Economic Development

Economic Development Initiatives

California Nano Industry Network (CalNIN)

The CalNIN, established in 2011, is a website and medium to establish a network for participants engaged in nanotechnology community in California. Interested parties can sign up to receive email updates or become a member (free). The website is designed to be a platform for sharing information on nanotechnology and related activities in California across all industries. The CalNIN is managed by B&C Consortia Management LLC (Washington, DC) as a courtesy to the nano community in California.

Northern California Nanotechnology Initiative (NCnano)

NCnano is a regional economic development initiative focused on developing the nanotechnology and the nano-bio-IT convergence technology economy of Northern California. It is a unifying organization that brings together universities, research labs, investors, entrepreneurs, and local and regional government entities. The initiative was created to increase investment and grant money available to organizations in Northern California and to promote job creation. The geographic scope of the Northern California Nanotechnology Initiative includes Silicon Valley, but also goes beyond this area to also include Sacramento as well as San Francisco and the East Bay. Northern California's preeminence in cutting edge technologies, venture capital, hi-tech industries and entrepreneurial spirit, provide the competitive advantage for the region to become a leading nanotechnology cluster. The initiative is facilitating a multidisciplinary approach to develop the biotechnology, molecular electronics, advanced materials and manufacturing technologies of Northern California.

Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology (BRTFN)

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology's charter is to promote California as the national and worldwide center for nanotechnology research, development and commercialization. The primary objective of the task force is to help develop a regional nanotechnology economic development initiative focused on the Southern California region. BRTFN was initiated by California congressman Mike Honda and California State Controller Steve Westly, who serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the group. Scott Hubbard, Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, is the acting Chair responsible for driving task force activities.

Forty individuals were selected as task force members representing the breadth of stakeholder groups in California, including nanotechnology experts from industry, startup firms, nonprofits, academia, government and venture capital.  Task force subcommittees include Policy and Ethics, Research and Development, Education, Commercialization and Facilities/Infrastructure. One of the task force members is from the University of Southern California (USC), Engineering Technology Transfer Center (ETTC).

The task force documented its work in a report "Thinking Big About Thinking Small" that provides a series of recommendations on ways the United States can promote the development and commercialization of nanotechnology.

Political Economic Development Initiatives

Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (2003; Enacted)

The 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (S. 189), was enacted in December 2003. This bill authorized $3.7 billion in appropriations for nanoscience, nanoengineering, and nanotechnology research over four fiscal years (2005-2008) for the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Congressman Honda was one of the key legislators that initiated the House version of the bill entitled the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (H.R. 766). The House passed this version of the bill in May 2003 but it was not passed by the Senate. The first version of the bill in the Senate was introduced in 2002 (S. 2945).

Nanomanufacturing Investment Act (2004 & 2005; Introduced)

Representative Honda was also involved with the Nanomanufacturing Investment Act. This bill was first introduced in 2004 (H.R. 4656) and later in 2005 (H.R. 1491). The main purpose was to create the Nanomanufacturing Investment Partnership, a public-private partnership to bridge the funding gap, also known as the "valley of death", that exists between nanotechnology research which occurs in laboratories and the stage where financial investors are willing to fund new ventures based on that technolog. These bills were introduced, but were not enacted.

Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities (NANO) Act (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013; Introduced)

California Congressman Michael Honda (15th District Representative) reintroduced the Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities (NANO) Act (H.R. 394) for the fourth time on January 23, 2013. He first introduced the bill in July 2007 (H.R. 3235), and reintroduced the bill in February 2009 (H.R. 820), and again in August 2011 (H.R. 2749). According to, the current version of the bill has a zero percent change of being enacted for the following reasons: the bill was a re-introduction from the previous session of Congress and the sponsor is a member of the minority party. The site also mentions that only four percent of all House bills in 2009-2010 were enacted and three percent in 2011-2013.

The NANO Act is a comprehensive bill to promote the responsible development and commercialization of nanotechnology in the United States. The legislation draws upon the results and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force report. The NANO Act includes a number of provisions to create partnerships, raise awareness, and implement strategic policies to resolve obstacles and promote nanotechnology.  Specific items in the bill include:

  • Creating a public-private partnership to invest in the gap between nanotechnology research and commercialization and developing an NSF program to promote collaboration between manufacturing companies and occupational training centers to develop training for nanotechnology manufacturing;
  • Establishing tax credits for investment in nanotechnology firms and education and training expenses
  • Establishing grant programs to support: (1) nanotechnology research related to energy, environment, security, and health; (2) curriculum development for interdisciplinary nanotechnology courses at higher education institutions and, (3) the development of nanotechnology incubators for start-up firms and the (4) the establishment of a shared resource facility for “nano-CAD” tools.

The NANO Act also requires the development of a nanotechnology research strategy that establishes research priorities for the federal government and industry that will ensure responsible stewardship related to nanotechnology development.  This is intended to help curb obstacles to nanotechnology commercialization related to uncertainty involving the risks of nanoscale materials and on how the government might regulate nanotechnology in the future. More information on the current version of the bill can be found on Representative Honda's website.

Previous Initiatives

In May 2004, a Technology Convergence Consortium (TC2) was formed in the Silicon Valley area to help develop business opportunities and create more jobs at the intersection of information, biochemical, and nanotechnologies. Participants included regional leaders from business, universities, a national laboratory, and local government. TC2 is an outgrowth of Joint Venture’s Next Silicon Valley Initiative started in 2001. TC2’s mission was to:

  • Strengthen linkages and promote partnerships among labs, universities, and new and existing firms;
  • Connect entrepreneurs with resources and develop a regional Small Tech Summit to facilitate the process;
  • Create jobs in these fields and encourage the development of business incubation;
  • Enact programs to prepare a rising generation of workers in these fields;
  • Attract federal research funding and secure federal and state support; and
  • Address policy issues that slow commercialization.


Economic Development Organizations in California

The following organizations are not specifically focused on nanotechnology, but are responsible for broad development initiatives and resources in California.

Name Category Geography Description Website
California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) Government Statewide
California Economic Development Department (EDD) Government Statewide Location: Sacramento, CA Labor Market Info (formerly the California Cooperative Occupational Information System) provides job seekers and employers a range of resources to find, access and use labor market information and services. Provides local and regional demographic statistics for employment and career searching tools.

San Diego Technology Alliance (SDRTA) Business/Technology Services City
California Council on Science & Technology (CCST) Government Statewide
San Jose: Office of Economic Development (OED) Government City
Governor's Office of Business & Economic Development (GO-Biz) Government Statewide
California Solar Center Industry Association Statewide Provides news and information on California's solar industry
Silicon Valley Economic Development Alliance (SVEDA) Business/Technology Services Regional Addresses business needs and connects businesses and organizations with economic development professionals
Joint Venture – Silicon Valley Industry Association Regional Started in 1993; provides a neutral forum for collaborative regional thinking and leadership from both the public and private sectors
Orange County Technology Action Network (OCTANe) Business/Technology Development County Non-profit that connects people and ideas with capital and resources to fuel technology growth in Orange County. They have a program with UC-Irvine (OCTANe@UCI) to connect entrepreneurs and investors to researchers.