In moving toward its goals and addressing national needs, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) involves, affects, and interacts with many stakeholder groups in and outside the federal government. The interconnections between NNI stakeholders are many and complex and are essential for the success of the President’s Strategy for American Innovation1 in creating jobs and industries of the future that are based on scientific breakthroughs, innovation-based economic growth, and a world-class workforce. Each stakeholder group plays a role in the nanotechnology “innovation ecosystem,” and the success of each is important for the realization of benefits from nanotechnology in general and the success of the NNI in particular. The participating NNI federal agencies support many nonfederal stakeholders, but the support is not unidirectional. Advances can be greatly expedited through public-private collaborations and by planning for long-term outcomes from the beginning. Moreover, the NNI can help to connect nonfederal stakeholders with federal stakeholders and to each other—for example, connecting NNI centers with regional, state, and local centers and with teachers and students around the country and connecting entrepreneurs with those seeking new ideas and solutions.
1 See National Economic Council, Council of Economic Advisers, and Office of Science and Technology Policy, A Strategy for American Innovation—Securing Our Economic Growth and Prosperity, February 2011, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/InnovationStrategy.pdf, accessed November 14, 2012.
The text below describes the roles and responsibilities of various federal and nonfederal stakeholders and emphasizes where partnerships and collaborations can (and sometimes do) take place.
The stakeholders in the NNI include
• Individual researchers,
• Research teams, institutes, and centers,
• Small businesses,
• Large businesses,
• Contract laboratories,
• Nonprofit organizations,
• Office of Science and Technology Policy,
• Federal departments and agencies,
• User facilities,
• State, local, and regional governments,
• State, local, and regional science centers,
• Labor organizations,
• Trade and professional organizations,
• Policy centers,
• News organizations,
• Law firms,
• Consumers, and
• U.S. taxpayers.
Specific examples drawn from a 2010 NNI-sponsored workshop are given in Appendix C.
Nanotechnology research takes place worldwide. An idea of the international stakeholders interested in the economic benefits of nanotechnology to their countries can be obtained from a list of the organizations that participated in the recent International Symposium on Assessing the Economic Impact of Nanotechnology. The symposium—which was organized by the NNI, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and was held in March 2012 in Washington,
D.C.—had an objective that was central to the tasks given to the present committee: “to systematically explore the need for and development of a methodology to assess the economic impact of nanotechnology across whole economies, factoring in many sectors and types of impact, including new and replacement products and materials, markets for raw materials, intermediate and final goods, and employment and other economic impacts.”2 The broad interest of nations around the world in the symposium indicates the level of importance paid not only to nanotechnology but also to maximizing national and regional return on investment in research in general.
The National Research Council report Rising to the Challenge: U.S. Innovation Policy for Global Economy looks at innovation policies in other areas of the world and how, for example, science and technology (S&T) parks have affected technology transfer in such fields as nanotechnology.3
The NNI has created structures that enhance interaction among stakeholder groups. An example is the creation and diffusion of knowledge and ideas through formal connections between and among authors of scientific publications and their organizations in the 19 National Science Foundation (NSF) nanoscience and engineering centers.4
Other NNI structures that foster stakeholder engagement and interaction are the NSF Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) and the NSF Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE). Those networks are designed to serve diverse research and education user groups, from world-leading
2 See Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, “International Symposium on Assessing the Economic Impact of Nanotechnology,” 2012, available at http://www.oecd.org/sti/nano/, accessed December 12, 2012.
3 National Research Council, Rising to the Challenge: U.S. Innovation Policy for Global Economy, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2012. See especially the following pages: France, p. 113; China, p. 236; and India, p. 245.
