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October 12, 2023

White House OSTP Posts Readout of Nanotechnology Infrastructure Leaders Summit

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On October 6, 2023, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) posted a readout of the first-of-its-kind Nanotechnology Infrastructure Leaders Summit, held at the White House’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building on September 11, 2023. According to OSTP, the meeting included the leadership of 35 different user facilities, open research laboratories, and innovation institutes that “share the mission of facilitating access to cutting-edge tools and expertise that are critical to research and development, which often occurs at the nanoscale.” The organizations represent programs funded by federal agencies that are a part of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), including the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Defense (DOD). The readout states that the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) “brought together these diverse infrastructure programs to strengthen connections and lower barriers to essential resources along the innovation pathway in order to accelerate discoveries and their successful commercialization by basic researchers, entrepreneurs, and industry.”

Meeting participants discussed creating a more seamless national network, streamlining the pipeline from discovery to commercialization. According to the readout, infrastructure leaders also shared lessons learned while brainstorming strategies to tackle common challenges. The readout states that common themes of the discussions included:

  • Despite different operating models, there are opportunities to share best practices across organizations. For example, the creation of more industry-friendly processes, contracts, and intellectual property agreements may benefit from a combined approach that leverages the collective expertise and a broader industry perspective.
  • Better collaboration and communication can also help bridge basic science and applied research and manufacturing. For example, manufacturing institutes can provide real-life use cases to inspire exploratory efforts at basic research centers, while the research community’s knowledge of recent scientific breakthroughs ensures that industry is able to leverage the most promising technical opportunities.
  • Broad understanding of the breadth and diversity of the nation’s shared infrastructure by researchers, entrepreneurs, and industry is required in order to realize the full potential of the network. With active connections between organizations, users and expert staff will be able to accelerate their work by using multiple programs. This effort will also address workforce concerns, as staff will benefit from career opportunities both within the facilities and with partner organizations.

The readout states that the Nanotechnology Infrastructure Leaders Summit “served as a catalyst to expand multiagency program coordination and create a more cohesive and seamless environment for America’s innovators.” According to the readout, moving forward, the NNCO will work with these leaders to build on the collective enthusiasm for deeper collaboration. NNCO will invite new organizations and thought leaders to join future discussions and create new tools to address common challenges.