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Fuel saving for transport With high oil prices and pressures to go “green”, transport managers have a headache. Their customers are demanding a lower carbon footprint and reduced emissions, and most solutions to achieve this further increase costs at a time when the industry is already facing escalating fuel costs. However, there is a product that offers a solution to these issues – Envirox fuel combustion catalyst. Oxonica, an Oxford University spin-out, has been engaged in extensive research and development both in the laboratory and in the field over the last seven years to create Envirox. In February this year, Oxonica announced another important milestone in the commercialisation of Envirox. Stagecoach, one of the largest bus operators in the UK, began testing Envirox in 2004 and has recently completed a validation trial. As a result Stagecoach has confirmed their intention to continue to use Envirox across its 7,000 vehicle UK bus fleet.

Adrian Havlin, Stagecoach Group Technical Engineer, said: ‘Our vehicles have driven more than 700 million miles using Envirox, and to achieve a consistent result across a diverse fleet over 3 years testifies to the robustness of the technology. We are particularly pleased with the performance of the product both in ultra low sulphur diesel and in blends containing biodiesel, which are now in widespread use across our fleet.’ Envirox has been positively tested in 12 trials, in 7 countries, on approximately 25 different vehicle / engine combination and in a range of working environments including buses, coaches, trucks, light commercial vehicles, static power generators, and municipal vehicles. The product has been subjected to rigourous health and safety tests and is registered for use in Europe. Recently Oxonica also completed successful tests in Italy and Germany, which demonstrated fuel savings of 5 – 8%. An independent vehicle laboratory test in Italy also showed reductions in particulate emissions of up to 19%, confirming previous studies.

The original trial in 2004 involved 1,300 vehicles over a twelve month period and demonstrated fuel savings of more than 5% following which Stagecoach adopted the product. The recent validation trial was conducted on more than 550 Stagecoach vehicles and demonstrated a statistically significant fuel saving of 4.3% after 3 months, which is consistent with the results from the original trial at the same point.

Unlike many environmental technologies that are still under development, Envirox is available today and does not require any engine modifications for use. A report for DEFRA on Environmentally Beneficial Nanotechnologies by Oakdene Hollins, recognised that products like Envirox could be implemented immediately across the UK with the potential to save 2-3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Oxonica has also completed a further trial in collaboration with Stagecoach at a major, independent, vehicle testing facility in the UK that demonstrated reductions in particulate emissions of 18% after 3 months.

Oxonica is confident that Envirox could help the UK to meet its carbon footprint targets in an economically responsible manner. Envirox fuel combustion catalyst represents a real immediate opportunity to address the serious challenges represented by climate change.

Envirox™ added to diesel fuel saves money and reduces CO2 emissions Envirox™ is proven to improve fuel efficiency by 5-10% Greenhouse gas reduction proportionate to fuel saving Envirox™ reduces particulate emissions

Envirox™ used across the UK road transport industry could cut annual diesel consumption by 1 billion litres and CO2 emissions by 3 million tonnes.* *figures based in UK consumption of diesel in 2004.

F U E L C O M B U S T I O N C A T A LY S T Envirox™ is easy to use and available today. Call the Oxonica helpline for further information 01865 856728.

investing in emerging technologies

Investing in clean technology – will the bubble burst? Cleantech is one of the fastest growing sectors for venture capital investment, increasing threefold since 2002 to over £1.7 billion in 2007. Focused on delivering competitive returns from companies which provide solutions to meet sustainability demands, this is a sector which addresses the global challenges which face us today. The cleantech space has been dominated by a recent boom in solar, biofuels and the carbon markets. Sectors such as water and waste have seen only a small proportion

Page 4 Shaping the Future with New Technologies by David Tolfree, Mancef Page 6 Discover some of the latest applications to emerge from Isis Innovation, the technology transfer arm of Oxford University Page 7 The MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology in the Netherlands Page 8 Ploughshare Innovations: Applying the advances from defence research to wider markets Page 9 UMIP: The Hub in the North

of investment to date, primarily due to the historically risk adverse nature of public sector organisations and utility providers So, will the bubble burst? The fundamental drivers which underpin the cleantech investment sector are here to stay. Stable energy sources are a prerequisite for continued economic growth and the impact of climate change, caused by man-made carbon emissions, has been well documented. 60% of European cities over-exploit their groundwater resources, creating a threat to drinking water availability for the future. The waste sector has been slow to adopt technological innovation but faces the stark reality that landfill will soon become uneconomical. The key to unlocking continued investment in clean technology is end-user engagement

West for Emerging Technologies A Question of Semantics: Changing the way we search for information online Page 10 Bio Nano Consulting: Facilitating the Future in BioNanotechnology. Angling for Success: The development of BVG Airflo’s advanced fly fishing line Page 11 At the Cutting Edge of Digital Preservation: Extending the lifetime of digital assets Page 12 NanoCentral: The gateway to commercial success through modern

– change must be accepted and driven by the organisations at the end of the supply chain – a trend which is evident as utility providers and the public sector increasingly demand innovative technological solutions. As a major service provider in these sectors, Mouchel has responded by developing an innovative stakeholder group, promoting industry and investor engagement in new technology. This has resulted in over £25m investments in the inherently conservative water sector alone. Only by engaging the organisations with buying power will the growth in cleantech investment continue. The evidence is there – sustainability issues continue to creep up the corporate and government agenda, and investments continue to flow. Andrea Gysin Head of Technology & Investment 01932 337436 07976 344289

material science Page 13 Advances in Materials Technology: Helping the UK to meet the global market Applying Nanotech to Life’s Big Challenges Page 14 Raising the Capital for Emerging Technologies Page 15 Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Research Success from the University of Warwick Responsible NanoCode – Mitigating the commercial risks of nanotechnology

