EU Embarks on Yet Another Public Outreach Project

Europe is once again trying to appease…umh…I mean inform the public about the subject of nanotechnology with another public outreach program entitled Nanochannels.

I say ‘again’ because there have been similar efforts in the past. There was Nanologue, which is a completed EU project that except for those directly engaged in it few have heard of.

Over at the blog Frogheart the reasonable question is asked why no one mentioned the work previously done by Nanologue in this field when announcing Nanochannels. Since I was in the meeting at EuroNanoForum in which the outreach program was discussed, I can confirm that a dreary recap was provided of the Nanologue project. The extent to which this data informed the new project was hard to discern from the near-comatose expression on the face of the audience.

But moving on, in addition to Nanologue there was ObservatoryNANO that was supposed to inform government, industry and finance decision makers about issues pertaining to nanotechnology and in doing so often provided unintended guffaws.

One of the groups behind ObservatoryNANO and now Nanochannels is the Institute of Nanotechnology, which certainly has background in this sort of thing as it also provided some of the background material for last year’s nearly universally lambasted UK nanotechnology strategy report.

That report too managed to forget all the other reports that had come before. While starting from scratch is sometimes necessary and even a good thing, managing to dispose of an entire body of knowledge in order to offer up odd suggestions seems to miss the spirit of starting fresh.

It would appear that Nanochannels (a somewhat unfortunate name in that nanochannels is a term that actually refers to a structure in nanotechnology) is somewhat similar to the UK project Nano&Me, except that Nano&Me was set up for £77k and Nanochannels has a budget of €894,940.

You would think with that kind of money they would have a website, but no, unless of course you count a Facebook page

You know the EU might take a page from the US government in its nanotechnology outreach strategy and just start getting serious about the subject. Just because some groups have decided that juvenile discourse is the way to address the topic of nanotechnology doesn’t mean that governments should embark on a children’s-book approach to the subject to get it all sorted.

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IEEE Spectrum’s nanotechnology blog, featuring news and analysis about the development, applications, and future of science and technology at the nanoscale.

Dexter Johnson
Madrid, Spain
Rachel Courtland
Associate Editor, IEEE Spectrum
New York, NY