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Technological roadmaps till 2014 in nanoscience and nanotechnologies in materials, health and medical systems, energy fields

Final Report Summary - NANOROADMAP (Technological roadmaps till 2014 in nanoscience and nanotechnologies in materials, health and medical systems, energy fields)

The primary goal of the NANOROADMAP project was to provide coherent scenarios and technology roadmaps up to the year 2015 to identify the opportunities most relevant for Europe that could materialise in this ten year time horizon from nanotechnology application in three specific sectors:
- materials;
- health and medical devices;
- energy.

At first the duration of project was indicated in 30 months, but well after the start (October 2004) the partners agreed to compress the activity to 24 months and complete the project by the end of December 2005.

A specific feature of the project was, in fact, its two steps approach. A first phase, dedicated mainly to the collection of information to determine the general scenario to start from, followed by a second phase dedicated to the preparation of the road maps and dissemination activities, discussions and feedback.

The main task of the first year was to assess the existing situation and forecasts in the field, both with respect to technology and applications / market, pin point the themes most relevant to focus on, identify experts to involve in the road map exercise, define the methodologies and the instruments to execute it.

The survey was based mainly on the analysis of available information (road maps, foresight studies, position papers, governmental documents, etc.), supplemented by search on the web, participation at events, personal contacts. The work was carried out by all the consortium partners and made it possible to draw a worldwide picture of the activity under way in the field of nanotechnology.

The survey demonstrated the action in nanotechnology was mainly concentrated in public research institutions, but industry, both large enterprises and SMEs, were increasingly involved.

The definitive choice of the four topics for each sector to roadmap was finally made according to selection criteria agreed upon by the consortium partners (degree of innovation, expected technological improvement, relevance of the sectors of possible application, positive impact on human life) and a thorough discussion which involved international experts (the international conference in Rome offered a good opportunity for it).

The number of work packages (WP) for the second phase of the project didn't change and the activity of the second year was concentrated in WPs 4, 5, 6 and 7. The first three devoted to the roadmap exercise, aimed at the preparation of three sectoral roadmaps (materials, health and medical systems, energy), the fourth consisting in the dissemination of information.

A crucial part of the work of the (beginning) second year has been the definitive identification and selection of a consistent number of experts to be involved in the roadmap exercise carried out with a two steps Delphi-like approach. All partners concurred to this task and about 350 experts were finally identified.

Another crucial point has been the preparation of the questionnaire for the Delphi exercise. The collection of the answers to the questionnaires from the experts resulted rather difficult and the coordinator asked all the partners to give their support to the roadmap leaders to get the answers from the experts, in particular from those in their own country. The response was mixed, but in the end some 230 experts participated at the roadmapping exercise.

The result of the roadmapping exercise was condensed in 12 roadmaps (4 for each sector) which were grouped in 3 sectoral roadmaps reports. From these the coordinator prepared a synthesis report summarising all the roadmaps.

The results made apparent that there were still quite few more years before the benefits of nanotechnology could be fully exploited. Ten years, the period taken into account by the project, seems the time span necessary for bringing to the market many of the applications considered.

The requirements that had to be achieved, in the future are summarised below:
1) fundamental research for understanding structure-property-processing relationship at the molecular level;
2) computer modelling and simulation at the nanoscale;
3) on-line tools for characterisation, process monitoring and control, metrology;
4) developing a standard regulatory framework and common approval procedures;
5) identify and pre-develop materials, applications and capabilities that respond to the stringent needs of mass production, thus reducing the risk associated with their development;
6) production up-scaling;
7) improving collaboration between academia and industry and technology transfer;
8) provide education and skills both for young researchers and co-workers;
9) answer to the increasing concerns regarding HSE issue;
10) foster transparent discussion and information with all the stakeholders about benefit and risks of nanotechnology.