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Accelerating business innovation:

a Technology Strategy Board programme The Materials Knowledge Transfer Network brings together the UK materials supply chain to improve industrial innovation and global competitiveness. For further information contact Zoe Chiverton at or tel: 020 7451 7300



investing in emerging technologies

Shaping the Future with new technologies Our future will be shaped by the exploitation of the new technologies which will redefine the limits of possibility. THEY WILL PROVIDE unprecedented opportunities to realise new products, processes, systems and services that will transform: society, markets, manufacturing and business. However, the realisation of these opportunities is intrinsically linked to purposeful and sustainable investment, having the right technological and business expertise, and the availability of workable infrastructures which allow enterprise, manufacturing and business to flourish. The global market is forcing up the pace of competition. Nations that can satisfy the market by using the new technologies will be leaders and benefit from the economic prosperity it brings. Those that cannot meet the challenge will see their economies decline. These new technologies can be disruptive to existing manufacturing methodologies but this is often to the benefit of the consumer - low cost digital photography and printing, computers, mobile phones, flat panel TV and a host of electronic devices are just some of the more obvious examples. Miniaturisation technologies encompassing micro and nanotechnologies are leaders in the industrial renaissance that is driving the new economy. Such technologies are producing paradigm shifts in manufacturing, supply and distribution to consumers. They promise new materials with unique properties that will have a significant impact in every field of human endeavour. The manipulation of matter at the molecular level - often referred to as bottomup nanotechnology - opens up unparalleled possibilities for the future. New nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes are already in production and finding applications in many diverse fields. Nanotubes are about 100 times stronger than steel, yet only a fifth of the weight. A carbon nanotube string the width of sewing thread could easily lift a large car. NASA hopes that one day carbon nanotube ropes could be used to make a space elevator fixed in a geostationary Earth orbit to transport huge payloads into space. This would revolutionise construction and space travel. Carbon nanotubes might also be used to produce highly sensitive biological and chemical sensors for medical diagnostics and environmental monitoring. We are already seeing how the synergistic combination of small-scale technologies, biotechnology, information and computer technologies, communication technologies and neurotechnologies are creating new frontiers that will have profound social and economic ramifications. The Utopian goal of eradicating disease and poverty, creating new organs through stem research and DNA manipulation, designing drugs to meet specific needs, surgical procedures using robots and the use of intelligent multifunctional biochips with the capability of

decoding thousands of genes in a few seconds, is now within our grasp. It will take medicine and healthcare into a new realm. Medicine will transform from being therapeutic to being preventive and predictive. This will have a significant effect on reducing the spiralling world healthcare costs that will soon exceed $10 trillion. The invention of the silicon transistor at Bell Labs in 1947 and the microchip decades later, initiated the multibillion dollar semiconductor industry. Resulting from developments in that industry, microtechnology advanced in the 1990s. Now, with the evolution of molecular electronics, the production of molecular switches and nanowires are becoming possible. This will take computers, data storage and communications into a new era, unimagined in 1947. Intel, the silicon chipmaker, intend to manufacture single processors using transistors just 40nm wide so 400 million will fit onto a chip less than the size of a postage stamp. The greatest challenge for new technologies is to solve the need for sustainable alternative energy sources to fossil fuels. Here, nanomaterials technology combined with other technologies, have a pivotal role to play in enhancing the efficiency of hydrogen fuel cells, biofuel, solar cells and nuclear power sources. All of these will help reduce the carbon emission producing climate change. Within the foreseeable future Technological advances will impact almost every field with the capability of providing solutions to many of the world’s problems. These were identified by the UN’s Millennium Programme which highlighted the key role to be played by nanotechnology. But first there are some barriers to overcome. These technologies will bring change. People are reluctant to accept change without good reason. Usually it is thrust upon them without knowledge of why it is necessary. This invokes fear and suspicion particularly when it involves the unconventional. The media, newspapers, TV, books etc have a pivotal role to play here in reporting correct factual information. Special supplements like this paper provide an efficient way of reaching the wider public. Conferences and workshops are also opportunities for raising awareness since they bring people together for a common purpose. For example, the Micro and Nanotechnology Commercialisation Education Foundation

‘Within the foreseeable future Technological advances will impact almost every field with the capability of providing solutions to many of the world’s problems.’

(MANCEF), an international foundation that connects the global community engaged in the commercialisation of emerging technologies, pursues its objectives through annual COMS (Commercialisation of Micro and Nano Systems) conferences. These premiere conferences held annually in different parts of the world, provide an international meeting place and opportunities for leaders, decision-makers from industry, business, academia and government to engage with manufacturers, practitioners, users and consumers. This year’s conference on August 31stSeptember 4th is located at The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, with a private ocean beach and close to an international airport. The conference will address key global issues associated with: health, agriculture and food, alternative energy, the environment, communications, the global economy, roadmaps, business development, funding and investments, education and training. Since this is not strictly a science or technology conference, all readers of this editorial are welcome to attend, meet experts and learn about the future. Further details can be found on the website at This editorial has only permitted me to give a flavour of some of the many exciting challenges and opportunities that will help shape our future. A more comprehensive text can be found in my book, ‘Commercialising Micro-Nanotechnology Products’, published by CRC Press-Taylor and Francis in November 2007. David Tolfree Technology Consultant European Vice President MANCEF Email: Web:



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investing in emerging technologies

FIRST IN CLASS Oxford University has, in the last 10 years, created a new class of university alumni – a vibrant group of young companies based on some of its smartest research, and fostered with early cash, and careful management. Along with the academic founders and investors, the university also maintains an interest as a shareholder. It wasn’t always so. When Oxford Instruments became Oxford’s first spin-out in 1959, it began without a business plan or venture capital, and the university declined to take any shares. Now, a new company is spun out of Oxford every few months – and the total number of spinouts has grown to over sixty-four. The University takes an active role in this process through its technology transfer arm, Isis Innovation – named after “the Isis”, as the River Thames is called as it runs through Oxford. Isis also licenses technology to industry, manages consulting contracts with Oxford academics and assists other universities and companies with technology transfer. But bringing the right elements for a new business together is by no means straightforward, according to Isis managing director, Tom Hockaday: “It’s a bit like interplanetary alignment, you have to get the players all lined up and working as a team with a common purpose.” The team includes the university researchers, an Isis project manager, the first round investors and the management. “The reason it’s so difficult is that the interests of those groups are all rather different. The team has to be strong enough to survive the stresses,” says Hockaday. Oxford Advanced Surfaces, a 2006 spin-out is a good example of a long gestation. “We worked with the inventor Dr Mark Moloney of the Oxford chemistry department for years, looking for companies that might be interested in exploiting the technology,” said Dr Mairi Gibbs, an Isis project manager who has worked with a number The Oxford Innovation Society provides members with a window on Oxford science and technology.

