Nearly 90 percent of Americans believe that continued U.S. global leadership in technology is important to the nation's economy, and more than 76 percent believe that funding for research into the new fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology should be a priority of both federal and state governments.

In an online survey of 400 respondents conducted by Golin/Harris International Inc. (Chicago), 60 percent said the government should increase current funding levels for nanotechnology research.

"Americans clearly understand the importance of U.S. global leadership in technology," says Lane Bailey, worldwide director of public affairs and manager of the firm's nanoscience practice in Washington, DC. "While most Americans know little about nanoscience, when the applications of current research and the strong global competition are detailed, they feel strongly that the U.S. must increase federal research spending to ensure American leadership in nanotechnology."

Current U.S. spending on nanotechnology research is $900 million per year under the Bush Administration's 2003-2004 budget. In 2002, spending outside the U.S. was twice what the U.S. government spent on nanotechnology research during the same year. Bailey claims that American companies and the federal government are not keeping pace, and that U.S. leadership in this new area of technology development is threatened.

"These results demonstrate that the American people understand that tomorrow's economic growth and national security depend on today's investments in scientific research," says Daryl Hatano, vice president for public policy at the Semiconductor Industry Association (San Jose, CA). "It is particularly telling that likely voters placed an even higher priority on U.S. leadership in technology than respondents who indicated that they were not likely to vote." Other results from the survey include:

  • 60 percent of Americans believe it is very important for state governments to also get involved in nanoscience research funding.
  • 80 percent of Americans cannot name a single company that is a leader in nanotechnology development.