Tag Archives: Philip Shapira

Nanotechnology for Green Innovation report, Canada, and the OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials

I will get to the report in a moment but since it led me on a magical mystery tour through the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and its new website and assorted organizational confusions, I thought I’d share those first.

February 2012 marks the last report from the OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials that I can find. As well, the OECD appears to have changed its website recently (since Feb. 2012) and I find searching it less rewarding.

There’s more, it seems that the Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials either no longer exists or has been subsumed as part of the Working Party on Nanotechnology. I mourn the old nanomaterials working party as I found much valuable information there about the Canadian situation that was available nowhere else. Oddly, Industry Canada still has a webpage devoted to the OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials but the OECD link on the Industry Canada leads you to a database,

The OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN ) was established in September, 2006 in order to foster international co-operation in health and environmental safety-related aspects of manufactured nanomaterials. Environment Canada represents the Government of Canada at the WPMN, supported by other interested federal departments and agencies, including Industry Canada, and stakeholders. For more information on the work of the WPMN, please visit the WPMN website or contact Environment Canada.

Nostalgia buffs can find all 37 of the Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials reports here on the Nanotechnology Industries Association website (save one) or here on the OECD’s Publications in the Series on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials webpage.

A new ‘green’ nanotechnology and innovation report was announced in a June 18, 2013 news item on Nanowerk (Note: A link has been removed),

A new paper by the OECD Working Party on Nanotechnology (“Nanotechnology for Green Innovation”; pdf) brings together information collected through discussions and projects undertaken relevant to the development and use of nanotechnology for green innovation. It relies in particular on preliminary results from the WPN project on the Responsible Development of Nanotechnology and on conclusions from a symposium, organised by the OECD WPN together with the United States National Nanotechnology Initiative, which took place in March 2012 in Washington DC, United States, on Assessing the Economic Impact of Nanotechnology. [emphases mine]  It also draws on material from the four background papers that were developed for the symposium. The background papers were:

“Challenges for Governments in Evaluating the Return on Investment from Nanotechnology and its Broader Economic Impact” by Eleanor O’Rourke and Mark Morrison of the Institute of Nanotechnology, United Kingdom;

“Finance and Investor Models in Nanotechnology” by Tom Crawley, Pekka Koponen, Lauri Tolvas and Terhi Marttila of Spinverse, Finland;

“The Economic Contributions of Nanotechnology to Green and Sustainable Growth” by Philip Shapira and Jan Youtie, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, United States; and

“Models, Tool and Metrics Available to Assess the Economic Impact of Nanotechnology” by Katherine Bojczuk and Ben Walsh of Oakdene Hollins, United Kingdom.

The purpose of the paper is to provide background information for future work by the WPN on the application of nanotechnology to green innovation.

I wrote about the March 2012 symposium in a March 29, 2012 posting,

I was hoping for a bit more detail about how one would go about including nanotechnology-enabled products in this type of economic impact assessment but this is all I could find (from the news release),

In their paper, Youtie and Shapira cite several examples of green nanotechnology, discuss the potential impacts of the technology, and review forecasts that have been made.

I checked both Philip Shapira‘s webpage and Jan Youtie‘s at Georgia Tech to find that neither lists this latest work, which hopefully includes additional detail. I’m hopeful there’ll be a document published in the proceedings for this symposium and access will be possible.

So, I’m very happy to see this 2013 report and  I have three different ways to access it,

  1. OECD library page for Nanotechnology for Green Innovation
  2. http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/5k450q9j8p8q.pdf?expires=1371578116&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=F308B436A883BF6533E66C19182ECF17 which features a title page identifying this is as  an OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers No. 5 (this one lists 35 pp)
  3. http://search.oecd.org/officialdocuments/displaydocumentpdf/?cote=DSTI/STP/NANO%282013%293/FINAL&docLanguage=En which is identified with this Unclassified DSTI/STP/NANO(2013)3/FINAL and a publication date of June 13, 2013 (this one lists 34 pp)

The following comments are based on a very quick read through the report. Pulling together four papers and trying to create a cohesive and coherent single report after the fact is difficult and this report shows some of the stresses. One  of the problems is that 34 or 35 pp., depending on which version you’re reading, isn’t enough to cover the very broad topic indicated by the report’s title. I couldn’t find a clear general statement about government policies. For example, there are various countries with policies and there are trade blocks such as the European Union which also has policies. Additionally, there may be other jurisdictions. All of which contribute an environment which makes ‘green’ innovation nano or otherwise a challenge but no mention is made of this challenge. Further, I don’t recall seeing any mention of patents, which I’d expect would be a major talking point in a paper with innovation in its title. If there was mention of intellectual property, it made no impact on me, odd, especially where nanotechnology is concerned.

The report does have some good specifics and  it is worthwhile reading. For example, I found the section on lithium-ion batteries quite informative.

