UK strategy for nanotech may be 'too little, too late'

July 11, 2003

The government's long-awaited nanotechnology strategy, to help the UK tap into a market worth a potential $1 trillion, may be too little, too late, an expert has warned.

Commenting on last week's government announcement of £90 million to capitalise on nanotechnology, Mark Welland, professor of nanotechnology at Cambridge University, said the UK risks falling behind if it does not choose the right strategy to exploit the commercial potential of its world-class research.

"We have to ask, are we doing enough, and are we doing it in time? What are the criteria on which the money will be disbursed?" he said.

Science minister Lord Sainsbury said the money would help build a regional network of facilities and fund collaborative projects between academics and industry, which is expected to provide about £110 million.

Almost two years ago, Professor Welland wrote a report for the Department of Trade and Industry that said the UK must recast the scale and nature of its activities in the field.

The House of Commons science and technology select committee has begun an inquiry into the government's policy. Chair Ian Gibson said spending on nanotechnology was "minuscule".

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