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Nanotech to propel China's economic growth

Posted: 08 Feb 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:University of California at Santa Barbara? nanotechnology?

Understanding the link between nanotechnology and economic growth, China's "growing investment in nanoscience" leverages its position to capture a big slice of the global market for nanotech manufactured goodsa segment projected to quickly hit $3 trillion. This is according to Richard Appelbaum, professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara at the recent event, "Nanotechnology Key to China's Future Economic Success."

"Worldwide, nanotechnology has emerged as a critical area for science and technology competitionmuch like the race to be the first country to put a man on the moon," said Evan Michelson, research associate, the Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. At present, China and the United States are the "big players in the nanotech race." Adds Michelson, "Both nations must work together to help engender public confidence in the private and public sectors ability to handle possible nanotechnology risks and to increase the capacity of public institutions to deal with the long-term implications posed by this cutting-edge innovation."

China recently released plans to increase its R&D capabilities over the next 15 years, according to Denis Fred Simon, VP of academic affairs at the State University of New York. Central to this effort is a slew of frontier technologies that includes nanotechnology. Adds Simon, "It will be a grand experiment to see if the country can become a global innovation center." Industry organizations have forecasted that China spent more on R&D than Japan in 2006, becoming the world's second highest investor in R&D after the United States.

Michelson concludes, "China's current nanotechnology research, education and manufacturing investments are only the tip of the iceberg. Over the coming years, there is the real potential for China to rapidly advance in making new nanotech scientific discoveries that can lead to commercializing innovative nano-based products that are produced by its burgeoning, highly skilled and relatively cheap workforce. Now is the time for the U.S. and others around the world to cooperate with China on risk research and work toward getting a suitable oversight system in place from the start to ensure a safe and level commercial playing field."

The event, which focused on China's current and future capabilities in nanotechnology, was co-sponsored by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, the Asia Program, the China Environment Forum, and the Program on Science, Technology, America and the Global Economy and was held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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