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The Transfer of National Nanotechnology Initiative Research Outcomes for Commercial and Public Benefit

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - 12:00am
Washington, DC

Opening Statement By Chairman Brian Baird

Good morning.  I'd like to welcome everyone to today's hearing on how to ensure that research outcomes from the National Nanotechnology Initiative are transitioned for commercial and public benefit, and I’d like to thank our witnesses for being here.

This hearing is the third in a series to review various aspects of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, or the NNI.  These hearings will help guide our development of legislation to reauthorize the NNI during the current session of Congress.

In a past hearing, we received testimony on the importance of developing a prioritized research plan and implementation strategy to address the environment, health, and safety implications of nanotechnology.  In another, we heard about the need to educate students at all levels of education about nanotechnology in order to ensure a workforce for this rapidly growing field.

Today, the Subcommittee will review how well the NNI is supporting activities to make sure that the results of nanotechnology research are translated into commercial products and processes.  We also will look at whether the research being supported by NNI in such areas as nanomanufacturing is relevant to the needs of industry.

It is clear to me and this Committee that nanotechnology can offer this nation and the world unimaginable benefits in a wide range of fields, including health care, energy efficiency, electronics, and water remediation.

Like many areas, the federal investment in basic research is critical to nanotechnology’s development.  But this investment will be squandered if we do not cultivate the technological advancement to usable products or processes.

The NNI now supports user facilities and basic research in nanomanufacturing.  Also, the agencies participating in the NNI administer SBIR programs that fund projects to advance emerging concepts toward commercialization.

Certainly, the commercialization of nanotechnology, like any developing technology, is complex.  However, nanotechnology has some unique challenges.  The development of nanomaterials and devices most often requires highly specialized and expensive instruments.  In addition, the scale-up of nanotechnology requires unique processes that have very low error rates. Furthermore, quality control in nanomanufacturing requires lengthy evaluations and expensive equipment.

As I mentioned earlier, this morning I hope to assess whether the current investments aimed at technology transfer and commercialization activities under the NNI are adequate and reflect the most critical priorities.  I also want to look at whether the research is relevant to the industry.  In addition, I am interested in the views of our witnesses on whether the equipment and instruments available at NNI-supported facilities are adequate and accessible.  Finally, I invite any recommendations our witnesses may have on how the NNI could be more effective in helping to bridge the gap between concept and commercialization.

I thank our distinguished witnesses from being here today.  I look forward to your testimony.



2 - Dr. Julie Chen
Co-Director, Nanomanufacturing Center of Excellence University of Massachusetts University of Massachusetts
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4 - Mr. William Moffitt
President and Chief Executive Officer Nanosphere, Inc. Nanosphere, Inc.
Download the Witness Testimony

1 - Mr. Skip Rung
President and Executive Director Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute
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3 - Dr. Jeffrey Welser
Director, Nanoelectronics Research Initiative Semiconductor Research Corporation Semiconductor Research Corporation
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5 - Dr. Mark Melliar-Smith
Chief Executive Officer Molecular Imprints, Inc. Molecular Imprints, Inc.
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Witness Panel
Witnesses testify before the subcommittee
L-R: Mr. Rung, Dr. Chen, Dr. Welser, Mr. Moffitt, Dr. Melliar-Smith
For information on the witnesses, use the links at left
110th Congress