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In 2003, when the Wallonia government launched the "Nanotechnology" program to support research projects in that field, several researchers made the following observations:
- There exists complementary and internationally recognized academic and research teams active in this field in Wallonia, which are in close proximity.
- There were already existing punctual interactions and collaborations between some of these laboratories.
- However, this expertise lacked of visibility, especially towards the Wallonia industry.
There was therefore a need to set up a structure that would favour stronger interactions between the "actors" in the "nano-field". This structure should also allow the sharing of equipment facilities and improve the overall knowledge as well as technology transfer. This led several laboratories from the major universities of Wallonia and Brussel to create a network for nanotechnologies and nanosciences.
In 2009, the NanoWal network got a legal statute and became a non-profit organisation (ASBL).