4 Center for Nanotechnology in Society, Arizona State University; Center for Electron Transport in Molecular Nanostructures, Columbia University; Center for Nanoscale Systems, Cornell University; Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, Duke University; Science of Nanoscale Systems and Their Device Applications, Harvard University; Center for High Rate Nanomanufacturing, Northeastern University; Center for Integrated Nanopatterning and Detection Technologies, Northwestern University; Center for Affordable Nanoengineering of Polymeric Biomedical Devices, Ohio State University; Center for Directed Assembly of Nanostructures, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology, Rice University; Center for Probing the Nanoscale, Stanford University; Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems, University of California, Berkeley; Center for Scalable and Integrated Nanomanufacturing, University of California, Berkeley; Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology, University of California, Los Angeles; Center for Nanotechnology in Society, University of California, Santa Barbara; Center for Nanoscale Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical Manufacturing Systems, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Nano/Bio Interface Center, University of Pennsylvania; and Center in Templated Synthesis and Assembly at the Nanoscale, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
nanotechnology researchers to K-12 educators, their students, and the public. The nanoHUB.org website is NCN’s primary dissemination mechanism for providing a wide array of tools and simulation software and is designed and managed to measure and improve its effectiveness in research and education. Not just an Internet repository of software for computational nanotechnology, nanoHUB allows researchers and educators to contribute, access, and run nanoscience and nanotechnology simulation tools from a web browser. Use and dissemination tracking software for these tools, as illustrated in the usage map in Figure 3.1, provides critical information on who is using the tools, where and how they are using them, and how effective specific NCN strategies are for making the tools more useful, increasing the number of available tools, and propagating their use. From innovation ecosystem maps to the evolution of networks within the nano-
technology community, such types of analyses help to measure the effectiveness in meeting the needs of NNI stakeholder groups and in improving connections necessary to make the NNI vision a reality.
The outreach and educational activities of NISE are aimed at general audiences and focus on informal education. The annual Nanodays sponsored and strongly supported by NISE constitute a nationwide educational “festival” at museums, research centers, and universities focused on engaging and informing the public about nanoscale science, engineering, and technology. Through its website, NISE provides teaching and media kits to event organizers in both physical and digital forms. The number of annual events has grown from about 100 in 2008 to over 200 across the United States in 2011.5Figure 3.2 provides a visual indication of Nanodays
5 C. McCarthy, R. Ostman, M. Kortenaar, A. Stein, C. Akers, K.C. Miller, V. Olney, and S. Pattison, NanoDays 2011 Report and Survey, National Science Foundation Award Numbers ESI-0532536 and 0940143, May 25, 2011, available at http://www.nisenet.org/sites/default/files/catalog/eval/uploads/2011/09/703/nd2011_report_25may11.pdf, accessed November 19, 2012.
events held in the United States in 2008-2012. Another education example is the NNI program involving the Pennsylvania State University Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge (NACK) Network (www.nano4me.org). The NACK Network “provides national coordination of workforce development programs and activities on behalf of the NSF ATE (Advanced Technological Education) program in an effort to meet industry needs for skilled micro-nanotechnology workers. The NACK Network is a partnership of 2-year community and technical colleges and 4-yr universities that provide resources for educators and students to create and sustain economically viable nanotechnology education across the U.S.”6 The NACK Network is partially funded by NSF.
Another key group is the professional societies—such as the Optical Society of America, SPIE, the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society, the American Vacuum Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, AAAS, and the American Chemical Society—which have contributed substantially to nanotechnology knowledge dissemination and technology transfer. Numerous meetings and symposia on nanotechnology have been organized by professional societies. They provide a forum for networking among academic, industrial, and government scientists. In addition, research presented at the meetings is occasionally highlighted in the popular press, and this exposes the general population to nanotechnology advances. Much of the research presented at the meetings has been sponsored by the NNI; highlights can be found on the nano.gov website.
Professional societies also hold educational workshops, which are attended by many in industry for their own professional development. Much of the research sponsored by the NNI is published in journals of professional societies.
The above examples illustrate a number of excellent NNI programs and infrastructure for outreach, education, and connection of various stakeholder groups. It is hoped that implementing a framework for planning, management, and collaboration will make it easier to identify the stakeholders who are expected to benefit from the NNI in the short term, the intermediate term, and the long term and to assess the benefits at each timescale on the basis of the goals of the program and the resources that are made available.
This section reviews the current roles, responsibilities, and actions of federal stakeholders involved in planning, coordination, and management of the NNI.
Office of Science and Technology Policy
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has as part of its mission to “ensure that the scientific and technical work of the Executive Branch is properly coordinated so as to provide the greatest benefit to society.”7 Moreover, OSTP seeks to “energize and nurture the processes by which government programs in science and technology are resourced, evaluated, and coordinated” and to “sustain the core professional and scientific relationships with government officials, academics, and industry representatives that are required to understand the depth and breadth of the nation’s scientific and technical enterprise, evaluate scientific advances, and identify potential policy proposals.”
