Tag Archives: developing world

Ageing population could drive progress in nanotechnology and robotics

A couple of theoreticians are proposing a generational gap as being a key source of conflict and technological process in the near future. From a July 27, 2016 news item on Nanotechnology Now,

The UN estimates that the number of people aged 65 and older will have reached almost a billion by 2030. The proportion of those aged over 80 will grow at particularly high rates, and their numbers are expected to reach 200 million by 2030 and triple that forty years later.

Due to a combination of an ageing population and declining birthrates, the demographic structure of most countries will change towards lower proportions of children and young people. As a result, the global division will no longer be between first- and third-world nations [also called developed and developing nations], but between old and young ones.

A July 25, 2016 National Research University Higher School of Economics [Russia] press release (also on EurekAlert), which originated the news item, expands on the theme,

According to the report of Senior Research Fellow of the HSE [Higher School of Economics] Laboratory for Monitoring the Risks of Socio-Political Destabilization Leonid Grinin and Senior Research Fellow of the International Centre for Education, Social and Humanitarian Studies Anton Grinin “Global Population Ageing and the Threat of Political Risks in the Light of Radical Technological Innovation in the Coming Decades.”, an increase in the number of older people will:

  • encourage societies facing workforce shortages to seek solutions to improve older people’s employability by helping them stay healthy, fit and full of energy for much longer than today;
  • encourage societies to focus more on rehabilitation of people with disabilities and provide them with new technology to support their employment;
  • encourage the development of labour-saving technologies, such as robotics, to assist caregivers;
  • lead to breakthroughs in medicine. Indeed, medical services will be the first to enter a new phase of technological revolution, radically changing the structure of production and people’s lives. Such a breakthrough will be associated what the authors call MANBRIC, i.e. a technological paradigm based on medicine, additive, nano- and bio- technologies, robotic, IT, and cognitive technologies;
  • boost government spending on healthcare, which today accounts for at least 10% of global GDP and can vary vastly across countries, e.g. reaching 17% in the U.S.;
  • promote the development of peripheral countries through higher spending on health care, leading to the emergence of a middle class, poverty reduction, literacy, and a better quality of life;
  • increase the demand for innovation and its financing from accumulated funds such as pensions and public allocations to medical and social needs;
  • lead to higher investment in supporting the health of ageing populations and the growing middle class.

Longevity Comes at a Cost

A confrontation between generations in the labor market and the weakening of democracy are the key risks associated with longer life expectancy.

Longer life spans and a lower proportion of young people in society may lead to the predominance of ‘third age’ voters. Politicians will need to tailor their messages to older and perhaps more conservative electorates. According to the researchers, “democracy can transform into a form of gerontocracy which may be hard to overcome; under such circumstances, competition for voters may lead to a crisis of democratic governance.”

A conflict between generations is another potential risk. As the retirement age increases, older employees will stay in the workforce longer – a situation which may hinder younger people’s careers and slow down technological progress.

A tendency towards gerontocracy has been particularly noticeable in Western Europe and the U.S., where democratic traditions are the strongest, but ethnic and cultural imbalances are increasingly visible. As a result, the U.S. may face confrontation between its younger Latinos and older white populations, and Europe may experience tensions between older white Christians and younger Muslims. Hence, globalization will inevitably cause such conflicts to transcend national borders and become global challenges.

I was not able to find the report mentioned in this release but I certainly would have liked to have looked at it. This redraws the conflict map in some interesting ways.

India’s draft guidelines for the safe handling of nanomaterials

I believe this is the first time I’ve seen any guidelines for the safe handling of nanomaterials that are neither from Europe nor from the US. I imagine that’s due to translation issues or lack of publicity rather than a failure to create guidelines.

