A Brief History of the National Nanotechnology Initiative
In September 1998, an interagency dialogue on nanotechnology was formalized as the Interagency Working Group on Nanotechnology (IWGN). Established under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the IWGN developed a number of reports on a long-term vision for nanoscale research and development (R&D), on international benchmarking of nanotechnology, and on U.S. government investment in nanotechnology R&D (Siegel et al. 1999; Roco et al. 2001). In March 1999, IWGN representatives proposed a nanotechnology initiative with a budget of a half-billion dollars for FY 2001 (Roco 2004). In November 2000, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was formally established, and preparations were begun for a coordinated federal investment in nanoscale R&D.
In August 2000, as the NNI proposal matured, the NSTC established the Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee to replace the IWGN. The NSET Subcommittee was tasked with implementing the NNI by coordinating with federal agencies and R&D programs. Beginning with eight agencies in 2001, the subcommittee now comprises representatives of over 25 federal departments and agencies and officials of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the White House Office of Management and Budget.
In January 2001, the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) was established to provide daily technical and administrative support to the NSET Subcommittee and to assist in multiagency planning and the preparation of budgets and program-assessment documents. The NNCO was also tasked with assisting the NSET Subcommittee with the collection and dissemination of information on industry, state, and international nanoscale science and technology research, development, and commercialization activities (NRC 2002). The NNCO provides technical guidance and administrative support, organizes monthly NSET Subcommittee meetings, conducts workshops, and prepares information and reports, serving as a point of contact and helping to facilitate communication.
in the outcomes of nanoscale research, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Justice. Under the broad umbrella of the initiative, each participating agency invests in projects and programs in support of its own mission. The NNI consists of individual and cooperative nanotechnology-related activities of 25 federal agencies with a wide array of research and regulatory responsibilities. The NNI itself does not fund research, and its budget is equal to the sum of the amounts at which member agencies fund their individual or joint nanotechnology-related programs and projects. Therefore, the NNI has no authority to make budgetary or funding decisions; it relies on the budgets of its member agencies. The goals of the NNI are as follows (NSET 2008a):