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The number of companies using nanotechnology increased 111% from 2004 to 2006. In 2004, there were 61 companies in Finland that had commercial nanotechnology-based products or nanotechnology research projects. The number had increased to 129 by the end of 2006.
These figures are from Spinverse Consulting's "Nanotechnology in Finnish Industry" report. According to the report, which is published at two-year intervals, roughly thirty Finnish companies have commercial products based on nanotechnology. They include both industrial processes and consumer products. 23 companies are involved in developing products or processes that utilise nanotechnology and are expected to be on the market within two years' time.
Working through their financing and program services organisation, FinNano, Tekes and the Academy of Finland have played a major role in the nanotechnology breakthrough. With the help of the FinNano program, the most important industry branches that are adopting nanotechnology have been able to formulate common visions and guidelines for the development of nanotechnology.
In the short term, nanotechnology has had its greatest impact in the chemical and material industries. 13 Finnish companies in these industries already have finished commercial nanoproducts. The commercial products are often based on utilising nanoscale particles and materials, although in some cases, e.g. the areas of paints and cosmetics, companies have also added nanotechnology components to improve the properties of already-finished products.
The use of nanotechnology is also increasing in the forest products industry, where major companies are ramping up their research efforts and have already created commercial nanoproducts. Packaging materials and, in particular, smart packaging, in which indicators are incorporated into the packaging material to monitor product freshness, comprise one key area of application. Ties to applications in the chemical and biotechnology industries are growing, as nanotechnology is also being applied extensively in the development of the chemicals and enzymes used in paper industry processes.
The combining of biotechnology and nanotechology methods has yielded promising results. Interesting potential applications are to be found in, for instance, the diagnostics field, particularly with respect to miniaturized bioanalysers ("lab on a chip"), biomaterials, and new methods for releasing drugs. Potential biotechnology applications are to be found not only in healthcare, but in the area of food production as well.
The electronics industry is generally considered to be the foremost user of advances in nanotechnology. It will still take some time before any major advantages are obtained, but Finnish electronics companies have already progressed from the research stage to the first phase of commercialisation. Nokia has, for instance, expanded its nanotechnology research efforts, and there are a number of nanotechnology firms in the photonics field.
The "Nanotechnology in Finnish Industry" report is to be published on 27 February 2007 at FinNano's annual seminar.
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