In any event, Indrani Barpujari, Advisor (Governance) at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Good Governance and Policy Analysis, Bhopal, India, has written a commentary on draft regulations for India (from her Draft Guidelines for Safe Handling of Nanomaterials commentary in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 51, Issue No. 23, 04 Jun, 2016 ISSN [Online] – 2349-8846 [appears to be open access]),

It is indeed laudable that as a first step towards regulation of nanotechnology in India, the Nano Mission under the Department of Science and Technology has come out with the draft “Guidelines and Best Practices for Safe Handling of Nanomaterials in Research Laboratories and Industries.” Taking cognisance of the imperative for safe handling of nanomaterials, the Nano Mission has constituted a task force consisting of eminent experts who have prepared this document. Involving the control of matter at the nanoscale, nanomaterials are characterised by small dimensions, large surface area, and high reactivity which while making them amenable to a large variety of applications in various sectors also render them potentially dangerous for human health and environmental safety, with considerable scientific uncertainty regarding the risks. Nanotechnology presents before policymakers a classic case of “Collingridge dilemma” or a “dilemma of control” with policy decisions required to be taken on the basis of uncertain scientific facts and under conditions of some urgency. It is the unique combination of “high expectations and huge uncertainties” (Van Lente 2010) associated with nanotechnology which has provided the required thrust for the current guidelines.

The draft guidelines, basically intended as standard operating procedure (SOP) for handling nanomaterials in research laboratories and industries, prescribe a combination of engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment as part of a robust exposure control strategy. These lay down the process for identifying hazards, taking note of the specific effect of surface chemistry, shape, size and morphology on toxicity caused to various organs. These address the potential exposure pathways and concomitant safety measures to mitigate the same. While prescribing certain best practices for handling nanomaterials generally, the guidelines also lay down another set of best practices specifically pertaining to the making and handling of nanopowders and use of products relating to food and healthcare. A precautionary approach is advocated with detailed life cycle assessment and strong binding procedures with respect to stakeholder involvement for various players while formulating best practices in the food sector particularly.

While the draft guidelines as a first step cover reasonable ground, it may be relevant to look at these in the context of the discourse on nanotechnology regulation abroad as well as in India. The focus of modern “risk societies” being more on “manufactured risks” or risks which are the product of human activity (Giddens 1999), governments, particularly in the developed world, are increasingly realising the need for risk-based regulation, to address potential risks from emerging technologies like nanotechnology, while promoting their development. Preliminary steps have been taken to regulate nanotechnology despite the admitted difficulty in doing so owing to the scientific uncertainty regarding its risks and limited amenability to traditional risk management approaches (Schummer and Pariotti 2008).

Thus, it may be surmised that the developed world’s engagement with nanotechnology to harness its benefits has been characterised by an almost unprecedented focus on regulating its risks and developing an anticipatory governance framework, taking on board different stakeholders including the public and incorporating societal concerns. On the other hand, with an almost single-minded focus on promotion in the initial years, the official pursuit of nanotechnology in India has not accorded much priority to its potential risks with the result than a large number of nano-based products are already out in the markets, without any regulation (Barpujari 2011a). In India, the government is the primary promoter of nanotechnology, pursued under the mission on nanoscience and technology (Nano Mission) with a huge budget outlay targeted at the development of nano-applications and creating adequate infrastructural and human capabilities for this purpose.

The Indian scientific establishment has high expectations from nanotechnology, with the technology expected to help meet the development needs of the country, while also positioning India as a forerunner in the global arena. Srivastava and Chowdhury (2008) observe that Indian scientists at the helm of affairs perceive that Indian science should not lose out on this opportunity to establish itself as a global leader and that it should not “miss the bus” as it did during the previous semiconductor revolution. Sahoo and Deshpande Sarma’s (2010) survey on risk perceptions among thirty scientists working in public-funded scientific institutions/laboratories indicate that Indian scientists are not very much perturbed by the risks of nanotechnology, and few take special precautions while working with nanomaterials, while very few are interested in taking up risk research.

The fact that the policy establishment is yet to take into serious consideration the potential risks of the technology is also evident from the low priority accorded to risk research, which should precede regulation. A very small number of projects are being publicly funded to look into toxicity issues, and there is almost no engagement with the social sciences and humanities, as evidenced by the lack of government funding for such studies.

