Every few years the US government releases a strategic plan for its nanotechnology efforts and the latest is the 2014 National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Strategic Plan. A Feb. 28, 2014 news item on Nanowerk offers some information about this latest one (Note: A link has been removed),
The 2014 National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan (pdf) updates and replaces the prior NNI Strategic Plan released in February of 2011. As called for in the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (Public Law 108-153, 15 USC §7501), the NNI Strategic Plan describes the NNI vision and goals and the strategies by which these goals are to be achieved, including specific objectives within each of the goals. Also as called for in the Act, the Plan describes the NNI investment strategy and the investment categories, known as the program component areas (PCAs), used in the annual NNI budget crosscut.
You can access the 2014 strategic plan and other related documents from here. I was not able to find an executive summary either on the site or in the place but here are the 2014 NNI goals from the2014 plan (pp. 15-6 PDF; pp. 5-6 print version),
Vision and Goals
The vision of the NNI is a future in which the ability to understand and control matter at the nanoscale leads to a revolution in technology and industry that benefits society. The NNI expedites the discovery, development, and deployment of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology to serve the public good through a program of coordinated research and development aligned with the missions of the participating agencies. In order to realize the NNI vision, the NNI agencies are working collectively toward the following four goals:
Goal 1: Advance a world-class nanotechnology research and development program.
The NNI enables U.S. leadership in nanotechnology R&D by stimulating discovery and innovation. The Initiative expands the boundaries of knowledge and develops technologies through a comprehensive program of R&D. The NNI agencies invest at the frontiers and intersections of many disciplines, including biology, chemistry, engineering, materials science, and physics. The interest in nanotechnology arises from its potential to significantly impact numerous fields, including aerospace, agriculture, energy, the environment, healthcare, information technology, homeland security, national defense, and transportation systems.
Goal 2: Foster the transfer of new technologies into products for commercial and public benefit.
Nanotechnology contributes to U.S. competitiveness and national security by improving existing products and processes and by creating new ones. The NNI agencies implement strategies that maximize the economic and public benefits of their investments in nanotechnology, based on understanding the fundamental science and responsibly translating this knowledge into practical applications.
Goal 3: Develop and sustain educational resources, a skilled workforce, and a dynamic infrastructure and toolset to advance nanotechnology.
A skilled science and engineering workforce, leading-edge instrumentation, and state-of-the-art facilities are essential to advancing nanotechnology R&D. Educational programs and resources are required to inform the general public, decision makers, and other stakeholders (including regulators, managers, insurers, and financiers), and to produce the next generation of nanotechnologists—that is, the researchers, inventors, engineers, and technicians who drive discovery, innovation, industry, and manufacturing.
Goal 4: Support responsible development of nanotechnology.
The NNI aims to responsibly develop nanotechnology by maximizing the benefits of nanotechnology while, at the same time, developing an understanding of potential risks and the means to assess and manage them. Specifically, the NNI agencies pursue a program of research, education, collaboration, and communication focused on the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) implications of nanotechnology—informed by the interagency 2011 NNI EHS Research Strategy9—and on broader societal dimensions of nanotechnology development. In addition, NNI agency efforts are guided by two memoranda from the Emerging Technologies Interagency Policy Coordination Committee (ETIPC)10 that outline broad principles for regulation and oversight of emerging technologies and, more specifically, nanotechnology.11,12 Responsible development requires engagement with universities, industry, government agencies (local, regional, state, and Federal), nongovernmental organizations, and other communities.
The plan’s concluding comments include information about how the 2014 versions differs from the others (pp. 67-8 PDF; pp. 57-8 print version; Note: A link has been removed),
This fourth NNI Strategic Plan, developed by the Nanoscale, Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee, addresses evolving scientific, technological, and societal priorities, as well as the needs of the broader nanotechnology community. The same NNI foundational principles and practices on which the three earlier strategic plans were built are embodied in this consensus plan:
• A common vision—a future in which the ability to understand and control matter at the nanoscale leads to a revolution in technology and industry that benefits society.
• A framework that provides context for NNI agencies in the formulation of their intramural and extramural research portfolios and allocation of their resources in support of their agencyspecific missions.
• Collective and concerted efforts of the NNI agencies to achieve the four goals through the stated objectives, via individual agency and multi-agency collaborative initiatives and activities.
• Continuous needs assessments via outreach to myriad stakeholders by means ranging from informal interactions to webinars and stakeholder workshops.
• Open, transparent communication with the general public regarding the benefits and potential risks of nanotechnology to human health and the environment.
• Strong, proactive engagement with international organizations.
Several aspects of this current strategic plan differ significantly from the prior plans. The program component areas (PCAs) were revised to better represent the current state of nanotechnology; the revisions addressed, among other things, substantial advances in applications and commercialization, expanded interagency collaborations, and broader participation of agencies in non-R&D activities. Finally, the revised PCA descriptions are better aligned with the goals and objectives of the current plan. Some of the objectives were changed to reflect nanotechnology advances and evolving stakeholder needs and to hone the language to facilitate clearer communication and comprehension of the objectives. Improved consistency among the goals was achieved by assigning sub-objectives to each objective and by making the level of specificity of the text for the objectives more uniform.
In the past three years, extensive progress has been made by the NNI agencies in addressing the goals and associated objectives in the 2011 NNI Strategic Plan, as detailed in the agency updates available in the annual NNI Supplement to the President’s Budget.42 Several notable achievements illustrate such progress. The three Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives (NSIs) initiated in 2010 are models of successful interagency collaborations that leverage the strengths, resources, and investments of the NNI agencies. Two new NSIs were established in 2012 that cut across many nanotechnology application areas and are aligned with the plans and activities of the agencies participating in each of these NSIs. To foster technology transfer and business creation, the NNI held a Regional, State, and Local Initiatives in Nanotechnology Workshop in 2012 to discuss Federal resources available to regional, state, and local (RSLs) organizations, as well as RSL best practices. The functionality and content of the NNI website www.nano.gov have been greatly expanded to establish a robust hub for nanotechnology information dissemination aimed at a multitude of stakeholder groups. For example, there are comprehensive webpages devoted to addressing common concerns of nanotechnology start-up companies and providing education and training resources for K–12 students and teachers, as well as compilations of educational institutions with nanotechnology-focused programs at the associate, bachelor, and doctoral levels. The website contains over 150 publications and resources on scientific, educational, and societal dimensions workshops; current and historical NNI budget documents; and the research strategies of individual NNI agencies. Interagency collaborations are widespread and varied in nature; since the launch of the Initiative, its annual budget supplements and other documents have identified well over a hundred concrete efforts involving multiple agency collaboration, including joint and parallel solicitations, interagency agreements, memoranda of understanding, co-sponsored workshops, and jointly operated facilities.
Since the inception of the NNI in 2000, nanotechnology has been increasingly relied upon across broad areas of national importance, enabling revolutionary advances in diverse areas such as cancer treatment, renewable energy, and information processing. Building on these advances and future developments, it is expected that new nanotechnology-enabled applications, products, and systems will emerge with novel and improved functionality and performance. These innovations are enabled by ongoing support from NNI agencies and by the insight and expertise of the entire stakeholder community, including academic researchers, industry representatives, and the public. The NNI and its agencies are committed to sustaining and enhancing the role of the Federal Government in assuring that all aspects of nanotechnology—R&D, commercialization, infrastructure (education, workforce, and research facilities), and responsible development—are strengthened to benefit society, the U.S. economy, and international competitiveness.
Personally, I’m most interested in how they will balance goal no. 2: commercialization with goal no. 4: responsible development.