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Posted: August 16, 2007

Trying to beat the U.S. in the nanotechnology race

(Nanowerk News) Over on the Wired blog, Aaron Rowe riffs about the United States losing its lead in nanotechnology. "While politicians in the United States are busy bickering about stem cell ethics and whether creationism should be taught in public schools, other countries are pumping so much money into biotech and nanotechnology that researchers can practically light their Bunsen burners with $1,000 bills."
Coincidentally there are recent reports from the Technology Transfer Centre in the UK that also show that other countries are catching up, at least with regard to the sheer amount of R&D funding. The report states that "Japan is likely to overtake the United States in terms of government funding for nanotechnology over the next few years. However, if State funding was added to the USA total then it would lead all countries by a comfortable margin. In Europe, the German yearly spend on nanotechnology far exceeds any other country and is roughly the same as all other European countries combined at around €330 million (approx. $430 million) per year.
"The EU Seventh Framework Programme will be contributing approximately €600million per year until 2013; therefore as a whole, Europe has a larger yearly spend in nanotechnology than USA or Japan. Overall it would therefore seem that Europe compares favorably to other regions; however, Germany aside, no country has really embraced nanotechnology and its potential in the same manner as the USA and various Asia-Pacific countries."
In his blog, Rowe refers to Foreign Minister George Yeo's speech at the 3rd International Conference on Bioengineering and Nanotechnology this week at the Biopolis in Singapore. You can download the speech from the conference website or watch it on YouTube:
Yeo points to the importance that nanotechnology plays in many, especially smaller, countries' economic development and strategic competitiveness:
"Since the launch of the National Nanotechnology Initiative by the U.S. in the year 2000, at least 35 countries around the world have initiated national programs in nanotechnology. It has been estimated that, from 1997 to 2003, government organizations worldwide have increased their R&D investments six-fold. In Singapore, we have identified it as an exciting new area for our own economic development."