E

Interim Report

This appendix is a reprint of the main text of the National Research Council’s Interim Report for the Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, Phase II (The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2012) by the Committee on Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative: Phase II.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 139
E Interim Report This appendix is a reprint of the main text of the National Research Council’s Interim Report for the Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, Phase II (The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2012) by the Committee on Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative: Phase II. 139

OCR for page 139
140 Triennial Review of the N at i o n a l N a n o t e c h n o l o g y I n i t i at i v e Nanotechnology has become one of the defining ideas in global research and development (R&D) over the last decade. In 2001, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was established as the U.S. government interagency program for coordinating nanotechnology R&D among federal agencies and facilitating com- munication and collaborative activities in nanoscale science, engineering, and tech- nology throughout the federal government. The NNI defines nanotechnology on its Web site1 as “science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers.”2 The NNI focuses on four goals aimed at creating “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 26 federal agencies that participate in the NNI collaborate to (1) advance world-class nanotechnology research and development, (2) foster the transfer of new technologies into products for commercial and public benefit, (3) develop and sustain educational resources, a skilled workforce, and the supporting infra- structure and tools to advance nanotechnology, and (4) support the responsible development of nanotechnology. As part of the second triennial review of the NNI, the Committee on Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative: Phase II was asked to provide 1    ee S http://www.nano.gov/nanotech-101/what/definition. Accessed August 28, 2012. 2    or F another definition of nanotechnology, see, for example, National Research Council, A ­Matter of Size: Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2006. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
A pp e n d i x E 141 advice to the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommit- tee of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Technology and the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office as follows: •• Task 1—Examine the role of the NNI in maximizing opportunities to transfer selected technologies to the private sector, provide an assessment of how well the NNI is carrying out this role, and suggest new mechanisms to foster transfer of technologies and improvements to NNI operations in this area where warranted. •• Task 2—Assess the suitability of current procedures and criteria for de- termining progress toward NNI goals, suggest definitions of success and associated metrics, and provide advice on those organizations (government or non-government) that could perform evaluations of progress. •• Task 3—Review NNI’s management and coordination of nanotechnology research across both civilian and military federal agencies. The present interim report offers the committee’s initial comments on cur- rent procedures and criteria for determining progress toward achievement of NNI goals, the proper role of metrics in assessing the NNI, some characteristics of good metrics, and possible metrics and their links to suggested short-term and long-term NNI goals. This report reflects the committee’s view that measuring something just be- cause it can be measured is not good enough: metrics must be indicators of desired outcomes. There must be a model that accurately relates what is measured to a desired outcome and an equally accurate system to perform the measurement. Having both constitutes a metric. Without both, measurements have little value for program assessment and management. The committee recognizes the great difficulty in defining robust models and metrics for a field as diffuse as nanotechnology, for agencies as diverse as the 26 NNI participating agencies, and for goals as far-reaching and cross-cutting as the four NNI goals. However, the committee emphasizes that whatever models and metrics are applied must be rigorous and stand up fully to scientific scrutiny. If the data used are inaccurate or if the models linking even accurate data to desired outcomes have not been properly established, evaluation, rational decision-making, and allocation of resources become compromised. In general, computational and data capacities have outrun the accuracy of measurement systems and understand- ing of the phenomena that relate metrics to desired outcomes. The result may be exciting graphical representations whose meaning remains uncertain. A key part of any solution would be to get scientists in the NNI community to work together to develop models that can be tested to validate current measures. Research on indicators and processes to support metrics would also be highly valuable. In its R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
142 Triennial Review of the N at i o n a l N a n o t e c h n o l o g y I n i t i at i v e final report, the committee will provide recommendations based on the concepts presented in this interim document and will address Tasks 1 and 3 in addition to exploring Task 2 more fully. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
