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December 27, 2023

NNI Publishes Economic Impact Analysis of 20 Years of Nanotechnology Investments

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On December 5, 2023, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) released a report analyzing the economic impact of federal investment in nanotechnology from 2002 to 2022. The report states that NNI selected this timeframe because it was codified by the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act in 2003, and thus the range covers its entire existence. The report examines the impact of public investment, growth and trends of the market, and the evolving understanding and application of nanotechnology in the United States. It also provides key data for evaluating NNI’s ability to fulfill its mission and illustrates NNI’s successes to date.

NNI notes that in 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau released data from its 2017 Economic Census, and data in the classification code of Nanotechnology Research and Development (R&D) revealed that more than 3,700 companies, employing more than 171,000 people, reported $42 billion in annual revenue and $20 billion in employee salaries. According to NNI, these numbers “suffered from a limited scope, as the Bureau only included companies that self-identified as primarily being in the business of nanotechnology R&D.” To understand better the complete picture, NNI commissioned the Parnin Group to conduct a more complete economic impact analysis.

The Parnin Group’s report explores the omission of commercial areas, including microelectronics and semiconductors, healthcare, pharmaceutical production, oil and gas refining, and cosmetic products, through an analysis of nanotechnology’s contribution in the microelectronics and semiconductors sector. According to NNI, the microelectronics industry was mostly excluded in the U.S. Census Bureau’s initial analysis “since, historically, it has been unclear what percentage of companies’ portfolios were related to nanotechnology.” NNI states that by 2022, however, “every competitive product in the sector features nanoscale dimensions created through nanotechnology tools, creating confidence that this area can defensibly be included in an analysis of the nano-economy.” The research team estimated that the microelectronics and semiconductor sector yielded a range of $268 to $297 billion in corporate revenues in calendar year 2022. The report recommends that the Bureau of Labor Statistics consider adding additional North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes to the nanotechnology sector to improve data tracked and collected on the sector.