There has been plenty of discussion from all quarters about how the UK failed to grasp the significance of nanotechnology, and instead spent years fretting over heath and safety implications. Without any real nanotechnology related activity in UK industry, worrying about the potential downside is like spending all your time planning what you will do if you win the lottery. But you have to be in it to win it.
The UKs Nanotechnology knowledge Transfer Network, the body charged with”accelerating innovation in nanoscale technologies” has contributed an article to Nanotechnology Nowlooking at responsible nanotechnology. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, it’s a good round up, but after ten years of dealing with every part of the UK government that touches on nanotechnology, from the Treasury to DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) I can’t remember anyone extolling the potential economic benefits of nanotechnology, and it’s a real tragedy.
The UK has thousands of word class scientists beavering away on everything from graphene to cancer treatment and instead of being encouraged and aided to spin out their research into world-class companies, the government attitude is solely concerned with what might happen if someone “accidentally” inhaled a kilo of carbon nanotubes or managed to munch their way through a family sized bucket of fried chicken laced with quantum dots. It is probably why our rankings indicate that there is not too much difference between India and the UK as a place to commercialise nanotech.