OSTP provides guidance and oversight for the NNI. Those roles are apparent in the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released in 2012 titled Nanotechnology—Improved Performance Information Needed for Environmental, Health, and Safety Research.8 The report states that in 2008 GAO had “recommended that the Director of OSTP, in consultation with the Directors of NNCO [the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office] and OMB [the Office of Management and Budget], provide better guidance to agencies on how to report nanotechnology EHS [environmental, health, and safety] research” (p. 6). In its 2008 report,9 the agency had “found that neither NSET [the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Technology (NSTC)] nor OMB had provided guidance on whether or how to apportion funding for a single research project to more than one program component area [PCA], if appropriate” (p. 21). In the 2012 report, “GAO recommends that the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which administers the NSTC, (1) coordinate development of performance information for NNI EHS research needs and publicly report this information; and (2) estimate the costs and resources necessary to meet the research needs” (Highlights page).
NNI Participating Agencies
In contrast with most large federal programs, the NNI is funded through requests in the individual agencies’ annual budgets. The NNI agencies establish goals that are based on their missions, identify research that is needed to accomplish
7 Office of Science and Technology Policy, “About OSTP,” available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/about, accessed December 7, 2012.
8 Government Accountability Office (GAO), Nanotechnology: Improved Performance Information Needed for Environmental, Health, and Safety Research, GAO-12-427, May 2012, available at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-427, accessed August 8, 2012.
9 GAO, Better Guidance Is Needed to Ensure Accurate Reporting of Federal Research Focused on Environmental, Health, and Safety Risks, GAO-08-402, March 31, 2008.
those goals, allocate and distribute federal resources, monitor progress, and take action to maximize return on federal investments while ensuring that the primary agency goals are met. Agencies report their nanotechnology-related funding in the supplement to the President’s annual budget as required by statute. When agencies fund programs in which nanotechnology is explicitly identified among agency priorities, agency advisory bodies often are called on to provide input, review, or make recommendations. However, a substantial fraction of the support reported as NNI funding is within research and development (R&D) programs designed to meet mission needs. In such cases, the role of nanotechnology is subordinate to mission needs, and relevance to the NNI is determined after the funding is committed.
Despite the “bottom-up” mechanism by which NNI funding is developed, participating agencies realize added value through their involvement in the NNI and the NSET Subcommittee (Box 3.1), assigning representatives to the various interagency bodies (Box 3.2) and committing resources to the interagency effort.
The NSTC was established in 1993 as the principal means within the executive branch to coordinate science and technology policy across the diverse entities that make up the Federal research and development enterprise. Chaired by the President, the membership of the NSTC is made up of the Vice President, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Secretaries and Agency Heads with significant science and technology responsibilities, and other White House officials. A primary objective of the NSTC is the establishment of clear national goals for Federal science and technology investments in a broad array of areas spanning virtually all the mission areas of the executive branch.… The work of the NSTC is organized under five primary committees: Environment, Natural Resources and Sustainability; Homeland and National Security; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education; Science; and Technology.10
As stated in the 2003 supplement to the President’s budget, “the NNI is managed within the framework of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on Technology (CoT). The committee, composed of senior-level representatives from the federal government’s research and development departments and agencies, provides policy leadership and budget guidance for the NNI and other multiagency technology programs.”11
10 National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), “About NSTC,” available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/nstc/about, accessed December 19, 2012.
11 NSTC, “Strengthening National, Homeland, and Economic Security—Networking and Information Technology Research and Development: Supplement to the President’s Budget, July 2002,” available at http://www.nitrd.gov/open/PDF/FY_2003_Supplement_to_the_President%27s_Budget.pdf, accessed November 10, 2012.
Examples of Agency Involvement in the NNI
The NNI, through regular Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee meetings and activities within the NSET working groups, provides mechanisms for the U.S. Geological Survey to share information on nanotechnology research and to collaborate with other agencies.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has contributed substantially to the NNI by providing advice on patent and other intellectual-property matters and has contributed a variety of nanotechnology-related patent data, which have been used as a benchmark to analyze nanotechnology development and to perform trend analysis of nanotechnology patenting activity in the United States and globally.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) staff members participate widely in nanotechnology-related standards development and international cooperation activities to promote transfer of NIST research, technology, and measurement services and to advance NNI objectives that are in the Department of Commerce mission.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will continue to work with the NNI and a broad array of national and international partners to develop research-based information and guidance to protect workers involved with nanomaterials. The results being produced by NIOSH will continue to serve as the foundation for meeting the critical NNI research needs related to human exposure assessment, exposure mitigation, risk-assessment techniques, risk-management practices, and human medical surveillance and epidemiology.
The Department of State actively participates in the NNI to identify and promote multilateral and bilateral scientific activities that support U.S. foreign-policy objectives, protect national security interests, advance economic interests, and foster environmental protection. International scientific collaboration enhances existing U.S. research, development, and innovation programs.