A pp e n d i x E 143 1 The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a multiagency, U.S. govern- ment research and development (R&D) initiative, was established in fiscal year (FY) 2001 to accelerate R&D in the emerging field of nanotechnology:3 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, engineer- ing, and technology to serve the public good, through a program of coordinated research and development aligned with the missions of the participating agencies. Starting with eight core agencies in 2001, the NNI now coordinates nanotech- nology-related R&D of 26 federal agencies, focusing on four goals (see Box 1.1). The view of how to achieve the NNI vision has evolved. Starting with the 2004 Strategic Plan, general descriptions of each goal were provided along with selected individual examples. Now the NNI has qualitative, semiquantitative, and quantitative subgoals—as many as five—for each major goal. In addition, the NNI has established five interagency signature initiatives, cross-sector collaborations designed to accelerate innovation in subjects of high national priority through coordination of multiagency resources to meet specific agreed-on scientific and technologic goals; to promote development of joint research solicitations; and to 3    ee National Science and Technology Council, National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan, S February 2011, available at http://www.nano.gov/sites/default/files/pub_resource/2011_­ trategic_plan. s pdf. Accessed April 24, 2012. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
144 Triennial Review of the N at i o n a l N a n o t e c h n o l o g y I n i t i at i v e BOX 1.1 Goals of the National Nanotechnology Initiative The National Nanotechnology Initiative focuses on four major goals: • To advance world-class nanotechnology research and development. • To foster the transfer of new technologies into products for commercial and public benefit. • To develop and sustain educational resources, a skilled workforce, and the support- ing infrastructure and tools to advance nanotechnology. • To support the responsible development of nanotechnology. engage in sponsorship of a wide variety of interagency meetings, workshops, and forums to support knowledge-sharing. The federal government has given high priority to the alignment of nano- technology R&D with the missions of the individual agencies. For most agencies, nanotechnology R&D is not an end in itself but rather, in some cases, an enabling technologic means of accomplishing their missions. Each agency determines its budget for nanotechnology R&D as part of its overall mission R&D priorities in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Congress. The NNI is planned and coordinated by the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on Technology, through which the agency members present their priorities and establish shared goals, strategies, and activities when their agency priorities align. The 2011 NSET Strategic Plan describes the agencies, their missions, how they view the NNI, and how the NNI fits into their missions. Each NNI participating agency is obliged to carry out its mission and achieve its goals while coordinating and collaborating with other agencies in subjects of mutual interest and mission need.4 To focus interagency collaboration in strategic fields, the NSET Subcommittee has established four cross-agency working groups: Global Issues in Nanotechnol- ogy; Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications; Nanomanufactur- ing, Industry Liaison, and Innovation; and Nanotechnology Public Engagement and Communications. The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) provides technical and administrative support to the NSET Subcommittee, serves as the central point of contact for federal NNI R&D activities, and reaches out to 4    epartment of Defense Director, Defense Research and Engineering, Defense Nanotechnology D Research and Development Program, December 2009. Available at http://www.nano.gov/sites/default/ files/pub_resource/dod-report_to_congress_final_1mar10.pdf. Accessed March 3, 2012. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
A pp e n d i x E 145 the public on behalf of the NNI.5 The current cumulative NNI investment is now about $18 billion, which includes the president’s request for FY 2013.6 Pursuant to Section 5 of Public Law 108-153, the director of the NNCO re- quested that the National Research Council conduct the second triennial review of the NNI. The statement of task for the Committee on Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative: Phase II is given in Appendix A. The overall objective of the committee’s review is to make recommendations to the NSET Sub- committee and the NNCO that will improve the value of the NNI’s strategy and portfolio for basic research, applied research, and development of applications to provide economic, societal, and national-security benefits to U.S. citizens. The statement of task reflects the broad attention to and interest in optimizing the federal government’s investments to advance the commercialization, manufac- turing capability, national economy, and national security of the United States. For example, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) 2010 Report to the President and Congress on the Third Assessment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative stated that “the NNCO must develop metrics for program outputs” and “work with the Bureau of Economic Analysis to develop metrics and collect data on the economic impacts of the NNI.”7 The NSET 2011 Strategic Plan established the objective to “develop quantitative measures to assess the performance of the U.S. nanotechnology R&D program relative to that of other major econo- mies, in coordination with broader efforts to develop metrics for innovation.”8 The PCAST 2012 Report to the President and Congress on the Third Assessment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative reiterated its earlier recommendation, calling for the NNCO to “track the development of metrics for quantifying the Federal nanotechnology portfolio and implement them to assess NNI outputs.”9,10 5    ee S http://www.nano.gov/about-nni/nnco. Accessed February 21, 2013. 6   See http://www.wtec.org/nano2/Nanotechnology_Research_Directions_to_2020/chapter00-2. pdf. Accessed February 21, 2013. 7    eport to the President and Congress on the Third Assessment of the National Nanotechnology R Initiative, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, March 2010. 