Is Canada too late to jump on the nanotechnology bandwagon? The new Conservative government will soon be asked to approve a national nanotech strategy that will inevitably see an increase in funding and a greater degree of coordination across Canadian research institutions and clusters.
But Canada is years behind other nations in taking this crucial step. Virtually every other industrialized nation has developed and implemented a strategy and cranked up funding in key research areas they've identified as holding the greatest potential. Add to that our status as a small nation with limited fiscal and human capacity, and Canada is entering the frey at a distinct disadvantage.
This doesn't mean there's no point in trying. Nanotech holds too much potential in too many areas to be simply ignored. The efforts of the National Science Advisor's Office and the Advisory Council on Science and Technology are to be applauded for their stellar work in preparing the nanotech file for government. Why Ottawa didn't request such action at the beginning of the millennium is a mystery.
Quebec had the foresight to see the potential of investing early and putting together a modestly funded strategy to get all the players working in concert. NanoQuebec was repeatedly cited in the documents generated by the above two organizations as an excellent example of an organizational approach that can be replicated with regional variations.
If the new government is searching for a place to start, it should sit down with NanoQuebec's architects and get to work.