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NanoKTN announces second BlueSkyNano Award Scheme to assist product development in advanced materials

UK materials community encouraged to submit entries for research grants at ANSIN, Queen’s University Belfast.

The Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN), one of the UK’s primary knowledge-based networks for Micro and Nanotechnologies, is pleased to announce a partnership with ANSIN in launching its second BlueSkyNano awards scheme. ANSIN is an advanced materials research and development centre set up as a collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast and Seagate Technology based in Northern Ireland who manufacture 2 million read-write heads per day and provided the £9M starting resource.

BlueSkyNano was established by the NanoKTN in 2010 to fund feasibility studies aimed at new product development or product enhancement, and the awards aim to encourage interaction between industry and academia. Focused primarily on innovation in nanomaterials, it covers application areas in ICT, sensors, environment and energy, medicine and high value manufacturing, and aims to establish a recognisable brand for UK industry.

Working closely with the NanoKTN to enroll industrial partners, ANSIN, a state-of-the-art centre for advanced materials development at Queen’s University Belfast, is offering up to five awards with a total value of £30,000 to companies with projects that match ANSIN’s aims and have future commercial potential. Awards will be provided in the form of ‘vouchers’ for work to be carried out at the ANSIN centre, with up to 10 days work allocated per award winner. The award winners will be given access to highly advanced facilities to manufacture products such as thin film coatings with expertise provided by Seagate Technology in non-competitive sectors.

ANSIN specialises in electronic and magnetic materials, coatings, sensors and photonics and in addition to pilot plant for deposition, boasts a cleanroom for photolithographic fabrication, and extensive microscopy and metrology facilities.

BlueSkyNano provides companies with limited resources access to world class research, expertise and facilities. By encouraging research into relevant applications, the NanoKTN aims to provide successful uptake of new technologies vital to the wealth creating power of the UK, by developing and launching real innovative applications.

"The BlueSkyNano scheme opens up advanced research facilities to companies in order to ‘try out’ new ideas using nanotechnology. The awards not only allow new ideas to be explored, but can also forge mutually beneficial relationships between industry and academia. These links between market-focussed entrepreneurs or inventors, and the expertise and specialist facilities offered by Universities, are vital for bringing innovative nanotechnology-enabled products to market." explains Dr Martin Kemp, Theme Manager at the NanoKTN.

Dr Kemp continues, "Nanotechnology can create a competitive edge for existing products, or create completely new concepts, and this can protect or enhance market share – essential for success in the competitive global economy. The NanoKTN is pleased to be working with ANSIN and we look forward to seeing what the future brings for this year’s winners."

The call for applications is now open and will close on the 31st August 2011. To apply, download and complete the application form at www.qub.ac.uk/mp/con/ansin/blueskynano.

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