The Office of Science and Technology Policy has requested assistance from the nanotechnology community in the development of a 2010 Strategic Plan for the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Responses must be received by August 15.
This plan will be an important document. OSTP estimates that almost $14 billion has been spent by the 25 federal agencies participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) since it was established in 2001. $1.76 billion was requested for FY 2011 nanotechnology R&D activities by fifteen of these agencies. The Initiative is a planning and coordinating function for the expenditure of this funding, and is described on its web site as follows:
“The NNI provides a vision of the long-term opportunities and benefits of nanotechnology. By serving as a central locus for communication, cooperation, and collaboration for all Federal agencies that wish to participate, the NNI brings together the expertise needed to guide and support the advancement of this broad and complex field.”
Among those federal agencies participating in the Initiative are the Department of Commerce and its National Institute of Standards and Technology, various Department of Defense research units, the Department of Energy, NASA, National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Support from these agencies lead to the development of more than 60 user facilities and major interdisciplinary research and education centers. Some of these agencies such as NIST and the Department of Energy have established nanotechnology research centers.
The first strategic plan was produced in 2004. That was followed by a 2007 plan that is a “starting point” for the 2010 document to be released this December. A recent notice in the Federal Register provides an overview of the guidance OSTP is seeking from the nanotechnology community. Input is requested on twenty-two questions relating to “four overarching, crosscutting goals towards achieving the overall vision of the NNI” that were in the 2007 plan and which are presented in the notice. The notice categorizes this questions; selections follow:
Goals and Objectives:
“What specific and measurable objectives should be established to help achieve the four stated NNI goals?”
“What are the most important gaps in the NNI R&D portfolio (i.e., specific underfunded areas ripe for success) that should be addressed to achieve the NNI goal(s) . . . ?”
“What types of research and development investments (e.g. support for individual investigators, small teams, centers, research infrastructure, etc.) should the NNI agencies create, sustain, and/or expand to achieve the NNI goal(s) . . . ?”
Coordination and Partnerships:
“What new forms of collaboration between stakeholders should be explored to facilitate nanotechnology-based innovation into applications?”
“How can NNI best balance fundamental and applied research and development towards the NNI goal(s) . . . ?”
“What best practices can be drawn from nanotechnology- and innovation-related policies in other sectors and countries?”
Responses must be submitted by August 15. See the three-page notice in the July 6 Federal Register for further information.