Tag Archives: Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies

RUSNANO (not dead yet) signs MOU with Alcoa

Despite what appear to be some travails noted in my May 17, 2013 posting, RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies) is still making deals as reported in a June 21, 2013 news item on Nanowerk,

Alcoa and RUSNANO will produce technologically advanced oil and gas aluminum drill pipe finished with a life-extending antiwear coating under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the companies today. With the help of the Alcoa Technical Center, the parties intend to pursue the potential application of a nanotechnology-based coating for the aluminum drill pipe to enhance its wear resistance in harsh corrosive drilling environments.

Alcoa Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld and OJSC RUSNANO Chief Executive Officer Anatoly Chubais signed the MOU at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The June 21, 2013 Alcoa news release, which originated the news item, provides more details,

“Complex oil and gas development projects require drilling equipment with enhanced capabilities,” Chubais said. “Aluminum drill pipe with antiwear nano-coating would enable directional and deep drilling in aggressive, corrosive environments. We expect our joint efforts with Alcoa will create a differentiated product for customers in the oil and gas industry.”

Mr. Kleinfeld added, “Alcoa’s deep technological capabilities, combined with the expertise of our partner RUSNANO, will open new opportunities for developing the aluminum industry in Russia. Alcoa is setting a high standard for innovation and extending our product range in the oil and gas segment.”

With facilities in Samara and Belaya Kalitva, Alcoa is Russia’s largest producer of fabricated aluminum, manufacturing a wide range of flat rolled products, forgings and extrusions for a variety of end markets including aerospace and automotive. [emphasis mine] Under terms of the MOU, Alcoa will leverage its Samara facility to produce aluminum drill pipe with hot fit tool joints for the country’s oil and gas market. RUSNANO Capital, a subsidiary of OJSC RUSNANO, will contribute capital.

The antiwear nano-coating is expected to extend the life of the aluminum pipe by approximately 30% to 40% in aggressive and corrosive drilling environments compared to uncoated aluminum pipe.

Here’s a little more about the two principles, Alcoa and about RUSNANO, from the news release,

About Alcoa

Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary and fabricated aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation, consumer electronics and industrial markets over the past 125 years. Among the solutions Alcoa markets are flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, as well as Alcoa® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems in addition to its expertise in other light metals such as titanium and nickel-based super alloys. Sustainability is an integral part of Alcoa’s operating practices and the product design and engineering it provides to customers. Alcoa has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 11 consecutive years and approximately 75 percent of all of the aluminum ever produced since 1888 is still in active use today. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 30 countries across the world. …

In 2005, the Company acquired two of Russia’s largest fabricating facilities: Samara Metallurgical Plant (now ZAO Alcoa SMZ) and Belaya Kalitva Metallurgical Production Association (now ZAO AMR). [emphasis mine]

About RUSNANO

RUSNANO was founded in March 2011 as an open joint stock company through reorganization of state corporation Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies. RUSNANO’s mission is to develop the Russian nanotechnology industry through co-investment in nanotechnology projects with substantial economic potential or social benefit. The Government of the Russian Federation owns 100 percent of the shares in RUSNANO. Anatoly Chubais is CEO and chairman of the Executive Board of RUSNANO.

Work to establish nanotechnology infrastructure and training for nanotechnology specialists, formerly conducted by the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies, has been entrusted to the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs, a non-commercial fund also established through reorganization of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies.

As for the 2011 founding date for RUSNANO, that appears to be the date it became an open stock company. Here’s more according to the RUSNANO Wikipedia essay (Note: Links and footnotes have been removed),

A law (On the Russian Nanotechnology Corporation) which resulted in the creation of “Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies” was proposed by several members of the United Russia party on June 2007. The proposal passed its first reading in the State Duma on June 14 and final reading on July 4. The upper house, the Federation Council, approved it on July 6. Initially organised as a state corporation, the company was re-registered on March 11, 2011 as open joint-stock company RUSNANO.

