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Hooley: U.S. Must Maintain Lead in Nanotechnology Research

Jun 29, 2005
Press Release

(Washington, DC) The Subcommittee on Research of the U.S. House Science Committee held a hearing today to further explore the federal research and development role in the emerging field of nanotechnology.

The Subcommittee heard from Mr. Floyd Kvamme, the co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), industry witnesses and from an organization that has done international assessments of technology.

Mr. Kvamme was due to appear before last month's subcommittee meeting on this issue but was prevented from appearing by the Administration.  Committee Democrats protested, stating that a hearing on this important matter without input from an advisor to the President would severely hinder progress.

"I was surprised to learn that the Administration had prevented the PCAST co-chair's appearance at a hearing on the very report his council put together," stated Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-OR).  "I am pleased that they reversed that decision, allowing testimony by the key author of the report that provides the initial biennial assessment of our National Nanotechnology Initiative."

Nanotechnology has the promise of allowing the control of matter on every important length scale, yielding potential advances in fields from medicine to manufacturing.  The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) - the focus of today's subcommittee review - was formally established by the U.S. as a coordinated, multi-agency research initiative in 2002.

As Mr. Kvamme pointed out in testimony today, "The United States leads in the number of start-up companies based on nanotechnology, and in research output as measured by patents and publications.  However, the data also show that other countries are aggressively chasing this leadership position, both in terms of ramping up coordinated national programs as well as in focusing investments to areas of existing national economic strength."

Nanotechnology is truly an emerging field.  ONAMI - the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnology Institute - is a partnership of Oregon government, universities, and businesses that is leading the world in industrial "small tech" research and development.  Last month, the subcommittee heard from John Cassady, vice president for research at Oregon State University, about the progress of the ONAMI initiative and the potential of nanoscience research.

"The American public will benefit from the federal research investment in nanotechnology," added Rep. Hooley.  "The transition of research results into new products and applications will keep our nation on the cutting edge in the global economy."

The subcommittee heard from Mr. Matthew Nordon, Vice President of Research at Lux Research, Inc. who pointed out that their company projects nanotechnology will impact nearly every category of manufactured good over the next ten years, becoming incorporated into 15% of global manufacturing output totaling $2.6 trillion in 2014.

"We must invest to position the United States as a major player in this market," concluded Rep. Hooley.  "In my home state of Oregon, ONAMI is helping to position the US to excel when it comes to innovation, collaboration, and commercialization of nanotechnology.  For the U.S. to play a prominent role globally, continued federal investment is key."

109th Congress