The Impacts of Nanotechnology on Companies

Policy Insights from Case Studies

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Nanotechnology has its origin in the converging abilities of physics, chemistry and materials science.  Its purpose is the manipulation of atoms and molecules in order to create new properties of materials and systems for a wide variety of applications in a very broad range of sectors. Nanotechnology is forecast to create large markets and many new jobs and may be the springboard for industrial renewal and long-term growth. Governments around the world have targeted this emerging technology in their R&D investments and are strategising about the best ways to promote the responsible development and use of nanotechnology given the absence of any in-depth analysis of its commercialisation.

What are the potential economic impacts of nanotechnology, how are companies using nanotechnology for innovation, and what are the key challenges in its commercialisation? These are some of the issues that this book addresses, based on a large number of company case studies in several countries.


Executive summary

Nanotechnology is an emerging technology (or set of technologies) which is currently attracting wide-ranging attention. Almost no other field has obtained as much public investment in R&D in a such a short time, and private-sector investments have also increased steadily (there is as yet no reliable systematic data revealing how the economic crisis may have affected this). Consultancies predict very large markets for nanotechnologyenabled products, and forecasts suggest that many new jobs may be created. To describe the potential economic impact of nanotechnology, reference is often made to the concept of “general purpose technology”, that is, a technology with a range of characteristics which makes it particularly well placed to generate longer-term productivity increases and economic growth across a range of industries. As a consequence, governments are developing strategies to promote the responsible development and use of nanotechnology while taking account of the uncertainties and any risks involved.


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