Northern Ireland at Asian Technology Showcase

Invest Northern Ireland assisted Northern Ireland universities to showcase advanced technology at Nanotech 2004, the premier Asian Nanotechnology Convention, in Tokyo from 17-19 March.

Professor Robert Brown, director of Nanotec NI, the joint Queen’s University (QUB)/University of Ulster (UU) nanotechnology research centre, led the team of researchers which was showcasing Northern Ireland expertise.

The visit followed the recent Northern Ireland mission to the world’s biggest nanotechnology congress in Boston, also led by Prof Brown, where the focus was predominantly on leading edge research and technological development.

Prof Brown said: “As the world's largest nanotechnology trade show and exhibition, Nanotech2004 allowed a very strong focus on both knowledge transfer and the commercial exploitation of nanotechnology.

“The event therefore represented an ideal opportunity for identifying partners in key technical areas and applications. The location of the event provided an opportunity to visit a number of the world’s leading nanotechnology R&D centres including the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the Riken Institute and the NEC Fundamental Research Laboratory,” he added.

Diarmuid McLean, Invest NI’s director of Innovation, Research and Technology, said: “Through Nanotec NI, Queen’s University and the University of Ulster make up a formidable internationally recognised, grouping which is at the forefront of cutting-edge nanotechnology. The Asia-Pacific countries represent the epicentre of nanotechnology investment and excellence and it is imperative that Nanotec NI raises its profile with the key players in these regions.”

Now in its third year, Japan’s Nanotech exhibition draws hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of visitors. Nanotech2003 drew over 24,000 people, and the organisers expected Nanotech2004 to draw more than 35,000. Exhibitors included some of the world's largest companies as well as start-ups, universities and government agencies and laboratories from more than 15 countries.

About 90 per cent of attendees at Nanotech2004 were expected to come from industry, with about 50 per cent of the advanced registrants being R&D based.

The delegation included QUB physicist, Dr Fred Currell, who has a visiting Japanese government professorship at the University of Electrocommunications in Tokyo; Trevor Newsom, QUB director of Research and Regional Services; and Prof John Hughes, UU Pro Vice Chancellor (Research).