EU pumps money into nanotech, but where are the results?

Here’s an interesting factoid:

As part of the European Union’s 6th Framework Programme, €1.4 billion is allocated to nanoscience and technology. That makes the EU the world’s largest public funder of all things “nano”.

So what have we got to show for all this European public investment?

Every fortnight I write for a science and technology journal around 4000 words of copy on developments in nanoscience and technology. Of the nine news stories and single short feature in each issue I am lucky if two are about European developments. The overwhelming majority concern North American-based research, development and commercialisation efforts.

Am I skewing the numbers by ignoring European developments? Certainly not. In fact, writing for a European publication I make a point of seeking out European leads. There is some exciting work going on in European research labs and companies, but I do have to wonder about the cost-effectiveness of huge funding programmes such as those run by the EU.