Brussels, 26 Jan 2006
In a report entitled 'Where has my money gone?', Cientifica, an international supplier of nanotechnology research and technology information, examines the lack of commercial impact of nanotechnologies, and reassures investors that they are about to see the results of previous investments in research.
The report states that nanotechnology research has received USD 18 billion (14.7 billion euro) in public funding since 1997. Adding that a further USD six billion (4.9 billion euro) investment is foreseen for 2006, this level of funding is the same in absolute terms as that received by the US' Apollo programme, but the results are far from comparable, according to the report.
'Eight years into Apollo, the program had already achieved the first manned flight around the moon, while the entire output of the nanotech program in the layman's view still consists of only stain-resistant pants [trousers]. No wonder critics of nanotech are beginning to ask whether it will ever be worth it,' states the report.
The delay in results is explained by a number of factors, brought up in interviews that Cientifica conducted with government representatives and researchers around the world. The length of time that it takes to establish a laboratory, along with a director, staff and appropriate equipment, is one of the reasons given for this delay, along with the time lag between the announcement of government funding and researchers receiving it, and the fact that a typical research to product cycle is seven years.
'The big spike in nanotech funding happened in 2001 in the US and Japan, and in 2003 in Europe. Given the two to three year lag between funding being granted and a laboratory starting work, plus an average of seven years to get from R&D [research and development] to a product, it is no surprise that nanotech has yet to deliver on its revolutionary promise,' states the report.
The report closes on a positive note, stating that venture capitalists and technology transfer officers dealing with nanotechnologies will find themselves increasingly busy in coming years.