With €1.4 billion allocated to 550 projects in the field of nanosciences and nanotechnology, the EU’s 6th Research Framework Program accounts for one-third of total public funding for nanotechnology and is the world’s largest single funding agency worldwide for this field.
The article notes, however, that private funding for nanotechnology research in Europe lags the U.S. and Japan.
The Europeans appear to be taking an integrated approach to nanotechnology safety, by investing €28 million in safety research as part of each of its programs. Much like in the U.S., European regulators are also exploring whether the EC’s environmental, health and safety laws require change to deal with these issues:
The European Commission is currently undertaking a review of existing legislation to see whether the current regulatory framework appropriately addresses health, safety and environmental risks. Moreover, it has taken steps to establish an observatory to provide decision-makers with dynamic assessments of scientific and market developments.
It looks like the U.S. might be moving faster on nanotechnology regulatory issues, so I will be interested to see whether the Europeans take our lead or chart their own course. So far, they seem to be taking a sensible approach to the problem. I especially like the integration of safety research into their primary research grants (which, among other benefits, reduces the likelihood that scientists will overstate the results of safety issues in an effort to attract more funding) and the inclusion of private industry in the regulatory process.