At the same time, it must be acknowledged that different stakeholders in India particularly policy researchers, civil society actors and research institutions pursuing risk research have been persistently making the case for nanotechnology regulation in the country and taken the lead in charting the way ahead. It is acknowledged that problems in developing risk-based regulation are particularly compounded for a developing country like India, owing to a lack of resources, expertise and regulatory mandate. The absence of regulation, it is anticipated, would be even worse as in the event of some of the risks materialising, developing countries would be ill-equipped to handle and mitigate these (Barpujari 2011b).

Particularly noteworthy is a regulatory matrix for India developed by TERI [The Energy and Resources Institute] (2009) comprising several central legislation, rules and notifications which could have relevance for regulation of environmental risks, occupational health and safety risks arising from nanotechnology development and applications in India. Another report (TERI 2012) has provided leads for adopting a precautionary approach and developing an anticipatory regulatory framework for nanotechnology in the South Asian region, taking the particular case of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Vajpayee offers more insight with her suggestions for “The Way Ahead” and I strongly suggest reading her commentary if you’re interested in a perspective from South Asia. There’s also a list of references at the end of the commentary, should you wish to explore further.

Nanotechnology, Innovation and Global Development Call for papers: special issue of International Journal of Technology and Globalisation

The Dec. 2, 2012 news item on Nanowerk provides details about an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Technology and Globalisation (Inderscience Publishers), which is focused on nanotechnology,

Advances in nanotechnology offer a wide range of opportunities for addressing global development challenges. Work is underway around the world to apply nanotechnology in a variety of sectors including agriculture, medicine, telecommunications, disaster management and environmental conservation.

A number of developing countries, especially in emerging markets, are starting to pay policy attention to this field. However, the majority of developing nations have not recognised the implications of nanotechnology for economic development.

The aim of this special issue of the International Journal of Technology and Globalisation is to provide a review of advances in nanotechnology or relevance to global development. Preference will be given to papers that combine assessment of emerging nanotechnologies and identification of policy options for action.  …

More information about the call can be found on the journal’s Nano special issue webpage,

Suitable topics include but are not limited to:

  • Nanotechnology, innovation and agriculture
  • Nanotechnology, innovation and pharmaceutical research
  • Nanotechnology, innovation and healthcare
  • Nanotechnology, innovation and water purification
  • Nanotechnology, innovation and industry
  • Nanotechnology, innovation and polymer research
  • Nanotechnology, innovation and computing
  • Nanotechnology and disaster management
  • Nanotechnology in environmental management
  • Nanotechnology research policy
  • Nanotechnology and technological leapfrogging
  • Nanotechnology and technological catch-up
  • Nanotechnology and innovation systems
  • Nanotechnology and international cooperation
  • Nanotechnology and science diplomacy
  • Nanotechnology and human health
  • Nanotechnology and the environment
  • Nanotechnology and regulation
  • Nanotechnology and public policy
  • Nanotechnology and governance
  • Nanotechnology and society
  • Status reviews of nanotechnology advances

Notes for Prospective Authors

Submitted papers should not have been previously published nor be currently under consideration for publication elsewhere. (N.B. Conference papers may only be submitted if the paper was not originally copyrighted and if it has been completely re-written).

All papers are refereed through a peer review process. A guide for authors, sample copies and other relevant information for submitting papers are available on the Author Guidelines page.

Important Dates

Manuscript submission: 15 June, 2013
Notification of initial decision: 15 July, 2013
Submission of revised manuscripts: 15 September, 2013
Notification of final acceptance: 15 October, 2013

Please do check the journal’s webpage for full details.

Grand Challenges Canada announces latest Canadian and international ‘stars’ in global health grants

I last mentioned the Grand Challenges Canada organization in last year’s Dec. 22, 2011 posting. It’s a non-governmental organization funded by the Canadian federal government. I did express some confusion regarding the governmental/non-governmental aspects in last year’s posting,

So if I understand this rightly, the Canadian federal government created a new fund and then created a new NGO to administer that fund. I wonder how much money is required administratively for this NGO which exists solely to distribute DIF [Development Innovation Fund]. I’m glad to see that someone is getting some money for research out of this but it does seem labyrinthine at best.

