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  • 1 DG Research Unit “Nano S&T — Convergent Science and Technologies” European Commission CDMA 6/133 B-1049 Brussels Belgium CDMA 6/133 B-1049 Brussels Belgium
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Nanotechnology merits having a major impact on the world economy because its applications will be used in virtually all sectors. Scientists, researchers, managers, investors and policy makers worldwide acknowledge this huge potential and have started the nano-race. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the state of the art of nanotechnology from an economic perspective, by presenting data on markets, funding, companies, patents and publications. It will also raise the question of how much of the nano-hype is founded on economic data and how much is based on wishful thinking. It focuses on a comparison between world regions, thereby concentrating on Europe and the European Union in relation to their main competitors — the United States and Japan and the emerging ‘nano-powers’ China and Russia.