Report: U.S. could 'surrender' nanotechnology lead

Among other recommendations, the PCAST report calls for an increase in private nanotechnology research dollars, which totaled $5.7 billion in 2008.

The study also makes the case for more federal monies to fund nanotechnology development, as the U.S. government since 2005 has spent far less on the industry than countries in the European Union, as well as South Korea, Japan and China.

“It is important not only to continue increasing the Federal investment in environmental, health, and safety research but to do so in a coordinated way so the most important questions are answered first,” said Ed Penhoet, co-chair of PCAST’s National Nanotechnology Initiative Working Group.

"That approach will ensure safety, bolster public confidence, and provide a clear path to market for new companies and their products.” 

The report further calls for new incentives to ensure talented scientists and researchers do not depart the United States once they complete their education and training, and a new emphasis on commercializing those nanotechnology products.

“Our early investments in nanotechnology have brought us to the point where the science is being translated into important new products in health, electronics, energy, defense and other fields,” said Maxine Savitz, the PCAST working group's co-chair.

“Going forward we need to place even more emphasis on the commercialization of the technology -- through, for example, strategic funding of nanomanufacturing -- supported by improved measures of the true value-added that nano products can bring to our economy,” she added.