Nanotechnology is established as an individual field of public research and development programs exist in nearly all industrialized states. The public funding for nanotechnology, which has been increasing strongly worldwide in the last few years, exceeded the sum of 1.5 billion $ in the year 2001. The leading nations, with regard to public nanotechnology funding, are Japan (approx. 650 million $ funds in 2002) and the USA (approx. 604 million $ in 2002), followed by Western Europe (approximately 400 million $ in 2002).
Research and Public Funding in Western Europe, Germany and Asia-Pacific Countries
Also, other industrial countries, particularly the South-East Asiatic area (Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, China) intensify their research efforts in the field of nanotechnology. Figure 1 shows the world-wide development of public nanotechnology funding from 1997 to 2002. Remarkable is the strong rise in the section ‘other states’, which relates to Australia, Canada, China, Eastern Europe, Russia, Israel, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. The Western European funding, from which the portion of Germany constitutes approximately 50%, was, in 1997, approximately on the same level as Japan and the USA. This has dropped back since then, however. After only a small rise of the European funds in the year 2001, however, a substantial growth of up to approximately 441 million Euro is expected for the year 2002.
Figure 1. Public funding for nanotechnology in million $ per year.
Overview of Nanotechnology Research in Europe
In many European countries (e.g. Finland, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland), as in Germany, special research programmes in the field of nanotechnology have been established. An example for a nanotechnology research initiative co-ordinated at national level is the Swiss program "TOP nano 21", aiming at the efficient transfer of technological inventions into products ready for the market, and promoting joint projects of universities and partners from industry.
Nanotechnology Projects and Organisations in France
In France, the conception of nanotechnology is based on a strong link to the micro world and/or micro system engineering, which is regarded as a direct predecessor of nanotechnology. In Grenoble, the Minatec was established as a competence center for the promotion of innovations in the field of micro- and nanotechnologies. The ‘Centre National de la Search Scientifique’ (CNRS) initiated a program for ultra-precise processing (Ultimatech) and is promoting nanotechnology in the framework of interdisciplinary progammes with an emphasis on material sciences. Beyond that, a national research network (‘Réseau de Recherche en Micro et Nano Technologies’) and the ‘French Nanotechnology Club’ exist, which strive for the bundling of nanotechnology activities.
Nanotechnology Activities in the UK
In the UK, specific measures for nanotechnology promotion started with the establishment of the national initiative on Nanotechnology in the year 1988. Meanwhile, different funding programmes exist, e.g. in the context of Interdisciplinary Research Collaborations (IRC) in Nanotechnology and University Innovation Centres (UIC).
Has the European Union Organised Any Projects on Nanotechnology?
On the European Union level, in the 5th framework programme, nanotechnological research projects were funded in different programmes (IST, GROWTH, QoL, etc) with approximately 50 million € in the year 2001. In the 6th framework programme, nanotechnology funding will rise to at least 150 million € annually, whereby the emphasis will lie in the priority 3 (‘nanotechnologies and nanosciences, knowledge-based multi-functional material, new production processes and devices’), and further in the priorities 1 and 2 (‘genomics and biotechnology for health’ and ‘information society technologies’).
Nanotechnology Funding and Organisations in the USA
The USA occupies second position regarding the public research funding in the range of nanotechnology, just behind Japan (see figure 1). For the year 2003, a further substantial rise of nanotechnology funding amounting to 710 million $ was announced. In the USA, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was established in the year 2000, aiming at the promotion of nanotechnology as an urgent national task.
Breakdown of Nanotechnology Funding in the USA
The largest portion of funding is attributable to the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as the ministries for defense (DOD) and for energy (DOE). Nanotechnology research centers were established in nearly all larger scientific-technological universities, and partly also within the non-university range. In some research fields, public-private partnerships exist, e.g. the SEMATEC (Semiconductor Technology and Enterprise Corporation) consortium within the field of micro/nano-electronics, which is supported by the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and substantial factoring of industrial enterprises.
USA Companies and Government Business Projects that Specialise in Nanotechnology
Several US-American enterprises such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard or Motorola, possess their own nanotechnological research centers, which are partly co-operating closely with universities. Beyond that, a multiplicity of smaller enterprises, which were founded, e.g. in the context of the SBIR programme of the Federal Government or other federal programmes, are specialised in distinct nanotechnology areas (e.g. Nanocor, Nanogene, Nanophase, Nanopore, Nanosphere, Nanowave, etc).
Japan Leads the World in Nanotechnology Research
Japan has the worldwide leading position in nationally-funded nanotechnology research. Both in the application-orientated and the basic research range, numerous nanotechnology research programmes were established. Two of the most important nanotechnology research institutions in Japan are the ‘Joint Research Center for Atom Technology (JRCAT)’ and the ‘Institute for Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN)’. As the central core of the nanotechnology activities in Japan, the Nanotechnology Research Institute (NRI) of the National Institute Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has been founded. Furthermore, several industrial consortia, especially in the range of nanoelectronics, exist, which strive for bundled research efforts. The main activities in the nanotechnology field in Japan concentrate on material research as well as on metrology (measurement), production and simulation of nanostructures.
There is Major Funding and Nanotechnology Research in South-East Asia
In South-East Asia, particularly in South Korea, Taiwan, China and Singapore, intensified activities in nanotechnology research should be likewise noticed. Significant funds are particularly invested in the establishment of an institutional infrastructure, e.g. in China (Nano Network of the Chinese Academy of Sciences), in Taiwan (Nanotechnology Center - with emphasis in electronics and materials) and in Korea (Center for Science in Nanometerscale, Nano Bioelectronics & Systems Research Center).