[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 128 (Tuesday, July 6, 2010)]
[Pages 38850-38853]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-16273]



NNI Strategic Plan 2010; Request for Information

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The purpose of this RFI is to enhance the value of the 
National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) by reaching out to the 
nanotechnology stakeholder community for specific input for the next 
NNI Strategic Plan to be published in December 2010. This RFI refers to 
the NNI Goals identified from the 2007 Strategic Plan (http://www.nano.gov/NNI_Strategic_Plan_2007.pdf) as a starting point for 
questions covering themes such as research priorities, investment, 
coordination, partnerships, evaluation, and policy.
    RFI Response Instructions: The White House Office of Science and 
Technology Policy is interested in responses that address one or more 
of the following Questions below that are broadly categorized under 
Goals and Objectives; Research Priorities; Investment; Coordination and 
Partnerships; Evaluation; and Policy as related to the NNI. When 
submitting your response, please indicate: (1) The question(s) you are 
answering, and (2) which of the four NNI goals to which it applies. 
Please be specific and concise.
    Responses to this RFI should be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern 
Time on August 15, 2010. (Submissions prior to the July 13-14, 2010 
``NNI Strategic Plan Stakeholder Workshop'' (http://www.nano.gov/html/meetings/NNISPWorkshop/index.html) may also inform dialogues at this 
event.) Responses to this RFI must be delivered electronically in the 
body of or as an attachment to an e-mail sent to [email protected]. 
Additionally, OSTP intends to stage an online public comment event July 
13-August 15, 2010 to solicit input on the NNI Strategic Plan. For 
details on this online event, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/NNIStrategy/.
    Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by 
the Government to form a binding contract or issue a grant. Information 
obtained as a result of this RFI may be used by the government for 
program planning on a non-attribution basis. Do not include any 
information that might be considered proprietary or confidential.

Background Information

    What is the NNI? The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is a 
U.S. Government research and development (R&D) program of 25 agencies 
working together toward the common challenging vision of a future in 
which the ability to understand and control matter at the nanoscale 
leads to a revolution in technology and industry that benefits society. 
The combined, coordinated efforts of these agencies have accelerated 
discovery, development, and deployment of nanotechnology towards agency 
missions and the broader national interest. Established in 2001, the 
NNI involves nanotechnology-related activities by the 25 member 
agencies, 15 of which have budgets for nanotechnology R&D for 2011.
    The NNI is managed within the framework of the National Science and 
Technology Council (NSTC), the Cabinet-level council by which the 
President coordinates science and technology across the Federal 
Government and interfaces with other sectors. The Nanoscale Science, 
Engineering, and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the NSTC coordinates 
planning, budgeting, program implementation, and review of the NNI. The 
NSET Subcommittee is composed of senior representatives from agencies 
participating in the NNI (http://www.nano.gov).
    NNI Goals: The December 2007 NNI Strategic Plan (http://www.nano.gov/NNI_Strategic_Plan_2007.pdf) specifies four 
overarching, crosscutting goals towards achieving the overall vision of 
the NNI:
    Goal 1: Advance a world-class nanotechnology research and 
development program. The NNI ensures United States leadership in 
nanotechnology research and development by stimulating discovery and 
innovation. This program expands the boundaries of knowledge and 
develops technologies through a comprehensive program of research and 
development. The NNI agencies invest at the frontiers and intersections 
of many disciplines, including biology, chemistry, engineering, 
materials science, and physics. The interest in nanotechnology arises 
from its potential to significantly impact numerous fields, including 
aerospace, agriculture, energy, the environment, healthcare, 
information technology, homeland security, national defense, and 
transportation systems.
    Goal 2: Foster the transfer of new technologies into products for 
commercial and public benefit. Nanotechnology contributes to United 
States competitiveness by improving existing products and processes and 
by creating new ones. The NNI implements strategies that maximize the 
economic benefits of its investments in nanotechnology, based on 
understanding the fundamental science and responsibly translating this 
knowledge into practical applications.
    Goal 3: Develop and sustain educational resources, a skilled 
workforce, and the supporting infrastructure and tools to advance 
nanotechnology. A skilled science and engineering workforce, leading-

