SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE

No. 36 - Session 2002-2003

2 July 2003

NEW INQUIRY

Nanotechnology

The Science and Technology Committee is to conduct an inquiry into Government support for nanotechnology.

The Committee has decided to conduct an inquiry into Government support for nanotechnology. This follows the announcement on 2 July by Lord Sainsbury of Government funding for nanotechnology of £90m over six years. The Committee will examine the action the Government has taken to support developing nanotechnologies and to promote relevant research in the public and private sector. It will follow up the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Report by the Director General of the Research Councils of June 2002  setting out a strategy for building a nanotechnology capability in the UK.  The Committee will also consider whether higher education institutes are providing training in the necessary skills for the UK to be competitive in nanotechnology in future years and will examine how far the private sector is able to utilise relevant new technologies. 

The Committee is inviting written evidence on the following points:

•the impact of Government strategy on and expenditure committed to nanotechnology

•the adequacy of Government action to improve the existing UK skills base and the availability of suitable training

•the steps taken to ensure that there is a co-ordinated, cross-departmental approach to developing a strategy for nanotechnology

•the extent and impact of Government support for inward investment in nanotechnology

•the impact of Government support for existing UK nanotechnology companies and for industrial R&D in nanotechnology

•the effectiveness of UK participation in European and international collaborative work on nanotechnology

The Committee would welcome written evidence from interested organisations and individuals addressing these points.  Evidence should be submitted by Friday 12 September 2003. The written evidence received will be published in advance of the oral evidence sessions, which will begin in October.

In this inquiry the Committee will not be considering in any detail the potential uses of nanotechnology, the ethical, social and environmental implications of nanotechnology, nor the need for regulation. These issues are being considered in the Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering study commissioned by the OST and announced on 11 June on the benefits and risks of nanotechnology. 

In announcing the inquiry, the Chairman of the Committee, Ian Gibson MP, said "We want to see if the Government is reacting quickly enough to the scientific and commercial opportunities offered by nanotechnology and is providing the right encouragement to industry. We will be looking at how the new money announced today will be spent. Too often in the past the UK has been slow to react to new technological developments while our competitors have pressed ahead and reaped the rewards. We want to ensure that nanotechnology does not become yet another example."

Evidence should be sent in hard copy to the Clerk of the Science and Technology Committee, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.  Please send an electronic version also, in Word format, via e-mail to [email protected] or on disk.  Guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide.htm

Further information on the work of the Committee can be obtained from Committee staff on

020 7219 2793/4.

Previous press notices and publications are available on the Committee's internet homepage: www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_and_technology_committee.cfm

Note for Editors

Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Committee is empowered to examine the "expenditure, policy and administration of the Office of Science and Technology and its associated public bodies". The Committee was appointed on 12 November 2001.

The DTI and OST published a report entitled "New dimensions for manufacturing: a UK strategy for nanotechnology" in June 2002.