Technology (PCAST) recommended substantially increasing the amount spent on nanomanufacturing research. The private sector echoed the importance of support for manufacturing research and development (R&D) in a 2011 report by Battelle and R&D Magazine.1 Although this finding was not specific to nanotechnology, the U.S. companies surveyed, according to the report, ranked support for academic R&D in manufacturing second among recommended government actions. The recommendations were to
• Provide tax credits or incentives to companies that had active manufacturing R&D programs (67 percent).
• Support academic R&D in manufacturing (46 percent).
• Increase technology-transfer support from U.S. national laboratories to industry (39 percent).
• Create manufacturing R&D programs in U.S. national laboratories (36 percent).
• Create a manufacturing “challenge” program (28 percent).
• Increase tariffs on products manufactured offshore (25 percent).
Commercialization of nanotechnology encompasses the application of nanotechnology derived from both NNI-related funded research and other sources. The NNI supports commercialization broadly—providing access to facilities and programs that help to bridge the “valley of death” from basic research, regardless of whether it was funded by the NNI, through development to practical application. Hence, a large fraction of the innovations now coming to market have roots in NNI-related funded research.
Since passage of the Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act (also known as the Bayh-Dole Act) and the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, technology transfer has been a right and even a responsibility of recipients of federal research funding. Now, more than a quarter-century after those landmark pieces of legislation, numerous public and private entities are striving to promote technology transfer. Aside from its novelty, and hence the existence of little in the way of standards and regulatory certainty, nanotechnology is not unique in the challenges and obstacles to moving discoveries from the laboratory into commercial application and use.
What is different about nanotechnology is the existence of the NNI—its strong coordination among participating agencies and its ability to reach the private sector and the public at large, for example, through the National Nanotechnology
1 Battelle and R&D Magazine, “2012 Global R&D Funding Forecast,” December 2011, available at http://battelle.org/docs/default-document-library/2012_global_forecast.pdf?sfvrsn=2, accessed November 15, 2012.