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instrumentation, and state-of-the-art facilities are essential to 
advancing nanotechnology research and development. Educational programs 
and resources are required to produce the next generation of 
nanotechnologists, that is, the researchers, inventors, engineers, and 
technicians who drive discovery, innovation, industry, and 
    Goal 4: Support responsible development of nanotechnology. The NNI 
aims to maximize the benefits of nanotechnology and at the same time to 
develop an understanding of potential risks and to develop the means to 
manage them. Specifically, the NNI pursues a program of research, 
education, and communication focused on environmental, health, safety, 
and broader societal dimensions of nanotechnology development.
    Program Component Areas (PCAs): The December 2007 NNI Strategic 
Plan (http://www.nano.gov/NNI_Strategic_Plan_2007.pdf) lays out 
eight categories of NNI investment known as program component areas 
(PCAs) to facilitate coordination, planning, and assessment of efforts 
towards achieving the NNI goals. The PCAs are: 1. Fundamental nanoscale 
phenomena and processes; 2. Nanomaterials; 3. Nanoscale devices and 
systems; 4. Instrumentation research, metrology, and standards for 
nanotechnology; 5. Nanomanufacturing; 6. Major research facilities and 
instrumentation acquisition; 7. Environment, health, and safety; and 8. 
Education and societal dimensions.
    NNI Budget: Federal agencies annually report individual investments 
in nanotechnology R&D within PCAs in support of national goals and 
agency missions. Each agency separately determines its budgets for 
nanotechnology R&D, in coordination with the Office of Management and 
Budget, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Congress. 
Thus, the NNI is an interagency budget crosscut in which participating 
agencies work closely with each other to create an integrated program 
through communication, coordination, and collaboration. The proposed 
NNI budget for Fiscal Year 2011 is $1.76 billion, bringing the 
cumulative investment since the inception of the NNI in 2001 to nearly 
$14 billion (http://www.nano.gov/NNI_2011_budget_supplement.pdf).
    NNI Coordination: Enhanced communication through committees and 
working groups has led to joint coordination and collaboration in a 
variety of forms. The NSET Subcommittee has established four working 
groups: (1) The Global Issues in Nanotechnology (GIN) Working Group, 
(2) the Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications (NEHI) 
Working Group, (3) the Nanomanufacturing, Industry Liaison, and 
Innovation (NILI) Working Group, and (4) the Nanotechnology Public 
Engagement and Communication (NPEC) Working Group. (See http://www.nano.gov/html/about/nsetworkinggroups.html.) Products from these 
working groups and other interagency collaborations include sharing of 
knowledge and expertise; joint sponsorship of solicitations and 
workshops; and leveraging funding, staff, and facility/equipment 
resources at NNI participating agencies. The National Nanotechnology 
Coordination Office (NNCO; http://www.nano.gov/html/about/nnco.html) 
acts as the primary point of contact for information on the NNI, 
provides public outreach on behalf of the NNI, and provides technical 
and administrative support to the NSET Subcommittee as well as the NSET 
working groups listed above.


A. Goals and Objectives

     A1. What specific and measurable objectives should be 
established to help achieve the four stated NNI goals?
     A2. Are there other overarching goals that would enable 
the NNI to better support the vision of a future in which the ability 
to understand and control matter at the nanoscale leads to a revolution 
in technology and industry that benefits society?
    Example: In achieving Goal 2, ``to foster the transfer of new 
technologies into products for commercial and societal benefit,'' one 
objective could be for the NNI member agencies to increase their 
emphasis on commercialization of nanotechnology-based products by 
launching new government-industry-university partnerships using 
successful models such as the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI; 
http://nri.src.org/member/about/default.asp; cf. recommendations in the 
President's Council of Advisors on Science & Technology's ``Report to 
the President and Congress on the Third Assessment of the National 
Nanotechnology Initiative'' (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-nano-report.pdf).

