The sixth biannual EuroNanoForum – which takes place in Dublin this week – is set to "showcase Ireland as a hotbed of nanotechnology research, innovation and investment", according to Enterprise Ireland's Dr Liam Brown.
The largest event of the Irish EU presidency, Dr Diarmuid O’Brien, executive director of Ireland’s leading nano-science institute Crann, says the event will be a “major chance for Irish researchers”.
They will seek to attract investment through the European Commission-backed €70 billion Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework which is being launched in January.
“It’s an opportunity for Irish industry and academia to put themselves in the shop window,” adds O’Brien, who notes that over the past decade, the global market for nano-enabled materials has grown from “from $420 million to almost $300 billion”.
Dr Brown is national delegate for the commission-sponsored Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies programme.
He says the EuroNanoForum 2013 – which begins tomorrow and sees more than 1,400 delegates from across the continent gathering at the Convention Centre for three days of seminars and talks – is important to attract further attention to the opportunities nano-science presents in terms of “computing, health, energy, the environment and many other areas”.
"A lot of that work in those areas is done here. In Ireland we're ranked sixth in the world per capita in terms of performance in nanotechnology," Dr Brown tells The Irish Times.
"We have active researchers across all the Dublin universities as well as the Tyndall National Institute in Cork, the University of Limerick and NUI Galway. "
Among the highlights of the event will be a speech from Tapani Ryhänen, who is head of Nokia’s sensor and material technologies laboratory.
He is set to talk about how graphene – a substance which is said to be harder than a diamond yet also incredibly flexible – can help revolutionise the design of mobile communications.
The event coincides with national Nanoweek, which runs until June 21st, celebrating the contribution of nano-science to the economy.
As part of the event, a gala dinner on Wednesday will feature two Irish-based projects vying for the EuroNanoForum Best Project Award.
Dr Syed A M Tofail, from the Materials and Surface Science Institute in the University of Limerick is being recognised for his BioElectricSurface project.
The NanoInteract project from UCD’s Kenneth Dawson and Iseult Lynch is also among the 11 nominations in total which were gathered from dozens of entries throughout Europe.
The BioElectricSurface project successfully demonstrated how "nanotechnology could enable new knowledge critically needed for breakthrough medical device technology", with Dr Syed already developing durable, washable, photosterilisable MRSA resistant textiles which are currently being licensed.
Meanwhile, the aim of Dawson and Lynch’s NanoInteract research is to ensure that nanotechnologies do not cause inadvertent harm to human or environmental health at any stage of their lifecycle.
On Thursday, the Convention Centre will open its doors to the public for the Nanotech Europe 2013 Magical Materials exhibition, from 9am to 2.30pm.