In the long-run, there is high expectation that nanotechnology will lead to many innovations and amazing new products for the market-place. In that sense, it is market-driven. But unlike many other technologies (Internet, optical communications, rf IDs) that have a well-defined market and fixed, well defined scientific, technical and cost target, nanotechnology and nanoscience are very broad in scope, and need to focus on both the very fundamental science and the near-term technological benefits. In that sense, the field is more accurately curiosity-driven. Because of the tremendous potential benefits of nanotechnology, the government in the U.S. has done something unusual:
lots of different government agencies have joined together to pool their resources to create a National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), and COLLECTIVELY they have invested $6.5 billion of government funds since 2001 (when NNI started). This is just the amount in the U.S. Many, many countries in Europe and Asia have similar nanotechnology initiatives. It is harder to know how much the business sector has invested. Many large companies, like Intel or IBM put some of their funds into nanotechnology research. There are small start-up companies that have been funded by Venture capitalists. Although business investments may be quite large, much of nanotechnology the most amazing, transforming parts are still in the development stage. For more information on government funding, you can go to the NNI website: www.nano.gov.
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