Editorial Feature

Nanotechnology in Ireland: Market Report

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Ireland, located to the west of the United Kindom, is the third-largest island in Europe covering a total area of 70,273 km2. As of July 2011, it has a population of 4,722,028, and is considered the 20th largest island on Earth. The country generally has a temperate maritime climate.

The country is known to have a trade-dependent economy. From 1995 to 2007, the GDP growth rate of Ireland accounted for 6% followed by a huge decline in the economy due to which the GDP dropped by more than 3% in 2008 and nearly 7% in 2009. As of 2013, the country’s GDP was $245.92 billion.

Ireland’s chief imports include textiles, chemicals, clothing and petroleum, petroleum products, and data processing equipment. The main exports include animal products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food products, machinery, and computers.

To have a successful future, Ireland has found out that it will have to start a sustainable, competitive industry base, led by exports based on productivity, cost competitiveness, and innovation.

The country is well placed to be able to accomplish this because:

  • Ireland has an internationally significant life sciences sector with 8 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies having key operations there. This sector produces more than 50% of Ireland’s exports, enabling them to be one of the largest net exporters of medicines globally.
  • Ireland has 160 medical technology companies, with 11 of the top 12 of them having key manufacturing or R&D operations in Ireland. This sector hires more than 24,000 people and is accountable for 8% of the country’s total merchandise exports.
  • Among the top 10 global ICT companies, nine have key operations in Ireland.

Nanotechnology Organizations

Ireland owns several private and government organizations that work toward the development of nanotechnology in the country.

Given below is a brief introduction to the main nanotechnology-related organizations in Ireland:

  • Irish Council for Science and Technology Innovation (CSTI)—This is a government organization in charge of advising the Ministry of Science and technology on new technologies, sciences and strategic policies that will help to meet the goals of the National mission.
  • National Nanotechnology Forum—A forum that targets on developing and renewing nanotechnology ideas and strategies from the state, academic agencies, and industry.
  • CREST—A center focusing on consultancy, research and development services for nanotechnologies.
  • CRANN—This is the first purpose-built research institute in Ireland working toward expanding the limits of nanoscience.
  • Irish Nanotechnology Association—Encourages further development of nanomaterials and processes by Irish Industry.
  • National Nanofabrication Facility—Enables access to training in cutting-edge nanotechnologies, including expertise, consultancy, and high-graded R&D infrastructure.
  • Competence Centre in Applied Nanotechnology (CCAN)—This research center is responsible for developing nanotechnology-enabled products together with its research providers and member companies.
  • Integrated NanoScience Platform for Ireland (INSPIRE)—A group of third-level institutions involved in nanotechnology and nanoscience research.
  • NanoIreland—Offers information on NanoBio, NanoMaterials, and NanoElectronics Science in Ireland provided by Forfás’ Technology & Innovation Policy and Awareness Division.

Nanotechnology Companies

Given below is a brief introduction of the key nanotechnology-related companies in Ireland:

  • Cellix Ltd—This is an Irish company that has succeeded in developing an innovative microfluidics drug screening tool currently being used by more than one-third of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies all over the world. The Cellix platform functions under continuous blood flow conditions in order to simulate the human environment. It supplies researchers with potent data much beyond that available through static conditions of the petri dish before proceeding to expensive animal trials. By employing their solution, false leads can be avoided earlier in the process, thus increasing the success rate of clinical trials and providing a competitive edge.
  • Dyoptyka—This is an optical systems research, development, and commercialization company. The company’s dynamic optics technology provides disruptive enhancements to optical systems in a wide range of applications. This technology is commercialized across a range of medical, scientific, industrial, and consumer markets. Applications include metrology, microscopy, photo-lithography, DMD, interferometry, scanning-beam projection display, and LCoS and HTPS projection display.
  • Impedans Ltd—This company specializes in the delivery of high-resolution and superior performance plasma diagnostics solutions to customers in research and industry. Impedans’ products are used in process monitoring and control, plasma process research and development, and manufacturing tool development in the surface coating, semiconductor, thin-film, flat panel, and solar sectors. These products characterize the next generation in plasma diagnostics technology. Integrated with their thorough plasma knowledge and years of experience, customers can be sure that they can completely characterize, enhance, and monitor their plasma process with confidence.
  • NanoDiamond Products (NDP)—NDP is committed to revolutionizing diamond solutions. It focuses on becoming the key supplier of superior quality, cost-effective, and consistent diamond and nanodiamond products. It also aims to provide customers with the optimum solution for their requirements in an ethical, timely, and ecologically friendly manner. NDP’s wider product range comprises “coarser” products including micron diamond. The company’s SynMic™ product line has only now been completely developed even though the company has been manufacturing synthetic micron diamond for use in their pastes and slurries for quite some time. The synthetic mesh-sized diamond (SynMesh™) completes the offering.
  • Particular Sciences—Founded in 1989, this company offers technical support in material characterization in Ireland. It specializes in analytical and process technologies for material characterization in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Nanotechnology Research and Education

