Nanotechnology has Exciting Potential says Lord Sainsbury on Visit to Northern Ireland

That was a key message from UK Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Sainsbury, who today visited Northern Ireland to see at first hand pioneering research in micro and nanotechnology

Pioneering research into nanotechnolgy has exciting potential for an innovative economy.

That was a key message from UK Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Sainsbury, who today visited Northern Ireland to see at first hand pioneering research in micro and nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is the art of engineering at a very small scale.

During an intensive one-day trip, on the invitation of Ian Pearson MP, NIO Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Lord Sainsbury visited UUJ’s Nanotech Centre and was briefed on Nanotec NI, an £11million joint venture between the University of Ulster and Queen’s University, set up to develop a coherent infrastructure to exploit nanotechnology in Northern Ireland.

Lord Sainsbury said: “Nanotechnology could lead to many exciting commercial opportunities. The new technology has the potential to create new or dramatically improve many products and processes. Estimates predict a global market in nanotechnology worth over $1 trillion in a decade, and it is vital the UK gains a significant share of this.

“The Government is supporting pioneering research and new product development through the establishment of the UK Micro and Nanotechnology (MNT) Network. This Network aims to provide a market focus for people and organisations engaged in this technology. It should drive widespread market development and exploitation and help build a prosperous world class MNT sector in the UK.”

Mr Pearson said: “Nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionise every aspect of our lives. Its application can range from unimaginably powerful computers to immeasurably more effective medical treatments.
A competitive economy for the 21st century will be founded on top class R&D married to entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.

“Nanotechnology can make a major contribution to that. In Queen’s and the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland is extremely fortunate to have two top-class universities with international reputations for research and teaching excellence, which are an integral part of economic development here.

“Together the Universities make up a formidable team, which is at the forefront of cutting-edge technology. Northern Ireland already has over 150 researchers who have a vast amount of nanotechnology knowledge. I believe that we can make an important contribution to the UK MNT Network. I’m delighted, therefore, that Lord Sainsbury can see this exciting work here at first hand.”

Mr Pearson said Nanotec NI will further stimulate the region’s industrial and academic involvement in this sector. The centre, part of the EU-funded Centres of Excellence programme, will create significant new nanotechnology facilities at both universities and will add over 20 researchers to the existing nanotechnology base.

After departing Jordanstown, Lord Sainsbury travelled to Queen’s University where he met Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir George Bain and staff working in the nanotechnology sector. The Minister was also shown developments at the Northern Ireland Science Park in the Belfast Harbour estate, before he departed for an engagement in the north-west.