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April 12th, 2007
In its 2004 strategic plan, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) laid out four goals for itself: maintain a world-class R&D program; facilitate the transfer of technology into products for economic growth; support the responsible development of nanotechnology; and develop educational resources, a skilled workforce, and supporting infrastructure and tools to advance nanotechnology.
Backing these goals is about $1.4 billion in annual spending by U.S. government agencies. Six years after NNI was created, it's reasonable to ask where the money has gone and what it's bought in return.
More than 70% of the government money funds research on fundamental processes, materials, and devices. The next largest chunk at about 11%, or a proposed $160 million for fiscal 2008, goes toward research facilities and equipment. Since 2001, more than 60 facilities, centers, and networks have emerged under NNI.
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