A Report published 31 August 2010 recommends international collaboration as best strategy for nanotechnology investment in Ireland. Read highlights here
The research on which the report was based was commissioned by Forfas and undertaken by Lux Research, an independent global company providing intelligence for emerging technologies. Forfás is Ireland’s policy advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation. The researchers looked at the present state of development of nanotechnology R & D in Ireland compared to its international peers and made recommendations for the future strategic approach to be taken over the period 2010 to 2014.
Investing in Nanotechnology is Wise
Conor Lenihan, TD, Minister for Science, Technology & Innovation welcomed the report saying it shows Ireland has invested wisely in nanotechnology in recent years. The Minister went on to announce “the establishment of a nanotechnology coordinating group to manage and oversee the implementation of the [report’s recommendations].”
The establishment of such a group was a key recommendation. The others were: tighter focus for future R & D; align funding to the focus areas whilst ensuring a wider range of funding sources, including increased industrial funding; establish a self sustainable strategy; develop appropriate infrastructure; develop an entrepreneurial workforce; foster collaboration.
Specific areas to be focused on are: next generation electronics including advanced materials; medical devices and diagnostics, again including advanced materials such as coatings and nanobiotechnology for encapsulation; environmental applications for example using advanced materials for pollution control and nanobiotechnology in waste treatment; industrial process improvements.
Idustry Collaboration Will Reduce Need for Government Funding
The report indicates that a total investment of €114m is required from government over the 5 year period, split 70:30 between R & D and commercialisation. The expected outputs from this investment would include 530 publications, 70 patents, 30 start ups, 120 PhDs and 750 Engineers. In addition there should be much greater promotion of Irish nanotech R & D via international conferences and public awareness programmes.
The need for government funding is expected to reduce as nanotechnology moves into the “true commercialisation arena” attracting greater industrial collaboration. The coordinating group will need to develop a strategic plan to make this happen.
The existing infrastructure for nanotechnology research and development is adequate but its use needs to be maximised. Existing agreements to share infrastructure with international partners are seen as steps in the right direction.
Nanotechnology PhD Programmes
The development of PhD programmes in nanotechnology, attracting foreign researchers to Ireland and promoting internships are among the strategies recommended in order to effectively commercialise nanotechnology.
New agreements should be entered into with a number of international partners including Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Finland, US, Singapore and Israel. In addition there should be cross-border collaboration with Northern Ireland. (Ireland’s Nanotechnology Framework, 2010-2014, Forfas, August 2010)
The Tyndall National Institute at University College Cork, and the Centre for Research on Advanced Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) based at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Cork (UCC) are central to nanotechnology work in Ireland. Tyndall’s director, Professor Roger Whatmore welcomed the report, saying “I look forward to being actively involved in the development of this report’s recommendations through participation in the Coordination Group and helping to bring the benefits of the commercialisation of Nanotechnology to the Irish economy.”