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Keywords:

  • nanoscience;
  • nanotechnology;
  • innovation;
  • development;
  • economic impacts;
  • institutions;
  • clusters;
  • developing countries;
  • transition economy;
  • emerging markets;
  • catch-up growth;
  • China

Abstract

Nanoscience and nanotechnology––involving the engineering of materials, devices, and systems at very small scales––have emerged as important priorities not only for science but also for economic development. In this article, we propose an analytical framework that considers the socioeconomic effects of nanotechnology in six key areas: institutional development, knowledge flows, and network efficiency; research and education capabilities; industrial and enterprise development; regional spread; cluster and network development; and product innovation. We apply this framework to assess the early impacts of the evolving domain of nanotechnology for development, with a focus on China and its transitioning economy, where nanotechnology is assuming an important role in breaking existing innovation system lock-ins and historical path dependencies. We suggest that the analytical framework adds value in assessing the developmental impacts of new technologies and could be used to probe such impacts in other countries and locations.