The University of Ulster has opened a new Nanotechnology Research Institute at its Jordanstown campus.
The £8m research institute will position Northern Ireland at the forefront of nanotechnology research in the UK, and will be a catalyst for the future growth in the biotechnology, medical devices and textile industrial sectors.
The formal opening ceremony is to be performed by Nobel Laureate Professor Ivar Giaever, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1973.
Funded by investment from EU, research councils, HEFCE, industry and Invest Northern Ireland, the new facility will focus on research into:
- drug delivery
- surface science
- plasma technology
- nano-scale patterning
- nano-scale manipulation
Director of the Institute, Professor Jim McLaughlin,said:
“This new research centre will build on our existing nanotechnology research partnerships. It’s recognition of the reputation for innovation and excellence we’ve built up here at the University of Ulster over the past decade. Uniquely in the UK or Ireland, we’re bringing life sciences and cell biology under the same roof as nanotechnology – and that kind of structural integration and cross-fertilisation of ideas will be invaluable in the development of new process and technologies in the future.
“Our ability to arrange atoms lies at the foundation of this exciting new technology. The ability to arrange atoms through new processing techniques, modifications to atomic surfaces; or molecules, or interrogating DNA at the nanoscale; all have exciting device applications, which can lead – via improved bio-devices – to a better quality of life, improved wealth creation and a stronger base to fully develop our new knowledge based economy”
The new Institute will be heavily involved in knowledge transfer – leveraging university research for the benefit of industry and commerce.
Already, said Professor McLaughlin, new spin-out ventures are being developed in the areas of new biological sensors, nano-scale coatings and nano-fabricated drug delivery.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, University of Ulster Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McKenna said:
“We are confident that this facility will be fundamental in developing exciting platform technologies that will lead to technology transfer and event stronger integration with Northern Ireland’s bio technology, medical devices and textile industrial sectors.
“The responsibility is now upon the University to repay, in our creativity and our work ethic, the faith invested in us.
“That is also part of the strategic imperative to translate our excellent research base into tangible benefits for the Northern Ireland economy’.
Welcoming the opening of the Nanotechnology Research Institute, Invest Northern Ireland’s Chief Executive, Leslie Morrison, added: “This Institute forms yet another supporting block to Nanotec NI, complementing current activities and further enhancing this region’s ability to carry out leading edge, industrially exploitable and above all commercially focused research.
“Nanotechnology will play a major role in the future world economy, creating not just new products but new industries. Continuing investment in this rapidly developing field could have a significant impact on our economic standing in the world of the 21st century.”