Leaving that discussion aside, let’s focus on this year’s grantees and their projects (from the Nov. 22, 2012 news release about the Canadian grantees),




From cities all across the country, 17 Canadians are selected for their bold out-of-the-box ideas to tackle debilitating disease and save lives in the Developing World

 Toronto.  Grand Challenges Canada, which is funded by the Government of Canada, announced today seed grants awarded to 17 innovators for their bold and creative ideas to tackle health conditions in poor countries. The Stars in Global Health program seeks unique, breakthrough and affordable ideas which can be transformative in addressing disease – innovations that can benefit the developed world as well. The 17 were selected from a total of 60 proposals submitted for the Canadian Stars program. A total of more than $1.7 million in funding will go to innovators from across Canada.

The bold ideas are breakthrough innovations such as mimicking rocket propelled technology, but in the body, to address maternal bleeding. A meter to detect HIV infection in fewer than 5 minutes. And a virtual reality game to assist stroke victims.

“Canada has a deep pool of talent dedicated to pursuing bold ideas that can have big impact in the developing world,” said Dr. Peter A. Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada. “Grand Challenges Canada is proud to support these extraordinary innovators from across the country because they will make a difference to so many lives.”

“Canada works with our like-minded partners throughout the world to leverage our investments in health innovation so they’re focused on getting results,” said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. “We support Grand Challenges Canada’s Stars in Global Health so these innovators can apply their talents and further efforts to make the world a healthier and safer place.”

Each of the 17 innovators will receive a grant of $100,000 to develop their bold ideas, which include:

  • Vancouver: Dr. Christian Kastrup will mimic rocket technology to propel coagulant nanoparticles into the bloodstream and stop maternal bleeding, a major cause of death in the developing world. (for video: http://bit.ly/RWdW9w)
  • Vancouver: Dr. Robin Evans is developing a Burn Survival Kit, a high-tech solution to treat burn victims. The innovation is being tested in Uganda where often burns are untreated or mistreated. This unique kit will include a low-cost silver nanotubule dressing so that the treatment is affordable. (for video: http://bit.ly/T2rPFK)
  • Edmonton: Dr. Julianne Gibbs-Davis is creating a unique approach to diagnosing TB. It involves extracting DNA from the infected persons TB bacteria and does not require the usual temperature recycling that is expensive and difficult to implement in low resource settings. (for video: http://bit.ly/SKNLSf)
  • Hamilton: Dr. Leyla Soleymani is also tackling TB diagnosis with a hand-held, solar rechargeable, inexpensive diagnostic for rapid assessment of patients at the bedside.

(for video: http://bit.ly/T02HhS)

  • Toronto: Dr. Cheng Lu has a unique idea for tackling clinic and hospital infections. A coating can be sprayed or wiped on surfaces; once applied, the long-lasting anti-bacterial components are activated by sunlight or artificial light. Easy to use and effective.           (for video: http://bit.ly/TDxU6L)
  • Kingston: Dr. Karen Yeates will employ cell phones to improve cervical cancer screening and detection. It is being tested in remote areas of Tanzania.

(for video: http://bit.ly/RSvWTK)

  • Ottawa: Dr. Marion Roche will use social marketing to rejuvenate interest in taking zinc to control childhood diarrhea. (for video: http://bit.ly/QF7S8t)
  • Montreal: Dr. Philippe Archambault will use virtual reality to assist rehabilitation of stroke victims suffering from hand or arm immobilization. (for video: http://bit.ly/T2rX7X)
  • Montreal: Dr. Hanna Kienzler’s project is called “Defeating the Giant with a Slingshot” and is a novel approach to treating trauma in the developing world. The innovation results in blocking trauma memory and will be tested with torture victims in Nepal.

(for video: http://bit.ly/QF7TJx)

  • Montreal: Dr. Alexis Vallée-Bélisle is developing a meter to detect HIV infection in fewer than 5 minutes. This diagnostic will lead to earlier treatment of the disease.

