To guide a revolution led by nanotechnology, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was established in 2001as “a U.S. Government research and development (R&D) initiative involving the nanotechnology-related activities of 20 departments and agencies”. The NNI supplement to the President's 2020 budget both proposes the NNI 2020 budget and serves as the annual report.
The NNI supplement to the 2020 Budget requests over $1.4 billion for investment in nanotechnology-related basic research and early-stage applications and advancement of relevant tech-transfers of nanoscience. Overall, there have been no major changes in this year’s document compared to the 2019 proposed budget (SciPol full brief available). Minor changes include:
- Funding: Compared to 2019, the proposed total budget of the NNI would decrease by about 6.6% (from $1.572 appropriated for FY2019 to $1.468 billion proposed for FY2020). However, this is an increase over the FY2019 proposed budget ($1.396 billion). Funding for most departments would decrease only slightly; however, funding for the Department of Health and Human Services (especially for the National Institutes of Health) and for Environmental Protection Agency would receive the largest cuts (13% and 64%, respectively). Last year Congress appropriated more money to the NNI budgets than the administration proposed. President Trump has also proposed significantly decreasing funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which makes up a large part of NNI funding.
- Program Component Areas (PCAs): This section generally remains constant with updated research results.
- PCA 1 focuses on Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives (NSIs) and Grand Challenges.The NNI agencies feel that developments in the Nanotechnology Knowledge Infrastructure NSI will continue without the extra support of the NSI and funding will not be reported for this NSI in the future. Other NSIs based on nanotechnology sensors, water sustainability through nanotechnology, sustainable nanomanufacturing and nanoelectronics have made progress and will continue.
- PCA2 focuses on foundational research and is the largest PCA, accounting for 39% of the proposed budget.The NSF, Department of Energy, National Institute of Health, and Department of Defense are the agencies with the largest amounts of funding for basic research.
- PCA3 focuses on nanotechnology-enabled applications and is the largest portion of NIH’s nanotechnology related funding.
- PCA4 consists of research infrastructure and instrumentation, supporting user facilities that enable nano-fabrication and analysis.
- PCA5 targets environment, health, and safety implications of nanomaterials and is the source of studies that inform future regulations around nanomaterial use.
- Goals: This section illustrates the current progress toward four specific goals.
- Goal 1 is to advance a strong nanotechnology research and development program. It highlights breakthroughs on material- and medicine-related nanotechnology.
- Goal 2 is to foster commercialization of beneficial technologies.The substitution of “entrepreneurial” by a newly used term “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in Goal 2 underlines again the necessity of collaboration in transferring technologies into applications.
- Goal 3 focuses on developing the nanotechnology workforce and infrastructure by fostering development of new tools for nanotechnology and by providing research infrastructure and educational resources.
- Goal 4 is to support the responsible development of nanotechnology. It emphasizes the need for and the work towards physicochemical characterization standards to accurately describe nanomaterials and the risks they may pose.