NaturalMotion’s game, Backbreaker

of spin-outs in the last five years. “A spin out without any customers in mind is doomed to failure, but we could see the long term potential for the project. Mark’s coating technology was able to modify the surface properties of polymers, glass, and even diamond.” The only cash available at this stage is often from the University Challenge Seed fund, which can invest up to £250k in a project. “The Oxford UCSF fund has had a massive positive impact on accelerating technology transfer,” says Hockaday. “It has allowed us to develop technologies so they are recognisable as investable propositions.” Isis used UCSF funds to develop the antibacterial applications of the technology. “This made a huge difference and we also stopped using chemistry language and started using coatings language,” says Gibbs. “All of a sudden we had ten or twelve companies who could see niche applications in a really wide range of industry sectors.” The business plan was launched to the Isis

Angels Network, a group of local business angels and venture capitalists. The missing element was management. “Investors are not going to invest a sizeable sum of money in a business without competent management,” says Gibbs. “You can’t get the manager without the money, and you can’t get the money without the manager!” “It needs to be somebody credible in front of investors, and it’s the case in the UK that the pool of serial entrepreneurs is small,” says Dr Adam Stoten, an Isis project manager who last year managed three spin-outs in close succession. “It’s important to find the right kind of personality – someone who can make the tea and do the photocopying, as well as set corporate strategy.” But in the case of Oxford Advanced Surfaces, luck finally turned for the company when the right CEO approached Isis. After three months of negotiations, the funding was secured and the company spun out. Oxford Advanced Surfaces is now listed on the Alternative Investment Market.


It would seem an unlikely place to find Oxford technology, but when the next generation video games Grand Theft Auto IV and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed are released later in 2008, software from Oxford spin-out NaturalMotion will take a starring role in giving the characters movement and personality. The six-year old company’s flagship software, euphoria, enables characters to interact and respond to their virtual environment, taught by algorithms developed by NaturalMotion’s CEO, Torsten Reil and his colleagues, as he was working on his D.Phil at Oxford. The success of NaturalMotion – which has also been used in films such as Poseidon and Troy – relied on an early grant and angel funding, says Reil. “I don’t think we would have started the company without Isis – I didn’t have any contacts and I wouldn’t have known where to start.” “My research was in simulation of human locomotion. I got together with Colm Massey, who was a programmer, to create prototypes that we could show to investors.” A UCSF grant provided the crucial funding to get this programming started. “Setting up the company and negotiating the investment would have been impossible without Isis – they acted as a catalyst and enabler to get this done.” Potential investors and spin-out managers should contact: +44 (0) 1865 280830

investing in emerging technologies

MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, the Netherlands At the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology in The Netherlands, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find the ideal scientific environment for engaging in world-class research in fields like NanoFluidics and BioNano applications. Scientific excellence goes hand in hand with business opportunities: 40 companies have already emerged from the MESA+ Institute. Factory is a shared production facility for microand nanotech based products. The 18 SME companies currently involved are mostly active in medics, pharmaceutics and nutrition.

Working at the MESA+ Cleanroom

Cooperative Environment

At and around MESA+ all essential elements for cooperative innovation are available: the Institute as a source of new ideas and a partner in research at the micro and/or nano scale; the NanoLab cleanroom and analysis laboratories for research, prototyping and small scale production; High Tech Factory for large scale production; enabling companies to help transform ideas into producible small tech applications; Venture Capital and R&D funds; A supportive local government; the Kennispark environment, and an entrepreneurial spirit shared by all of the above.

Entrepreneurial spirit

The MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology is one of the largest nanotechnology institutes in Europe, with over 475 scientists in 25 research groups. The annual turnover is 50 million euroâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s; over 60 percent is acquired in competition from external sources, including industry. In core areas like BioNano, NanoFluidics, NanoElectronics, NanoPhotonics, and Nanostructured Materials, research is typically carried out at new interfaces of science and engineering disciplines.

Spin-off companies

Using research results at MESA+ as a launch pad, 40 spin-off companies have taken off in this young and challenging field. They develop products like sensors, microfluidic chips, integrated optics, microelectronics, coatings and membranes. A recent example is Medimate, a company that is developing a point of care portable analyzer for easy and effective monitoring of lithium levels in blood. This is a textbook example of cutting-edge and award-winning PhD research rapidly leading to an innovative application with a high impact on patientsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; quality of life.

still to emerge. It is the place where young and entrepreneurial people translate knowledge to expertise. Enjoying the vibrant environment, they start up new businesses. University of Twente focuses strongly on, and gives high priority to nanotechnology. The university is about to build a new and highly modern NanoLab, which is to be completed by in 2009.

High Tech Factory

The current facilities, which will become available with the opening of the new lab, will be redeveloped as High Tech Factory. High Tech

This is the result of the entrepreneurial spirit that surrounded the MESA+ Institute from its foundation in 1989. Since then more than 40 companies have been spun out of the Institute or have chosen to establish themselves next to the institute and its central laboratories. Over the years a vital cluster of economic activities has grown, based on the number of facilities offered and measures taken. These measures include mutual cooperation in facilities and equipment, active business development, Venture Capital contacts and industry-targeted laboratories and offices. Interested in joining MESA+? Please see our website for available positions.

MESA+ NanoLab

MESA+ NanoLab, the high-level, state-of-the-art infrastructure for nanotechnological research and innovation, is of crucial importance to spinoff companies, existing ones, as well as ones

Medimate chip: Lab on a Chip for point of care diagnostics



investing in emerging technologies

Ploughshare Innovations: Applying the advances from defence research to wider markets Ploughshare Innovations Ltd. manages technology commercialisation on behalf of the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl). Based at Porton Down and other locations in Southern England, Dstl has some 3,500 staff devoted to providing the UK Government with both independent advice on defence and securityrelated issues and research and development solutions for defence questions. Ploughshare is a commercially operated company, wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Defence, charged with commercialising defence technologies in, primarily, non-defence markets. An example of this dual use of defence technology is the identification of MRSA in hospitals using principles developed by Dstl to detect biological warfare agents. Other examples of the technology commercialised from Dstl include vaccine technologies for both human and animal health, vehicle armour, diagnostic systems, telemetry products and software. Since Ploughshare began trading in 2005, it has signed twenty-three licences, sold three patents, incorporated four new companies and divested itself of two. Acolyte Biomedica Limited, for example was sold to 3M Inc in 2007. The existing portfolio of investments, such as P2i and Enigma Diagnostics, are all making significant contributions to the innovative culture of the UK’s small medium enterprises landscape. Two recent points of note were the successful fundraising for ProKyma Technologies Ltd and the start-up of Subsea Asset Location Technologies Ltd. Both are described below and highlight the diversity of technologies and strength of propositions that arise from the MoD’s centre of scientific excellence, Dstl. Dr David Owen OBE, Ploughshare’s Chairman, said “I have enjoyed the privilege of being Chairman of Ploughshare Innovations. The last three years have allowed the building of a successful executive team, major progress in commercialization activities and sound systems to support this work.” Having recently advised the Ploughshare Board of his intention to step down later in the year, once a new Chairperson has been recruited, David added “There remain many opportunities for the new Chairman to further develop Ploughshare Innovations”. Recruitment is being handled by Intrinsic Resource Ltd. Commenting on Dr Owen’s decision to step down, a Dstl spokesperson, added “We wish David the very best in the future and thank him for leaving behind a stable inheritance”.

