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.
Nanotechnology and the sciences that are associated with it have attracted much attention. Experts from various fields believe
that nanotechnology will be one of the key technologies affecting almost every aspect of the economy. While there are considerable
efforts underway that aim to commercialise nanotechnology - carried by start-up companies as well as large internationally
operating firms -, most of the activity seems to focus on research and development activities. There have been a number of
technology studies and investment reports that describe the opportunities associated with this emerging area. Over the years
there have also been a number of bibliometric and patent studies that examined the field. This paper provides an overview
of measuring nanotechnology with commonly used indicators of bibliometric and patent analyses.