(for video: http://bit.ly/XD4oFw)

  • Halifax: Dr. Patricia Livingston’s project will improve emergency services with a specific focus on crisis management for mothers delivering babies. The project is being tested in Rwanda. (for video: http://bit.ly/TCTACv)

“It is inspiring to see the wealth of Canadian talent working to improve the health of people in developing countries,” said Joseph L. Rotman, Chair of Grand Challenges Canada. “Our Stars in Global Health program is an excellent opportunity for these dedicated Canadian innovators, with support from the Government of Canada, to bring their bold ideas forward and improve global health conditions.”

In addition to these 17 Canadian innovators, Grand Challenges Canada announced today 51 grants totalling just over $7 million for Canadians and developing world innovators. Like the Canadian Stars, these innovators’ bold ideas aim to tackle global health challenges* (http://www.grandchallenges.ca/wp-content/uploads/stars-LMIC-newsrelease-2012nov22-en.pdf)

In total, 68 Canadian and developing world innovators were selected from 310 submitted proposals.

Upon completion of this grant, if their ideas are effective and proven, the innovators will be eligible for an additional Grand Challenges Canada scale-up funding of up to $1 million.

Grand Challenges Canada is funded by the Government of Canada through the Development

Innovation Fund announced in the 2008 Federal Budget.

For information on the grants and to see each Canadian Star’s short video explaining the project, visit http://www.grandchallenges.ca/stars-r3-grantee-announcement-en/.

Please visit grandchallenges.ca and look for us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

About Grand Challenges Canada

Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting bold ideas with big impact in global health. We are funded by the Government of Canada through the Development Innovation Fund announced in the 2008 Federal Budget. We fund innovators in low and middle income countries and Canada. Grand Challenges Canada works with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and other global health foundations and organizations to find sustainable long-term solutions through integrated innovation – bold ideas which integrate science, technology, social and business innovation. Grand Challenges Canada is hosted at the Sandra Rotman Centre.



About Canada’s International Development Research Centre

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. IDRC also encourages sharing this knowledge with policymakers, other researchers and communities around the world. The result is innovative, lasting local solutions that aim to bring choice and change to those who need it most.

As the Government of Canada’s lead on the Development Innovation Fund, IDRC draws on decades of experience managing publicly funded research projects to administer the Development Innovation Fund. IDRC also ensures that developing country researchers and concerns are front and centre in this exciting new initiative.


There’s also a Nov. 22, 2012 news release about the newly funded projects which are being led internationally. Here’s a few I find particularly interestin,

A new trading system in Kenya: seeds and fertilizers for proof of child vaccinations

(for video: http://bit.ly/UFlMmN)

To eliminate persistent pocket areas of Kenya where children are not vaccinated or undervaccinated, researchers will create a barcoded vaccination card redeemable for farm seeds and fertilizer.

Updated each time a child gets a vaccine, the card is taken to one of about 20,000 local agro-vet outlets, where the barcode is scanned using an app on a camera-equipped smartphone. The farmer would then redeem an “agri-credit” for essential farm inputs.

Lead researcher Benson Wamalwa of the University of Nairobi says the program “would powerfully incentivize parents to seek and adhere to their children’s immunization schedule even when hard pressed financially to reach a distant vaccination centre.

The idea is a practical solution that would significantly boost small farm productivity and incomes for poor household while safeguarding the general health of children in farming villages through up-to-date immunizations.”

Creating wealth from human waste in cholera-troubled Haiti

(for video: http://bit.ly/RBbN38)

The recent cholera outbreak in Haiti heightened both awareness of the problem’s cause and demand for better sanitation services — a tough challenge in environments without reliable running water. Meanwhile, national demand for farm and forest compost is high.

Hoping to capitalize on those twin realities, a Haitian group will build in urban slums the first new $200, waterless “EcoSan” toilets that produce revenue-generating compost, with hopes of inspiring entrepreneurs to replicate the project throughout Haiti and around the world, where 2.5 billion people lack sanitation access.