8    ational Science and Technology Council, National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan, Feb- N ruary 2011, available at http://www.nano.gov/sites/default/files/pub_resource/2011_strategic_plan. pdf. Accessed April 24, 2012. 9    eport to the President and Congress on the Fourth Assessment of the National Nanotechnology R Initiative, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, April 2012. 10    related study on this subject is the 2012 National Research Council report Improving Measures A of Science, Technology, and Innovation: Interim Report (National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2012), which examines the current status of science and technology indicators developed and pub- lished by the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) to measure (1) the condition and progress of U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development, (2) U.S. innovation and competitive- ness in science, technology, and R&D compared with other countries, and (3) whether the NCSES’s R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
146 Triennial Review of the N at i o n a l N a n o t e c h n o l o g y I n i t i at i v e The NNI has now reached a level of achievement and maturity such that its participating agencies are examining the possibility of developing better defini- tions of success and associated metrics that will guide the agencies individually and the NNI as a whole in expediting “the discovery, development, and deployment of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology to serve the public good”11 to accomplish the four highly integrated NNI goals. This interim report provides the committee’s initial comments related to Task 2: to assess whether the cur- rent procedures and metrics are suitable for determining progress toward NNI goals and to suggest alternative definitions of success and their associated metrics. Recommendations related to this task and to Tasks 1 and 3 will be offered in the committee’s final report. statistical activities are focused properly to produce the information that policy-makers, researchers, and businesses need for decision-making. 11    ational Science and Technology Council, National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan, Feb- N ruary 2011, available at http://www.nano.gov/sites/default/files/pub_resource/2011_strategic_plan. pdf. Accessed April 24, 2012. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
A pp e n d i x E 147 2 The 26 federal agencies that participate in the National Nanotechnology Initia- tive (NNI) are listed in Table 2.1; the top 15 in the list have NNI-related programs funded through the federal appropriations process. The eight cross-cutting NNI program component areas (PCAs), which are defined in the 2003 authorizing legis- lation as major subject areas in which related projects and activities are grouped, are listed in Table 2.2, and the relationships between the PCAs and missions, interests, and needs of the participating NNI agencies are shown in Table 2.3. In the 2011 NNI Strategic Plan, each agency articulated how nanotechnology had or will have an effect on its achieving its mission and how this maps into the cross-agency PCAs. Examples are provided here in excerpts from the statements made by the Department of Defense (DOD; Box 2.1), the National Institutes of Health (NIH; Box 2.2), and the Department of Labor/Occupational Safety and Health Administration (DOL/OSHA; Box 2.3). Those statements from three representative NNI participating agencies provide a view of what they regard as success for the NNI. For example, DOD seeks “sensors . . ., communications, and information processing systems needed for qualitative improvements in persis- tent surveillance,” OSHA seeks to “educate employers on their responsibility to protect workers and educate them on safe practices in handling nanomaterials,” R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
148 Triennial Review of the N at i o n a l N a n o t e c h n o l o g y I n i t i at i v e TABLE 2.1  Agencies Participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative in 2012 Federal Agencies with Budgets Dedicated to Nanotechnology Research and Development Agricultural Research Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA) Consumer Product Safety Commission Department of Defense Department of Energy Department of Homeland Security Department of Transportation (DOT, including the Federal Highway Administration) Environmental Protection Agency Food and Drug Administration (Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS]) Forest Service (USDA) National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Standards and Technology (Department of Commerce [DOC]) National Institutes of Health (DHHS) National Science Foundation Other Participating Agencies Bureau of Industry and Security (DOC) Department of Education Department of Justice Department of Labor (including Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Department of State Department of the Treasury Director of National Intelligence Nuclear Regulatory Commission U.S. Geological Survey (Department of the Interior) U.S. International Trade Commission U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (DOC) SOURCE: National Science and Technology Council, National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan, Febru- ary 2011, available at http://www.nano.gov/sites/default/files/pub_resource/2011_strategic_plan.pdf. ­ ccessed A April 24, 2012. and NIH seeks “new classes of nanotherapeutics and diagnostic biomarkers, tests, and devices.” With respect to collaboration among NNI participating agencies, the 2011 NNI Strategic Plan identified specific subjects for close, targeted interaction, including nanotechnology signature areas, “to foster innovation and accelerate nanotechnology development.”12 The NNI reports progress toward the four NNI goals annually in the NNI supplement to the president’s budget as required by the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-153). Issued by the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology Subcommittee of the National Science and 12    ational Science and Technology Council, National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan, N February 2011, available at http://www.nano.gov/sites/default/files/pub_resource/2011_strategic_ plan.pdf. Accessed April 24, 2012. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