Underwater Asset Management

Sub-Sea Asset Location Technologies Ltd (SALT) was set up in February 2008 to commercialise

passive acoustic sonar reflector technologies invented by Dstl scientists. This nautical version of “cat’s eyes” was invented to mark and find underwater assets and was successfully trialled in the North Sea recently. The sea trials showed that the CE (cat’s eye) Reflector can reflect back a signal, revealing its location, to existing sonar systems (for example, those mounted on maritime vessels). Ploughshare expects the largest market for the core CE Reflector product to be from the Oil & Gas and Telecommunications Cable industries. The defence market potential is also high, as shown by the interest shown already by the Royal Navy and the US Department of Defense. Other demand will arise from the environmental area, where the CE Reflector unit provides a cost-effective solution to fishing and wreck-marking issues. Current sonar location devices used by oil and cable companies are battery-powered and have costly maintenance issues due to the need for periodic replacement of the batteries. Existing passive devices have relied on toxic chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) housed in metal disks to bounce the sound back. However, the new environmentally friendly CE Reflector system has no requirement for CFCs, is significantly more responsive to sonar and has minimal maintenance costs. SALT is currently fundraising and is actively looking for a Chief Executive Officer and a Marketing Director each with appropriate sub sea industry experience to join the Chairman and Chief Technology Officer in building this exciting international venture. The CE Reflector is close to market already and the company expects to begin shipping products in Spring 2009.

roKyma Technologies Ltd. ProKyma’s technology stems from Dstl’s worldleading intellectual property position in the use

of ultrasound to manipulate micro-particulates, as used in its chemical and biological detection research programme. ProKyma was formed in 2006 to exploit this ultrasound technology with initial funding from Rainbow Seed Fund. The company has now developed a prototype system for blood compatibility testing that is automated and does not use expensive plastic consumables, saving technician time and environmental waste. Approximately 80 million units of blood are donated each year worldwide and each donor and recipient needs to be tested for compatibility. ProKyma is also working on ultrasound methods for cleaning and concentrating samples for testing. Specimens such as soil, blood and faeces need to be analysed for disease-causing bacteria but are often too full of contaminants and inhibitors for accurate measurement. The ProKyma system captures and washes bacteria for better and faster analysis and is capable of processing samples containing as few as ten target bacteria providing increased sensitivity for existing tests. In January ProKyma raised £470K from a consortium led by the Merseyside Special Investment Funds’ Liverpool Seed Fund and involved NESTA and the Rainbow Seed Fund. Jonathan Kestenbaum, Chief Executive of NESTA, has noted that ““ProKyma is a young and innovative company with significant potential – they are developing a very exciting technology that could have a real impact on the detection of disease.” The investment allows ProKyma to support wider product development and to move to larger facilities in Liverpool. This illustrates Ploughshare Innovation’s commitment to commercialising defence technologies for civilian uses across the UK. Contact details:

01980 590060

investing in emerging technologies

UMIP IS HUB FOR EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES Those interested in keeping abreast of new, innovative ideas coming out of The University of Manchester are being urged to look to UMIP. UMIP - The University of Manchester’s IP commercialisation company – is one of the UK’s largest technology transfer companies and is renowned for propelling pioneering ideas from academia into the commercial world. The company develops embryonic inventions and commercialises the IP either through sale, licence or a spin-out company. One of UMIP’s current success stories is the award-winning Manchester Bobber ®. The Manchester Bobber ® is a patented wave energy device capable of producing electricity, at an economically attractive price, from the motion of the waves. The technology is being developed in partnership with a number of leading industrial partners (ABB, Royal Haskoning, Renold, ODE, Bridon International, Burntisland Fabrications, Red Rooster). Understandably, this device has attracted high interest from the utilities and oil and gas industries. Following a successful onetenth scale prototype, the team is now looking to complete final pre-commercial trials of a fullscale unit off-shore. Head of market development at UMIP, Mark Thompson said: “UMIP has a stream of exciting start-up ventures, driven by one of the

strongest University research programmes in the UK. Entrepreneurial scientists and a highly developed commercialisation process combine to make Manchester a UK leader in technology commercialisation. Part-time support from individuals with specific sector experience also play a vital coaching role. We are always looking for such people to help our companies succeed.” Other exciting up-and-coming companies include Myconostica, which is a leader in molecular diagnostic tests. The company’s diagnostic tests allow doctors and clinicians to diagnose and treat life-threatening fungal

‘The Manchester Bobber ® is a patented wave energy device capable of producing electricity, at an economically attractive price, from the motion of the waves. The technology is being developed in partnership with a number of leading industrial partners (ABB, Royal Haskoning, Renold, ODE, Bridon International, Burntisland Fabrications, Red Rooster).’

infections quicker and more accurately than current methods. UMIP spin-out, Conformetrix, is gunning for its slice of the $2.5billion global bioinformatics market. The company formed last year to commercialise a unique software tool that can address a number of significant market failures in the Rational Drug Design (RDD) industry. Its technology can resolve the 3D and 4D-structure of any drug or natural ligand directly from experimental data. Phagenesis Ltd has developed the first clinically proven early stage treatment for patients with swallowing dysfunction post stroke. The technology uses targeted electrical neurostimulation to drive reorganisation of the swallowing centres in the brain and by so doing accelerates the natural recovery process. • For more details about these and other UMIP projects, including Nano ePrint’s pioneering research in plastic electronics and a new water treatment process by Arvia Ltd, log on to emergingtechnologies or contact Mark Thompson on 0161 306 3047.

