The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently announced updates with the Materials Genonme Initiative (MGI). $25M in grants are noted, and the awardees include universities, national laboratories, and private sector companies (e.g., GM). Collaboration continues to be a strong theme.
Collaboration usually sounds good and makes sense in many contexts, particularly for purely basic research with long-term visions. However, collaborations can also generate complicated intellectual property and patent issues. For shorter term research with commercial applications as a goal, this can become a problem if not managed well. Hopefully, the MGI is considering this aspect of this new, exciting commercialization program. The MGI is now about 1 1/2 years old. The MGI has many close links to nanotechnology and the NNI (National Nanotechnology Initiative) including a program for predicting the properties of nanomaterials. Hopefully, the MGI is well and efficiently integrated with the NNI.
Also, hopefully 2013 budget issues do not slow down the MGI. Stay tuned.
I saw this recent BBC article re spiderman and nanotechnology – enjoy. The article notes the technology of one company, nanoGriptech, which is a spin-off company from Carnegie Mellon University (see Professor Metin Sitti). More generally, the article relates to bio-inspired adhesives (see geckos, for example) and applications with robotics. NanoGriptech was funded early on by the Pennsylvania NanoMaterials Commercialization Center. I encourage readers to explore this web page for interesting updates including inputs from their new leader, Leone Hermans-Blackburn.
Miracles of nature and science are all around us, and one of them is the abilty of an organism to heal itself. If skin is cut, the skin can repair itself. Can that concept also be applied to synthetic materials and coatings? One company trying to commercialize the concept is Autonomic Materials, Inc. (AMI). In the AMI approach, microcapsules are used. AMI recently announced it completed a series B financing, with Phoenix Venture Partners investing. In these tougher economic times, including tough times for venture capital, AMI’s receipt of investment is good news. More about Phoenix Venture Partners can be found in attached link.
The September 3, 2012 issue of C&EN discusses what it calls an “onslaught of nanotech drugs coming down the pike” for FDA review. See article entitled “Mapping Nanotech Drugs’ Landscape,” pp. 46, 48.
The FDA is generating a database for nanotech drugs and currently has 158 entries according to the article. The leading application area is cancer treatment (38%). Most are developed to be administered intravenously (56%). The leading types of formulation are liposomes (39%) and nanoparticles (27%).
The FDA will hold a public workshop in the coming months to get input from stakeholders for how to improve the review process.
The US patent literature confirms the role of nanotechnology innovation in cancer treatment. Of the currently published nanotechnology class 977 patent filings (there are 13,814 of them), 1.9% of them refer to cancer in the title or abstract. Considering the breadth of nanotechnology and bio nanotechnology, this is a significant fraction. Also, 4.3% of them refer to cancer in the title, abstract, or claim. Finally, 14.3% of them mention cancer in the patent somewhere.
This year is the ten year anniversary for a leading nanotechnology conference, the Nanotechnology for Defense Conference (NT4D). The call for abstracts indicates a February 18, 2012 initial deadline. The conference will be held August 6-10 in Summerlin, Nevada.
Defense is one of the fundamental and perhaps the most stable pillar for nanotechnology commercialization, along with other pillars such as bio nanotechnology and energy. The history of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) interest in nanotechnology is noted in the Foreward of Ratner and Ratner’s book, Nanotechnology and Homeland Security, 2004 (written by James Murday, Office of Naval Research). The DoD interest in nanotechnology can be “clearly identified as early as the late 1970′s when its Ultrasubmicron Electronics Research (USER) program.” The DoD had a long history for research in the miniaturization of electronics. Early efforts focused on 2 nm structures and led to superlattice technologies. Programs in the 1980′s sought to exploit new tools like STM and AFM. In the 1990′s, DARPA initiated an ULTRA program for ultra fast, ultra dense electronics program. In addition, the Office of Naval Research began a program in nanostructured coatings. By 1997, the importance of nanotechnology to the DOD led to its designation as a “strategic research area.” When the NNI was created in 2001, the DoD wan an “enthusiastic supporter.”