In any event, I’m keeping an eye on RUSNANO as it continues to evolve in the midst of what appears to be a more than usually volatile period for Russia’s state business enterprises.

Richard Branson, take your hands off my nano

RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies) fascinates me such that I’ve posted about the organization and its ‘wheeling and dealing’ several times with my RUSNANO and 12BF’s clean energy investment fund [July 24, 2012] and Russian government sells 10% holding in RUSNANO [June 25, 2012] postings being the latest until now.  Virgin Group and RUSNANO have announced a new, joint emerging market fund. From the Nov. 14, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

Virgin Group, Virgin Green Fund and RUSNANO Capital announced the formation of VGF Emerging Market Growth I. L. P. = with commitments of over $200 million.

The Fund will invest in buyout and growth equity opportunities in mid-cap companies. It will target the resource efficiency, consumer sustainability and renewable energy sectors in Russia, Turkey and CEE [Central Europe and Russia Fund Inc.]. The Fund will benefit from the Virgin and RUSNANO brands, deal flow and local investing experience.

The Oct. 31, 2012 RUSNANO news release (which originated the news item) provides this detail,

The Emerging Market Fund is set up by Shai Weiss, Evan Lovell, Brooks Preston and Tamas Szalai. Weiss and Lovell are theco-foundingpartners of the Virgin Green Fund. Preston formerly of Wolfensohn & Company and Szalai of Bancroft Private Equity will lead the investment team.  Andrew Reicher, the former head of CEE Private Equity for Credit Suisse and Chief Investment Officer at Actis, is the non-executive chairman of the investment committee. Collectively, the team brings the experience of investing USD $2 billion in emerging markets through more than 50 transactions. [emphasis mine]

Anatoly Chubais, RUSNANO CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board: “Renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies will provide answers to the key global challenges of natural resources depletion and environment pollution. Developing solutions will be impossible without the use of nanotechnology. I believe the fund will find great opportunities to invest in growth companies in Russia and take them into global markets.”

‘More than 50 transactions’ doesn’t sound that impressive to me but perhaps that reflects my ignorance. I’m also surprised they don’t mention any specific successes from this previous experience of investing USD $2B.

Sir Richard Branson (founder and chairman of the Virgin Group) or someone who purports to be Branson posted about the announcement when it was made on Oct. 31, 2012 in Moscow on Richard’s blog (Note: I have removed links),

Seven years ago at the Clinton Global Initiative I pledged to invest the dividends from our transport business into renewable fuels and resource efficiency.

Since then we have invested in fuel companies, set up our Green Fund, founded the Carbon War Room and established The Earth Challenge – as well as making a number of investments in emerging fuel businesses.

Today, I’m back in Moscow – at the country’s largest technology forum – Open Innovations. We are launching our second Virgin Green Fund with our Russian partners Rusnano. This one is targeting the Emerging Markets and the exciting venture will invest in growth companies to improve energy efficiency and find the technologies and fuels of the future.

At the Forum I was quizzed by 100 of Russia’s brightest young entrepreneurs and encouraged them to build their businesses with a smile and look to throw some of the conformity that marks so much of Russian business. There is so much enthusiasm and opportunity in the country.

I hope successful ventures arise from this new fund. ETA Nov. 21, 2012: As for this posting’s headline, it’s a reference to the pervasiveness of the Virgin brand.

RUSNANO sells an investment based on IRR (internal rate of return)

This is a turnaround. The news items usually state that RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies) is about to invest money but this time they’re selling their investment. From the May 28, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

RUSNANO’s Board of Directors has approved the company’s first exit from a previously-invested company. RUSNANO sells its 27.6 percent equity stake in Advanced Technologies Center, a leading producer of scanning probe microscopes and atomic scales. The sale to the project applicant, NPP CPT will generate IRR of 29.5 percent on RUSNANO’s investment.