A question of semantics The semantic web is about to change the way we search for information online. But what exactly is it and how does it work? Ian Cook reports. Although many will be unfamiliar with the term or unclear about its precise meaning the “semantic web” is nevertheless widely regarded as being an idea whose time has arrived . It is set to have a profound impact on the lives of all of us in years to come. Why? Because it will make the web more “human” than ever before. Put simply the semantic web is an emerging technology that takes the world wide web a stage further than where it stands today. At the present time computers cannot complete a range of tasks without human direction because web pages are designed to be read by humans rather

than machines. The semantic web changes this by allowing a free flow of information understandable to computers. In this way it allows computers to perform many of the tedious tasks of finding and sharing information on the web presently carried out by humans. Tim Berners-Lee, the so-called “father of the internet”, said that the arrival of the semantic web would mean that the intelligent agent’s people had been predicting for years would finally arrive. Machines would become less machinelike and more human. At the heart of the idea of the “semantic web” is the closely connected idea of “semantic search”. This is where a search process uses semantics – literally the word’s meaning - to provide more focussed and relevant information to the user/searcher. Traditional searches - in contrast to semantic searches - merely provide a list of loosely related online sites for a user to sift through. This traditional approach is inefficient, because it tends to produce a large quantity of information – much of it irrelevant. Solcara - a UK based information management software company - has developed a search product called SolSearch that pioneers new

semantic search methods. The next version of the software – Solcara SolSearch v3.0, in development now - allows organisations to enjoy the benefits of sharing their content with a growing range of semantically aware software products and services – superseding previous expectations of what simple searches will retrieve. Using a new web language called RDF (Resource Description Framework) - and a search methodology called “federated searching” retrieving data is set to become a richer and more fruitful experience. In addition RDF and federated searching are being swiftly adopted. According to Andrew Maisey, Solcara’s product development manager, there is new evidence that RDF is being taken up all the time. “Just as XML has found its way into MS Office it’s just a matter of time before RDF finds it’s way into MS Office too.” Semantic searching is all about data and meaning. At the moment traditional search methods are just about data with no meaning. Semantic searching will provide meaning. And meaning is everything when it comes to searching.



investing in emerging technologies

Bio Nano Consulting: facilitating the future in bio-nanotechnology

London-based Bio Nano Consulting is a specialist R & D consultancy facilitating the development & commercialisation of new biomedical and nanotechnology-based products in the UK and Europe. Bio Nano Consulting combines a range of high-value infrastructure, instrumentation and expertise together with experienced product development professionals to provide a highvalue support service to its clients in a number of areas including virtual design, rapid prototyping and nano-characterisation. A joint venture between Imperial College London and University College London, Bio Nano Consulting has developed close relationships with leading experts in such diverse fields as microfluidic biosensors, non-invasive nanoimaging and nano-material fabrication and leverages new investment in excess of £50M to provide an innovative, world-class product

development consultancy. The infrastructure and operations of the BNC have been funded by the UK Department for Trade and Industry (now called the Technology Strategy Board) and the London Development Agency, respectively. BNC provides a valuable support service to its clients in a number of areas where specialist skills in virtual design, rapid prototyping & nanocharacterisation add real value. Bio Nano Consulting is using its position as world-leaders in cantilever-array assay systems to analyse in greater detail the mechanism of action of oritavancin, a novel lipoglycopeptide antibiotic under development at US-based Targanta Therapeutics Corporation. This project builds on BNC’s experience with other antibiotics. This is the second major commercial

project that BNC has undertaken since being incorporated in October 2007. Contact details: Dr David Sarphie Email: Web: Tel: 0207 268 3032

‘A joint venture between Imperial College London and University College London, BIO NANO CONSULTING has developed close relationships with leading experts in such diverse fields as microfluidic biosensors, non-invasive nano-imaging and nano-material fabrication and leverages new investment in excess of £50M to provide an innovative, world-class product development consultancy.’

Angling for Success Fly fishing and Formula One do not share many similarities, but Brecon-based fly-line manufacturers BVG Airflo have spotted one. Taking inspiration from Formula One wet weather tyres which are ridged around the circumference to avoid friction, BVG Airflo turned to micro-structure engineering specialists MicroBridge to create tiny ridges on the surface of their new Ridgeline fly fishing line. Flyline manufacture involves a highly complex extrusion process using cutting edge micro engineering methods such as Electro Discharge Machining (EDM) – a thermal process in which the material from the line to create the ridges is removed by spark erosion – to keep the technological and market advantage over its competitors. There at least three different layers in an average dry-flyline, but the line manufactured by BVG Airflo contains ‘slippery’ materials in the surface layer to reduce drag as the line passes through the rod rings. The line is round in crosssection but of different diameter depending on the position along the length of line, thus creating a taper so that the middle of the line usually has a wider diameter than the ends. Thrilled with the fruits of the partnership with MicroBridge, Richard Wothers, Production Director of BVG Airflo, said: “The multiple ridges running the length of the

line certainly make a dramatic difference in the way it casts. The ridges help the lines glide more efficiently through the air just as dimples on golf balls improve performance. “The patent application is now in place to allow us to retain this performance edge. I have been extremely impressed by how MicroBridge have taken the idea and, through their skill and expertise, helped us turn it into a finished product.” The Ridgeline has been a huge success for BVG Airflo, with sales figures rising by 23% per annum and the penetration of new markets in Japan and North America. The market for micro and nano structured products is expanding rapidly and the next decade will see those companies with the vision to realise the potential of micro engineering dominate the market and maintain the competitive edge. The challenge now facing UK product designers and manufacturers is to identify where advances can be made using micro technology before the rest of the world does. • MicroBridge is part of the XGEN Consortium. For further information please visit

investing in emerging technologies

Extending the Lifetime of our Digital Information Assets The University of Glasgow’s Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) has been at the cutting edge of digital preservation for more than a decade.

Founded by Professor Seamus Ross in 1997, HATII aims to provide an array of flexible tools which can be used to ensure that the vast amounts of digital information created every day, by individuals, organisations and businesses, is effectively sorted, archived, and kept accessible for the future. The wholesale adoption of digital technologies since the internet revolution started in the mid-90s has created instant worldwide communication and the ability to quickly discover, filter and analyse all kinds of information. However, the increased reliance on the availability of data has also created a number of equally notable challenges. Digital data does not last forever, as anyone who has fallen foul of corrupted file systems, failing media or accidental deletion can attest. The hugely accelerated rate of hardware development means that information is also stored on systems which date much faster than our need for the data it holds. A perfect example is the BBC’s Digital Domesday Book, a project undertaken in 1986 to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the original archive. The BBC chose to store the data, which included 200,000 pictures and thousands of maps, on special video discs only readable by custom-built computers. The computers and discs quickly became obsolete, rendering the information inaccessible and useless. Just 16 years after the project was undertaken, the data could only be recovered through the painstaking and costly work of two universities in Leeds and Michigan. The problem is even more acute today than it was in 1986. With the vast and ongoing proliferation of digital information, can we be sure that the pictures we store on will last as long as the pictures in our grandparents’ photo albums, or that our Excel sheets will last as long as the paper ledgers of Victorian businesses? Maintaining the understandability of our digital assets, and ensuring that data can still be rendered, processed, searched or computed by users in the future, is of crucial importance. Professor Ross explains, “Digital preservation is by no means a niche or specialist interest. It’s a fundamental issue that affects every individual, company, academic institution or public office that relies upon the availability of digitally encoded information. Nowadays, that’s pretty much everyone”.