The project will document the number of toilets built and people receiving sanitation services, quantity of compost produced, sales and the outcomes of tests for pathogens and nutrients.

A $100 kitchen reno to reduce indoor pollution and problem pregnancies in Bangladesh

(for video: http://bit.ly/THAPNQ)

The International Energy Agency estimates that biomass fuels such as wood and dung will continue providing 30% of global energy in resource-poor settings though 2050.

Exposure to smoke from biomass cooking fuels, however, is known to cause placental dysfunction and is highly associated with low birth-weight babies in developing countries. Part of the solution could be a locally-made, simple prefabricated “$100 kitchen” featuring a clean-combustion stove.

Researchers in Bangladesh will conduct a randomized controlled trial with 430 willing mothers, 2 to 3 months pregnant, half of whom will use the innovative, well-ventilated $100 kitchen with reinforced cement infrastructure, a waste disposal system, and a stove that combusts biofuels with minimal smoke.

Mobile app to reduce obesity in northern Nigeria

(for video: http://bit.ly/THB7nV)

WHO projects that globally by 2015 about 2.3 billion adults will be overweight; more than 700 million will be obese — an epidemic growing fastest in developing countries and leading to diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke.

In rural northern Nigeria, where mobile phone use is now common (use in Nigeria rose almost 1,300% in 2010-11), health researchers led by Sally Akarolo-Anthony will work with a high-tech firm to create a smartphone app to provide a virtual mentor and online buddy system.

The app will compute a user’s metabolic rate and caloric requirement, prompt daily exercise, collect data on activity and eating, offer healthy diet tips (e.g. white vs. brown rice), estimate the daily calorie intake required to meet a weight-loss goal, and monitor change over time.

I wish all of the researchers success with their projects, which would mean success for Grand Challenges Canada and this particular model for funding.

Nanotechnology and emerging and developing economies

Occasionally I come across references to nanotechnology and its possible impact on emerging and developing countries such as this news item on Nanowerk,

… OECD and UNITAR organised workshops in each of the UN Regions to undertake awareness raising and other related activities in developing countries regarding the potential risks from nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials (e.g. to the environment or human health) and benefits (e.g. decreased costs of low-maintenance products, or use in environmental remediation) of nanotechnology and nanomaterials.

These workshops brief participants on what is nanotechnology and manufactured nanomaterials, what are some of the potential risks from nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials (e.g. to the environment or human health) and benefits (e.g. decreased costs of low-maintenance products, or use in environmental remediation) of nanotechnology and nanomaterials. It also considered some of the posible implications for developing and transition countries as nano-based or nano-containing products are traded across borders, into jurisdictions where there is little or no capacity to address them. These workshops were organised in conjunction with SAICM Regional Meetings, within the framework of the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC). The workshops were held as follows:

Asia-Pacific Region: 27 November 2009, in Beijing, China
Central and Eastern Europe Region: 11 December 2009, in Lodz, Poland
Africa Region: 25-26 January 2010, in Abidjan, Cote d’lvoire
Latin America – Caribbean Region: 12 March 2010, in Kingston, Jamaica
Arab Sub-Region: 11-13 April 2010, in Alexandria, Egypt

… In addition to the awareness-raising workshops, UNITAR and OECD are looking at opportunities for assisting developing and transition countries to develop programmatic capacities to address nano issues at the national level. Some countries will undertake pilot projects aimed to develop and/or strengthen capacities to address Nanotechnology and Manufactured Nanomaterials within their national frameworks. These projects, which are provided with funding support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), will generate experiences and lessons learned that will be transmitted for deliberation at the third International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM3), to be held in mid-2012.

The question isn’t only being asked by the OECD and other international organizations. In a recent Ask a Nobel Laureate series on the Nobel Organization’s YouTube channel, a young woman from Bangalore asks Nobel Laureate Albert Fert the question, How could nanotechnology be used in the developing world,

Unfortunately, I can’t include the answer but you can go here if you’re curious. Fert suggests strongly that nanotechnology not be viewed as separate from other sciences but (I’m extemporizing here) as a logical direction for the sciences we practice. He goes on to note that developing should focus on science generally and that nanotechnology might be the most difficult for developing countries to establish as the costs are very high.