RUSNANO’s co-financing enabled the high-tech company founded by Moscow State University professor Igor Yaminsky to reach next level of business and to expand its line of scanning probe microscopes [SPM] and SPM software. RUSNANO has invested 50 million rubles in the project, out of the 140 million rubles originally planned. In December 2011 the portfolio company opened a production site which will double its production capacity up to the revenue levels of 70 million rubles by the end of 2012.

The deal meets two essential RUSNANO’s criteria for successful exit: IRR is no lower than was planned, and the project is able to develop independently.

I had to look up ‘internal rate of investment’ (IRR) and found this essay on Wikipedia (Note: I have removed links and footnotes from the excerpt),

The internal rate of return (IRR) is a rate of return used in capital budgeting to measure and compare the profitability of investments. It is also called the discounted cash flow rate of return (DCFROR) or the rate of return (ROR). In the context of savings and loans the IRR is also called the effective interest rate. The term internal refers to the fact that its calculation does not incorporate environmental factors (e.g., the interest rate or inflation).

The news item goes on to describe the Russian company,  Advanced Technologies Center’s (not to be confused with New Zealand’s government agency, Advanced Technology Institute) product line (from the May 28, 2012 news item),

The main product of the Advanced Technologies Center is the FemtoScan series of scanning probe microscopes, high-precision instruments that use the mechanical motion of a probe (cantilever) to study the surface of a sample at the nanoscale. SPMs are used for research in chemistry, physics, biology and medicine, as well as for industrial applications such as surface quality control. The company also produces SPM control and image processing software, as well as precision scales capable to detect substances at atomic level.

There seems to be a lot of action in the world of microscopy these days. This is the second item I’ve written on the topic in the last 10 days (and it’s not my main area of interest).

The French and the Russians work on point-of-care diagnostic devices

RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies), a regular visitor to my postings, has just signed a deal with French company, Magnisense SE (why do I keep wanting to call it (en français) Magnificence?), for a three year development deal. From the Feb. 6, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

RUSNANO and Magnisense today announced that they have finalized details for investment in Magnisense SE, a French developer of the next generation of in vitro bioassays for diagnostic testing in healthcare, veterinary medicine, food safety, and environmental protection. RUSNANO will invest up to €28.5 million over a three-year period in the joint project whose total cost is put at €44.3 million. The remaining co-investment will come from Magnisense’s existing and new shareholders.

The new project will manufacture in Russia an advanced diagnostic system based on Magnisense’s proprietary technology MIAtek®—a magnetic immunoassay in which nanosized magnetic beads are attached to an antibody that selectively binds target molecules, micro-organisms, or other antibodies in test media.

I gather not all of the products that are going to be manufactured in Russia will be point-of-care diagnostic devices but all of them will be based on the Magnisense technology,

Magnisense will establish a Russian subsidiary to produce two product lines:

·  MIAstrip®: point-of-care testing strips that identify a target by detecting known markers for a number of conditions—cardiac arrest, bacterial infections including tetanus, viral infections such as avian flu, and parasitic and fungal infections;

·  MIAflo®: disposable cartridges that detect and quantify such targets as bacterial contaminants in food (e.g., Listeria and Salmonella) or water (e.g., Legionella). Magnisense’s Russian manufacturing facility is expected to open in 2015 with production capacity of 3.5 million test media. The media will be sold domestically and exported, primarily to Europe, the US, and Japan.

In the future, Magnisense intends to increase production in Russia and to focus on the professional segment of the decentralized diagnostic testing market generally known as point-of-care (POC). It will expand into the CIS, Europe, the US, Japan, and China. POC diagnostics—tests performed in medical environments, the workplace, and at home—have become the driving force in the world’s healthcare market. According to Kalorama Information, a market research company specializing in healthcare and related areas, decentralized diagnostics is the fastest growing segment in healthcare. And the professional POC market, already $5.2 billion in 2009, is estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 6 percent with its rate of growth accelerating.