The 2011 NNI strategic plan clearly defines the roles of the NSET Subcommittee, its responsibilities, and actions that its roles and responsibilities imply:
Coordinated under the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the NSTC’s Committee on Technology (CoT), the NNI provides a framework for a comprehensive nanotechnology R&D program by establishing shared goals, priorities, and strategies complementing agency-specific missions and activities and providing avenues for individual agencies to leverage the resources of all participating agencies. Further, the NNI provides a central interface with academia and industry as well as regional/state organizations and international counterparts in the process of innovating nanotechnology.12
The NSET Subcommittee leads the interagency coordination of the Federal Government’s nanotechnology R&D enterprise by cooperatively coordinating the research, development, communication, and funding functions of the NNI. The NSET Subcommittee develops the
12 NSTC, National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan, Committee on Technology, Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology, February 2011, available at http://www.nano.gov/sites/default/files/pub_resource/2011_strategic_plan.pdf, accessed December 19, 2012, p. 1.
Examples of the Benefits Enjoyed by Agencies That Participate in the NNI
The interagency coordination provided by the NNI enables the Bureau of Industry and Security of the Department of Commerce (DOC) to stay apprised of nanotechnology advances that may present national security challenges and that may provide opportunities for companies in the national defense industrial base.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with federal partners, analyzes the use and safety of nanotechnology in consumer products. To meet identified data needs, the CPSC staff has met and collaborated with staff at a number of federal agencies on subjects of mutual interest when collaboration would be beneficial and support the missions of the individual agencies.
The Department of Defense (DOD) was among the initial participating agencies in the NNI and the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee. It continues to consider the initiative and its formal coordination to be valuable as a means of facilitating technology planning, coordination, and communication among the federal agencies. The meetings and workshops hosted or facilitated by the NNI participants help to identify and define options and opportunities that contribute materially to DOD planning activities and program formulation. The reviews and collegial meetings, working groups, and task forces established under the auspices of the NSET Subcommittee are valuable means of formal and informal coordination at the federal level and form a solid basis for exploring collaborative activities, addressing mutual or pervasive issues, and identifying instances in which interagency assistance is needed or would be productive. DOD has continuously contributed to the NNI through participation in the above-noted activities and through numerous outreach and programmatic efforts in which nanotechnology has been a principal aspect of the program or planning. The transparency that is enabled by the NNI is viewed as symmetrically beneficial to DOD, the other agencies, and the many private-sector stakeholders in the broad arena of nanoscience, nanotechnology, and nanotechnology-enabled applications.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has participated in the NNI since its inception and maintains a strong commitment to the initiative, which has served as an effective and valuable way of spotlighting needs and targeting resources in this critical emerging field of science and technology. The NNI continues to provide a focus for overall investment in physical sciences, a crucial locus for inter-
NNI Strategic Plan, prepares the annual NNI supplement to the President’s Budget, and sponsors workshops or other interagency activities that inform the Federal Government’s nanotechnology-related decision-making processes. The high level framework provided by the NNI Strategic Plan establishes goals, objectives, and priorities. It guides and informs the participating agencies in developing their nanotechnology R&D implementation plans. The subcommittee promotes balanced investment across all of the agencies to address the critical elements needed to support the development and utilization of nanotechnology. Further, the subcommittee interacts with pertinent academic, industry, state, and local government groups, and with international organizations.13
In other words the responsibilities of the NSET Subcommittee as stated in the 2011 NNI strategic plan are as follows:
13 Ibid., p. 33.
agency communication and collaboration, and an impetus for coordinated planning. The research and infrastructure successes spurred by the NNI have made the United States a world leader in the field, with substantial national benefit.1
To help nanotechnology to create maximum societal benefits and to minimize its potential environmental effects, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with its federal partners on the NSET Subcommittee to ensure that research gaps are covered, critical issues are addressed, and information is communicated to all interested stakeholders.
Through the NNI interagency efforts, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) accomplishes its mission by collaborating and sharing information with other federal agencies. As part of that effort, OSHA’s goal is to educate employers on their responsibility to protect workers and educate them in safe practices in handling nanomaterials. OSHA is developing guidance and educational materials promoting worker safety and health that will be shared with the public and through the NNI.
The Department of State actively participates in the NNI to identify and promote multilateral and bilateral scientific activities that support U.S. foreign-policy objectives, protect national security interests, advance economic interests, and foster environmental protection. International scientific collaboration enhances existing U.S. research, development, and innovation programs.
