The European Union currently spends about 740 million Euros (roughly $1.2 billion) annually in public funding on nanotechnology research. This is almost on par with the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) budget of $1.28 billion (2007). Almost 40% of public EU nanotechnology funding takes place in Germany and it is estimated that about half of the European companies active in nanotechnology are based in Germany, making the country the clear nanotechnology leader in Europe. Germany's strengths include a well structured research and development infrastructure and a high level of research in the various subfields of nanotechnology. The industrial base for utilizing the results of this research is also in place. About 700 companies are currently involved in the development, application, and sales and marketing of nanotechnological products. What sets public nanotechnology policy in Germany and other European countries apart from the U.S. is a more deliberate attempt to create, and evolve over time, an integrated approach in the development of nanotechnology research, trying to link sustainability questions and technology development.
Over the last decade, the European Union (EU) has established a strong knowledge base in nanosciences and developed significant research and development capabilities in nanotechnology. In accordance with the Treaty of the EU, applications of nanotechnology need to comply with the requirements for a high level of public health, safety, consumer and environmental protection (Treaty articles require that a 'high level of human health protection [...] be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Community policies and activities' and that 'consumer protection requirements [...] be taken into account in defining and implementing other Community policies and activities'). Through its Framework Programs (FP), Europe's strategy has been and is to support the safe, responsible development of nanotechnology while providing favourable conditions for industrial innovation. Following this commitment of addressing upfront the potential risks, the European Commission has boosted support for specific collaborative research into the potential impact of nanoparticles on human health and the environment since the Framework Programme 5 (FP5) which started in 1999. These activities have been continued and reinforced in FP6 and in FP7 where several topics were launched specifically addressing the safety of nanomaterials. At the same time, the EU Members States have also been funding research in that field, but a consolidated overview of these ongoing or finished projects was not yet available so the magnitude of these national efforts was difficult to evaluate. The EU now has released a report that lists all nanotechnology research funding in the Community that address in particular the health and environmental impact of nanoparticles.
R+D activities in nanotechnology in Canada are spearheaded by the federal government, provincial governments, as well as universities and national institutes. At the federal level, 9 institutes of the National Research Council (NRC), are conducting R+D in nanotechnology, while the major concentration of both research and industry can be found in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Most of these provinces have already established or will establish province-wide consortiums to promote economic development through nanotechnology. Currently, there are between 50 to 200 companies engaged in nanotechnology-related businesses, with numbers varied depending upon the definition of 'nanotechnology'.
The year 2005 was an important year for nanoscience and nanotechnology in Latin America. Brazil increased federal funding for its nanotechnology program. In Mexico, the Senate Committee for Science and Technology declared itself in favor of the development of a National Emergency Program for investment in research and teaching of nanotechnology. In Colombia, the National Council of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology was created. But all this was not done without controversy; and it was in Argentina that conflicts in the scientific and political spheres were concentrated, with repercussions in the media. In Argentina, many of the things that took place in a short span of time might take longer than in many other Latin American countries.