Ineke Malsch at The Broker asks in her June 1, 2010 posting,

How can we ensure that poor people in the least developed countries really benefit from the current big investments in nanoscience and nanotechnology in the world? For example, the shortage of clean potable water has many victims in developing countries each year. Will the solutions to be developed in Dutch nanotechnology and water research centres over the coming years be suitable for use in tropical conditions, or places without much infrastructure? Not necessarily. Even in water-rich and wealthy countries like the Netherlands, future shortages of clean and drinkable water are looming. Researchers and the utility companies responsible for our water supply may give preference to nanotechnology applications that only work if they are incorporated into the existing infrastructure for sewage treatment or the purification of surface or ground water.

Early cooperation with nanoscientists in developing countries, who are also working on water purification, may contribute to solutions that are also useful in remote areas of the least developed countries. Hopefully, initiatives like the recent series of webinars on nanotechnology for water purification, which involved speakers from South Africa and Europe, will turn out to be steps in the right direction.

You may want to check out Ineke Malsch as she does post regularly on these issues.

From what I can tell basic needs must be met first and clean water (mentioned in Malsch’s posting) certainly comes under that category.  What we need to do is to ensure clean water through the most practical and least harmful means for the greatest number of people. Some of the work being done in this area suggests that nano-enabled technologies may be the best means for achieving that goal. Personally, I don’t care which technology is used to that end.

Nanotechnology strategies everywhere except Canada; Visible Verse 2009; OECD workshops on nanotech in developing world

There’s an article by Michael Berger on Nanowerk titled, European strategy for nanotechnology and the nanotechnology Action Plan, where he outlines the European Union’s approach to creating a strategy, contrasts it in a few asides (launching potshots at the Europeans) with the US approach, and provides some handy links. Coincidentally there’s a news item on Nanowerk about RUSNANO (the Russian publicly funded nanotech investment agency) visiting Sweden. From the news item,

A RUSNANO delegation headed by CEO Anatoly Chubais will visit Sweden on November 19-20, 2009 to study the support that government offers for innovative developments, share with Sweden’s business and scientific communities the goals and principles that guide RUSNANO’s activities and discuss opportunities to collaborate in commercialization of nanotechnologies with their Swedish counterparts.

Canada hosted RUSNANO a few months back for similar purposes but interestingly there was no mention of studying “the support that government offers for innovative developments … ” and I’m not sure if it’s because there isn’t a support framework, official or otherwise, in Canada or if they failed to mention it in the news release. (I strongly suspect the former.) I blogged here about RUSNANO’s visit to Canada at the time.

Taking Sweden and the UK as examples, it would seem that European countries have both a European Union framework and an individual country framework for nanotechnology. The US has its National Nanotechnology Initiative (in place since 2000). China will provide some sort of insight into its nanotechnology plans via its road map series which I mentioned briefly here. Canada remains mute. You can view the National Institute of Nanotechnology’s website but you’d be hard pressed to find any details about an overall strategy for nanotechnology scientific research, public engagement, business support, education, social impact  etc. (Despite the institute’s name that’s probably not in their scope of responsibilities but I can’t find that information anywhere.) You will find a list of the institute’s research areas but you won’t find an overview of the Canadian nanotech research scene or much of anything else (to date they have distributed three news releases in 2009 and none in 2008 but 2007 was a banner year, there were four).

For a brief respite from the nano, Heather Haley’s See the Voice: Visible Verse 2009 (video poetry festival) is being held tonight (Thursday, November 19, 2009) at Pacific Cinematheque at 7:30 pm, 1131 Howe St. Vancouver, Canada. You can buy tickets or read more about it here.

Back to the international nanotechnology front: The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) are holding joint nanotechnology awareness workshops for transitional and developing countries. You can read more about them in the news item on Nanowerk.

Edited at 3:05 pm PST, Nov. 19.09 to change electronic poetry to video poetry.