Through participation in the NNI and representation on the NSET Subcommittee, the research and development arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service has begun to partner with other federal entities—such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), NSF, DOE, and DOD—industry, and academe to develop the precompetitive science and techology critical for the economic and sustainable production and use of new high-value, nanotechnology-enabled forest-based products. Participation in the NNI and the NSET Subcommittee has helped to create a favorable environment for increased Forest Service investment in nanotechnology research and development.
1 NSTC, National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan, Committee on Technology, Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology, February 2011, available at http://www.nano.gov/sites/default/files/pub_resource/2011_strategic_plan.pdf, accessed December 19, 2012.
• Sharing information between NNI participating agencies.
• Making sure that other agencies know of research results that affect their ability to fulfill their missions.
• Avoiding duplication among agencies.
• Setting strategic directions and formulating strategic plans for the NNI.
• Coordinating interagency planning, budgeting, and review of the NNI.
• Coordinating and maintaining interactions between OSTP, OMB, and Congress, including annual reporting.
• Developing and coordinating signature initiatives.
• Interacting with and enabling partnerships with regional, state, and local government organizations, academe, industry, and other nonfederal government stakeholders and organizations, including international organizations, researchers, and governments.
• Coordinating the response to and the implementation of specific recommendations by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and other advisory bodies.
• Communicating and interacting with federal and nonfederal stakeholders, including communication via the NNI website.
The goals of the individual agencies determine the level of involvement of their NSET Subcommittee representatives in NNI roles, responsibilities, and activities.
The NSET Subcommittee has formed four working groups (see Figure 1.1): Global Issues in Nanotechnology (GIN); Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications (NEHI); Nanomanufacturing, Industry Liaison, and Innovation (NILI); and Nanotechnology Public Engagement and Communications (NPEC).14 The working groups have goals that are in synergy with the four main goals of the NNI as described in Box S.2.
The GIN working group goals are these:
Monitoring foreign nanotechnology programs and development; broadening international cooperation and communications regarding nanotechnology research and development (R&D) including activities related to safeguarding environmental and human health; and promoting the United States’ commercial and trade interests in nanotechnology in the global marketplace. The GIN working group will seek to identify areas for international cooperation and anticipate and address areas of potential international concern in order to facilitate the responsible and beneficial development of nanotechnology.15
The NEHI working group has goals of protecting public health and the environment. It promotes communication of EHS information and provides information exchange among agencies regarding nanotechnology research, regulation, and guidelines related to nanomaterials and products containing nanomaterials. NEHI supports development of tools and methods to identify, set priorities among, and manage strategies to enable risk analysis and regulatory decision making for nanomaterials and products incorporating nanomaterials. It also supports development of consensus-based nanotechnology standards, including nomenclature and terminology, by working with international organizations and governments and shares its findings and EHS best practices with international organizations. NEHI takes responsibility for managing, coordinating, reviewing, and revising the interagency EHS research strategy.16
NILI’s stated goals are to develop interactions with U.S. industry and state
organizations to support nanotechnology development and technology transfer. The overall purpose is
to advance and accelerate the creation of new products and manufacturing processes derived from discovery at the nanoscale. This includes stimulating nanotechnology innovation in and by Federal Government agencies, for their use and in transferring technology among industry, academe, and State and local organizations. The NILI Working Group serves to coordinate nanomanufacturing R&D and translation activities among the participating agencies, which also involves liaison and close coordination with the private sector, where nanomanufacturing innovations will be implemented. It also facilitates interagency cooperation, and cooperation with industry, in the development of standards and nomenclature.17
The purposes of the NPEC working group are “to encourage, coordinate, and support NNI member agencies and interagency efforts toward educating and engaging the public, policy makers, and stakeholder groups regarding nanotechnology, its applications and implications, and the work of the NNI.”18 NPEC provides public input and outreach by convening regular and continuing public discussions on nanotechnology. It helps to plan public engagement activities and assess the need for continuing NNI-related public participation.
National Nanotechnology Coordination Office
The NNCO provides technical and administrative support to the NSET Subcommittee and its working groups and is critical for the success and effectiveness of the NNI. It organizes NNI workshops and facilitates the production of various reports, strategic plans, and so on, that represent efforts at the interagency level. The NNCO develops and maintains the NNI website (nano.gov), which serves as a portal for information and questions about federal nanotechnology programs and activities ranging from research to regulation.
