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Posted: July 31, 2007
Nanotechnology development bill introduced in U.S. Congress
(Nanowerk News) US Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) today introduced HR 3235, the Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities (NANO) Act, comprehensive legislation to promote the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology in the United States. The legislation draws upon the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology (BRTFN), a panel of California nanotechnology experts with backgrounds in established industry, startup companies, consulting groups, non-profits, academia, government, medical research, and venture capital convened by Rep. Honda and then-California State Controller Steve Westly during 2005.
Nanotechnology has the potential to create entirely new industries and radically transform the basis of competition in other fields. Rep. Honda noted that “One of the things that Congress has heard from experts is that the United States is a leader in nanotechnology research, but that our foreign competitors are focusing more resources and effort on the commercialization of those research results than we are.”
In its report "Thinking Big About Thinking Small", the BRTFN made a series of recommendations for ways that the nation can promote the development and commercialization of nanotechnology, a number of which are included in the NANO Act.
In recent months, there has been much discussion about whether the federal government is doing enough to address potential health and safety risks associated with nanotechnology. “Uncertainty is one of the major obstacles to the commercialization of nanotechnology – uncertainty about what the risks might be and uncertainty about how the federal government might regulate nanotechnology in the future” said Rep. Honda. “The NANO Act requires the development of a nanotechnology research strategy that establishes research priorities for the federal government and industry that will ensure the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology.”
Dr. Stan Williams of Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, a leader in the field and a member of the BRTFN, has said that “we are in a global struggle to dominate the technological high ground, and thus a large portion of the economy, of the 21st Century. The US cannot outspend the rest of the world this time, so we must be by far the most productive at creating new technologies and the most efficient at bringing them to the marketplace…. To fail places the wealth and security of this nation at serious risk.” The NANO ACT includes a number of provisions to create partnerships, raise awareness, and implement strategic policies to resolve obstacles and promote nanotechnology.
In addition, HR 3235, the NANO Act, will:
– create a public-private investment partnership to address the nanotechnology commercialization gap;
– establish a tax credit for investment in nanotechnology firms;
– authorize a grant program to support the establishment and development of nanotechnology incubators;
– establish a Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for “nano-CAD” tools;
– establish grant programs for nanotechnology research to address specific challenges in the areas of energy, environment, homeland security, and health;
– establish a tax credit for nanotechnology education and training program expenses;
– establish a grant program to support the development of curriculum materials for interdisciplinary nanotechnology courses at higher education institutions;
– direct NSF to establish a program to encourage manufacturing companies to enter into partnerships with occupational training centers for the development of training to support nanotechnology manufacturing; and
– call for the development of a strategy for increasing interaction on nanotechnology interests between DOE national labs and the informal science education community.