New nanotechnology industry group established in Ireland

14 Jan 2011

A new industry body consisting of all the stakeholders in Ireland’s €15bn nanotechnology industry has been formed to establish the sector as a vital component of the Irish economy.

Organisations working with nanoscience from academia and industry have come together to form NanoNet, a single body designed to represent and promote awareness of nanoscience in Ireland and the contribution it makes to the Irish economy.

Sean Dorgan, former CEO of the IDA, will chair the group.

Ireland has more than 500 companies, both multinational and indigenous, employing about 130,000 people in the ICT, medical devices and biopharmaceutical sectors. These companies utilise nanotechnology for continued product innovation and competitiveness.

Of €150bn in goods and services exported by Ireland in 2008, it is estimated 10pc were enabled by nanoscience and related nanotechnologies.

By focusing on the area of nanotechnology there is the potential to grow this figure to 20pc, allowing Ireland to take a significant share of an estimated global market of €3trn in 2015.

Need for an Irish nanotech strategy

Máire Geoghegan Quinn, the European Commissioner for research, innovation and science, has today welcomed the formation of NanoNet.

“This will help to support the development of the nanotechnology industry in Ireland in a focused, coherent and strategic manner.

“Support for nanotechnology is a central component of the EU research and technological framework Programme 2007-2013. Advances in nanotechnology are helping to develop new goods and services that support the maintenance and the creation of jobs within the European Union, improve the quality of living for people and build a better society both within the European Union and in a global context,” Geoghegan Quinn said.

The establishment of the new organisation coincides with Nanoweek, which will take place from Monday, 31 January, to Friday, 4 February, with a range of events taking place to highlight how critical nanoscience will be for the future success of the Irish economy.

“NanoNet forms a unique consortium of research organisations, multinational and indigenous Irish companies working in nanoscience,” NanoNet chairman Sean Dorgan said.

“The work done and synergies created by these organisations means that Ireland continues to move up the world rankings and is now ranked sixth globally for the quality of our research output.

“This is critical as it increases our competitiveness and our ability to attract foreign direct investment. NanoNet is designed to support, represent and increase awareness of the growing importance of nano to the Irish economy and society,” Dorgan added.

NanoNet is made up of two major nano-related consortia. INSPIRE, funded by the HEA, is comprised of internationally leading researchers across 10 third-level institutions and co-ordinated by CRANN (TCD), a Science Foundation Ireland-funded Centre for Science and Engineering Technology.

The recently announced Competence Centre for Applied Nanotechnology (CCAN), funded by Enterprise Ireland and IDA and hosted at the Tyndall Institute, includes both leading multinational companies, such as Intel, Analog Devices and Seagate, and indigenous Irish companies, such as Creganna, Aerogen, Audit Diagnostics and Proxybiomedical.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years