In any event, I’m not really the audience for this document, the “purpose of the paper is to provide background information for future work by the WPN on the application of nanotechnology to green innovation.”

ETA June 18, 2013 6:00 pm PDT: Here’s a link to the new OECD nanotechnology page, STInano

Nanotechnology scene in China

There was a Dec. 5, 2012 Nanowerk Spotlight article by Michael Berger which focused on a review (Engineering Small Worlds in a Big Society: Assessing the Early Impacts of Nanotechnology in China [behind a paywall]) in a special issue of the Wiley journal, Policy Review. It seems timely given today’s (Dec. 10, 2012) earlier posting (Wanxiang America wins bid for most of A123 Systems’ assets) about a China-based company’s successful bid for a bankrupt US company that produced Li-ion (lithium-ion) batteries.

From Berger’s Dec. 5, 2012 article (Note: I have removed links),

A recent review (“Engineering Small Worlds in a Big Society: Assessing the Early Impacts of Nanotechnology in China”) analyzes the early impacts of nanotechnology on China’s economic and innovation development in six key areas. It concludes that the country’s effort to join the world leaders in nanoscale R&D has made significant progress. Although several effects are difficult to capture, cross-country and cross-regional collaborations, institutional development, regional spread, industrial and enterprise development, as well as research and education capabilities, have been influenced positively by the new programs in China’s nanotechnology initiative.

However, it seems difficult to estimate the role of particular policies in this process; in other words, what is the specific contribution of nanotechnology programs relative to the entire complex of new initiatives aimed at promoting indigenous innovation in China. The authors – Evgeny A. Klochikhin and Philip Shapira from the Manchester Institute for Innovation Research – find that nanotechnology policies are contributing to addressing existing innovation systems lock-ins and historical path dependencies in China.

In spite of that, many challenges remain, including those of separation of research and training, uneven distribution of science and technology across regions, poor mechanisms of technology transfer, and challenges for independent science-driven entrepreneurial development.

Berger’s article (illustrated with diagrams) lists six key areas assessed by Klochikhin and Shapira,

… [1] institutional development, knowledge flows, and network efficiency; [2] research and education capabilities; [3] industrial and enterprise growth; [4] regional spread; [5] cluster and network development; and [6] product innovation. They caution, though, that these areas do not cover the entire spectrum of the social and economic effects of a given technology on individual nations but can be used as a model for an initial estimate of such effects.

Berger’s and Klochikhin’s and Shapira’s articles come as no surprise given the intense interest in China. A Nov. 9, 2012 posting about the recent S.NET (Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies) 2012 conference highlighted a presentation by Denis Simon at a conference panel titled, Will China’s effort to become a high-tech innovator succeed? If you go to the conference presentations webpage and scroll down to the Weds., Oct. 24, 2012  9 am – 10:30 am slot, you can download one or all of the presentations from that session.

ETA Dec. 10, 2012 1330 PST: Philip Shapira has been mentioned here before, most recently in March 29, 2012 posting about nanotechnology’s economic impacts and lifecycle assessments.

Nanotechnology’s economic impacts and full lifecycle assessments

A paper presented at the International Symposium on Assessing the Economic Impact of Nanotechnology, held March 27 – 28, 2012 in Washington, D.C advises that assessments of the economic impacts of nanotechnology need to be more inclusive. From the March 28, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

“Nanotechnology promises to foster green and sustainable growth in many product and process areas,” said Shapira [Philip Shapira], a professor with Georgia Tech’s [US]  School of Public Policy and the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at the Manchester Business School in the United Kingdom. “Although nanotechnology commercialization is still in its early phases, we need now to get a better sense of what markets will grow and how new nanotechnology products will impact sustainability. This includes balancing gains in efficiency and performance against the net energy, environmental, carbon and other costs associated with the production, use and end-of-life disposal or recycling of nanotechnology products.”

But because nanotechnology underlies many different industries, assessing and forecasting its impact won’t be easy. “Compared to information technology and biotechnology, for example, nanotechnology has more of the characteristics of a general technology such as the development of electric power,” said Youtie [Jan Youtie], director of policy research services at Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. “That makes it difficult to analyze the value of products and processes that are enabled by the technology. We hope that our paper will provide background information and help frame the discussion about making those assessments.”

From the March 27, 2012 Georgia Institute of Technology news release,

For their paper, co-authors Shapira and Youtie examined a subset of green nanotechnologies that aim to enable sustainable energy, improve environmental quality, and provide healthy drinking water for areas of the world that now lack it. They argue that the lifecycle of nanotechnology products must be included in the assessment.

