Northwestern Switzerland has established a new concept that will lead to innovation and growth in nanotechnologies. Led by the canton of Aargau and the visionary concept of leaders at the University of Basel, an effective value-added chain called ‘NanoChain’ has been established. This breakthrough guarantees findings made in basic sciences are transferred into industry, and that researchers are aware of needs in companies.
Recent years have shown that academia and industry benefit from these newly established networks and that they are an important step in making maximal use of the potentials of nanotechnology. The current worldwide market for nanoproducts exceeds $15bn, with an annual growth rate of almost 15 percent. The ‘SwissNanoLeadership’ will make its own substantial and sustainable contribution to this growth.
The region of Basel in Northwestern Switzerland is one of the leading regions worldwide in nanotechnology. This is where NanoChain has been established: it starts in the laboratories, leads to companies and finally to new products on the market. The innovative hub of this NanoChain is the Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI) at the University of Basel, with its affiliated institutes at the University of Applied Sciences and other research organisations such as the Paul Scherrer Institute.
Here, basic nanoscience lays the foundation stone for innovation. Two other public organisations (i-net innovation networks and the Hightech Zentrum Aargau) are responsible for the transfer of these scientific innovations into industries and for the information exchange between research and industry. Their efforts often lead to common research projects between the SNI and companies.
…basic nanoscience lays the foundation stone for innovation
Each year, approximately eight research projects on various aspects of nanotechnologies are carried out in close collaboration with industry and the SNI. The topics range from new treatments of caries, tailored bone-specific transplants, devices for the screening of active pharmaceutical devices and innovative textiles, to novel semiconductors and novel pigments for solar cells. As experts at the SNI come from different disciplines and have outstanding knowledge and experience of nanoscale sciences, a huge variety of possible questions can be dealt with.
i-net innovation networks – and, more specifically, its nano network, i-net Nano – take care of companies that are already experienced in nanotechnology. The circle of industries that might benefit from the potential of nanoscience is constantly increased by the activities of the Hightech Zentrum Aargau. Experts individually evaluate the opportunities of nanotechnology and the challenges faced in different companies, and link them with the SNI and other partners.
Northwestern Switzerland is but one region of a highly innovative country, where excellent science meets outstanding industrial competence and power. Numerous global companies (such as ABB, Actelion, Alsthom, BASF, Clariant, DSM, Lonza, Novartis, Roche and Syngenta) are located here and have made the region known for life sciences, chemistry and manufacturing. The NanoChain, with its components SNI, i-net innovation networks and the Hightech Zentrum Aargau, will help to realise the full potential of Northwestern Switzerland in nanotechnology.