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The "NANO: Wissenschaft. Wirtschaft. Wirkung. 09" event, the exhibition for the Austrian NANO Initiative of the BMVIT (Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology) on Monday at Tech Gate Vienna, was a resounding success. A great many interested visitors from across the globe--including private individuals and representatives from companies, research organisations, educational establishments, ministries and embassies--gained a comprehensive insight into the present status and future prospects of nanotechnology in Austria. They concluded that it was highly competitive and could look forward to a successful future.
Federal Minister of Transport, Innovation and Technology Doris Bures was delighted with experts' excellent response to her department's showcase. "The keen interest shown by the worlds of science and business in the results of the NANO Initiative proves that linking research and industry has been a great success. We have been able to make direct use of the excellent research results in business, creating economic growth and more jobs", she said. With around 200 participants, the event at Tech Gate Vienna was fully subscribed. Representatives came from a total of more than 35 companies, close to 30 research and business organisations, 15 educational establishments, numerous ministries and even embassies.
PATENTS, PROTOTYPES AND PRODUCTS
All eight project clusters in the NANO Initiative showcased their research results, patents and product developments. Just five years after the initiative was launched in 2004, there have been over 480 scientific publications, while more than 30 patents and inventions have been filed. Surface cleaners and high-quality nano-coated tools are among the new products that have already been launched on the market as a direct result of the NANO Initiative. These achievements have been made possible thanks to the 50 million euros invested in high-calibre research and commercially oriented development work by the BMVIT since 2004, and yesterday visitors were able to get "hands-on" experience of just what had been achieved.
Interesting lectures, exhibits, poster presentations and intensive discussions all combined to provide an excellent insight into the NANO Initiative, highlighting the truly multidisciplinary nature of nanotechnology. Health, food technology, material sciences and electronics are just a few of the sectors represented in the project clusters. The diversity of the audience and the companies attending the event also reflected the fact that nanotechnology is, or will soon become, important in a great many industries.
The success of the NANO Initiative is down to close cooperation between the worlds of science and business, something that is specifically supported by the FFG. "The aim of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency--under the NANO Initiative and in all other programmes--is to generate strong momentum for the Austrian economy through transparent promotion formats", stressed Emmanuel Glenck, Head of the Thematic Programmes Division at the FFG. Michael Wiesmüller, Deputy Head of Department at the BMVIT, also stressed that the NANO Initiative had played a major part in this. He explained that, for five years, the initiative had been clearly focussed on future technology, thereby tangibly boosting Austria's competitiveness in the international arena.
As Alex Dommann, CTO of the Centre Suisse d'Electronique et de Microtechnique (CSEM) in Neuchâtel, underlined with reference to developments in Switzerland, large companies are by no means the only ones to be offered enormous benefits by nanotechnology. This technology will also enable small and medium-sized companies to optimise their traditional strengths of customer proximity and flexibility. A further highlight of the event was the concluding discussion lounge at which experts discussed the rapid development of nanotechnology and the need to handle new discoveries in a responsible manner. Alex Dommann from the CSEM, Arno Köpf from Böhlerit GmbH & Co. KG, Wolfgang Knoll, Director of the Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Michael Nentwich, Director of the Institute of Technology Assessment of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and Alexander Pogany from BMVIT took part in the discussion. Issues addressed included recommendations on handling nanoparticles in a responsible manner and the question of whether there was a case for some applications not being developed.
All those involved agreed that detailed discussion will be necessary in future to clearly differentiate between those nanotechnology applications that are safe and those that incorporate possible risks. However, there was no mistaking the experts clear recommendation: continuity, continuity, continuity. As a new future technology, nanotechnology requires continuity in the medium to long term through investment in research. Access to international research groups and infrastructures also needs to be ensured. Ultimately, the fact that universities are seeing higher student numbers in technical and scientific subjects where research also includes nanotechnology is down to its interdisciplinary appeal.
Overall, the programme demonstrated an impressive scope of innovation for industry and initial applications for consumers. This rapid progress from research to innovation provides impressive proof of the success of the targeted, commercially oriented promotion of research, which also triggered additional investment in research by project partners to the tune of 20 million euros.
For photos of the event, go to: www.nanoinitiative.at/press
For further information, go to: www.nanoinitiative.at and www.ffg.at
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Dr. Margit Haas
FFG - Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft GmbH
Bereich Thematische Programme
Programmleitung Österreichische NANO Initiative
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PR&D - Public Relations for Research & Education
Campus Vienna Biocenter 2
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Press Relations, Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT)
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