Carol Aloysius’ May 27, 2012 article for Sri Lanka’s The Nation newspaper highlights both the country’s nanotechnology’s efforts and one of its leading nanoscientists, Prof Veranja Karunaratne,
Five years ago, a unique initiative was launched through the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC). The Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) which is a public-private partnership aimed at providing platform research solutions based on nanotechnology to the Sri Lankan industries has not only attracted global recognition, it has earned the man responsible for driving it to its current global status a coveted award from the French government.
“The vision of NNI is to facilitate development and make Sri Lanka an industrial power in order to enable the country to emerge from poverty by infusing nanotechnology based innovations through research and development utilizing local raw materials, resources and talent. In order to fast-tract the NNI, the Government proposed the setting up of SLINTEC, the first ever Government funded start-up research company,” says Prof Veranja Karunaratne.
A fortnight ago, on May 11, Prof Karunaratne who is a Senior Professor in the Department of Chemistry, University of Peradeniya, and for the last few years, Science Team Leader, Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC), was conferred the distinction of Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes Académiques, in recognition of his personal involvement in the promotion of French language and culture in Sri Lanka.
Aloysius’ article goes on to discuss some of Sri Lanka’s NNI initiatives and Karunaratne’s hopes for the country’s future,
SLINTEC which started research in August 2009, thus far, has applied for five patents at the United States Patent Office to cover the innovations for its joint venture partners, he notes. “Two of the patents pertained to the slow release nanofertilizer formulations which release nitrogen to the soil in slow, sustained manner. These two patents attracted the attention of Nagarjuna Fertilizer and Chemicals Limited (NFCL) a global leader in the manufacture of fertilizer, and in a landmark scientific development, SLINTEC entered into a strategic collaboration with NFCL of Hyderabad, India, to develop the next generation of nanotechnology based plant fertilizer solutions.
In the area of value addition to Sri Lankan natural resources, SLINTEC entered into an agreement with Laughs Gas (Pvt) Ltd. to build a pilot plant to convert Ilmenite to Titanium Dioxide and nano-Titanium Dioxide. This agreement paves the way to the commercial production of Titanium Dioxide from the high purity Ilmentite ore whose value addition had remained elusive during the past decades while Sri Lanka exported sand to foreign countries.
The whole rationale behind this concept, is for SLINTEC to take the nation from, being commodity sellers to a Smart Nation – a nation that generates and sells technology, he explains. [emphasis mine] He is convinced that this will happen in the near future, where Sri Lanka will be on par with other developed nations.
I think more than one Canadian can empathize with the desire to move your nation awary from being a commodity seller.