For anyone interested in magnetic immunoassay Magnisense has devoted a webpage to the technology they have developed,

Magnetic immunoassay was developed for the rapid and sensitive detection of proteins, viruses or bacteria in biological or food samples. The system incorporates the use of coated magnetic beads as labels in lateral flow (MIAstrip®) or flow through (MIAflo®) or chip (MIAchip®) formats.

The technology is versatile. It is compatible with multiple assays and uses standard liquid handling robots installed in many clinical labs worldwide.

The robots are designed to deliver reagents via removable tips to carry out ELISA on multi-well plates. As opposed to standard applications, the MIAflo® is realized on the 3D filters inside the tips, and the plate is used to hold the reagents. MIAflo® provides more sensitive and faster results compared to ELISA due to the absence of kinetic limitations and immunofiltration of the antigens on a large immune-active surface. In addition, MIAflo® successfully works even with the whole blood of patients, decreasing the sample preparation time.

I’m not all that interested in pursuing the differences between this technique and ELISA (you can read more about ELISA in this Wikipedia essay) but what does interest me is this worldwide competition to develop point-of-care diagnostics.

$100M nanotechnology venture fund with Rusnano, 12BF Global Ventures, VTB Capital, and the republic of Zakakhstan

According to the Dec. 21, 2011 news item on Nanowerk, there’s a new US $100M venture capital fund,

A US$100m nanotechnology venture fund has been announced by joint managers VTB Capital and I2BF Global Ventures, with cornerstone backing from the Russian state nanotechnology fund RusNano and Kazyna Capital Management, the sovereign wealth fund of the Republic of Kazakhstan. These entities have committed $25m each to the new fund, with VTB Capital and I2BF expecting to raise a further $50m from external investors. The agreement was signed on December 21st 2011 in Almaty at a ceremony attended by Aset Isekeshev, Vice-Premier of Kazakhstan and Minister of Industry and New Technologies, and will soon be followed by the opening of offices in Moscow and Almaty.

The 10-year fund will focus on technology transfer into the two countries as well as domestic nanotech investment, while also driving further private capital inflows into the nanotech sector by leading deals for international syndication. Potential pipeline deals include desalination technologies, oil processing, diabetes treatments, semiconductor technologies and LED/OLED, while future investment themes will include energy production, including alternative energy; increasing efficiency in the petroleum and gas industry; telecommunications; biotechnology; electronics and environmental technology. Activities for the fund will be divided equally between Russia and Kazakhstan.

Here are some brief descriptions of the main players (from the news item),

Kazyna Capital Management (KCM) was established in May 2007 with the purpose of formation of the efficient Private Equity market in Kazakhstan. 100% shares of KCM are owned by ?? “Samruk-Kazyna” National well-being fund. www.kkm-kazyna.kz.

RUSNANO was established in March 2011 as an open joint-stock company through reorganization of state corporation Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies. RUSNANO’s mission is to develop the Russian nanotechnology industry through co-investment in nanotechnology projects with substantial economic potential or social benefit. The Government of the Russian Federation owns 100 percent of the shares in RUSNANO, www.rusnano.com.

VTB Capital VTB Capital, the Investment Business of VTB Group, is one of the three strategic business arms of VTB Group, along with the corporate and retail businesses. Since its foundation in 2008, VTB Capital has taken part in more than 184 Equity Capital Markets and Debt Capital Markets deals, which were instrumental in attracting more than USD 88bn worth of investments to Russia and CIS, www.vtbcapital.com.

I2BF Global Ventures is an international clean technology asset management group with a global investment mandate focused on venture capital and public equity activities. Established in 2005, I2BF has over USD 145 million in assets under management across two venture capital vehicles and a hedge fund. I2BF Global Ventures seeks out game-changing technologies, and to invest in the most innovative and competitive companies within the sector. In keeping with its worldwide focus, I2BF retains a team of technology and sector experts as well as renewable energy researchers across teams in New York, London, Moscow and Dubai, www.i2bf.com.

