X-IRG Project: States of Innovation

(Christopher Newfield, Daryl Boudreaux, Zach Horton)


This project examined the impact of the current US innovation system on the deep structures affecting nanoscale research.  The group's perspectives were unique in several ways: by linking the study of societal implications to underlying scientific detail; by integrating qualitative and quantitative methods; by linking the micro, meso, and macro-levels of this system; by focusing on the role of university-based technology transfer as a crucial mechanism of nanoscale innovation; by comparing the US system to selected national systems abroad; and by incorporating a fourth level that we call innovation culture into our analysis of nanoscale innovation. The goal was to improve linkages between nanoscience and nanotechnology (NST) and the larger intellectual currents transforming public attitudes towards science, the adoption of technology, and the meanings of upstream and downstream engagement. This research was also unique in providing science practice with insights about innovation from the humanities and social sciences, as well as providing nanoscale research and innovation information to audiences in arts, letters, and media studies that are generally out of reach of the NSF.


Among the products of this project was a 3-day workshop on "States of Innovation: Research Policy and Practice after 10 Years of the National Nanotechnology Initiative,"  in spring 2010  in Lyon, France. In addition to the website, a book is being produced to synthesize its findings to a broader audience.