Professor Ross and his team of researchers are at the forefront of an international community of data, computing and information scientists who are dealing with the problem of data preservation and promoting increased awareness of the issue among data creators, curators, developers and re-users, as well as the branches of the legal system which can provide assistance through legislation. HATII has several main areas of research. The department is currently investigating methods to future-proof the interpretability of information, taking into account the potential to share data, among highly diverse and dissociated communities across many years. Researchers at HATII are also interested in methods which can ensure that commercial data which is protected by digital rights management or is distributed using proprietary software remains accessible long after vendors or service providers have ceased trading or discontinued support. Finally, the creation of a structure for the stewardship of data is key. The value of data is likely to long outlive its original creators and curators, and HATII is working to identify a solution which will ensure that information remains accessible for as long as it is required. HATII’s latest software development efforts include the Digital Repository Audit Method Based on Risk Assessment (DRAMBORA), delivered jointly with the UK Digital Curation Centre and DigitalPreservationEurope. Available as an interactive application, DRAMBORA characterises digital curation as a risk-management activity and provides a metric to help those charged with providing preservation services to assess their capabilities, identify their weaknesses, and recognise their strengths. Other HATII development work illustrates the increased role that automated systems must play in data preservation. The ever-increasing scale and complexity of data being accumulated

in so many diverse contexts makes it practically impossible for human effort alone to maintain the necessary preservation infrastructures. At HATII, new tools have been developed to automate the extraction of metadata from digital files. Metadata, or data about data, is an invaluable means to enable the interpretation and continued usability of digital information but until recently it has had an enormous human cost in terms of extracting information from the archived data and inputting it into a sorting system. HATII researchers are working to provide tools which will analyse large volumes of digital content and automatically generate its metadata, making archiving and preservation a much more streamlined and accurate procedure. The department has also established a considerable worldwide reputation for providing training materials for preservation practitioners, an equally essential activity to ensure that real world production environments are aware of the critical importance of effective curation. Internationally attended workshops, the publication of groundbreaking reports and practical manuals and the maintenance of a world class help desk service have further cemented HATII’s position at the vanguard of digital preservation. Professor Ross concludes: “Be under no illusions, this is not work that can be done after the fact. The availability of our history is at stake, and only by ensuring that the preservation problem is well understood and our solutions are robust and appropriate can we avoid the otherwise inevitable information black hole. “We must take action now to leave a suitable data legacy for future generations.” HATII is currently working to explore the commercial applications of its research and software projects with the University of Glasgow’s Dialogues initiative, which aims to foster links and relationships between the University and SMEs. • Businesses or agencies which are interested in more information should contact Dr Fraser Rowan of Dialogues on +44 (0) 141 330 3885 or email



investing in emerging technologies

NanoCentral – the gateway to commercial success through modern material science In a world where products are becoming commoditised in many market sectors, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain competitive advantage. Nanomaterials offer enormous potential to add value to brands, reinvigorate products nearing the end of life and create entirely new products to meet evolving needs. NanoCentral is making things happen in the world of modern material science and is here to help you be part of this new Industrial Revolution. The incorporation of nanomaterials into everyday products is forecast to play an increasingly crucial role across a diverse range of applications and market sectors including plastics, coatings, electronics and healthcare. In a recent healthcare development carbon nanotube scaffolding has been shown to encourage new bone growth. However, the introduction of nanomaterials in the UK is being hampered by a number of issues including: the need to identify a connected value chain that covers all process steps, concerns about health and safety and a significant number of manufacturers unable to connect with the marketplace. NanoCentral is founded on the belief that nanomaterials will make a vital difference to the success of both UK businesses and the economy as it overcomes these barriers to commercialisation. It is here to help companies, big and small become part of the nanomaterial revolution. NanoCentral is an alliance of leading companies created to unlock the vast commercial and societal potential of nanomaterials. It helps forge industry wide collaborations across markets and supply chains and provides access to key enabling technologies, facilities and expertise. Backed by the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, The Centre for Process Innovation and One NorthEast; NanoCentral is based at the Wilton Centre in Teesside, Europe’s largest purpose built research centre. NanoCentral uniquely provides existing and potential manufacturers or users of nanomaterials single point access to an integrated and comprehensive set of nano-related capabilities that encompass:

•Synthesis •Dispersion, functionalisation & formulation •Application development •Characterisation •Safety, health and environmental capabilities NanoCentral is also developing a pipeline of potential investment opportunities in the area of nanomaterials. NanoCentral Technology Providers include: Harman Technology Ltd. • Intertek MSG • Johnson Matthey • Lubrizol Advanced Materials • MacDermid Autotype • Maelstrom APT Ltd. • Printed Electronics Ltd. • SafeNano • Smith & Nephew TSG • The University of Liverpool • Intrinsiq Materials Ltd • Hosokawa Micron • MacDermid Autotype Ltd • Imerys Some Technology Providers obtained UK Government funding to build new capital facilities that are available for use on an open-access basis. These include new facilities at Intertek MSG, University of Liverpool, Intrinsiq Materials Ltd. and Johnson Matthey.

Johnson Matthey – Flame Spray Pyrolysis Process

Johnson Matthey is currently completing the commissioning process for a new pilot scale flame spray pyrolysis process at its Technology Centre at Sonning Common. This one-step combustion process produces nanoparticles from liquid precursors. These range from single metal oxides such as zinc oxide to more complex mixed metal oxides, mixed phase materials or catalysts. Particle sizes can be produced down to sub 10 nanometres and can be controlled through a range of parameters. This production tool allows for rapid preparation of nanomaterials and versatility in material compositions. Johnson Matthey’s new equipment is designed to deliver nanomaterials at 100g/hr, a scale suitable for application

development across a wide range of markets. Open-access means that any company can pay a day-rate of approximately £750 to access the facility, which will be operated by trained Johnson Matthey staff on the company’s behalf. This dayrate is a fraction of the capital cost required to build the facility, and therefore removes a large element of financial risk for organisations wishing to engage in high end nanomaterial R&D.