If I read this correctly, they currently have $US50M from RUSNANO and Kazyna Capital Management while the two venture funds are expected to raise a further $US50 from external investors, which gives them approximately $US10M per yr. over the fund’s 10 year life. They certainly have some ambitious spending plans for that $US10M annual budget. I wonder what the administration costs will be.

RUSNANO and the world of nanotechnology-enabled retail services

RUSNANO first announced their retail project in June 2010 (finally mentioned in my Aug. 8, 2011 posting [scroll down about 1/3 of the way]). They have just announced that 2012 is when their Store of the Future will be unveiled. From the Sept. 8, 2011 article by Lena Smirnova for The Moscow Times,

The Store of the Future is a flagship project in the partnership between the company and retailers Sitronics and X5 Retail Group. The project envisions equipping retail outlets with radio frequency identification [RFID] technology that would render cashiers unnecessary and help store owners save on inventory and storage costs. The RFID system will calculate the price of the product, monitor expiry dates and automatically stock missing merchandise.

Rusnano is still figuring out how to make the tag readable through foil, metal baskets and liquids, but Chubais [Anatoly Chubais, CEO of RUSNANO) told the audience that a simplified version of the Store of the Future will be on show at Moscow’s Nanoforum on Oct. 26. The complete project is scheduled to launch in 2012.

If I understand this project correctly, the idea is to revolutionize the mall from the building products used for mall construction, energy-efficient glass and air purification products are also mentioned right through to the stocking process to the customer’s retail experience.

Nanotechnology in Israel

Israel’s been making news lately for its nanotechnology effots. Israeli scientists came to visit Canada at an October 2010 Carleton University event which I previewed in my Sept. 24, 2010 posting. Lynne Cohen provides follow up information in her Nov. 3, 2010 article, Canada, Israel working together on nanotechnology, in the Jewish Tribune,

Relations between Canada and Israel just keep getting tighter. Two years ago, experts from both countries met, through computer video links, to discuss potential business ventures, including developing instruments for desalinating sea water to make it potable. Last year, Israeli and Canadian philatelists met face to face to launch a friendship stamp to celebrate 60 years of great relations between their two nations.

Last month [Oct. 4 & 5,2010], nanotechnologists from both places got together at Carleton University in Ottawa to study matter so small that it would be lost on the head of a pin.

There’s always a bit of puffery in these things (from the article),

Miriam Ziv, Israel’s ambassador to Canada, said, “Israeli research and innovation is world renowned and the potential benefits of an exchange of knowledge between Canada and Israel will be extremely valuable. I am confident that this workshop will not only enrich the research but also strengthen the friendship between our two countries.”

According to Kim Matheson, Carleton’s vice-president (research and international), “Carleton is known for its significant cutting-edge research in the field of nanotechnology,” and collaboration between scientists from both coubtriescould lead to great initiatives and cooperative ventures.

Cohen goes on to note that there were 40 participants.

Meanwhile, Israel too  has signed a deal (my Sept. 14 2010 posting about the Canada-RUSNANO venture capital project) with RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies). From the Nov. 2, 2010 news item on Nanowerk,

RUSNANO announces tender results for selection of the Partner for joint establishment of Russian-Israeli investment fund which were summarized on 29th of October 2010. On the basis of the final scores made by the tender committee the best conditions for joint establishment of Russian-Israeli investment fund were proposed by the Myrtus Capital Ltd.

These activities come on the heels of a three-year investment in the Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative (from the Nov. 2, 2010 news item on Nanowerk,

A three-year support of nanotechnology as an Israeli national project has resulted in: 52 leading scientists have immigrated to Israel, 77 million dollars have been invested in equipment, 41 million dollars have been invested in infrastructure, 106 success stories have been documented and 389 Academy–Industry Projects have been achieved.

