UK and India team up on nanotechnology

08 Feb 2007 View Comments
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The UK has joined forces with India to establish a joint Nanotechnology Working Group to speed up the development of new technologies.

The group will be officially launched within the next two months as part of the government’s drive to promote the UK’s nanotechnology sector on the international stage.

Nanotechnology has the potential to make scientific strides in various industries. In the IT sector it holds the key to creating smaller, more efficient microchips that will make computers faster and smash existing silicon boundaries.

Bob Driver, director of high-tech sectors for UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), a government body that helps firms working abroad, says the group will push nanotechnology forward and build on strong technological links between the UK and India.

‘The nanotechnology initiative between India and the UK will help create an environment that sparks co-operation,’ he said.

Driver says it is UKTI’s responsibility to attract investment in the UK’s research and development base, and nanotechnology is gaining considerable interest.

‘We have a coherent network of nanotechnology centres of excellence and a healthy number of companies which have been successfully invested in,’ he said.

David Sharp, UKTI’s nanotechnology expert, says the UK’s nanotechnology expertise places it in the world’s top five countries.

‘The UK is up there along with the US, Japan, Germany and Korea, but there is a lot of co-operation between countries,’ he said.

‘The science is pushing forward and has an impact on every sector.’

The market for nanotechnology products is forecast to increase by 44 per cent annually over the next 12 to 15 years, according to figures from the Centre for Economic Growth, while the UK nanotechnology sector contributes an estimated £23bn a year to the UK economy, and is predicted to double by 2015.

Ensuring the UK is a world-class location for nanotechnology therefore makes economic sense. According to UKTI, the number of UK firms operating in the sector doubled between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005.

Tony Lock, chief analyst at Bloor Research, says businesses will play a significant role in driving the development of the UK’s nanotechnology sector.

‘However, government funding will be critical,’ he says. ‘But the government can help in getting the right platform by providing grants, education, access to markets and knowledge about other suppliers of nanotechnology.

‘It is important that everything possible is done to encourage investment, but ultimately it is down to individual firms’ business models and brains to exploit the technology and spot a business opportunity,’ he said.

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