Listed below are some of the chief academic institutions in Ireland that offer research programs and courses in nanotechnology and nanoscience:

  • Dublin Institute of Technology—This institute offers a BSc Science course in nanotechnology that targets on nanotechnology and nanoscience.
  • Dublin City University—National Centre for Sensor Research focuses on nanotech research works in self-assembling molecular and polymer materials, nanometer-dimensioned electrodes and fiber optics; biomembrane activity, biomaterials as linkers for self-assembling molecular electronics, multiplexed sensing, security applications, and nanophase biolithography.
  • National University of Ireland—The National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science carries out research on groundbreaking therapeutic solutions to existing medical challenges, and deals with different nanoscale materials and applications.
  • Trinity College Dublin—The Molecular Electronics and Nanotechnology Group performs research works on the characterization, production, theory, and electronic applications of nanotubes, polymer nanotube composites, and organic polymers.
  • University College Dublin—The Centre for Bionano Interactions is an internationally leading center of knowledge for bionano interactions used in the fields of nanosafety, nanomedicine, and nanobiology. This center offers MSc projects in atomic force microscopy, molecular modeling, molecular motors, etc.
  • Tyndall National Institute—The Photonic Nanostructure Group hosts research programs in photonic crystals, nanotubes, electron-phonon interaction, and nanoimprint lithography.

Recent Developments

The EuroNanoForum 2013 Exhibition and Conference in June 2013 was conducted in Dublin. This is considered as the biggest nanotech program held in Europe and comprised global participants. This forum concentrated on the advancement of new nanotechnologies, developing new nano products, and commercialization of nanotechnologies.

In September 2012, Trinity College Dublin also conducted the 3rd Nanoweek Conference. Speakers from all over the world participated in this event and spoke about how nanotechnology is influencing various industry sectors and how research was being transformed into industrial impact.

The latest reports on the discovery of nanomaterials point out that scientists from CRANN have collaborated with SABMiller, a pioneering brewing company, in order to invent a new material capable of prolonging the shelf-life of beer stored in plastic bottles.

This two-year project will attract investments from SABMiller. This team plans to produce a material with the potential to prevent the entry of oxygen and escape of carbon dioxide, thus preserving the true taste of beer. To develop this material, the team has combined boron-nitride nano-sheets with plastic to come up with a material that will be totally resistant to gas molecules.

On May 27th, 2013, CRANN celebrated its 10th anniversary and revealed the world’s tiniest birthday cake measuring just 500 nm tall, making it 2000 times smaller than a grain of salt.

Over the past four years, CCAN projects have facilitated new jobs, new products, equity investments, as well as increased R&D capabilities within its member companies. Furthermore, the exceptionally effective CCAN collaboration model has led to the development of new business partnerships between its small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and its large company members.

CCAN projects have also assisted in forging collaborations between research providers and companies that have led to further SFI, Enterprise Ireland, and EU projects for all.

Ireland is thus well placed to create an impact in the nanotechnology field. With the country’s powerful pharmaceutical, life science, and medical technology, it is expected to be an area where noteworthy developments could originate.

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