Based on data of the Israel National Nano–Technology Initiative – INNI – which has gathered on the occasion of Nano–Technology Week: NanoIsrael 2010 Conference and Exhibition being held next week [Nov. 8 – 9, 2010] in Tel Aviv, during the last three years since Nano–Technology has been declared an Israeli national priority project …

The approach they’ve taken in Israel provides a striking contrast with the Canadian approach (outlined in my Nov. 8, 2010 posting),

During this time, 389 cooperation transactions have been established between the Israel academy and the Industry (both local and foreign), 106 “success stories” have been documented, either as new start–up companies or as authorized patents, not to mention the 422 patents that were submitted for registration.

In 2007, the Israel Nano field was defined as a project that received governmental priority, and its mission was the installation of the research and structural infrastructure in six university premises. The selected universities were those in which the research dealing with establishing the industry based on Nano–Technology was going to be performed. A plan was based on three supporting entities: governmental support (one third), university resources (one third) and contributions (one third). Six Nano centers were established in different universities (the Technion center had already been established in 2005).

I don’t believe Canada could produce these kinds of figures about cooperative transactions and “success stories”  easily since each province seems to be in charge of its own, if any, nanotechnology efforts. There is national funding, as I noted Nov. 8, 2010, but multiple federal agencies are involved and the language used to describe the projects varies by agency.

Judy Seigel-Itzkovich in her Nov. 8, 2010 article in the Jerusalem Post provides this quote about the INNI,

“This is an excellent example for the efficient use of the public money and the mutual cooperation between the government, academy, and industry, which brings back significant return on investment,” said Dan Vilenski, a member of the national NanoIsrael committee.

“I believe that we are on the way to turn Israel into a leading nanotechnology country.”

Israel’s nanotechnolog conference ended yesterday but here’s a little taste of what they had on offer (from the Nov. 9, 2010 news item on Nanowerk,

A material just one atom thick that is stronger than steel but flexes like rubber. A “mini-submarine” that can trick the immune system and deliver a payload of chemotherapy deep inside a tumour.

They sound like the fantasies of science fiction writers, but they are among the discoveries being presented at Nano Israel 2010, a nanotech conference in Tel Aviv that has attracted researchers from across the science world, united by their work with the very, very small.

The 1,500 participants at the two-day meeting which ends on Tuesday include chemists, physicists and medical researchers, all working with tiny structures around the thickness of a cell wall.

“We are all working to be able to manipulate molecules at an atomic level,” said Dan Peer, a professor at Tel Aviv University’s Cell Research and Immunology Department.

Good luck, Israel!

Ireland’s nanotechnology strategy

Since September (2010) there’s been a bit more news about Ireland’s nanotechnology efforts than usual as I noted in my Sept, 21, 2910 posting about a visit that Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education, and Minister Liaison to the Canadian Forces, Doug Horner made to a city in the other country that shares that island, Northern Ireland’s Ulster, to see its Nanotechnology Centre.

On the Ireland front, Forfás, Ireland’s policy advisory board for enterprise and science, released, August 31, 2010, its Nanotechnology Commercialisation Framework 2010 -2014 with these comments (from the news release),

A substantial investment by the Irish Government in nanotechnology in recent years has made Ireland home to a world-class infrastructural base which will serve as a strong foundation to produce high quality nanotechnology research, push commercialisation and ensure Ireland’s international competitiveness in this space, according to a new report published today by Forfás, Ireland’s policy advisory board for enterprise and science. Ireland’s Nanotechnology Commercialisation Framework 2010-2014 presents a national framework to position Ireland as a knowledge and innovation centre for certain niche areas of nanotechnology.

Shortly after the framework was released an Irish delegation visited Russia to participate in a forum with RUSNANO (from the news item on Azonano),

On the 8th of September [2010] the one-day Russian-Ireland Forum of Nanotechnology was held in the head office of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (Russia). As the leading Russian manufacturer of equipment for nanoscience NT-MDT Co. participated in the Forum.

The Forum was organized by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (RUSNANO).

