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Wales invests in $1 trillion ‘Doctor Who’ technology

Nanotechnology was once the preserve of science fiction shows like Doctor Who or Star Trek – but not any more.

Wales is investing in the research and development of this new technology that could be worth more than $1 trillion worldwide in less than a decade, First Minister Rhodri Morgan told an international conference of scientists in Cardiff today.

The First Minister said:

The development of micro and nanotechnology could rival the industrial revolution in terms of the new opportunities it creates. This is an exciting time, continuing the natural miniaturisation process that we have seen over the last few decades and taking it to an entirely new level.

Nanotechnology once only existed in the science fiction worlds of Doctor Who and Star Trek – but the reality is that it is with us today and dramatically re-shaping our world.

The market for Microsystems to create better, smaller and newer machines is predicted to more than double from $12 billion in 2004 to $25 billion in 2009, and hit $1 trillion by 2015.

Micro and nanotechnology is opening up the potential for a generation of new and radically enhanced products in areas as diverse as medicine, optical telecommunications, aerospace and textiles.

I’m determined that Wales is not left behind and that is why the Assembly Government is committed to assisting companies develop these systems in Wales.

The First Minister was addressing the 4M Network Conference in Cardiff, attended by more than 150 scientists from 30 research institutions across Europe.

The 4M Network includes Cardiff University’s Engineering Centre (MEC) which is co-funded by the Assembly Government. Its purpose is to conduct world-class research and development in all areas of advanced manufacturing and to put what they have learned into practice in industry.

Three of the UK’s foremost centres focussing on the use of this new technology in next generation manufacturing are based in Wales – the UK Laser Micromachining Centre at Bangor University, MicroBridge based at Cardiff’s MEC and metalFAB at Cardiff University.

A micro and nanotechnology academy has been established, centred at Cardiff University and incorporating Swansea and Bangor Universities, Further Education Colleges in Bridgend, Carmarthen and Wrexham, and the Skills Sector.

Assembly Government support also includes the management of Technium Optic based in St Asaph, a joint venture with the Welsh Opto-electronics Forum.

The First Minister said:

Micro-technologies are essential to economic success, providing not only positive financial results but real solutions to many medical, social and environmental problems.

The Assembly Government currently fund three projects, two at Cardiff University and one based at the St Asaph Technium Optic, which contributes significantly to the research and development base within Wales and ensures that Welsh businesses have access to state-of-the-art facilities.

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