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The magazine, Technology Review, provided a colorful, short feature on a leading nanomanufacturing company, Nanocomp Technologies in its last issue (pages 80-83 for the print version). In the U.S. presidential election year of 2012, manufacturing will be a leading theme for economic policy debate, and high tech and intellectual property aspects of manufacturing will be a particular focal point for U.S. concerns. Ironically, Nanocomp Technologies is located in New Hampshire, site of the primary this week. Nanocomp makes carbon nanotube (CNT) yarns, sheets, and related products. The materials’ weight savings have energy efficiency implications.
In looking at the Nanocomp webpage, I noted a number of their prior press releases explaining receipt of SBIR funding, confirming the important role SBIR funding can play for nanotechnology and cleantech. For example, a March 24, 2008 press release announced a DOD SBIR. Their most recent press release, November 16, 2011, notes they were selected by the DOD for a program which would include creating a path toward commercialization for civilian industrial use, as well as supply to the DOD and NASA. On SBIR updates, Congress recently passed legislation renewing the SBIR program for which Foley has provided expert commentary.
We noted the carbon nanotube industry in our October 22, 2011 blog includng reference to a recent review of the industry and the leading CNT producers. 2012 should prove to be an important year for the growth of nanomanufacturing, both in a bulk volume aspect and also in a more refined, strategic aspect.
By Sarah Slack, Michael Flanagan, and J. Steven Rutt
In June 2011, several federal agencies issued policy guidance documents regarding the regulation of nanomaterials. Although the guidance documents were issued by several different agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they all convey the need to strike a careful balance between protecting human health, welfare, and the environment while fostering regulatory certainty for businesses on the forefront of innovation of nanomaterials and nanotechnology. The guidance documents issued by FDA and EPA were published in draft form, and public comments must be submitted by August 15, 2011, and July 18, 2011, respectively.
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January 28, 2011 is the due date for proposals to the Pennsylvania NanoMaterials Commercialization Center’s latest funding efforts. The Center has $980,000 in funding to distribute to successful applicants. Cleantech/energy is an important application space for the nanomaterials. Two types of grants are envisioned: $30,000 pre-commercialization grants and $200,000 full commercialization grants. An important aspect of the funding is a collaborative-partnering model for commercialization promoted by the Center. The Center’s Web site provides examples of previously funded companies and universities, and a technology roadmap.
For those interested in hunting for nanotech breakthroughs, here is one. Media reports are circulating about a recent paper where nanospheres are used to make the stiffest organic material yet made. The materials are based on aromatic dipeptides which self-assemble. The spheres have diameter of 30 nm to 2 microns. The material is said to be stiffer than stainless steel or Kevlar!
Is this nano biotechnology or nanomaterials?
The work comes out of Israel: the Weizman Institute of Science and Tel Aviv University.
See, Adler-Abramovich et al, "Self-Assembled Organic Nanostructures with Metallic-Like Stiffness," Angewandte Chemie, Int. Ed., published September 28, 2010.
Time will tell how quickly commercial applications can be found (and money made). There is defense also.
EPA is poised next year to propose a new rule requiring manufacturers of nanomaterials to submit data on production, exposure and available safety information, as the agency moves towards stricter rules in the wake of lackluster results from a voluntary Bush-era initiative.
The agency is developing a rule under Section 8 of the Toxic Substances Control Act to “establish reporting requirements for certain nanoscale materials,” according to the EPA’s recently published unified agenda. Manufacturers would be required to provide EPA with information on “production volume, methods of manufacture and processing, exposure and release information, and available health and safety data” under the rule.
The information “will provide EPA with an opportunity to evaluate the information and consider appropriate action under TSCA to reduce any risk to human health or the environment,” the agenda says. A notice of proposed rulemaking is slated for June 2010.