The online version of the Philippines-based Inquirer newspaper reported yesterday that the nation is going to attempt to jump start itself into the nanotechnology business.

The publication says that the Philippine’s Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development Council (DOST-PCASTRD) has developed a 10-year strategy to create a commercially viable industry in the nanotech field.

PCASTRD’s roadmap targets the semiconductor, information technology, energy, agriculture, medicine and environment protection sectors.

DOST hopes to have annual budget of approximately $52 million for the next 10 years, starting in 2009, however, only $1.2 million has been ponied up so far for the inaugural projects.

The Inquirer reports that the leaders of the initiative say that the nanotech projects selected must have a direct payoff to the nation. “We’ve identified several national issues that have to be addressed and these should be the main focus of nanotechnology development,” says Fabian Dayrit, chairman of PCASTRD’s Technical Panel on Nanotechnology and dean for the Ateneo De Manila University School of Science and Engineering.

Dayrit suggests targets such as food packaging, nanodevice fabrication, environmental sensors and environmental treatment, corrosion resistant ceramics, water purification and in-vitro diagnostics in healthcare.

Importantly, government officials are linking the initiative to an education drive in the 10-year plan and want to integrate nanotechnology into the curriculum of all science and engineering courses. “We also want to spur interests among people that we have the capacity to do great things with nanotechnology,” Dayrit adds.