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Monday, June 13, 2005

Looking small, thinking big – keeping Europe at the forefront of nanotechnology

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News The European Commission has today announced the ways in which it intends to keep Europe at the forefront of the fast-moving field of nanotechnology in a safe and responsible way.

Applications of nanotechnology – activities at the level of atoms and molecules – are bringing a range of benefits including more effective ways of delivering drugs to treat diseases, faster computer processors and more efficient solar cells. An action plan proposes measures to be taken at national and European level to strengthen research in this area and develop useful products and services . Measures in the action plan include: Boosting funding for nanotechnology in the Seventh Framework Programme, including specific support for research into the impact on human health and the environment, and fostering technology platforms in certain key nanotechnology sectors such as nanomedicine, nanoelectronics or sustainable chemistry; Developing world-class competitive infrastructure for research and poles of excellence through investment, exchange of best practice and access to existing infrastructure; Creating favourable conditions for EU industry to turn research into useful products and services , such as workshops on commercialisation, increased industrial involvement in research and working on common standards. A library of data and a patent monitoring system would be additional useful tools. Ensuring that ethical principles are always respected and citizens’ concerns and expectations are taken into account, through studies, information material and dialogue and the creation of an EU-level co-ordination point. Addressing public health, safety and environmental risks at the earliest possible stage, building risk assessment into the research and developing guidelines for such risk assessment. There will be a reassessment of existing EU legislation to ensure that the specific nature of nanotechnology is fully addressed. The Commission will also support the creation of a free and open archive of scientific and technical publications in the field; Promoting the inter-disciplinary education & training of researchers and engineers, focussing on the practical applications of nanotechnology as well as wider implications for society. This will include a workshop and development of courses and curricula. A European Award for nanotechnology would help to highlight best practice; Strengthening international dialogue on common issues such as nomenclature and toxicology. Those interested in finding out more about nanotechnology are invited to visit the “Nanotruck” a mobile exhibition on nanotechnology which will be in Brussels between 14 and 16 June. Commissioner Potočnik will visit the truck, an initiative of the German Federal Science Ministry, on 15 June at 16.00.

Source :  Read the action plan


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