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Trade Mission To Boost Nanotechnology

Mar 10 2004

RESEARCH pioneers from Queen's University, Belfast, and the University of Ulster are taking part in an Invest NI technology mission to the world's biggest nanotechnology conference in Boston this week.

The team is led by Prof Robert Brown, director of Nanotec NI, a centre of excellence formed by UU and QUB, and five nanotechnology experts.

Nanotechnology can best be described as engineering on a very small scale and will revolutionise virtually every aspect of industry and society, from sharper razor blades, to unimaginably powerful computers and more effective medical treatments.

The mission is organised by Invest NI's Innovation, Research and Technology division.

In addition to attending the conference, meetings have been arranged with scientists and researchers at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Boston University and the University of Massachusetts.

Tracy Meharg, Invest NI managing director for Innovation and Capability Development Services, said: "Our two universities are working closely together with industry on research projects with potentially very exciting commercial applications.

"As part of our strategic focus on innovation, we are assisting the universities to harness the enormous potential of this research for the benefit of the local economy.

"The visit to Boston will enable us to both demonstrate the expertise that exists in Northern Ireland in nanotechnology and to facilitate knowledge transfer between our research teams and those from the US and further afield.

"By helping to link Northern Ireland's top academic researchers with research centres around the world, Invest NI aims to increase global awareness of our capabilities.

"It positions Northern Ireland as a dynamic, technologically advanced and globally focused region."

Prof Brown said: "Across both universities, there are over 150 researchers engaged in work at the cutting edge of this developing range of technologies and making a significant contribution to the global knowledge base.

"Nanotec NI was formed to stimulate the region's industrial and academic involvement in this sector and to provide a structure for commercialising important work from the development of a critical mass of expertise that covers the key disciplines of physics, engineering and biomolecular sciences."

The team includes Prof Jim McLaughlin and Dr Brian Meenan, both UU-based, and QUB's Dr Robert Bowman, Dr Bob Pollard and Dr Tony McNally.

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