A pp e n d i x E 149 TABLE 2.2  National Nanotechnology Initiative Program Component Areas Program Component Area Description Fundamental Discovery and development of fundamental knowledge pertaining to new Nanoscale phenomena in the physical, biologic, and engineering sciences that occur on Phenomena and the nanoscale. Elucidation of scientific and engineering principles related to Processes nanoscale structures, processes, and mechanisms. Nanomaterials Research aimed at the discovery of novel nanoscale and nanostructured materials and at a comprehensive understanding of the properties of nanomaterials (ranging across length scales and including interface interactions). Research and development (R&D) leading to the ability to design and synthesize, in a controlled manner, nanostructured materials with targeted properties. Nanoscale Devices R&D that applies the principles of nanoscale science and engineering to create and Systems novel devices and systems or to improve existing devices and systems. Includes the incorporation of nanoscale or nanostructured materials to achieve improved performance or new functionality. The enabling science and technology must be at the nanoscale, but the systems and devices themselves need not be. Instrumentation R&D pertaining to the tools needed to advance nanotechnology research and Research, Metrology, commercialization, including next-generation instrumentation for characterization, and Standards for measurement, synthesis, and design of materials, structures, devices, and Nanotechnology systems. Also includes R&D and other activities related to development of standards, including standards for nomenclature, materials characterization and testing, and manufacture. Nanomanufacturing R&D aimed at enabling scaled-up, reliable, and cost-effective manufacturing of nanoscale materials, structures, devices, and systems. Includes R&D and integration of ultraminiaturized top-down processes and increasingly complex bottom-up or self-assembly processes. Major Research Establishment of user facilities, acquisition of major instrumentation, and other Facilities and activities that develop, support, or enhance the nation’s scientific infrastructure Instrumentation for the conduct of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology R&D. Includes Acquisition continuing operation of user facilities and networks. Environment, Health, Research directed primarily at understanding the environmental, health, and Safety and safety effects of nanotechnology development and corresponding risk assessment, risk management, and methods for risk mitigation. Education and Education-related activities, such as development of materials for schools, Societal Dimensions undergraduate programs, technical training, and public communication, including outreach and engagement. Research directed at identifying and quantifying the broad implications of nanotechnology for society, including social, economic, workforce, educational, ethical, and legal implications. SOURCE: National Science and Technology Council, National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan, Febru- ary 2011, available at http://www.nano.gov/sites/default/files/pub_resource/2011_strategic_plan.pdf. ­ ccessed A April 24, 2012. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
164 Triennial Review of the N at i o n a l N a n o t e c h n o l o g y I n i t i at i v e Technology (NIST), and the Semiconductor Research Corporation. Models and metrics for success require an understanding of the pathways and timelines for translation of discovery to commercial products. Defining commercial benefits within the narrow confines of the U.S. economy is also challenging, given the highly interconnected global economy into which new nanotechnologies are launched. For example, it is extremely difficult to prepare sound economic-impact statements for a new technology that may be invented in the United States but then sold to a company that is headquartered elsewhere. The company may choose to manufacture the nanotechnology-enabled products in a third country but sell them in the United States, possibly yielding improvements in domestic productivity or quality of life, an increase in commercial activity, and financial benefits to U.S.-based shareholders in the company. Because of such complexities, which are difficult to tease apart, the committee believes that the most robust indicator of commercial benefit to the United States may be the growth of U.S.-based jobs related to nanotechnology. Once that growth is defined and enumerated, pre-existing estimates of the economic good associated with each additional skilled technology worker could be used to extrapolate from the number of jobs to a direct impact on the U.S. economy. Possible metrics of progress toward success as defined above in achieving NNI Goal 2 are listed below. •• Growth of nanotechnology-related jobs. •• Number of NNI-funded students who are hired for nanotechnology-related jobs. •• Number of published patents and applications (as reported by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) and patent licensing categorized according to —— Inventor affiliation (academe, industry, government, individual). —— Subject or sector (electronics, chemicals and materials, and so on). —— Inventor’s country of origin. •• Number of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards related to nanotechnology, categorized by field of interest or topic. •• Number of nanotechnology-related companies partnering in specific ways with NNI-funded user centers, possibly weighted by funding levels. •• Number and economic health of companies started by NNI-funded SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) recipients. •• Nanotechnology-enabled products known to have been derived at least in part from NNI-funded activities. Progress in fostering the transfer of technologies into products for commercial and public benefit is difficult to define, assess, and quantify throughout the NNI given the complexity of interactions. The translation of NNI research into products R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