B. Research Priorities

     B1. What are the most important gaps in the NNI R&D 
portfolio (i.e., specific underfunded areas ripe for success) that 
should be addressed to achieve the NNI goal(s) (please specify 1, 2, 3, 
and/or 4)?
     B2. What nanotechnology R&D areas should NNI member 
agencies pursue under the Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives model of 
close and targeted program-level interagency collaboration to help 
accelerate nanotechnology innovation?
    Background: To accelerate nanotechnology development in support of 
the President's priorities and innovation strategy, NNI member agencies 
have identified areas ripe for significant advances through closer 
program-level interagency collaboration oriented around specific 
targets that are not likely to be achieved apart from more intensive 
interagency and cross-sector collaboration. The three resulting 
Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives for FY 2011 are: 1. Nanotechnology 
applications for solar energy; 2. Sustainable Nanomanufacturing; and 3. 
Nanoelectronics for 2020 and Beyond (details are available at http://www.nano.gov/html/research/signature_initiatives.html). These 
Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives represent the leading edge of 
functional interagency collaboration in the budget and program planning 
process under the NNI, with multiple agencies working in common toward 
specific objectives.
     B3. What are the most important scientific and technical 
challenges that would need to be met to realize the NNI goal(s) (1, 2, 
3, and/or 4) and objectives?

C. Investment

     C1. What types of research and development investments 
(e.g. support for individual investigators, small teams, centers, 
research infrastructure, etc.) should the NNI agencies create, sustain, 
and/or expand to achieve the NNI goal(s) (please specify 1, 2, 3, and/
or 4)?
    Example, Department of Energy: the Department of Energy (DOE) 
investment in 2011 continues to support full operation of the five DOE 
Nanoscale Science Research Center (NSRC) user facilities (corresponding 
to PCA 6, major research facilities and instrumentation acquisition) 
and an extensive array of individual university grants and laboratory 
research programs. The Energy Frontier Research Centers, larger 
collaborative efforts in which a portion of the activity relates to 
nanoscale science, are also continued. In 2010 DOE initiates an Energy 
Innovation Hub on Fuels from Sunlight, and this support will continue 
in 2011, with a portion of the activity related to nanoscience. Much of 
the increase in DOE funding results from new funding from the Advanced 
Research Projects

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Agency--Energy (ARPA-E), the initiation of additional Energy Frontier 
Research Centers, and the formation of a second Energy Innovation Hub 
focusing on batteries and energy storage. A significant fraction of 
these activities will be fundamentally based on nanoscience.
    Example, National Science Foundation and Environmental Protection 
Agency: In 2011, the NSF and the EPA continue to fund (over five years, 
starting in September 2008) two Centers for the Environmental 
Implications of Nanotechnology (CEIN). Led by the University of 
California Los Angeles and Duke University, the CEINs will study how 
nanomaterials interact with the environment and human health, resulting 
in better risk assessment and risk mitigation strategies. Each center 
works as a network, connected to multiple research organizations, 
industry, and government agencies, and emphasizes interdisciplinary 
research and education.
     C2. What relative distribution of research and development 
investment among the PCAs is needed to achieve the NNI goal(s) (1, 2, 
3, and/or 4), and why?
    Background: While the NNI remains focused on fulfilling the Federal 
role of supporting basic research, infrastructure development, and 
technology transfer, the proposed investments for 2011 place renewed 
emphasis on accelerating the transition from basic R&D advances and 
capabilities into innovations that support national priorities such as 
sustainable energy technologies, healthcare, and environmental 
protection. While the dominant focus of NNI funding represented in PCAs 
1, 2, and 3 have been relatively sustained, the fastest-growing PCAs in 
recent years have been those for EHS (PCA 7, the requested EHS 
investment for 2011 is $117 million--over triple the figure for 2005) 
and nanomanufacturing (PCA 5, increasing from $34 million in 2006 to 
$101 million in the 2011 request), with a resultant small percentage 
reduction (about one percent change from 2010) in the highest-funded 
PCA, fundamental nanoscale phenomena and processes (PCA 1, $484.4 
million in the 2011 request). See the NNI Supplement to the President's 
FY 2011 Budget at http://www.nano.gov/NNI_2011_budget_supplement.pdf, pages 7-11 and the data.gov site (http://www.data.gov/raw/1556/#) for more details on relative funding over time.
     C3. What is the appropriate balance for investment in 
nanotechnology among US private and public entities (i.e., government, 
corporate R&D, and venture capital) to achieve the NNI goal(s) (please 
specify 1, 2, 3, and/or 4), and why?
    Background: The President's Council of Advisors on Science & 
Technology's ``Report to the President and Congress on the Third 
Assessment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative'' (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-nano-report.pdf) reports that the United States invested $5.7 billion in 
nanotechnology Research & Development in 2008, which corresponds 
approximately to one-third from Federal and State governments, half 
from corporate investments, and about one-fifth from venture capital 

