused funds have as their central mission and activity, providing investment capital for small businesses that are involved in commercializing research. It thus creates an incentive for the formation of funds focused on high-tech small-business investment and thus stimulates the availability of seed-stage capital for scientists and entrepreneurs looking to commercialize cutting-edge research. The act provides for $4 billion over 5 years for this mission.

Over time, Bills S. 41 will result in an overall increase in tax revenues. By increasing the number of new start-up high technology companies and increasing the likelihood of success for existing companies, America will have more businesses that are profitable and successful. The tax revenues from these successful businesses will more than compensate for the investment made by the tax credit.

Maintain overall levels of federal funding for nanotech research. Re-authorize the “21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act” at existing levels of funding.

The nanotech R&D act is the primary reason for America’s leadership in nanotechnology. It’s effectiveness at promoting fundamental research in the field o nanotech has been proven by the U.S. dominance in patents in papers. This fundamental research has in turn given rise to the companies that constitute the American nanotechnology industry.

However, this act also spurred foreign competitors to join the race. Some of these competitors, notably Korea, Japan and China, are fast closing on America’s lead. To maintain American Competitiveness in nanotech and not fall behind, we must re-authorize this act and maintain our current levels of federal investment in this technology.


[1] Source: October 2004 Lux Research report “Sizing Nanotechnology’s Value Chain.”

[2] Source: NanoBusiness Alliance

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