A pp e n d i x E 165 will require different metrics for different agencies because the products will differ considerably in their type and path to fruition. Translational entities and programs set up by such agencies as DOD, the Department of Energy (DOE), NIST, and NSF may be dedicated to nano-enabled products or have goals that include nano- enabled products. Products vary considerably; for example, the products of NSF- funded university research are typically graduates, publications, and, to a smaller extent, intellectual property, all of which contribute to the development of the nanotechnology workforce and to the body of knowledge. DOD research is gener- ally aimed at developing technology that can be deployed for the national defense. Many companies are interested in products and services for public sale. Standards developed by various standards-development organizations with the participation of NIST and other federal agencies are a public good that supports industry while reducing technical barriers that favor a particular company’s or country’s agenda. The pathways by which research results are translated into practical applica- tions and commercial products are complex and numerous. Moreover, the time from research to product is typically measured in years or even decades. The NNI has existed for 10 years; nanotechnology-based products are emerging, and many more useful discoveries are in the innovation pipeline. At the agency or industry level, mechanisms exist for technology transfer and commercialization, and dif- ferent metrics may be required to capture their effectiveness. Moreover, commer- cialization depends on various innovation activities, and hence various metrics, in the NNI: knowledge generation and dissemination, technology transfer, commer- cialization, and workforce creation in which NNI agencies and program managers and members of the international nanotechnology R&D community are prime actors. Metrics may be based, for example, on knowledge (publications, intellectual property, and citations), workforce training (graduates, employees, and meetings attended), private-sector engagement (patent licensing data, SBIR or STTR grant data and later venture funding acquisition, cooperative R&D agreements, and public-private partnerships), or revenue. Desired outputs depend strongly on the agency involved; 26 agencies have widely different levels of engagement in the NNI as measured by funding for the research or staff involved. Outputs may even vary within a single agency. In DOE, for example, NNI-related output includes user centers, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy grants and contracts, SBIR funding, and the establishment of the Energy Frontier Research Centers program. In addition, outputs represent a broad range of technology readiness levels, and this has implications for the amount of funding, time, and effort required to convert a discovery or an invention into a useful product. Encouraging inventors to take risks to commercialize their ideas is as much a cultural issue as it is a financial or a technical issue. Commercialization can be stifled in an environment in which risk-taking is not encouraged, mentors are R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
166 Triennial Review of the N at i o n a l N a n o t e c h n o l o g y I n i t i at i v e not available, or licensing is difficult; some regions and institutions are good at off entrepreneurial activities, and others are not. Those cultural issues are common to universities, government laboratories, and other research institutions and can create a bottleneck in the innovation pipeline. Although that is not a ­nanotechnology-specific problem, addressing it is important for removing ­barriers to commercialization of results, given the substantial investment in the NNI. Inventors and organizations may not be aware of the potential commercial value of technology if there is not an environment that encourages startups or spin­ offs, and they may need a mechanism like a “preseed” workshop or NSF I-Corps18 to foster commercialization concepts. Federal and local agencies have recognized that—the NSF I-Corps is an example of what can be done at the federal level to en- courage and stimulate growth. It works to connect NSF-funded scientific research to the technologic, entrepreneurial, and business communities. The I-Corps cur- riculum is built on an accelerated version of Stanford University’s Lean LaunchPad course and additional elements designed for I-Corps grantees. All I-Corps team members attend a kickoff workshop at Stanford University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, or the University of Michigan and then join a series of Web-based lectures and present their business pitches at a meeting of I-Corps grantees. Awards are for $50,000 with a duration of 6 months. Many other excellent programs of this type may be available throughout the United States, but there is no current way to know how many and where they are. A measure of success for the NNI might be to expedite and facilitate connections for inventors in the nanotechnology-products realm to help them to identify a ­ gencies—federal, state, regional, and local—that can support them. The commit- tee will examine such issues in its final report. NATIONAL NANOTECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE GOAL 3: TO DEVELOP AND SUSTAIN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES, A SKILLED WORKFORCE, AND THE SUPPORTING INFRASTRUCTURE AND TOOLS TO ADVANCE NANOTECHNOLOGY The 2011 NNI Strategic Plan notes that the development and sustainment of the infrastructural elements addressed by NNI Goal 3 are essential for delivering commercial and public benefit from NNI efforts. The Strategic Plan supplements Goal 3 with three objectives that are paraphrased here as workforce development, informal education activities, and physical infrastructure development. Definitions of success that might be applied to NNI Goal 3 include the following: 18   See http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/i-corps/. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
