Israel, Germany join forces in nanotechnology boost

Countries budget €30 to fund projects, with Israel saying it aims to move its nanotech industry from mostly research to application

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Visitors discuss nanotechnology at the Ben Gurion University booth at NanoIsrael 2014 (Photo credit: Courtesy)
Visitors discuss nanotechnology at the Ben Gurion University booth at NanoIsrael 2014 (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Israel and Germany have set up a new three-year, €30 million plan to promote joint nanotechnology initiatives and are calling on companies and entities in both countries to submit proposals for funding for projects in this field.

The program will support joint projects and aims to boost cooperation between companies and research centers in the nanotechnology sector in Israel and Germany.

“Nanotech is the industry of the future in global hi-tech and Israel has set a goal of becoming a leader of this field, while cooperating with leading European countries,” Ilan Peled, manager of Technological Infrastructure Arena at the Israel Innovation Authority, said in a statement announcing the plan.

In the past decade nanotechnology, seen by many as the tech field of the future, has focused mainly on research. Now, however, Israel’s Innovation Authority, which has set up the joint program with Germany, believes the next decade will focus on the application of this research into products — and countries are keen to set up the right ecosystem that will draw companies operating in this field to them.

Avi Hasson, head of Israel Innovation Authority (Courtesy)
Avi Hasson, head of Israel Innovation Authority (Courtesy)


“We are expecting to see more and more nanotechnology developments quite soon in new products and in existing products, which will change and improve these products immeasurably,” the Israel Innovation Authority said in the statement. “Israel, which understood the huge potential of this technology over a decade ago, has become one of the world’s leaders in the field of nano research.”

Over the last decade, the country has focused on creating a “robust research foundation that can support a large industry,” the authority said, with six academic research institutes that are among the world’s most advanced.

In addition, the authority said, there are about 200 new startups that were established over the last decade in the field, many in the development stage.

Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary field that can improve existing technologies in the energy, medicine, environment, commerce, electricity or textile sectors. Manipulating matter on atomic, molecular and supramolecular scales, the technology changes the laws of physics, allowing glass to become five times stronger than iron, and iron six times lighter, the authority said. Nanotechnology can make heavy ceramic body armor into stronger than steel and six times lighter than the military armor in use today. Nano-based fabrics with silver particles can kill bacteria in clothes and prevent infections and odors.

The field is already impacting clothes manufacturing, medical equipment and food, but is expected to impact even more in coming years as it is further applied to industrial uses.

“This is going to be an enormous revolution and will enrich industries around the world by billions of dollars,” the statement said, with wide possibilities for industrial applications in this field.

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