Nano Zinc Oxide Case Study

During commissioning of the new pilot facility Johnson Matthey has studied the preparation and properties of nano zinc oxide, a commonly available nanoparticle used as a transparent UV barrier in sunscreen, coating and film applications. The new process has produced material with a mean particle size of less than 20nm, and when compared to commercially available nano zinc oxide, the new material has been shown to be a very efficient UV blocker, with the added advantage of enhanced visible light transmission, resulting in improved optical clarity.


As an aid to achieving the objective of connecting the nanomaterials value chain and accelerating commercialisation, NanoCentral have partnered with Intertech Pira to host a major international conference and exhibition, NanoMaterials08, being held in Newcastle on the 7,8 & 9th of July. The conference will feature plenary sessions covering market and technology overviews, and addressing general issues affecting the safe commercial uptake of nanomaterials. In addition there will be four application focused parallel streams, seven workshops and a thirty five stand exhibition. Over four hundred delegates are expected. For further information on NanoCentral and NanoMaterials08 please contact: Allen Reid,, 07798 855 263 Steve Devine,, 01642 442 464

The flame spray pyrolysis lab at Johnson Matthey

investing in emerging technologies


Advances in materials technology help UK to meet global market and social challenges Advances in most technology areas can be linked to developments in materials. The UK has a strong tradition in materials developments which have been continuously supported by both public and business investments in R&D. Materials that support clean technology are critical to developments in improving the performance of conventional energy production and distribution and in ensuring the viability of new, renewable energy technologies such as wind power, fuel cells and photovoltaics. Developments in materials for construction and the built environment are important to improve productivity and to help the industry meet the challenges of energy efficiency and the zero carbon agenda. The UK’s large transport industry demand lighter, safer and more electric vehicles. New materials developments are critical to having a sustainable low carbon transport. Across a variety of information technology and digital applications, the UK leads the way with key developments in materials. For example, organic (plastics) electronics facilitates the creation of inexpensive, flexible devices, and the integration of electronics with fabrics. There is a rapidly growing global industry in solid-state lighting, such as semiconductor light

emitting devices and laser-based lighting. This will have a significant impact on energy efficiency, consuming much less energy for lighting.

Adopting emerging advanced materials technologies Biomaterials for healthcare There are new materials available to meet the growing need for biomaterials and biomarkers to manage and monitor serious clinical conditions over the longer term. There are advances in materials that prevent or minimise microbial cross-infections, e.g. the use of technical textiles to control the spread of MRSA in hospitals. Nanomaterials There is huge scope for innovation and development in nanotechnology, which pervades all areas of materials. Significant progress has been made into responsible research into the application and use of nanomaterials.

Smart materials The concept of engineering materials and structures which sense and respond to their environment has led to a considerable effort world wide to develop new and existing applications using these higher functionality materials. Natural materials As many natural materials succeed in fulfilling more than one function, there is a growing interest in materials research in drawing inspiration from biology known as biomimetics. Advances in materials provide opportunities for the UK to garner and maintain a global leadership position in technological developments.

Dr. Robert Quarshie Materials KTN 020 7451 7300

Applying Nanotech to Life’s Big Challenges Recent years have seen impressive improvements in nanoscale science and technology including new forms of materials and the application of these to a range of problems. Newcastle University’s Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (INSAT) has been at the forefront of developments and has successfully secured a leading international reputation. With a strong emphasis on applying cutting edge nanoscience to real-world problems, INSAT has developed a range of novel electronic, medical and scientific devices as part of a broad portfolio of nanotechnology. This has been achieved in part through a long-standing University commitment to inter-disciplinary working (an essential prerequisite in this field) and partly through the development of a strong network of academic and industrial collaborations. One of the most exciting components of

Figure 1

Figure 2

research at INSAT has been the investigation of the potential of biological molecules for electronics and sensor or imaging technologies. A research team led by Professor Andrew Houlton has successfully demonstrated the use of DNA molecules as a structural backbone for tiny electrical wires in future generations of integrated circuits. Once wrapped with carefully selected conducting polymers or suitable semiconductor materials, these DNA nanowires can be selfassembled into new types of electronics (see figure 1). The potential applications of such a technology are dazzling, with opportunities in advanced computing and flexible electronics particularly promising. The promise of such developments underpinned the recent award by the North-East Regional Development Agency,

OneNorthEast, of a large grant to develop specialised facilities to commercialise this technology. The potential benefits of applying nanotechnology to medicine have long been understood. Within INSAT, a team led by Dr Ben Horrocks has pioneered the use of silicon quantum dots as the basis for a new type of medical imaging. Using an entirely novel manufacturing method, the research team have shown that chemically functionalised silicon quantum dots can be utilised as safe fluorescent markers within biological cells (see figure 2). The application of nanotechnology within more conventional electronics is another strong area of research within INSAT. Recent advances have included the development of new types of electronic devices using novel materials engineered at the nanoscale for challenging new applications, such as extreme environment electronics. Indeed, it is this broad portfolio of activities linked together with a strong multidisciplinary emphasis that has enabled INSAT to demonstrate such strong innovation – translating new scientific ideas into ground-breaking new types of products. Prof Nick Wright INSAT Director


investing in emerging technologies

Raising capital for emerging technologies The relationship between the world of start-ups and venture capital is a complicated one according to David Hunter, executive director of NESTA Investments Institutional investors seem increasingly reluctant to engage with start-ups. Many counter claims from entrepreneurs of a funding gap by pointing to a dearth of viable, investment-ready ideas, while others, like 3i, are actively abandoning the space in favour of quicker returns later in the life cycle. When investors do engage with startups, it can take at least a year for the funding to come through.  Against this backdrop, it’s no wonder that securing venture capital can seem like the quest for the holy grail. The reality for many entrepreneurs is that it’s simply never a consideration. Despite its high profile as a source of finance, only around 2% of start-ups actually use venture capital. For start-ups pioneering innovative new technologies, however, the scale of investment needed to get their idea off the ground means engaging with some form of venture capital is often inevitable. At NESTA one of the companies we backed recently raised one of the largest European funding rounds since the internet bubble, taking its total investment to £15 million but it is yet to be cash positive. This is a good indication not only of the level of investment needed but the time scales inherent in developing new technologies. Few start-ups can expect to be cash positive for at least five years and for many it can take a lot longer. Tetra Pac made losses for 19 years before turning a profit and becoming a multi-billion pound

