from the late-to-the-game dept.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush has proposed spending $100 million in 2002 on a technology initiative to create Centers of Excellence at Florida universities, according to a number of recent press reports. The program would include nanoscale science and technology as a major component.
If passed, the Florida program, which resembles programs already in place in California, New York, and Texas, would be one of the largest government-funded nanotechnology programs in the United States, trailing only Californiaís program.
Read more for links to coverage of the proposed Florida program in the Florida press. Coverage of Florida Governor Jeb Bushís proposal to spend $100 million in 2002 on a technology initiative to create Centers of Excellence at Florida universities:
- According to an article in the Gainesville Sun ("UF scientists will make a bid for 'bio-nanotechnology' funds", by Carrie Millier, 21 February 2002), the University of Florida (UF) offered a proposal for a program in "bio-nanotechnology" that involves faculty working in medicine, genetics, engineering, neuroscience, physics, chemistry. The focus on biology and medicine would capitalize on the strengths in the UF College of Medicine and the Brain Institute, said Neil Sullivan, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "We are focusing on an area where UF can be unique and different and really soar ahead," Sullivan said.
- A second article in the Tampa Tribune ("Nanotech No Small Challenge For State", by David Wasson, 24 February 2002) provides more extensive coverage, noting that Gov. Bush is "pushing a reluctant state Legislature to find $100 million in a lean budget year for an initiative he says could catapult Florida to the frontier of emerging nanotechnology. . . If lawmakers deliver, universities will compete for the state money to build advanced research centers and bring the world's leading scientists to Florida. Private-sector funding will follow, Bush suggests, as will companies setting up shop to take advantage of the research." Bush may have difficulty getting the initiative through the Florida legislature, which is debating a lean state budget and potential cutbacks on basic government services.
The article expresses the views of some who are skeptical about the feasibility of advanced molecular nanotechnology: "You have to be careful when talking about nano," said Peng Xiong, assistant director of the Center for Materials Research and Technology at Florida State University, where several research projects are under way. "Understanding the nano world enables us to do many things. But I don't think we'll ever get to where [the most avid enthusiasts] say it can take us." However, the article also quotes Foresight Executive Director Chuck Piercey, who said, "It's difficult to explain to people because it's so far out it sounds like science fiction. There's enormous potential and payoff, but it's also an enormous engineering challenge."
The Tribune article also notes that Bush is taking a political risk in proposing such a large program devoted to cutting-edge emerging technologies, especially ones related to bioscience: "Some conservative and religious groups are arguing against government-financed research that could challenge traditional Judeo-Christian views of life and world creation. . . . ëThat concern is always going to be there,' Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan said. ëBut you can't let it keep you from pursuing a technology that can allow us to serve a growing population.í He and Bush align themselves on the applications side of the debate, noting the research is becoming a key component of many scientific disciplines that will drive the 21st century economy.î