Innovation & Jobs - Commission set to boost nanotechnology research in Europe
(EurActiv (English))Background:Although the European nanotechnology industry is faring pretty well compared to its main competitors, concerted efforts are needed to ensure the emerging gap with the US does not widen, says the Commission, fearing that the fragmentation of European research in the area will make the region lose its competitive edge.
In its latest Communication 'Towards a European strategy for nanotechnology', which it adopted on 12 May 2004, the Commission spells out a series of recommendations and initiatives on how to boost European nanotechnology R&D. Its main considerations are the consolidation of public and private research efforts as well as improved technology transfer to turn research findings into commercially viable products. It also addresses the need to identify and respond to concerns about safety, health and environmental risks related to nanotechnologies.
The Commission proposes the following key actions:
boosting R&D investment and infrastructure;improving training for research personnel;enhancing technology transfer in Europe and increasing funding for this;increasing international co-operation towards a responsible approach to nanotechnology R&D globally.Nanotechnology is one of the seven priority areas of the current 6th Research Framework Programme, with a budget of 1.3 billion euro. In line with its proposed doubling of the budget for the next Framework Programme (FP7), the Commission is also planning to boost Community investment in nanotechnology.
Commercial nanotech applications include 'nano-robots' the size of atoms that can be injected into the human body to cure diseases, 'nano-chips' which are even more powerful for information storage than today's microchips, 'nano-fibres' for stay-clean or particularly hard wearing textiles and 'nano-materials' for high-performance coatings for aircraft or spaceships.
The market for nanotechnology products and processes is currently worth around 2.5 billion euro, but analysts expect this to rise to hundreds of billions by 2010, reaching up to 1 trillion euro.
Links:Time-saving overview:LinksDossier on Nanotechnology
Official documents:Commission Press Release:Creating new knowledge in nanotechnology and turning it into better quality of life, competitiveness and jobs(12 May 2004)
Commission:Communication of the European Commission: "Towards a European strategy for nanotechnology"(12 Mary 2004) COM(2004) 338
CORDIS:European Commission adopts communication on nanotechnologies