A pp e n d i x E 167 •• The supply matches the demand for U.S.-based skilled nanotechnology workers.19 •• Public understanding of and interest in nanotechnology and how it may affect our lives are expanded. •• The amount and the type of infrastructure for nanotechnology advance- ment are appropriate, given the funding levels. •• Users’ technical needs are met through NNI user facilities. •• Rates of use of NNI infrastructure are high. Possible metrics of progress as defined above in achieving NNI Goal 3 are listed below. •• Evidence that U.S.-based skilled nanotechnology workers trained through the NNI are fully employed. •• Evidence that there is not unmet demand for skilled nanotechnology workers. •• Numbers of people beyond the NNI research community reached by spe- cific agency-driven outreach activities, such as teacher-education activities and K-12 student activities. •• Mass-media stories about nanotechnology activities in or related to NNI participating agencies. •• Use of current infrastructure, according to numbers and types of users, and the outcomes of use of the infrastructure. •• Satisfaction among participants in user facilities, as established through surveys. •• Responsiveness to unmet needs for infrastructure signaled by unfulfilled requests for access to infrastructure. The committee is impressed by the number and nature of programs targeting the training of a skilled nanotechnology workforce in the NNI environment. It is in the nation’s interest that the supply of and demand for skilled workers be in bal- ance. It is therefore desirable to collect reliable data on the supply of and demand for workers who have critical skills. Even the number of students who are receiving formal, career-oriented, “nanotechnology” education at various levels funded by NNI agencies is difficult to assess with the current system for collecting data from the agencies that participate in the NNI; only some agencies appear to collect such data, and the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office does not aggregate the data that are available as far as the committee can tell. The committee is considering ways in which data on the supply of workers at all levels of training and education 19    “nanotechnology worker” is, for example, a scientist or an engineer (such as a materials scien- A tist, chemist, or physicist) who is trained to work on processes in the 1- to 100-nm range. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
168 Triennial Review of the N at i o n a l N a n o t e c h n o l o g y I n i t i at i v e might be aggregated and compared with indicators of the workforce demand for skilled nanotechnology workers as a function of time. At a minimum, the NNI-funded ecosystem should be graduating students at a rate sufficient to drive the nanotechnology innovation and commercialization process. Achieving that result, however, will require as a first step the collection and analysis of data. It may, however, be useful to collect and analyze the supply-side dataset. For NNI participating agencies, it may be possible to report where students work immediately after graduation. NNI-trained students moving to employment with U.S. firms, agencies or with institutions involved in nanotechnology could per- haps be fairly viewed as expanding the skilled nanotechnology workforce, whether or not job listings specify nanotechnology skills. It is difficult to estimate the size of the current nanotechnology workforce, but the related issue of workforce growth in this segment, as estimated from periodic review of U.S. job listings, might provide a useful metric. The committee notes with interest the data on nanotechnology job openings collated by Freeman and Shukla for 2008 directly from the on-line job board SimplyHired.com.20 The data are broken down into 18 categories, some of which are nanotechnology-specific (for example, scientist and engineer) and some of which might be considered sup- port roles (information technology, human resources, and administration). Taken together, however, the data indicate the health of the U.S. nanotechnology economy. If tracked over a longer period, they might be considered a proxy indicator of the growth of the U.S. nanotechnology economy through the demand for a skilled nanotechnology workforce. The committee notes that many of the job listings represent workforce churn—skilled people changing jobs—rather than new posi- tions, so it is the time-based growth in the number of listings that is of primary interest for NNI metrics, given the assumption that the churn rate might be taken as a somewhat constant fraction, other factors being equal. The number of people receiving “nanotechnology” education at various levels through outreach and informal educational activities enabled by the NNI and the effectiveness of such activities will probably also be important to quantify. It will be difficult to measure efforts to expand public understanding of nanotechnology and all that it entails or to measure the effectiveness of such efforts. A possible metric is an estimate of the number of people reached by specific agency-driven outreach activities. The NNI has created a substantial infrastructure that includes everything from laboratory equipment that is used by a single principal investigator to major facili- ties that are open to qualified researchers. The latter category includes the DOE nanoscale science research centers, the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and 20    . Freeman and K. Shukla, Jobs in Nanotechnology—Creating a Measure of Job Growth, Science R and Engineering Workforce Project Digest, National Bureau of Economic Research, June 2008. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
