The NNI has now released its February 2011 strategic plan. One goal is of particular interest: Goal 2 continues to be: "Foster the Transfer of New Technologies into Products for Commercial and Public Benefit." In addition, DOE contributions in this strategy focus on solar, energy storage, alternative fuels, and energy efficiency. Signature Initiatives continue to be: nanomanufacturing, nanosolar, and nanoelectronics. These themes have been discussed and publicized over the past half-year or so in preparation for this new plan.

The commercialization strategy under Goal 2 continues to be vague, however, with general reference to a STAR METRICS project and OECD Innovation Strategy to measure things. The federal government research programs (ok, now call them innovation programs) excel in funding grants, leading to patents and publications. However, where are the jobs and private sector profits (in the United States)? How far will funding go to establish production? What is becoming of the impact of Bayh-Dole funding dollars on jobs? These metrics will be critical in coming months as budget negotiations deepen. The OECD Innovation Strategy speaks of government funding new technologies like cleantech during times of recession, but then rebalancing as the economy recovers. But is that enough for cleantech and nanotech commercialization?

The new strategic plan issues as President Obama’s Administration launches its latest budget proposals. Innovation is a strong theme for spending increases, including clean energy and the Start-up America program.