Safety is Key Theme in Finnish Nanotechnology Strategy

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 12:03 pm    Post subject: Safety is Key Theme in Finnish Nanotechnology Strategy Reply with quote

Safety is Key Theme in Finnish Strategy for Nanotechnology Development

Finnish industry clusters and Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) are drawing up a shared strategy on nanotechnology development targets. The safety of nanotechnology applications is one of the key themes.

Leading Finnish companies using nanotechnology and the scientific community in the field will this autumn define the focal areas of Finnish nanotechnology research and development. The targets of further financing within Tekes' FinNano technology programme will be decided based on the joint strategy of the clusters.

"We want the practical implementers to have a say in choosing the target areas of financing. The work began last spring with the creation of a joint vision by the electronics, chemical and forest clusters, and now continues in a more concrete way as the allocation of financial resources," says Markku Lämsä, Programme Manager, FinNano technology programme, Tekes.

The programme's six thematic groups focus on the electronics and forest clusters, nanotechnology processes and instruments, nanotechnology materials and safety. The thematic groups began their work on 30 August. Plans by the groups will first be presented in March 2007 at the annual FinNano seminar, but the work will continue until the end of 2010.

"The aim is to create long-term, highly committed co-operation among top experts using nanotechnology. Therefore it feels natural that research and studies are stretched over a longer period of time," says Lämsä. Safety was selected as one of the themes because the safety risks of nanoparticles have aroused debate particularly among health-care and medical researchers worldwide. Tekes wants to make Finnish companies and researchers aware of safety issues and their development early on in the research process. It is crucial to the industries that the risks and liabilities of adopting new technologies are under control.

"Finnish industries using nanotechnology will significantly improve their international competitive strength when they integrate safety assurance into their routine research and development processes. Nanotechnological research has focused on engineering and material sciences, which is why it does not have a tradition of assessing health impacts," says Professor Kai Savolainen, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, who heads the thematic group on nanosafety. Savolainen was recently appointed as head of a collaborative project focusing on nanotechnology safety and health impacts, which is financed by the Academy of Finland's Research Programme on Nanoscience (FinNano).

Finnish nanoscale expertise, or exploiting molecular-level phenomena in industrial production, is of high international standard. The widespread extent of expertise is manifest in the fact that more than 80 companies using nanotechnology participate in Tekes' FinNano technology programme initiated last year. Tekes' FinNano technology programme works in close co-operation with FinNano.


This story was posted on 5th September 2006.
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