NESTA portfolio company, Light Blue Optics, has developed a high-quality, low cost, miniature projector that can be built into mobile phones allowing consumers to view images on the move.

business. The level of investment required both in terms of time and capital can seem prohibitive to both investors and entrepreneurs intent on developing an innovative idea into a fully fledged business. Early-stage investment is undoubtedly risky. Returns can take a long time to materialise and some failure is inevitable.  The point is, if you get it right, you can get it right in a big way. So what are investors looking for and how can you attract them? Clearly they’re looking for companies with the potential to win big.  As a minimum, they’ll be looking for an identifiable exit from the investment that could make them ten times their money.  We recently invested £100K in a very exciting start-up called Six to Start, which is developing Alternate Reality Games. The reasons were simple: the business promised to be highly innovative, targeting an early but rapidly growing market; and it had a strong management team behind it with a proven track record in the sector. These are typical of the characteristics investors look for at the early-stage. A large, addressable market (ideally of £100 million or more); a defensible market position (are you the first player in this space? Will you reach the market quicker than potential competitors?); and a strong team.  Clearly the decision-making is not all one way. As an entrepreneur you must also feel that the

choice you are making is the right one. What’s important is not just securing the necessary capital but securing an investor who understands what you are trying to do and is excited by it. The right investor should be able to introduce you to people you would never have got access to yourself, and provide input that has ‘been there, done that’ so can identify both problems and solutions. You need to be clear what you’re getting from the relationship. Most VCs try to differentiate themselves on the basis of the non-financial support they offer so knowing what gaps you need to fill can help you make the right choice. You should also talk to other companies from the investor’s portfolio. An ideal scenario is to be an early investment for a new, large fund from an industry sector experienced investor. They’ll be keen to prove their worth, and have the time and experience to support you, as well as money for followon investment. Investors will typically be more interested anyway when they know they can follow their money and not risk dilution of their shareholding. The bigger their pot to begin with, the more likely this is. When you do engage with potential investors, there are two key things to remember. The first is that you may not be the best person to deal with the negotiations. If you’re not, you need to find someone who can manage this for you. You also need to think about how you value your business.  Raising finance may be the hardest thing you have to do as an entrepreneur – knowing what your company is worth and how much of it to relinquish are very difficult decisions. At the same time, the right deal stands to benefit everyone. You, your investor and, when the idea takes off, the wider economy. For more information on NESTA Investments, go to or email

investing in emerging technologies

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained Warwick Ventures commercially exploits the research successes of the University of Warwick. Through a rigorous commercial selection procedure we protect selected aspects of the University’s intellectual property portfolio.

the UK’s sole entrant, and only non-US company to compete in the Archon XPrize Competition to sequence the human genome.

system integrators and end-users, while liberating budget-holders to secure best value-for-money on commodity cluster components.

Warwick Warp Ltd.

Sarissa Biomedical Ltd.

Since our inception we have created over 40 spin-out companies with a combined annual turnover over of around £11m, employing over 140 people in the region. Through our impressive network of venture capitalists and business angels, we have succeeded in raising approximately £18m for our spin out companies Some examples are:

Unique fingerprint technology Warwick Warp Ltd has developed the first phase of a unique software-based fingerprint identification system which provides a more reliable and faster fingerprint-based method of confirming an individual’s identity, Warwick Warp’s technology is applicable to both high end large scale identification projects (such as national ID card and biometric passports) and also everyday applications including access control, attendance management and financial transactions.

Novel bio-sensors Sarissa Biomedical specialises in the development and production of novel biosensors for the measurement of neuroactive chemicals during in vitro and in vivo studies for research and clinical diagnostic applications. Sarissa has a philosophy of innovation and continual improvement of its products to bring the latest in biosensing technology to the scientific research community.

Base4Innovation Ltd

Concurrent Thinking Ltd.

Rapid DNA Sequencing Base4innovation Ltd was formed in 2007 with the aim of developing a new high-speed, lowcost method of DNA sequencing combining well-known techniques such as single-photon detection, fluorescent labelling and DNA electrophoresis with plasmonic nanostructures and cutting-edge methods of nanofabrication. Soon after, Base4innovation was accepted as

Super Computing Concurrent Thinking develops and markets preconfigured cluster appliances that simplify the deployment and support of High Performance Computing (HPC) systems. By separating out the key functional components of typical HPC cluster systems and embedding these within preconfigured, hardened ‘appliances’, Concurrent Thinking makes HPC technology accessible to

To discuss investment opportunities regarding any of the companies shown or any of our other spin-off companies showcased at, please contact Chris Buck on +44 (0) 2476 575480,

Responsible NanoCode – helping to mitigate the commercial risks of nanotechnology Excitement about the field of nanotechnology is understandable: it heralds potentially huge commercial opportunities for companies in many sectors and sizable returns for their investors However, uncertainty over the potential environmental, health and safety risks of some free engineered nanoparticles, the likely consumer acceptance – or otherwise – of products containing nanomaterials, together with questions about the adequacy of regulation in different jurisdictions are making investors, insurers and re-insurers think carefully before investing in, and insuring, companies involved in this area. 

To help tackle this uncertainty, Insight Investment – one of the UK’s largest investment managers –teamed up with the Royal Society, the Nanotechnology Industry Association and the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network to bring together a group of international companies, NGOs and academics to develop the Responsible NanoCode – a principles-based Code of Conduct that any organisation around the world can adopt – large or small, at any stage of the value chain and involved in any type of nanotechnology. 

The Code is intended to provide potential investors, insurers, consumers and other stakeholders with reassurance that

companies involved in this field are taking their responsibilities seriously in the development, manufacturing, sale or disposal of products using nanotechnologies. Following an international consultation process in late 2007, stimulating contributions from Europe, the USA and Australia, the Responsible NanoCode is currently being finalised and will be launched later this year. “We see significant investment potential in both nanotechnology specialists and other companies using nanotechnologies to enhance their products”, explained Rachel Crossley, Director of Investor Responsibility at Insight Investment. “But we want to ensure that potential risks are ameliorated where possible; we urge all companies involved in nanotechnology – as well as research organisations and universities – to adopt the Responsible NanoCode and be more transparent about their responsible use of this fascinating technology.

 • For more information, see





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