I was hoping for a bit more detail about how one would go about including nanotechnology-enabled products in this type of economic impact assessment but this is all I could find (from the news release),

In their paper, Youtie and Shapira cite several examples of green nanotechnology, discuss the potential impacts of the technology, and review forecasts that have been made. Examples of green nanotechnology they cite include:

  • Nano-enabled solar cells that use lower-cost organic materials, as opposed to current photovoltaic technologies that require rare materials such as platinum;
  • Nanogenerators that use piezoelectric materials such as zinc oxide nanowires to convert human movement into energy;
  • Energy storage applications in which nanotechnology materials improve existing batteries and nano-enabled fuel cells;
  • Thermal energy applications, such as nano-enabled insulation;
  • Fuel catalysis in which nanoparticles improve the production and refining of fuels and reduce emissions from automobiles;
  • Technologies used to provide safe drinking water through improved water treatment, desalination and reuse.

I checked both Philip Shapira‘s webpage and Jan Youtie‘s at Georgia Tech to find that neither lists this latest work, which hopefully includes additional detail. I’m hopeful there’ll be a document published in the proceedings for this symposium and access will be possible.

On another note, I did mention this symposium in my Jan. 27, 2012 posting where I speculated about the Canadian participation. I did get a response (March 5, 2012)  from Vanessa Clive, Nanotechnology File, Industry Sector, Industry Canada who kindly cleared up my confusion,

A colleague forwarded the extract from your blog below. Thank you for your interest in the OECD Working Party on Nanotechnology (WPN) work, and giving some additional public profile to its work is welcome. However, some correction is needed, please, to keep the record straight.

“It’s a lot to infer from a list of speakers but I’m going to do it anyway. Given that the only Canadian listed as an invited speaker for a prestigious (OECD/AAAS/NNI as hosts) symposium about nanotechnology’s economic impacts, is someone strongly associated with NCC, it would seem to confirm that Canadians do have an important R&D (research and development) lead in an area of international interest.

One thing about this symposium does surprise and that’s the absence of Vanessa Clive from Industry Canada. She co-authored the OECD’s 2010 report, The Impacts of Nanotechnology on Companies: Policy Insights from Case Studies and would seem a natural choice as one of the speakers on the economic impacts that nanotechnology might have in the future.”

I am a member of the organizing committee, on the OECD WPN side, for the Washington Symposium in March which will focus on the need and, in turn, options for development of metrics for evaluation of the economic impacts of nano. As committee member, I was actively involved in identifying potential Canadian speakers for agenda slots. Apart from the co-sponsors whose generosity made the event possible, countries were limited to one or two speakers in order to bring in experts from as many interested countries as possible. The second Canadian expert which we had invited to participate had to pull out, unfortunately.

Also, the OECD project on nano impacts on business was co-designed and co-led by me, another colleague here at the time, and our Swiss colleague, but the report itself was written by OECD staff.

I did send (March 5, 2012)  a followup email with more questions but I gather time was tight as I’ve not heard back.

In any event, I’m looking forward to hearing more about this symposium, however that occurs, in the coming weeks and months.

Is nano good for jobs?

The idea that nanotechnology might be able to help pull the US economy out of it’s current economic crisis is certainly being discussed seriously. For example, Intel CEO, Paul Otellini, announced a nanotechnology investment of $7B in February 2009.  (There’s more about this in my blog posting of Feb. 11, 2009). Now the folks at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies have announced  a new event, Nanotechnology: Will It Drive a New Innovation Economy for the U.S.? on Monday, March 23, 2009 from 9:30 am to 10:30 am PST (if you’re on the East Coast and can attend they will serve a light lunch but you need to RSVP. More info. here.)The two speakers, Philip Shapira and Alan Porter, both have links to the Georgia (US)  Institute of Technology. I mention that because last October (2008) the Japanese government announced they were funding four research satellite projects in institutions outside of Japan. it was described as a unique collaboration and the Georgia Institute of Technology is the location for one of these research satellites. There’s more information here at Azonano. (Note: The headline focuses on the University of Cambridge so you do have to read on to find the information about the other sites.)

I attended a lecture or nanotechnology which was part of the University of British Columbia’s (Canada) research week. Professor Alireza Nojeh (electrical engineering) gave a charming presentation. I was curious about how he would deal with some of the problems you encounter when explaining nanotechnology. He focused on measurements, size, and scale at the beginning and did a better job than I do when I’m presenting. Still, I haven’t seen anyone really crack that barrier of how you describe something that’s unseen. The images help to convey scale but there’s a point at which most people are going to have to take a huge leap in imagination. Of course, we did that with germs but the ‘germ’ leap occurred before living memory so we’ll probably have to relearn that skill.

Dr. Nojeh had another problem, it’s a very big topic. I noticed that he avoided much talk of biology and medicine (I do too) and only briefly discussed potential health concerns. I think they will be webcasting this (they were recording it) but this is probably one of those talks that were better attended in person. I will try to find out where the webcast will be posted.