U.S. industry is racing global competitors to develop innovative nanotechnology

Source: National Center for Manufacturing Sciences

Oct 13, 2010

The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) has released the findings of its latest survey of the U.S. nanotechnology industry. This is the third NCMS survey sponsored in the past decade by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to gauge the momentum of the nanotechnology development and deployment in the U.S manufacturing industry.

The survey targeted key players throughout the manufacturing landscape, providing valuable insights on myriad of precompetitive and strategic issues influencing their organizations’ pursuit of nanotechnology, an inter-disciplinary field involving the control of matter at the atomic and molecular scale of 1 to 100 nanometers.

The data shows that U.S. manufacturers are increasingly using nano-enhanced materials to improve their products, having indentified nanotechnology as being vital to competing globally. Small particles translate into big advantages in durability and functionality, ultimately benefiting consumers. Many companies have realized the need to quickly integrate nanotechnology into their strategic plans.

However, the enthusiasm of these manufacturers is tempered with the daunting challenges that many face when adopting nanotechnology into their production. These challenges include a lack of awareness of nanotechnology’s potential advantages as well as access to the required design tools and training. Those surveyed cited a lack of access to capital to fund investment in new technologies. Some of these challenges have been managed by engaging in collaborative R&D where risk and cost is shared and technology transfer is inherent, giving these manufacturers a competitive edge over those that pursue R&D on their own.

“Nanotechnology represents a major opportunity for manufacturers,” said NCMS President & CEO, Rick Jarman. “We are using our proven collaborative process to neutralize the challenges and accelerate the adoption of cutting edge technologies like nano for U.S. Manufacturers.”

The data showed that while the U.S. nanotechnology industry is currently well positioned to compete globally, foreign R&D investment is increasing and poses a significant risk.

“This latest survey indicates that nanotechnology is becoming a general purpose technology as envisioned in NSF's Nanotechnology Research Directions report issued in 2000,” said Dr. Mihail C. Roco, Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology to the NSF and founding chair of the National Science and Technology Council’s subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET). “More than half of the surveyed companies will have activities in this emerging field and foreign competition is increasing particularly from Asia and the European Community.”

Learn more about the survey.