UK Nanotechnologies Strategy: Opportunities Ahead
The global market in nanotechnologies is expected to grow from $2.3 billion in 2007 to $81 billion in 2015**. They have enormous potential in a range of areas – from environmental protection to healthcare.
Nanotechnologies are important in improving water purification systems and for producing more powerful computers. Scientists are using them to develop time-controlled and targeted drug delivery, and to design more efficient solar cells and diesel engines.
There is a considerable body of research being undertaken on the environmental health and safety aspects of nanotechnologies both in the UK and globally. For example, HPA launched the National Nanotoxicology Research Centre in late 2009, and FSA has commissioned research projects looking at nanoparticles in food. The UK Nanotechnologies Strategy will aim to focus UK work in this area to add to the growing evidence base.
The strategy was developed by five Government departments and agencies, and follows a period of consultation with industry and consumer groups. It represents a single plan of action.
Key actions include:
- Chief Scientific Advisers to review coordination of nanotechnology research across Government including research on safety issues;
- A new website to keep the public informed about Government work on nanotechnologies;
- A new Nanotechnologies Collaboration Group to facilitate ongoing communication and collaboration between Government, academia, industry and other interested parties;
- A new ministerially led Nanotechnologies Leadership Group to address barriers to commercial growth in this area; and
- Government to explore a new industry reporting scheme with a broader scope covering nanomaterials as well as products containing them.
Science and Innovation Minister Lord Drayson said:
“Nanotechnologies play a vital role in creating new medicines and providing safe drinking water in developing countries. The UK has much to gain from developing these technologies further. This strategy is all about ensuring that the millions being spent on nanotech produce an industry as safe as it is profitable.”
Dan Norris, Minister for Rural Affairs and Environment said:
“Nanotechnology is an exciting science. Not only can it bring real benefits to the economy and society but also, potentially, to the environment. Research has shown that it may be able to help detect environmental pollutants and even remove them from contaminated sites.However we must be aware of and understand the potential risks and know how to manage them.”
Gilian Merrion, Minister of State for Public Health said:
“This area of new technology presents great potential to protect health in the future through new and revolutionary treatments. We need to take advantage of the opportunities these new technologies might hold, whilst at the same time providing consumers with full confidence that these new products are safe.”
Lord McKenzie, Department for Work and Pensions Parliamentary Under Secretary (Lords) said:
“The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) welcomes launch of the strategy, which makes a timely contribution to the Government’s approach to the handling of new technologies.
“Working with partners HSE aims to develop a sensible risk-based approach for the regulation of these new technologies so that UK industry can fully maximise the benefits, whilst ensuring that
workers and users are protected.”
The UK Nanotechnologies Strategy is available at interactive.bis.gov.uk/nano
** Source:Nanomaterials and Markets 2008 – 2015, Nanopost, quoted in Nanoscale Technologies Strategy 2009 – 12, Technology Strategy Board, September 2009
Source: Nanotechnology Now