Nanotechnology applications a driving force for R_D investment A by huanghengdong


									        Nanotechnology               applications:          a    driving        force      for     R&D

        A. Correia1, M. Pérez1, J. J. Sáenz2 and P. A. Serena3
          Phantoms Foundation, Pabellón C, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Cantoblanco, E-28049
          Madrid, Spain.
           Depto. de Física de la Materia Condensada, C-III, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid,
          Cantoblanco, E-28049 Madrid, Spain.
          Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas,
          Campus de Cantoblanco, E-28049 Madrid, Spain.

         4 Nanotechnology in Spain: a case study

At the end of 90´s, Spain had not any institutional framework nor initiative pointed towards the support
and promotion of R&D in Nanotechnology. This fact pushed the scientific community to promote several
initiatives to strengthen research in Nanotechnology and, at the same time, to raise the awareness of
Public Administration and industry about the need to support this emergent field. Examples of these
initiatives were the creation of “Nanociencia” and “NanoSpain” [33] research networks. In particular,
NanoSpain is coordinated by the Phantoms Foundation [34] and the CSIC (Spanish National Research
Council) [35], bringing together almost 1200 investigators belonging to more than 200 research groups.
Another initiative carried out by Spanish researchers is the organization in Spain of the Trends in
Nanotechnology (TNT) conferences [36]. TNT conference series has become an international reference
that annually convokes around 400 worldwide researchers who show the latest advances in this field.

These efforts to articulate the interaction among scientists who work in Nanotechnology were followed
by institutional initiatives driven by Universities, as well as local and regional governments. The
Generalitat of Catalonia has played the most relevant role promoting Nanotechnology through its Special
Action for the development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Catalonia, funding scholarships for
postdoctoral stays in prestigious research centers, and creating two relevant institutions: the
Nanoengineering Laboratory belonging to the “Catalan Bioengineering Institute (IBEC)” [37] and the
“Instituto Catalán de Nanotecnología” [38]. Following the Catalonian initiative, several regional-driven
initiatives were carried out such as the creation of the “Instituto de Nanotecnología de Aragón” (INA)
[39] and the “Unidad de Nanotecnología de la Universidad de Oviedo” [40]. In some cases regional
Administrations have supported other initiatives such as the creation of the “Círculo de Innovación
Tecnológica en Microsistemas y Nanotecnologías de la Comunidad de Madrid” [41] or the regional
networks “NanoGalicia” in Galicia [42] and “Saretek” in the Basque Country [43]. All these facts
demonstrate that Spanish Administrations (regional and central) are making a great effort to follow the
directives proposed by the UE concerning the construction of a European Research Area. Other recent
initiatives are, for example, the creation of the “The Madrid Institute of Advanced Studies in Nanoscience
(IMDEA-Nano)” funded by the Madrid regional government and the Spanish Ministry of Education and
Research [44], the joint initiative between Portugal and Spain to establish in Braga (Portugal) a new
International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), or the “Modelling for nanotechnology initiative”
[45]. There is also a clear approach to Nanotechnology coming from Technological Centers like
TEKNIKER, INASMET, CIDETEC, IKERLAN, LABEIN, etc. or Science and Technology Parks
associated to Universities [46]. They all know that a competitive presence in Europe implies a decisive
bet in this field.

The efforts of Spanish researchers along with the influence of European Union have driven the interest of
the Public Administration to this scientific-technological field. In particular, the National Plan of R+D+I
for the period 2004-2007 [47] presented Nanotechnology as a high-priority line of research, and a
Strategic Action in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology was supported (around 18 M€ allocated). The
objectives of this stategic action were, among others, the improvement of shared-use infrastructures, the
formation of qualified personnel and the development of a series of actions to attract the industrial sector
towards the field of R+D. On another scale, the Spanish Foundation of Science and Technology (FECyT)
promoted in the period 2004-2005 a Pilot Action for the development of the Nanotechnologies [48].
Finally, we would like to remark the intensive activity in Nanotechnology developed by the Spanish
National Research Council (CSIC) [35] through the so-called “EJE NANO” (Nano Axis), keystone of the
CSIC Strategic Plan (2006-2009). This action includes the creation of five R&D Institutes as well as
several initiatives to enhance the interaction with strategic industrial sectors.

More recently, the Spanish Government has established a new R&D Programme (Ingenio 2010 [49])
highly oriented towards the promotion of R&D activities with high added value to improve the excellence
and competitiveness of national research teams and to increase the interconnection between public
researchers and private companies, among others objectives. Within this framework, Consolider and
CENIT calls allocated more than 700 M€ in 2006-2007 to reach these objectives (among which 40 M€ for
Nanotechnology & Nanoscience projects). Approved proposals within the first CENIT call included
several Nanobiotechnology-based projects. The first set of approved proposals within the Consolider Call
included the funding for improving infrastructures of two Spanish Nanotechnology Centers ([39,50]).
This impulse will be maintained for the next R&D National Programme, where Nanoscience and
Nanotechnology will play, undoubtedly, a central role.

During the last four years, an important funding effort in R&D from the different Spanish
Administrations (central, regional, local) has been done. However it is impossible to estimate the total
funds allocated in Spain to build new Nanotechnology Centers, hire young and senior researchers with
expertise in nanotechnology, or develop new R&D projects focussed on nanotechnology. This is partially
due to the lack of coordination between these Administrations and to the few administrative staff and
experts in scientific management currently working in the Spanish R&D system. These problems, among
others, are described in the OECD review of the Spanish National R&D Programme [51].

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