SFI is the statutory agency in Ireland responsible for disbursing funds for basic science research with a strategic focus. SFI plays a leading role in the implementation of the National Development Plan of Ireland 2007-2013. Under its remit, SFI invests in new knowledge projects in the area of information and energy-efficient technologies, nano- and biotechnologies, academic researchers.

RUSNANO is Russian state owned corporation established in 2007 to enable Government policy in the field of Nanotechnology. The corporation is aimed at commercializing developments in nanotechnology. RUSNANO co-invests in nanotechnology industry projects that have high commercial potential or social benefit.

President of Ireland Mary McAleese and RUSNANO CEO and Chairman of the Executive Broad Anatoly Chubais opened the Forum. In the welcoming remark, President of Ireland stressed the importance of the Forum and scientific cooperation between Russia and Ireland.

I see that NT-MDT is more intimately tied to Russian enterprise than I had realized. (I have previously posted about NT-MDT and the education market in this October 25, 2010 posting.)

Getting back to the framework, an October 18, 2010 posting on Intellibriefs notes this,

After investing heavily in infrastructure dedicated to nanotechnology, Ireland gets a real strategy and a coordination group involving industrialists, academics and officials from government agencies.

In August 2010 the Irish agency “PACKAGE” (Ireland’s policy advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation [aka Forfás]), issued a report recommending to target three key technology areas: advanced materials, electronics technology for Information and communication, and nanobiotechnology. This is to encourage the development of new products in the areas of electronics, medical devices and diagnostics, environmental applications and improved industrial processes.

This appears to be a translation of a French language news item from bulletins-electroniques.com,

Après avoir investi massivement dans les infrastructures dédiées aux nanotechnologies, l’Irlande se dote d’une véritable stratégie et d’un groupe de coordination associant des industriels, des universitaires et des responsables d’agences gouvernementales.

En août 2010 l’agence irlandaise “FORFAS” (Ireland’s policy advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation), a publié un rapport préconisant de cibler 3 domaines technologiques-clé : les matériaux avancés, l’électronique pour les technologies de l’information et la communication et les nanobiotechnologies. Il s’agit de favoriser le développement de produits nouveaux dans les secteurs de l’électronique, des dispositifs médicaux et outils de diagnostic, des applications environnementales et de l’amélioration des procédés industriels.

All of this puts me in mind of how Ireland established itself economically in the 1990s by focusing on science and technology. It appears they are about to take another gamble using a similar strategy but focusing on new sciences and technologies such as nanotechnology in a fashion designed to mobilize as much of the population as possible, i.e., a national strategy communicated as widely as possible.

Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education visits Ulster’s Nanotechnology Centre

The Sept. 20, 2010 University of Ulster news release caught my eye since it concerns Alberta’s Deputy Premier, Minister of Advanced Education, and Minister Liaison to the Canadian Forces, Doug Horner. (The province of Alberta hosts Canada’s National Institute of Nanotechnology and also supports and promotes nanotechnology through one of five Alberta Innovates agencies, the Alberta Innovates Technology Futures [formerly nanoAlberta] and other initiatives.) From the news release,

The visit came as part of a four-day fact finding visit to Northern Ireland by Mr Horner, who is Deputy Premier of Alberta, Minister for Advanced Education and Minister Liaison to the Canadian Forces.

During his visit to the Jordanstown campus, he met Professor James McLaughlin, Director of the Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials Research Institute and Director of Innovation Tim Brundle for a breakfast briefing on the University’s work.

Mr Brundle said: “We’re very excited by the opportunities partnership with Alberta can offer. There are a lot of similarities between the economic focus of Alberta and the interests of Northern Ireland and we hope to move forward quickly to build on these opportunities.”

Professor McLaughlin concurred: “The University already has links with several leading Canadian universities , especially in nanotechnology. Our aim is to try to develop funded links between Ulster and colleagues in Canada, focusing on the way that healthcare sensor technology innovation can be underpinned and enabled by increased nanotechnology research.

