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have formed task forces to specifically
address the public perception about the risks
Nanotechnology is not so much an industry
as a collection of tools and approaches,
which will achieve commercial success only
when compelling applications are found and
adopted. Many nanotechnology applications
are still at the concept level, requiring much
more basic research before they can be
incorporated into a viable product. Once
designed, nanotechnologies must also overcome difficulties relating to robust production and large-scale manufacturing. It will
also be necessary to follow through on rigorous safety studies to ensure public acceptance. Universal to each step in this process is
the need for funding and support as a prerequisite. Government funds may provide
the early-stage investment in this high-risk,
high-payoff technology, but ultimately private or corporate investment will be required
to carry the process to fruition.
Finally, nanotechnology is an international
phenomenon. Although US-based compa- NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY VOLUME 21 NUMBER 10 OCTOBER 2003 nies are predominantly mentioned here,
these companies reflect a supportive entrepreneurial culture rather than true market
dominance. Nearly every economic center
has developed an interest in nanotechnology,
and some have made huge commitments
toward research in step with US funding.
Though the United States has a lead in commercial development, as shown by the number of companies involved in active
development in this area, it is too early to
decide where the ultimate profits in nanotechnology will be made. The blockbuster
nanotechnology products will certainly
address the health-care market, but whether
these products will be as multinational as in
the pharmaceutical market, it is far too early
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- Fall '13