The NNCO model is embodied in a memorandum of agreement among NNI participating agencies.19 In effect, the NSET Subcommittee is the equivalent of the NNCO board of directors, approving activities and providing direction to the NNCO. OSTP, which cochairs the NSET Subcommittee and to which the NNCO director reports, also has input on the roles and responsibilities of the NNCO. Additional tasks for the NNCO that require resources are ultimately paid for, and must be agreed to,
by the contributing agencies. The NNCO currently coordinates activities, including interactions with regional, state, and local governments and the signature initiatives.
The funding related to the NNI in 2012 was reported to be $1.85 billion among the participating agencies. (NNI-related federal funding is defined as participating agency funding associated with nanotechnology projects and initiatives that fall under the NNI umbrella.) Because their research is identified by the agencies as part of the NNI (and reported as such annually by the agencies in the supplement to the President’s annual budget), people and organizations receiving NNI-related federal funding are expected by organizations that review the NNI (OSTP, PCAST, GAO, and the National Research Council) to be active in working toward the four NNI goals.20 The NSET Subcommittee, the NNCO, and the funding agencies provide support for and expect them to meet agency priorities while in some cases helping to achieve national-level NNI outcomes. Each year, the participating NNI agencies provide the NNCO with funding data by program component area and as part of the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, but in general they do not indicate what people, organizations, or projects are funded, how they are connected to the NNI, or what their roles are in meeting NNI goals. In the discussion that follows, the committee has categorized NNI funding in three types of federal research investment in nanotechnology. Dividing the investment into three types helps to clarify the relationship between the people and organizations whose research is identified as being part of the federal NNI investment, the NNI agencies, the NSET Subcommittee, and the NNCO.
Type 1: Agency Mission Needs Are Primary, Nanotechnology Secondary
Type 1 funding reflects the identification of nanotechnology-based approaches to agency R&D needs for which nanotechnology is not a required component. In Type 1 funding, people and organizations receive federal funding for nanotechnology-related research through many mechanisms. For example, federal and nonfederal stakeholders respond to requests for proposals from federal agencies, develop nanotechnology research approaches within a larger program, or identify nanotechnology as a key responsibility of a federal R&D laboratory. The agencies have specific agency mission–based definitions of success for this research or for these technologies, and the agencies have mechanisms and metrics in place for evaluating them. Examples of Type 1 funding include part of the 30 NSF materials research science and engineering
20 See Box S.2 in the Summary.
centers, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funding. For these agencies, there were no nanotechnology-specific calls for proposals. As described by Department of Defense (DOD) and DOE representatives on the NSET Subcommittee, most NNI funding from DOD and DOE is Type 1 funding. The total Type 1 investment is determined by agency after funding is allocated and is reported to the NNCO as part of the agency total for the supplement to the President’s annual budget. The total Type 1 investment and the scope of the projects that it represents are indications of the diffusion of nanoscience and nanotechnology among federal R&D programs and of the potential for future commercialization and the need for a nanotechnology workforce.
Supporting and organizing workshops to bring groups of researchers together to share mission-agency-oriented approaches to the application of nanotechnology constitute one example of the NSET Subcommittee’s strategy for supporting short-term agency-centric goals and promoting information sharing among NNI agencies and stakeholders. Periodic conferences, such as Nanotechnology for Defense, fit that model. A substantial fraction of research for the NNI signature initiatives appears to be Type 1 funding.
Although Type 1 funding is included in the total NNI budget, the people and organizations being funded do not necessarily know that they are considered by their funding agencies to be related to the NNI. Furthermore, the agencies do not share information with each other on what is being funded except broadly by PCA. With respect to appropriate definitions of success for the NNI, that raises two questions: What roles and responsibilities should the NSET Subcommittee and the NNCO have in assisting NNI stakeholders, including the agencies, and the people, organizations, and projects receiving Type 1 funding, to achieve NNI goals and support national priorities? What roles and responsibilities should those receiving Type 1 funding have in meeting long-term NNI goals?
Type 2: Nanotechnology-Driven Within a Single Agency
In Type 2 funding, nanotechnology is identified in a mission agency as offering a possible solution of a problem or class of problems. Nanoscience-based and nanotechnology-based programs are created in the agencies and, for extramural funding (outside the agencies), proposals are solicited and people and organizations are funded to perform nanotechnology-specific research. Examples of centers that receive Type 2 funding are NSF nanoscale science and engineering centers and nanosystems engineering research centers, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH’s) National Cancer Institute (NCI) centers of cancer nanotechnology excellence, the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, the USDA Forest Service cellulose nanomaterials pilot facilities, and the five DOE nanoscale science
research centers. People and organizations that receive funding generally know that they are part of the NNI, and their project goals and milestones are aligned with agency goals and at least some of the NNI goals.
