Businesses urge more funding for applied nanotech R&D

  

A new industry report identifies lack of venture capital and patents as two of the barriers to the commercialisation of nanotechnology in Europe.

report entitled 'Nanotechnology in Europe - ensuring that the EU competes effectively on the world stage' identifies a series of measures to be put in place to remove barriers to the commercialisation of nanotechnology in Europe as "it is evident that this is desired as there is a huge potential for application-driven technology commercialisation." 

The report is a result of the outcomes of a Nanoforum survey on nanotech commercialisation in Europe and a series of workshops held in June 2007. It was drafted by the European Nanotechnology Trade Alliance (ENTA), which represents the interests of nanotechnology businesses across Europe. 

To overcome barriers to the commercialisation of nanotech in Europe, the report urges more application-driven funding for nanotechnology and more training and communication activities.

Referring to one of the workshop presentations, the report also argues that "lack of venture capital and lack of patents, in comparison with the rest of the world" is a problem in Europe. Lack of capital is due to risks of nanotechnology, which are described as "imminent to investors who know little about the area". The risk areas referred to are customer acceptance, health and safety. 

Nanotechnology is widely perceived as a new industrial revolution that has the potential to bring about, for example, new ways to cure diseases or contribute to sustainable development by delivering cleaner production processes. However, huge gaps remain with regard nanotech-risk assessment, and everybody agrees that more research on the health and environmental hazards of nanoparticles is needed. 

Environmental and health NGOs are even calling for a moratorium to be applied on the technology and commercialisation of its several applications, already on the market, until independent and peer-reviewed risk-assessment studies are completed.

The Commission is currently preparing a mid-term review of the EU nanotech strategy.

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