Abstract Nanotechnology is the first major worldwide research initiative of the 21st century. Nanotechnologies are applied to cross industrial problems and are a general purpose technology that acts as both a basis for technology solutions or at the convergence of other enabling technologies, like biotechnologies, computational sciences, physical sciences, communication technologies, cognitive sciences, social psychology and other social sciences. Nanotechnologies are pervasive solution vectors in our economic environment. It is necessary to develop new methods to assess nanotechnologies development to better understand nanotechnology based innovation. As general purpose and enabling technologies, nanotechnologies reveal commercialization processes, from start-ups to large firms in collaboration with public sector research, and which lead to changing patterns of industrial organization which influence public policy initiatives to foster their development.