Centre for BioNano Interactions launches €7 million EU FP7 FutureNanoNeeds Project
On 9th January 2014, in one of his first official duties as UCD President, Professor Andrew Deeks, welcomed an audience of international guests to a two-day launch meeting of the €7 million EU FP7-funded project, FutureNanoNeeds, led by Professor Kenneth A. Dawson and colleagues at the UCD’s Centre for BioNano Interactions (CBNI). The President emphasized UCD’s role as an international research University, that enjoys its role as at the forefront of research, policy initiatives, teaching and training of researchers. Professor Deeks also highlighted the fact that the FutureNanoNeeds project is one of the first projects of its kind, aiming to look far into the future potential richness of nanomaterials, and their applications, rather than focus only on familiar first-generation materials. As seen in the picture below, the range of nanostructures is almost unlimited, and currently there is little understanding of their potential. Specifically, the project will seek to understand those classes of materials that may more rapidly be of value, manufacturable in industry, safely applied, and translated more simply and successfully into useful products in consumer and medical applications. FutureNanoNeeds will also develop a framework to name, classify, and provide some early hazard and environmental impact assessment.
To launch the project, a number of keynote speakers were in attendance including Dr. Françoise D. Roure (Technologies and society, French High Council of Economy and OECD WPN) and Dr. Gernot Klotz (CEFIC, Executive Director Research and Innovation). These speakers provided an economic and industrial context to the project. Current investments in nanotechnology are significant, but Dr Roure sought to clarify how these investments led not just to short, medium but also the long-term impact, including broad industry and national economic benefits.
The high standard of nanotechnology research in Europe was underlined by Dr. Klotz, who highlighted that 30% of all nanotechnology-related patents are held within Europe. Dr. Klotz stated that Europe faces many challenges such as employment, climate change, health and ageing, which are being impacted by nanotechnology applications. It is envisaged that nanotechnology-based projects, such as FutureNanoNeeds, have the potential to lead changes in economy and society, and to initiate global market opportunities and the development of novel value chains. Furthermore, the development of these nanotechnologies as a whole will deal with these societal challenges head on.