“Clean technologies” incorporating nanotechnology are drawing more attention from investors, according to a new study from New York-based Lux research.

“The rapid increase in nano-enabled cleantech patents and publications relative to overall “cleantech” numbers indicates that nanotechnology’s impact on cleantech, though small at present, is growing at a fast clip,” said Jaideep Raje, the lead analyst on the project.

“However, the near-term cleantech applications of nanotechnology are likely to come in more mundane forms like catalysts, coatings, and additives – not through big-ticket applications like next-generation photovoltaics,” he added.

Photovoltaics is a reference to solar cells.

Lux research utilized data on patents, publications, government investment, venture capital investments, mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings as well as interviews in compiling the report.

Some key findings:

• Global government investment increased 16 percent to $1.1 billion in 2006 compared to 2005

• However, nano-enabled cleantech only made up 5 percent of cleantech funding

• 983 nano-enabled cleantech patents were issued in 2006, continuing a 30-percent annual growth rate dating back to 2002

• Venture investments in nano-cleantech jumped 91 percent to $292 million compared to 2005

• Nano-cleantech made up 15 percent of the venture investments in cleantech

• Some 19 percent of 1,500 startups focused on cleantech are developing nanotechnology

• Of that 19 percent, 80 percent are focused on energy.

The report also said concerns about environmental health and safety could “prove a roadblock” for some ventures.