A recent report, focused on the implementation of the 2005 Action Plan for Nanotechnology, shows the strategic importance of nanotechnology, an area of recognised European leadership, and the contribution this field of science can make to the quality of life and economic well-being of Europeans, for example through revolutionary activities in key areas such as materials, electronics and medicine. The European Commission is committed to an integrated and responsible approach to developing nanotechnologies, taking into account all aspects – safety, acceptance by society, ethical implications and so on.
"Nanotechnology is an area where Europe is an acknowledged world leader. This is an opportunity we must grasp with both hands," says European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik. "The successful development of nanotechnologies will depend on a responsible approach to addressing issues such as safety for humans and animals, the ethics of future developments and society's debate about these. The European Commission has already shown in this first phase that it is able to steer this course."
Nanotechnology is a broad term that has applications in many fields of science – biology, electronics, materials, medicine – but broadly encompasses research into the principles and properties arising at the nano-level,that is the level of atoms and molecules. These can differ significantly from the larger scale, which is why this new area of science has emerged. Nanotechnologies make possible better products and services, helping to improve citizens' quality of life and environment. Many nanotechnology-based products are already on the market, including new electronics and chemistry components, intelligent textiles, novel functional surface coatings, new diagnostic and drug delivery systems, breakthroughs in tissue regeneration, and ever faster and more accurate sensors.
The EU's 6 th Research Framework Programme provided €1.4 billion to 550 projects, accounting for on-third of total public funding for nanotechnology in Europe. Priority targets include fundamental and industrial research, human resources, nanotechnology-specific infrastructures, safety and communication. Although there is strong industrial participation in these projects, resulting in innovation in companies (including SMEs), more and more patents and spin-offs, and a better environment for research and industry (standards, metrology, patenting etc), private investment in the field remains behind that in the US and Japan.
Under FP7, EC funding for nanotechnologies and nanosciences is expected to increase significantly. The average yearly funding is likely to be more than double that in FP6, taking into account actions across the programme. In addition, the Risk-Sharing Financing Facility established by the Commission jointly with the European Investment Bank should provide access to new funding sources.
Beyond funding, the successful development of nanotechnologies demands an integrated and responsible approach. European citizens should benefit from nanotechnology, while being protected from possible adverse impacts. Commitment to ethical principles is a cornerstone of such an approach. To reach full potential, nanotechnology development must be attuned to society's expectations, making communication and dialogue an absolute priority. In addition to information activities in all Community languages for different target groups, the Commission has systematically promoted public dialogue, particularly with NGOs. It has launched an open consultation on a Code of Conduct for responsible nanotechnology research, which may lead to a Commission recommendation by the end of the year.
Similarly, assessing the safety of nanotechnology-based products and processes is a central issue for European policy, and has direct impact on their access to the market. Nanoparticles and their potential impact on health and the environment are being studied in close coordination with Member States and international bodies such as the UN, OECD and International Standards Organisation. In addition to projects specifically devoted to safety, which have received €28 million in funding so far, all nanotechnology research projects include an ethical and safety assessment component. The European Commission is currently undertaking a review of existing legislation to see whether the current regulatory framework appropriately addresses health, safety and environmental risks. Moreover, it has taken steps to establish an observatory to provide decision-makers with dynamic assessments of scientific and market developments.
Other important issues discussed in the report are the international aspects of nanotechnology development, and the need to train the new generation of nano-scientists.
Decoding the regulation of cell survival - A major step towards preventing neurons from dying
04.10.2018 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
New Cluster of Excellence “Centre for Tactile Internet with Human-in-the-Loop” (CeTI)
28.09.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
13.11.2018 | Life Sciences
13.11.2018 | Life Sciences
13.11.2018 | Awards Funding