Type 3: Nanotechnology-Driven in Multiple Agencies
For people and organizations that receive Type 3 funding, at least two agencies have jointly planned and implemented a collaborative nanotechnology program to meet those agencies’ shared goals. Examples of institutions that receive Type 3 funding include the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory of NCI, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and NIST; the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative of NSF and NIST in collaboration with the Semiconductor Research Corporation; and the centers for the environmental implications of nanotechnology of NSF and EPA.
The people and organizations that receive Type 3 funding generally understand the goals of the collaborating agencies and the relationship between those goals and their project goals.
Defining the three types of NNI investment helped the committee to clarify the importance of NNI projects in meeting the agencies’ goals and the NSET Subcommittee’s and the NNCO’s roles in information sharing, planning, management, and coordination. A key finding is that most projects that receive Type 1 funding and some that receive Type 2 funding are not identified publicly as part of the NNI; people, organizations, and projects are being counted in the NNI federal investment budget, but the people and organizations do not generally know that they are part of the NNI. The NNI does not report where federal funding is going, for what purpose, or how the activities and research are connected in the short term or the long term. Accordingly, it is not known how much NNI activity is performed by different stakeholder groups—for example, federal-agency researchers; researchers using agency user facilities and national nanotechnology networks; researchers in universities, small companies, large companies, or nonprofit research organizations; or partnerships made up of all or some of the above.
There are, however, some excellent examples in which NNI researchers working in a common area are clearly and publicly identified; projects, long-term goals, and national strategies are clearly and publicly connected; and NNI resources and activities for moving from innovative concepts to commercialization are developed and promulgated throughout the community. One outstanding model of the planning, coordination, and management involving nanotechnology stakeholders working toward common goals is the NIH cancer nanotechnology research program, shown
in Figure 3.3. With its strategic plan articulated by the NCI Office of Cancer Nanotechnology Research, the program’s objective is to “discover and develop innovative nanotechnologies for application(s) ranging from discovery through translation and delivery of innovative clinically relevant technologies for cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment by developing and implementing programs with and for the external research community.”21 Key components of the program (described in Box 3.3) align with the characteristics of successful national strategies as identified by GAO (shown in Table 2.1). Of special note in the context of the NNI are
• The NIH Reporter, a comprehensive public database of all funded nanotechnology projects throughout NIH.
21 National Cancer Institute, NCI Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives, July 27, 2010, NIH Publication No. 11-7776, Bethesda, Md., p. 27.
Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer
Before the establishment of the NNI, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) had determined that nanotechnology-based materials and devices could substantially benefit cancer research and clinical oncology. The NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer (ANC) is the formal structure created to make the nanotechnology-enabled strategies for prevention, detection, and treatment a reality. The ANC, an NNI best practice in planning and implementing a vision of nanotechnology, is planned and implemented across the cancer-research enterprise through the NCI Office of Cancer Nanotechnology Research (OCNR) in the NCI Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI). The ANC has a well-defined mission, common goals, a strategic plan with short-term and long-term outcomes, a well-defined organizational structure with articulated roles and responsibilities, integrated funding platforms, and demonstrations of progress at different stages from concept through commercialization.1,2
The ANC website (www.cancer.gov) provides access to the cancer nanotechnology plan and descriptions of the ANC structure and how researchers and clinicians can apply for funding and connect with the existing regional centers. The ANC participates in cross-agency initiatives, such as the NCI-NISTFDA Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL), which facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration with improved scientific and technologic outcomes. That leverages National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) expertise in characterization, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) providing regulatory perspective. A key outcome is that techniques developed in the NCL are incorporated into regulatory requirements.
The ANC and the NCI Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology have established the Cancer Nanotechnology Characterization Portal, a database of results of the NCL’s and the ANC’s studies that makes them more accessible to the research community.”3
The process for ANC management occurs in 5-year increments; it is currently in the second phase through 2015. Programs are initiated by obtaining input from the scientific community for compelling research needs. The resulting priorities are then communicated to the NCI Executive Committee and advisory boards.
Of special note are the best-practices documents that the ANC provides to NCI grantees on how to operate their centers. These include best practices operations manuals for the following:
• The planning and coordination responsibility for nanotechnology initiatives in the NCI Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI).
• The NCI multicenter, multistakeholder Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer (ANC), which includes all the initiatives.
• The Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (of NIH NCI, NIST, and FDA), which is responsible for developing and performing “standardized characterization of nanoscale materials developed by researchers from academia, government, and industry.”
• The NCI information clearinghouse and communication portal (http://nano.cancer.gov/).