“Connected health is a growing focus in Canada as well as here in Northern Ireland: they also have an interest in clean technology – also a focus here at Ulster. “

I find this interesting not only for the Canadian connection but because there’s been a fair amount of news floating about nanotechnology initiatives in Ireland, especially some recent joint initiatives with RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies). Note: I recently posted about a Canada-RUSNANO venture capital initiative, Sept. 14, 2010 posting.

Russian nanotechnology corporation (RUSNANO) develops joint Canada-Russian fund with VentureLink Funds

RUSNANO (Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies) executives Mr. Alexander Losyukov, Mr. Kyrill Frolov and Mr. Rail Rafikov have signed an agreement with John Varghese, CEO and Managing Partner of Toronto based venture capital firm, VentureLink Funds. RUSNANO first visited and surveyed the Canadian nanotechnology scene in April 2009 (noted in my April 14, 2009 posting). From the Sept. 13, 2010 news item on Nanowerk,

During their visit [Sept. 7,2010], the delegation successfully concluded in-depth discussions with Mr. Varghese that commenced early in 2010. The goal of the meetings was to establish the basis on which to create a Canada-Russia Nanotechnology Venture Capital Fund co-founded by RUSNANO and Mr. Varghese in Canada. The Fund’s investment interests will mainly focus on nanotechnology based products and applications in the areas of information technology for Nano based applications, energy production and storage, (including renewable and clean energy sources), advanced materials, biomaterials, and other select sectors. The Fund will not be seeking out defense related projects.

Subject to certain conditions, RUSNANO has signed a ground breaking Memorandum of Understanding committing to be a very significant lead order and partner in this new Nano Fund. Final corporate approvals are expected prior to the end of 2010, allowing this Fund to be operational in 2011.

Richard Blackwell writing for the Globe & Mail newspaper notes (from his Sept. 13, 2010 article),

VentureLink managing partner John Varghese said Rusano is searching the world for advances in the field – a rapidly advancing technology that engineers materials at the atomic and molecular scale to create new products for medicine, electronics and energy production – and will provide most of the fund’s initial capital.

High net worth individuals in Canada will also be approached to invest, and the goal is to create a fund in the $100-million to $200-million range, Mr. Varghese said.

The advantage for Canadian companies in the sector is that Rusnano will help them find markets for their products in Russia.

According to the Nanowerk news item, Professor Roman Maev, at the University of Windsor (Ontario), was instrumental in developing this partnership. From Dr. Maev’s University of Windsor web page,

Dr. Roman Maev is the Chairholder of the NSERC/Chrysler/University of Windsor Industrial Research Chair in Applied Solid State Physics and Material Characterization. He came to Canada in 1994, through Inter-Governmental Canada-Russia technology exchange program. One year later Dr. Maev was appointed as a Full Faculty Professor in the School of Physical Sciences at University of Windsor and in 1997 he established the Center of Imaging Research and Advanced Material Characterization at University of Windsor.

In addition to some federal support, there appears to be substantive support from the province of Ontario (from the Sept. 13, 2010 news item on Azonano),

During their visit, RUSNANO also met with the Honourable Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Economic Development and Trade and with senior officials of the Ministry of Research and Innovation, to discuss this new initiative supporting the development of technology transfer partnerships between RUSNANO and Canadian companies. …

Those activities will be based upon regular consultations and coordination with various departments and agencies within the Federal and Provincial Government, including the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Trade and the Ministry of Research and Innovation.

“During our meetings, Minister Pupatello stated that Canada wants to go global. Well, Russia also wants to go global, thus we have a good platform to be partners. A partner that shares similar goals allows for unification of efforts. Political will, combined with the appropriate business environment and the right team makes this the ideal time to start this initiative” proudly stated Losyukov.

I was a little surprised that I found no mention of this development on the Nano, Nanotechnology Network of Ontario website as it seems quite a feather in the province’s, if not the organization’s, cap.