Budget document details U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative investments for 2013-2015

(Nanowerk News) This document (pdf) is a supplement to the President’s 2015 Budget request submitted to Congress on March 4, 2014. It gives a description of the activities underway in 2013 and 2014 and planned for 2015 by the Federal Government agencies participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), primarily from a programmatic and budgetary perspective.
The President’s 2015 Budget provides over $1.5 billion for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a continued investment in support of the President’s priorities and innovation strategy. Cumulatively totaling nearly $21 billion since the inception of the NNI in 2001 (including the 2015 request), this support reflects nanotechnology’s potential to significantly improve our fundamental understanding and control of matter at the nanoscale and to translate that knowledge into solutions for critical national issues.
NNI research efforts are guided by two strategic documents developed by the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), the 2014 NNI Strategic Plan (pdf) and the 2011 NNI Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy (pdf). These strategic documents guide how NNI agencies address the full range of nanotechnology research and development, technology transfer and product commercialization, infrastructure, and education, as well as the societal issues that accompany an emerging technology. The NNI investments in 2013 and 2014 and those proposed for 2015 continue the emphasis on accelerating the transition from basic R&D to innovations that support national priorities.
One significant change for the 2015 Budget, which is reflected in the figures provided in this document for 2013 and 2014, is a revision in the Program Component Areas (PCAs), budget categories under which the NNI investments are reported. Note that this represents an update of how NNI investments by the Federal Government are tabulated, but not a change in the overall scope of the Initiative. As outlined in the 2014 NNI Strategic Plan, the new PCAs are more broadly strategic, fully inclusive, and consistent with Federal research categories, while correlating well with the NNI goals and high-level objectives. Of particular note is the creation of a separate PCA for the Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives (NSIs), reflecting the high priority placed on NSIs in the 2015 OMB/OSTP R&D Priorities Memo.
The President’s 2015 Budget supports nanoscale science, engineering, and technology R&D at 11 agencies. Federal organizations with the largest investments are:
  • – DHHS/NIH (nanotechnology-based biomedical research at the intersection of life and physical sciences).
  • – NSF (fundamental research and education across all disciplines of science and engineering).
  • – DOE (fundamental and applied research providing a basis for new and improved energy technologies).
  • – DOD (science and engineering research advancing defense and dual-use capabilities).
  • – DOC/NIST (fundamental research and development of measurement and fabrication tools, analytical methodologies, metrology, and standards for nanotechnology).
  • Other agencies and agency components investing in mission-related nanotechnology research are DHS, DHHS/FDA, EPA, NASA, USDA/NIFA, DHHS/NIOSH, USDA/FS, CPSC, USDA/ARS, and DOT/FHWA.
    NNI investments
    This table presents NNI investments for 2013 through 2015 for Federal agencies with budgets and investments for nanotechnology R&D, including funding for the NSIs. * 2014 numbers are based on 2014 enacted levels, and may shift as operating plans are finalized. ** Funding levels for DOE include the combined budgets of the Office of Science, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the Office of Fossil Energy, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E). *** Totals may not add, due to rounding.
    Key Points about the 2013–2015 NNI Investments
  • NNI investments for 2013 through 2015 are reported here for the first time under the updated PCA categories called out in the 2014 NNI Strategic Plan. Investments under these revised categories should not be compared directly to investments in the previous PCAs set out in prior NNI strategic plans and reported in previous NNI budget supplement reports, with the exception of the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) PCA, which remains unchanged between the old and new PCA categories.
  • 2013 actual NNI investments ($1.55 billion) reported in this document are approximately 6% less than the estimates previously published in the NNI Supplement to the President 2014 Budget. This difference is consistent with the budget reduction associated with the sequester for 2013, which was enacted after the publication of that supplement.
  • The Foundational Research PCA constitutes over a third of the total NNI investment portfolio for 2013 through 2015. The NNI agencies view this as a critical investment category, maintaining a pipeline of new nanotechnology-based innovations, even as prior foundational research matures into applications.
  • Investments in Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives (PCA 1) have grown since their inception, from approximately $246 million in 20119 to a request of over $291 million in the 2015 Budget. NSIs now represent nearly 20% of the total NNI investments for 2013 through 2015. EHS research investments have been sustained at approximately $110 million per year, reflecting their continued high priority for the NNI. EHS investments have risen from under 3% of the total NNI investment in 2005 to over 7% in the 2015 Budget. Cumulative EHS investments from 2005 through 2015 have now reached over $900 million.
  • Nanotechnology investments have remained stable at most NNI participating agencies since 2010, even with many competing priorities. This stability demonstrates the continued competitiveness of nanotechnology R&D in supporting agency missions.
  • The Department of Defense has experienced a substantial reduction in its investments since 2012. DOD funding actuals for 2013, which are approximately 50% lower than 2012 actuals, reflect the completion of projects, especially at DARPA, where investments (particularly in nanotechnology-enabled devices and systems) have matured. DOD investments in foundational research have been sustained. Because nanotechnology investments by DOD are wholly driven by mission needs and opportunities, changes in investment are to be expected.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services accounts for the largest portion of the total NNI investment, reflecting progress in the development of potentially revolutionary nanomedicine applications at NIH and a strong and sustained EHS research program at FDA, NIOSH, and NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The Department of Homeland Security is proposing to more than double its nanotechnology investments, from $14 million in 2013 to over $32 million in the 2015 Budget.
  • As in several recent years, NNI agencies are also actively participating in and contributing to other complementary and synergistic Administration R&D priorities, including the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program, the Global Change Research Program (GCRP), the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI), Advanced Manufacturing, and the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. Nanoscale science and technology is related to, enables, or is enabled by each of these other priority topics in various ways, and NNI investments may overlap with investments reported for each of them. NNI agency representatives and NNCO staff continue to explore opportunities to take full advantage of these synergies.
  • Investments in SBIR and STTR funding by the participating agencies, reported outside of the formal NNI funding crosscut and the budget tables shown above, play a critical role in transitioning nanotechnology innovations into products for commercial and public benefit (NNI Goal 2).
  • Source: NNI