Scots Universities 'Missing Out' on Nanotechnology Cash

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 11:27 am    Post subject: Scots Universities 'Missing Out' on Nanotechnology Cash Reply with quote

THE authors of a new report have warned Scottish universities are in danger of missing out on commercial returns in nanotechnology.

Marks & Clerk's Nanotechnology Report claims the rapid growth of patent applications in three key areas of nanotechnology in the United States and the Far East is not being matched closer to home.

The trademark attorney, which has an office in Edinburgh, claims that universities here are not filing enough patents in nanoenergy, nanoelectronics and nanotechnology in health and personal care.

However, experts at Edinburgh University today played down the report saying patents were only one way of measuring the successes of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is the study of technology the size of atoms and molecules, which is used in sectors as diverse as renewable energy, tissue engineering, medical implants and sunscreens and cosmetics.

In nanoelectronics, among the top 30 players accounting for about half the total number of patent families, only eight per cent were filed by European applicants, compared with 24 per cent from the US and 51 per cent from Japan.

A similar picture emerges in nanoenergy, where there were 398 priority applications for nanoenergy patents in the US from 2000-2005, but the figure in Europe was just 30 per cent of that.

The comparative dearth of patent applications in Europe comes despite record levels of investment in research, particularly from public funds.

Paul Chapman, the Edinburgh-based partner in Marks & Clerk, said: "A benchmark used by venture capitalists in giving out money is looking at a university's or a company's intellectual property position. If they see a large number of patents then they are more likely to invest.

"The university may have a strong position in nanotechnology, but if they don't file the patents they are not showing that to the world and will lose out to the Far East and the US."

Dr Rhian Ganleese, co-author of the report, said: "Whilst it is good to see significant public investment in Europe, the low number of patents filed shown by our report gives serious cause for concern. European institutions and companies may be forgoing their claim to commercial returns by not filing patents on their research."

David Leigh, Forbes professor of organic chemistry at Edinburgh University, said successful commercial returns on nanotechnology could not be measured in patents alone.

He argued: "Patents are just one measure of activity. Europe is one of the major players in nanotechnology, with Scotland in particular having a very good international profile.

"We may not be so quick to patent things but another measure of our success could be the number of spin-off companies which come out of our universities, compared to places like India and China."


This story was originally posted on 9 May 2006.
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