Download PDF
July 14, 2011

Senate Science and Space Subcommittee Holds Hearing on National Nanotechnology Investment

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On July, 14, 2011, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Science and Space Subcommittee held a hearing on national nanotechnology investment. The hearing was held to examine the potential of nanotechnology, federal initiatives to coordinate research investments, barriers to commercialization, possible environmental and health risks, and steps Congress can take to improve the return on federal nanotechnology investments as the Committee works on drafting a reauthorization bill for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The hearing was well attended and portrayed nanotechnology in a positive and constructive light. While no legislative initiative to reauthorize the NNI was discussed or introduced, we understand Committee staff is considering such legislation. Witnesses testifying at the hearing were:

  • Dr. Chad A. Mirkin, Director, International Institute for Nanotechnology, Northwestern University, Member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology;
  • Dr. Charles H. Romine, Acting Associate Director, Laboratory Programs, and Principal Deputy, Office of the Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology;
  • Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, Director, West Virginia Nano Initiative, Professor of Physics, West Virginia University;
  • Dr. Thomas O’Neal, Associate Vice President for Research and Commercialization, University of Central Florida, Executive Director, University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program; and
  • Dr. George L. McLendon, Howard R. Hughes Provost and Professor of Chemistry, Rice University.

Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) credited the NNI, through early and sustained commitment, with making the U.S. the global leader in nanotechnology research and development and commercialization. With the global market for nanotechnology-related products growing from $200 billion in 2009 to a projected $1 trillion by 2015, much of the hearing and testimony focused on directing more investment and funding towards transitioning from early research into successful commercialization of products to create business opportunities and jobs in the U.S. As the transition to bring more nano products to market occurs, however, Committee members and witnesses highlighted the importance of assessing environmental and health risks while not producing a chilling effect on research and development and investment. Participants agreed that NNI’s initial work has been a success in the early research and development of nanotechnology and that it is time to move forward with responsible commercialization of nano products to maintain the U.S. role as the global leader in nanotechnology. A recording of the full hearing, along with Chairman Rockefeller’s and witnesses’ written statements, is available online.