Nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information science and engineering
"Civilization is on the brink of a new industrial world order," said a discussion piece from the leadership of the National Science Foundation (NSF).
- This document was attached to a report on "Information Technology, Manufacturing and Competitiveness".
- The piece continued: "The big winners in the increasingly fierce global scramble for supremacy will not be those who simply make commodities faster and cheaper than the competition. They will be those who develop talent, techniques and tools so advanced that there is no competition. That means securing unquestioned superiority in nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information science and engineering."
- Clearly, the stakes are high. Scientists, politicians and profiteers are hailing nanotechnology as the next industrial revolution.
- Governments and businesses worldwide are currently spending about $six billion on nanotechnology research and development each year. About $2.5 billion of that amount comes from businesses.
- In terms of governments, currently the big players are the U.S., Europe, and Japan.
- Each spends about one billion dollars annually on nanotech research. Combined, they account for about half of all nanotech spending in the world.
- South Korea, Taiwan, China, and a host of other countries are also beginning to make significant investments in nanotechnology (if they haven't already started).
- In the U.S., there are eleven government agencies conducting nanotech research and development. These include the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and NASA.
- All of the nanotech research projects at these various agencies are gathered under one coordinated program called the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).
- Combining state and federal investment, nanotechnology is the largest publicly funded research initiative in the U.S. since the space race.
- Nanotech might lead to cheaper, more efficient solar cells that could go far in addressing the energy issues that are sure to emerge in the coming century; however, none of these ideas has captured the public's imagination, as much as the space race of the 1960s did; at least, not yet.
The goals of businesses are to use nanotechnology to create new products with novel features, and to do it quickly, cheaply, and in bulk.
- That may be why, for many people, their first experience with nanotechnology has been through products such as stain resistant pants, transparent sunblock cream, and golf balls that resist veering off course.
- It has been estimated that the global nanotechnology market will be worth one trillion dollars; that's trillion, as in a thousand million dollars per year by the year 2015.
- That's according to a 2001 study by the National Science Foundation titled, "Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology".
- It is believed that all of the Fortune 500 companies that make something, there isn't a single one that isn't already making something at the nanoscale, researching, or investing in nanotech.
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