• Centers of cancer nanotechnology excellence.
• Cancer nanotechnology platform partnerships.
• Cancer nanotechnology training centers.
There is also a strong emphasis on developing metrics to determine productivity and outcomes, including network collaboration “density” and how that correlates with degree of interdisciplinarity and innovation rates. Efforts will include an attempt to get at the impact of centers relative to individual investigator awards. There is close attention to student tracking. The information-technology aspects of metrics are described in the nanotechnology informatics white paper prepared for NCI by the Integrative Cancer Research Nanotechnology Working Group.
NCI provides funding for preclinical work on diagnostics, devices, and pharmaceutical therapies although other National Institutes of Health funding can be leveraged for clinical evaluation. Principal investigators are encouraged to identify alternative funding for clinical and commercialization efforts. Clinical trials started on nano-enabled technologies are being tracked, but it is too early for them to have reached the commercialization stage. Early commercialized nanotechnologies from NCI are described in the footnote.
Many researchers funded by the ANC have received funding from other NNI agencies. A number of researchers had not received NIH funding before. The ANC has created connections between engineering, materials science, and biomedical researchers.
In the current environment, funding is flat. There is a continuing need to position programs to be able to leverage funding from other sources, such as Translation of Nanotechnology in Cancer (TONIC), a public–private partnership that seeks to evaluate promising nanotechnology platforms and facilitate their successful translation from academic research to the clinic.
Although the ANC has been established primarily in one agency, the potential value added to the NNI by similarly identifying and more formally linking people, organizations, and projects to long-term goals, particularly for the signature initiatives, could be enormous. A first step would be informing the community of NNI federally funded researchers that they are part of the NNI. A second step would be to make available information about all NNI-funded researchers and projects (see details in Chapter 4) so that individual researchers can identify those doing related research. Improvements in communication and interaction with and between federally funded researchers and within the NNI agencies, the NSET Subcommittee, and the NNCO should increase the use of federal facilities and resources, build
and strengthen the nanotechnology community, and accelerate progress toward national goals.
Finding: Most projects that receive funding are not identified publicly as part of the NNI; they are counted in the NNI federal investment budget, but researchers generally do not know that they are part of the NNI and that their research is considered integral in achieving the NNI goals. Accordingly, managers, policy makers, and other interested parties do not know how much NNI activity is performed by different stakeholder groups. Those who review the NNI do not know the level of or goals of reported federal investments in nanotechnology. NNI researchers may not be aware of broader NNI resources, such as agency user facilities and national nanotechnology networks.
Recommendation 3-1: The NSET Subcommittee and the NNCO should create and maintain a publicly accessible database of NNI projects, people, and organizations funded by the U.S. federal government, including project title, grant number, principal investigators and senior personnel, participating organizations, funding agency and amounts, abstract, technology readiness level, performer types (such as university, corporations, small businesses, and national laboratory), signature initiative participation, and interagency collaboration. The data set will provide a more accurate picture of the NNI investment and of collaboration between agencies and organizational boundaries. It will also allow an assessment of the spectrum of nanotechnology activities that are supported by the federal government—from fundamental to applied studies—and their relevance to specific programs, such as NNI signature initiatives.
Recommendation 3-2: The NNI agencies should inform researchers and their organizations that their research is part of the NNI and the signature initiatives (where applicable) at the earliest possible date, and there should be a database of project-level information that stakeholders across the NNI can use to identify relevant activity.
For researchers outside the agencies, the latter information should be part of initial notification that proposals have been selected for award. The notification to awardees should include a summary of the broad goals of the NNI and available NNI resources, including infrastructure networks, user facilities and centers, and technology-transfer and commercialization programs. Agency management should provide the same notification to staff members who are performing research that they are part of the NNI and, when applicable, its signature initiatives.
Notification may also extend to other national initiatives, such as the Materials Genome Initiative. It is possible, for example, that an NNI-related project that is
part of the Nanotechnology Knowledge Infrastructure signature initiative will also be part of the Materials Genome Initiative. (An NNI-related project is defined as a project belonging to a participating agency associated with nanotechnology projects and initiatives that fall under the NNI umbrella.) Notification of NNI-related funded researchers is a critical component of building a stronger nanoscale science and engineering community in combination with the database of research projects and investigators called for above.
The next two chapters describe and recommend definitions of success, relevant metrics, and changes in NSET Subcommittee and NNCO planning, management, and coordination to support the participating NNI agencies and departments, federally funded NNI researchers and organizations, and the broader NNI stakeholder community.