Rusnanotech 2008

 
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:55 pm    Post subject: Rusnanotech 2008 Reply with quote

Russia shows Europe how to showcase nanotechnology achievements, while pledging $10 billion to gaining leadership in nanoscale research and commercialization.

‘Our aim is to double the contribution of high tech to GDP’.

Across Europe, country after country has tried to establish the nanoscience and nanotechnology event, where the latest research, applications, innovations and commercial successes are exhibited to an open-mouthed public; unfortunately with little success. While the rest have toiled year after year, Russia has quietly organized and pulled off one of its greatest post-glasnost coups by giving us Rusnanotech 2008.

The Rusnanotech conference and exhibition opened in a purpose-built conference centre in Moscow on December 3rd with a fanfare and glitz that would have done justice to the annual Superbowl in the States. A string of top politicians pledged their commitment to nanotechnology across seven screens to an audience of over 3,000; their message was reinforced by a stream of Russia’s leading scientists. Mr Medvedev himself came with his minders to add his weight to the powerful message that Russia was determined to be a world player in this new technological field.

According to reports, the conference and exhibition was attended by over 7,000 people in total; and over 300 overseas delegates registered for the conference from over 30 countries. Many seemingly ‘ordinary’ Muscovites were interested in ‘having a look at nano’; and there was no time during the three days of the event that the exhibition was not bustling with curious individuals. Paradoxically, although many of the Russian exhibitors demonstrated exciting innovations, from a nanocomposite harp to inkjet painting and advanced microscopy, bizarrely the Germans stole the show with their stand with their sophisticated exhibit of a ‘transparent’ car, which attracted Muscovite crowds like flies to a honey pot, although what it had to do with nanotechnology was never quite explained!


The German Stand at RusNanoTech with the Glass Car

Even though Germany managed to create a minor stir at the exhibition, the whole event absolutely belonged to Russia. The organization of the conference was faultless; the huge and complex programme ran like clockwork; each session had external televisions and sound; there were press rooms, information stations, earphone stations; food was good and served spot on time. There was a huge poster exhibition and Russian and English translations for each presentation worked seamlessly. All of this was icing on the cake, albeit important icing, on a very exciting and informative scientific and technological event. The ratio of indigenous to external delegates at the conference was about 1 to 100, and those that did attend from overseas must have been chosen for their ability to contribute effectively to the meeting.


The first plenary session at Rusnanotech

The exhibition itself was rather more homespun, but what was exciting was the huge interest that it engendered. Few nanoexhibitions have attracted so much interest outside Japan or the States, and possibly none have attracted interest from outside the conventional nano community, involving ‘real’ people.

The programme itself seemed at first sight to be an eclectic mix of themes, but on greater examination was very clearly fixed on topics of direct relevance to the host country. There were two main strands, a business programme and a scientific programme. Both programmes covered nanotechnologies for energy, especially oil and gas, photonics, electronics and machinery – where Russia is seeking new solutions to old problems. In particular, the need to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and replace it where possible with nuclear was a constant theme.

Foresighting was also a key area as Russia is seeking an insight from other countries on how to formulate an appropriate strategy for the future. The scientific programme was truly heavyweight, cutting across materials, electronics, energy, medicine showing that Russian scientists are no slouches in producing high quality research – the trick they have to master is to turn that research into economic success.

The early speeches at the outset of the conferences reinforced Russian desire to invest and partner in areas where they are strengths, and catch up in areas where presently the science is lagging. They acknowledged that security of IP was an area which in the past had been neglected, and that also the value of standardization was to be recognised.

The key message was that Russia is prepared to invest hugely in gaining economic benefit through nanotechnology, the aim is to double the contribution of high tech to the Russian GDP while not ignoring the importance of social projects for example in medicine. The key challenges are seen mainly as those of human resources (education) and an infrastructure to support innovation. A pledge was made that tax incentives and every possible encouragement will be put in place to realise these aspirations.

Ottilia Saxl
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