Developing countries must focus on technology transfer to translate nanotechnology research into benefits for society, says vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Bai Chunli.
Nanoscience and nanotechnology have developed rapidly in the South — in China, for example, government support for these now totals about US$180 million a year.
But many countries have been limited by a lack of equipment and poor scientific infrastructure.
Yet scientists from the South must be involved in nanoscience efforts, to ensure that the global research agenda achieves a balance between supplying the market for upscale goods and providing products to help meet the UN Millennium Development Goals, says Bai.
Access to a large and dynamic private sector that can finance discoveries into applications has been lacking in the developing world, adds Bai. But China and India's private sectors could provide new sources of capital and lead to partnerships that combine research expertise with entrepreneurial skills — a move that could help transfer techniques and materials from the laboratory to industry.