Nanotechnology and the Global Poor: United States Policy and International Collaborations

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Nanotechnology and nanomanufacturing have tremendous potential for benefiting the global poor—the approximately 2.7 billion people in the world that live on less that 2 dollars per day (purchasing power parity). For example, nanotechnologies may help provide reliable local energy production and potable water availability, increased agricultural efficiency, inexpensive medical diagnostics and treatments, and greater access to technology and information more generally. This paper examines existing and potential pathways for promoting nanotechnology and nanomanufacturing that benefit the global poor either by directly meeting their needs or supporting nascent industries in developing countries. Informal international collaborations as well as formal international research partnerships are discussed, as is the role of international organizations. However, special attention is given to United States policy. Recommendations regarding intellectual property licensing, incentivizing research on pro-poor nanotechnologies, and promoting collaborations between United States and developing world researchers are made. In the long run, a nanotechnology research and development strategy conducive to realizing the possibilities for nanotechnology to benefit the global poor might constitute an effective form of foreign aid that would also benefit the United States by promoting stability and security in developing nations and creating new markets for United States companies.

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Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: 1, Technical Proceedings of the 2007 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show, Volume 1
Published: May 20, 2007
Pages: 593 - 596
Industry sector: Advanced Materials & Manufacturing
Topic: Advanced Manufacturing
ISBN: 1-4200-6182-8