PCAST recently submitted a very interesting, readable, and searchable report to the OSTP on federal policy for the future of basic research funding and commercialization (124 page pdf). Nanotechnology was mentioned on page 22 as an example of benefits of basic research including its influence on energy:
“-Nanotechnology research, on the heels of coordinated Federal investment, is leading to advances in areas such as new drug delivery systems, more resilient materials and fabrics, safer and more effective industrial catalysts, faster computer chips, and sustainable development in water and energy resources.”
Nanotechnology also appeared on page 45 with respect to discussion of university “proof-of-concept” centers:
“-The (MIT) Deshpande Center supports emerging technologies, including biotechnology, biomedical devices, information technology, new materials, nanotechnology, and energy innovations. It sponsors a grant program, a catalyst (mentor) program, innovation teams (i-Teams), and events.”
Finally, nanotechnology was mentioned on page 80 with respect to attracting researchers from abroad to come to the U.S.
Commercialization, patents, and technology transfer are important themes mentioned throughout. Nanotechnology is but one of a variety of “labels” used to describe sectors of research for policy analysis. Nanotechnology integrates closely with many of these other “labels.” Hopefully, its importance will not be lost in the integration.
These are busy times for those following innovation law and policy including nanotech and cleantech. Manufacturing and patents are central themes.
First, I was in Pittsburgh Friday when President Obama visited Carnegie Mellon University and announced the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) (text attached below). AMP flows from the attached "Report to the President on Ensuring American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing," June 2011, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) (also attached below).
In addition, on Thursday, the House finally passed a bill on patent reform, following the Senate’s passage earlier in the year.
The PCAST Report featured several angles on nanotechnology. The Report discussed areas where promising, useful technologies face potential market failure, which suggests government should play a stronger role in promoting the technology through, for example, public-private partnerships. Several specific examples were discussed including nano-scale carbon materials, nanotechnology enabled medical diagnostics, flexible electronics, and next-generation optoelectronics. The Report also comments on the criticality of nanoelectronics. The PCAST Report noted only briefly the role of patents, noting China has a strong patent initiative.
Furthermore, another new initiative from the Obama Administration is the Materials Genome Initiative (also attached). The gist is to use computational and combinatorial methods to speed up materials commercialization.
What will be next? One new development linked to all of this is that the Pennsylvania Nanomaterials Commercialization Center, with offices in Pittsburgh, has announced a new round of funding focusing on energy applications (Idea Submission deadline, July 20, 2011, http://www.pananocenter.org/) Pittsburgh is also a center for the western Pennsylvanian Marcellus Shale commercialization push. While innovation is a national issue, Pittsburgh certainly is a leading point of focus in current innovation and econonmic issues. This explains the President’s visit.