A pp e n d i x E 169 Technology, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-Food and Drug Administra- tion (FDA)-NIST Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory, and NSF centers and networks, including the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network and the Network for Computational Nanotechnology.21 The committee applauds the objective stated in the 2011 NNI Strategic Plan of taking an inventory of current infrastructure and estimating infrastructure needs out to 2020. The related issue of accessibility of that infrastructure should also be addressed. Metrics of progress toward that objective should track how useful the current infrastructure is (for example, on the basis of numbers and types of users, rates of use of key tools, and outcomes of using the infrastructure) and whether there are unmet infrastructure needs. The committee is also interested in metrics that indicate the relative success of different models for operating the existing nanotechnology facilities in support- ing innovation, such as papers written by academic and industry partners and related patent activity. Such metrics might reveal which operating models are most ­ ffective and thus provide direction to the management teams in new and exist- e ing facilities that are seeking to maximize impact. Some such data are given in the 2011 report Assessment of Fifteen Nanotechnology Science and Engineering Centers’ (NSECs) Outcomes and Impacts: Their Contribution to NNI Objectives and Goals.22 NATIONAL NANOTECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE GOAL 4: TO SUPPORT THE RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT OF NANOTECHNOLOGY NNI Goal 4 attempts “to assure that nanotechnology-enabled products mini- mize adverse impacts and maximize benefits to humans and the environment.” The NNI role in supporting responsible development includes investing in research on potential risks to health or the environment from nanomaterials and on societal aspects of the development of nanotechnology applications. Ensuring responsible development also entails communicating relevant information with various stake- holders, including business, international governance and other organizations, educators, and the public. It is notable that success in responsible nanotechnology development is considered necessary for the achievement of NNI Goals 1-3. Of the eight NNI program component areas, two in particular reflect the goals of responsible development of nanotechnology: Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), and Education and Societal Dimensions. 21    nformation I about each can be found on the nano.gov Web site by clicking on “Collaborations and Funding” and “User Facilities.” 22    vailable at http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/nano/reports/Assessment_2011+May+12+of+NSEC A +by+GaTech_ FinalReport_56p_web.pdf. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
170 Triennial Review of the N at i o n a l N a n o t e c h n o l o g y I n i t i at i v e The 2011 NNI Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy23 lays out the breadth and complexity of NNI Goal 4 and supplements it with a number of important, and in many cases concrete, objectives. In 2012, the funding for EHS is estimated to increase by about 20 percent over 2011 levels. The increase is in keeping with the perception that EHS will be critical for success in leverag- ing nanotechnology for societal benefit by identifying and addressing potential hazards of nanomaterials at an early stage. The primary agencies, by dollar value, that are supporting the EHS program component area are NSF, NIH, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and FDA is playing an increasing role as new nanotechnology products come to market. Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been a member of the NNI since 2004, it contributed to the NNI budget for the first time in 2011; this shows the increasing importance of Goal 4 as nano- technology matures. Because of the complexity of NNI Goal 4, related definitions of success are particularly challenging to distill but may include the following: •• Development, updating, and implementation of a coordinated program of EHS research leads to development of tools and methods for risk char- acterization and risk assessment in general—including both hazards and the likelihood of exposure—and supports expanding understanding of potential risks posed by broad classes of nanomaterials. •• Results of EHS research worldwide are public and easily available to r ­ esearchers and users of nanomaterials. •• Businesses of all sizes are aware of potential risks posed by nanomaterials and know where to obtain current information about their properties and best practices for handling them. •• To enable continued innovation, regulatory agencies have sufficient infor- mation to assess the risks posed by new nanomaterials. •• The NNI supports research to assess the societal effects of nanotechnology in parallel with technology development. •• K-12 students are exposed to nanotechnology as part of their education and are aware of the potential applications and opportunities available to those who go into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathe­ matics) disciplines. •• The general public has access to information about nanotechnology and a growing percentage is familiar with the fundamental concepts. 23   See http://www.nano.gov/sites/default/files/pub_resource/nni_2011_ehs_research_strategy.pdf. Accessed September 27, 2012. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
