California aims to expand nano role

California’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology (on which I am privileged to serve) issued its final report today. From Keay Davidson of the SF Chronicle:

“In effect, it calls for a nanotech version of the state’s stem cell initiative, another instance in which the Golden State jumped on a high-tech bandwagon that many claim will lead to a profitable and exciting tomorrow.

However, Honda stresses that he’s not calling for a state referendum on nanotechnology. Noting that the stem cell initiative became a “political football,” Honda says he prefers transforming California into an international nano-heavyweight by other means, such as tax initiatives and improved education in the sciences…

Facing the “revolutionary breakthroughs” promised by nanotech, and the associated “new research, products, jobs and entire industries … the state of California must now embrace the nanotechnology challenge … (and) policymakers must take urgent action … if California is to remain competitive.”

The report advocates some truly Hollywood-style ways of boosting nanotech’s prospects for California. While it urges the California Environmental Protection Agency to take steps to “encourage responsible environmental applications of nanotechnology,” the report also urges “educating the public” about the technology’s wondrous potential.

“To help educate the public, the report says, California should:
— “Brief the creative talent associated with the movie and TV industry on beneficial applications of nanotechnology.”
— “Develop a compelling, inspirational Digital Cinema or IMAX educational film about nanotechnology.”
— “Develop a nanotechnology video game … and/or … create additional museum exhibits on nanotechnology like those in the Lawrence Hall of Science’s ‘NanoZone’ in Berkeley or the San Francisco Exploratorium’s ‘Visualization Laboratory.’ ”

“The 36-page report proposes actions including:

— Offer a “state income tax holiday” and sales-tax exemptions to nanotech investors and firms.
— Provide matching funds to nano-research enterprises.
— Seek federal funds to bankroll in-state nanotech initiatives.
— Make it easier to license and market California-developed nano-related products.
— Retrain mid-career professionals for the nanotech industry.
— Mandate science-math instruction in K-12 schools at a minimum of one hour a day.
— Monitor possible safety and environmental hazards of nanotechnologies.”

See also the writeup in the San Jose Mercury News.

As I write this, the report is not yet on the Task Force website, but surely it will be there soon.

UPDATE: it’s still not there, so I’ve put in a request that this be fixed. LATER: It is finally up. —Christine

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