17 May 2004 00:01 [Source: ICB Americas]
The European Commission last week adopted a European Union (EU) strategy on nanotechnology as a means to propel Europe as a leader in this field. Key actions in the strategy include boosting R&D investment and infrastructure, improving training for research personnel and enhancing technology transfer and its financing in Europe.
“Nanotechnology is fast becoming one of the most promising and rapidly expanding field of R&D,” said European research commissioner Philippe Busquin last week in announcing the EU’s new initiative.
The European Commission is recommending that overall public EU investment in nanotechnology R&D should triple by 2010, in part to keep pace with the US and Japan. “Europe is now investing proportionately less than its main competitors: both the US and Japan invest more per capita in nanotechnology, and this gap is expected to widen in the next few years if Europe does not take appropriate initiatives,” said the European Commission in a statement issued last week.
The EU Sixth Research Framework Program (2002-2006) devotes €1.3 billion ($1.18 billion) to nanotechnology and new materials, and the European Commission says it wants to step up this effort in the broader context of the proposed doubling of the EU research budget in the 2007-2013 period.
The European Commission is also calling on its member states to develop world-class competitive R&D infrastructure in Europe through so-called “poles of excellence,” which promote interdisciplinary education and training for research personnel with a strong emphasis on entrepreneurial mindset.
“To make the most of European excellence in nanosciences, research must be translated into commercially viable products and processes,” says Mr. Busquin. “In order to provide new impetus towards the knowledge-based objectives in the Lisbon process and turn the EU into the most dynamic powerhouse on the world stage, Europe must increase its collective efforts and investments in this field. It is crucial that we help to create a favorable environment for innovation in the nanotechnology sector, particularly in reference to small and medium-sized enterprises. Strong public-private partnerships in this emerging technology are also needed. At the same time, we have to ensure nanotech applications are developed in a responsible and transparent way.”
The total global demand for nanoscale materials, tools, and devices was estimated at $7.6 billion in 2003 and is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 30.6 percent to reach $28.7 billion in 2008, according to BCC Inc. The global nanotechnology market, at about $7 billion in 2002, was roughly comparable in size to the biotechnology sector.
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