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September 13, 2016

National Academies Publishes Prepublication Version of Triennial Review of the NNI

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

In early September 2016, the National Academies published a prepublication version of the Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative.  The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) asked the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a triennial review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).  In particular, the NRC was asked to assess:  (1) mechanisms to advance focused areas of nanotechnology toward advanced development and commercialization; and (2) the physical and human infrastructure needs for successful realization in the U.S. of the benefits of nanotechnology development.  According to the report, the NNI “not only needs to invest in research and discovery, it needs to focus on translating research results into commercial products.”  The report assesses NNI mechanisms to advance focused areas of nanotechnology towards advanced development and commercialization, with particular attention to advancing nanomanufacturing (Chapters 2 and 3) and the adequacy of the physical and human infrastructure (Chapters 4 and 5) to support research as well as private sector innovation.  The report concludes that the NNI, including the interagency bodies and the NNCO, “continues to add value to the portfolio of activities across participating agencies.”  Looking ahead, the report recommends that the NNI can significantly increase that value by focusing on research that will enable progress and success in other advanced technology areas of priority, especially advanced manufacturing.  At the same time, the report states, the NNI agencies “are called on to sustain investment in and facilitate access to physical infrastructure and to take steps to realize the full value of educational materials and programs.”  In the course of identifying targeted areas in which to focus, NNI agencies have the opportunity to consider the NNI’s goals and the criteria for continuing to invest resources in its coordination and management.