D. Coordination and Partnerships

     D1. How could the NNI strengthen interagency coordination 
and collaboration towards specific NNI goal(s) (please specify 1, 2, 3, 
and/or 4) and objectives?
     D2. What improved mechanisms may be utilized to facilitate 
innovative cross-disciplinary research supporting the NNI goal(s) 
(please specify 1, 2, 3, and/or 4)?
     D3. What are the most effective roles of the government, 
industry, academia, and other stakeholders in achieving this NNI goal 
(1, 2, 3, and/or 4)?
     D4. What new forms of collaboration between stakeholders 
should be explored to facilitate nanotechnology-based innovation into 
    Government-Government Example: to help accomplish Goal 4, to 
``support responsible development of nanotechnology,'' the National 
Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Environmental Health 
Sciences (NIEHS) is supporting research to determine precisely the 
physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials with biological 
response, thus supplying critical data for hazard and risk assessment. 
To support the goals of this program, NIEHS is establishing 
collaborations with the NIH/National Cancer Institute's Nanotechnology 
Characterization Laboratory for physical characterization of 
nanomaterials and with the Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid 
(CaBIG[supreg]) NanoLab for data storage.
     D5. What existing activities in the public and private 
sector could the NNI develop or model to achieve the NNI goal(s) 
(please specify 1, 2, 3, and/or 4)?
    Example: The NRI (described above in section A) is a leading 
example of industry-university cooperative research involving more than 
30 top universities in the United States with research projects 
organized around four multi-university centers incorporating state and 
regional funding as well.
     D6. What partners or types of partners would need to 
collaborate (i.e., government, specific foundations and industry 
groups, new ideas for consortia) to accomplish the NNI goal(s) (please 
specify 1, 2, 3, and/or 4)?
     D7. What are effective mechanisms to leverage and/or 
coordinate US-funded research and development with international 
     D8. What mechanisms could NNI use to regularly engage 
experts in academia and industry and other organizations for input on 
its approach to addressing specific NNI goals (please specify 1, 2, 3, 
and/or 4)?
     D9. What is the role of public engagement in achieving 
specific NNI goals? In what ways can the Federal government best engage 
with citizens to ensure the sustainable development of nanotechnology-
based products with the broadest economic and societal benefits?


     E1. What specific criteria (e.g., nanotechnology 
publications and citations, nanotechnology patent activity, 
nanotechnology-related job creation, relative international 
nanotechnology investments) should the NNI use to evaluate its progress 
towards the NNI goal(s) (please specify 1, 2, 3, and/or 4) and in what 
priority order?
     E2. Which organizations (e.g., government committees, 
independent organizations, international bodies) should perform the 
evaluation of progress towards the NNI goal(s) (please specify 1, 2, 3, 
and/or 4)?
     E3. How can NNI best balance fundamental and applied 
research and development towards the NNI goal(s) (please specify 1, 2, 
3, and/or 4)?


     F1. What new, or existing, specific policies should the 
NNI agencies develop or adjust to support the NNI goal(s) (please 
specify 1, 2, 3, and/or 4) and to realize the broader economic and 
societal benefits associated with advances in nanotechnology?
    Examples: Policies that impact and/or support the NNI goals might 
address procurement, incentive prizes, technical documentary standards, 
international collaboration, targeted investment, permanent resident 
cards for foreign graduates from accredited US academic institutions, 
     F2. What best practices can be drawn from nanotechnology- 
and innovation-related policies in other sectors and countries?

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Any questions about the content of 
this RFI should be sent to [email protected]. Additional information 
regarding this RFI is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/NNIStrategy/. 
Questions and responses may also be sent by mail (please allow 
additional time for processing) to the address: Office of Science and 
Technology Policy, ATTN: Nano RFI, Executive Office of the President, 
725 17th Street, Room 5228, Washington, DC 20502. Phone: (202) 456-
7116, Fax: (202) 456-6021.

    Dated: June 29, 2010.
Ted Wackler,
Deputy Chief of Staff.
[FR Doc. 2010-16273 Filed 7-2-10; 8:45 am]