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Developments in Nanotechnologies and Advanced Materials: a European perspective and innovation strategy
Europe's advance in Nanotechnologies and Advanced Materials (NAM) in the last seven years was impressive. The driver behind such high level of research, innovation, investment and regulatory activity is the world-wide acknowledgement that these enabling technologies have great potential in addressing the main societal challenges that humanity is facing today such as, climate change, ageing and preventive health care, green manufacturing, resource efficiency.
Integration and convergence with other Key Enabling Technologies such as advanced manufacturing and a greater emphasis on innovation issues including value chain considerations are the features characterizing their progress. First attempts were directed to the designing and engineering of pilot lines for production of nanomaterials, components and devices. Nano-scale phenomena were utilised in increasing the performance of materials and their processing. Advanced material structures and systems were developed "fit-for-application". Safety, health, and the environment received special attention attempting to quantify societal impacts of nano developments.
Ethical, regulatory matters were reviewed and the legal framework wasplaced in an international context through partnerships and in cooperation with international organisations such as OECD, ISO, CEN, and UN. Support actions were funded to coordinate developments across Europe as well as internationally.
The next years, up to 2020 are critical. The expectations of high economic and social impact that nanotechnologies and advanced materials might bring can only be realized through an integrated strategy that is part of business and economic growth. Achieving such impact requires a total rethink of the legal and social governance framework under which production, markets, users, consumers and environment interact.
Current economic analyses of market trends recognises the synergistic and complementary role of nanotechnology in relation with the other Key Enabling Technologies (KET) such as micro-/nanoelectronics, , photonics, advanced materials, industrial biotechnology and their contribution to solving societal challenges. The commission's recent communication ‘A European strategy for Key Enabling Technologies – A bridge to growth and jobs’ (COM (2012341,outlines a single strategy for KETs, one of which is Nanotechnologies, to allow maximum exploitation of the EU’s potential in competitive markets.In Horizon 2020, the Commission's multi-annual framework programme, future developments (up to 2020) would target nano-system and/or advanced material applications whose complexity and high-level specifications demand strategic, multidisciplinary and integrated efforts. From concept to market, interdisciplinary teams need to work in a networked environment to overcome infrastructure and knowledge barriers and leverage investment. Building-up value networks and alliances for the different application need to be based on realistic future revenue streams. Business models have to be developed that attract venture capital and other forms of financing promoting industrialization.
Enabling such an innovation strategy to have an impact would require concerted effort supported by a world-class, knowledge-based regulatory regime accompanied by international standards. Supporting invention and innovation would be accompanied by societal and consumer engagements, based on an open and transparent system of proactive benefit and risk governance. Finally, economic progress would only be possible through the creation of a favourable world-class educational and skilling system that delivers a knowledgeable and well-trained workforce.
The first year of implementation under Horizon 2020 is already bringing in encouraging results both in terms of participation and thematic coverage.
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Presentation: Keynote at Nano PL 2014, Symposium A, by Christos Tokamanis
See On-line Journal of Nano PL 2014
Submitted: 2014-09-30 18:29 Revised: 2014-11-18 14:58