A pp e n d i x E 171 •• The NNI includes R&D aimed at applying nanotechnology to solve societal challenges, such as affordable access to clean water, safe food, and medical care. Possible metrics of progress toward success as defined above in achieving NNI Goal 4 are listed below. •• EHS collaborations and projects or centers funded. •• Number of NNI EHS research results that are made easily accessible, for example, through an NNI-managed clearinghouse or in cooperation with international organizations. •• Guidance documents developed and made available to the public. •• Number of faculty and students supported for research in nanotechnology- related endeavors. •• Number of K-12 students and educators engaged by NNI-funded ­researchers, including DOE laboratory outreach and NSF-funded researchers, and the effects of such engagement. •• Evidence of public awareness and attitude regarding nanotechnology based on data on NNI-funded research. •• Availability of on-line information and news items related to nanotechnology. •• Evidence that NNI agencies are engaged in international forums discussing and developing standards, norms, and strategies for responsible develop- ment of nanotechnology. •• Number of NNI participating agency representatives at various interna- tional forums. •• Compilation of commercialized or commercializable technologies. •• Number of companies offering EHS, nanotoxicity, or nanotechnology safety services. •• Evolution of outcomes and impact of sustained funding in the EHS and societal dimensions of the NNI. Progress toward Goal 4 requires collection of data and development of methods to assess potential risks associated with engineered nanomaterials. Integral to that effort is the design of methods and protocols for assessing properties of nano­ materials and their biologic effects on the environment and on human health and the creation of guidance documents, standards, or other regulatory approaches. The amount of information that is needed to make informed decisions is large (and expensive to collect and catalog). The committee applauds the NNI for its renewed commitment to addressing these hard problems and plans in its final report to suggest metrics for gauging progress or success without imposing undue reporting burdens on the participating agencies. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
172 Triennial Review of the N at i o n a l N a n o t e c h n o l o g y I n i t i at i v e THE PATH FORWARD TO IMPROVED METRICS The committee believes in the value of metrics—why we have them, what we hope to accomplish by using them, and how we can tailor them to yield the infor- mation desired—but will not recommend measuring something simply because it can be measured. Metrics should make clear what the desired outcomes are. That is, there must be a model that relates what is measured to the desired outcome and an accurate system for doing the measuring. Having both constitutes having a metric. Without both, measurements will have little value for program management. The committee recognizes the difficulty of defining robust models and metrics for a field as diffuse as nanotechnology, for agencies as diverse as the 26 NNI par- ticipating agencies, and for goals as far-reaching as the four NNI goals. However, it emphasizes that any models and metrics applied must be rigorous and able to stand up fully to scientific scrutiny. If the data used are inaccurate or if the models linking data to desired outcomes have not been properly established, evaluation, rational decision-making, and allocation of resources become compromised. For example, the definitions by various stakeholders of what counts as nanotechnology are not consistent and make comparing or combining current analyses difficult or impossible. The committee observes that data gathered by different agencies cannot now be usefully compared. The measurement systems are not the same. The agencies use different metrics for their R&D programs that are based on a given agency, its mission, and its historical way of doing things. The NNI is being asked to establish definitions of success and associated metrics for fulfilling the overarching NNI goals while meeting the needs and supporting the missions of the NNI participat- ing agencies. To achieve those objectives, there must be both a model (or a set of m ­ odels) that relates what is measured to the planned NNI outcomes and an accu- rate measurement system that operates throughout the NNI agencies. With respect to NNI R&D, some outcomes can be measured now; others may be measurable soon with the use of new data-collection and data-mining capabilities. In sum, what is needed to assess the NNI’s progress and success are accurate measurement systems and valid models. In general, computational and data capacities have outrun the accuracy of measurement systems and understanding of the phenom- ena that relate metrics to desired outcomes. The result may be exciting graphical representations whose meaning remains uncertain. A key part of the solution is to get scientists together and to work with the NNI community to develop models that can be tested to validate the measures on the ground. In other words, the NNI could benefit from investing in research on indicators and processes to support the development and effective use of metrics. The issue of metrics is not peculiar to the NNI. Other federal research programs and the international R&D community also are grappling with the issue of how to R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139
A pp e n d i x E 173 measure impact and return on investment. The committee views the present study as an opportunity to stimulate additional discussion on the question of metrics. It believes that metrics and models that relate metrics to outcomes of R&D can and should be developed for the NNI and other government programs. This interim report presents an overview of considerations related to the characteristics of good metrics. The committee’s final report will provide specific recommendations on the topic that are based on the concepts presented here. R e p r i n t e d I n t e r i m R e p o r t

OCR for page 139