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Posted: April 11, 2009
New nanotechnology network established in the Middle East
(Nanowerk News) The 10 Middle Eastern and central Asian member states of the Iran-based Economic Cooperation Organisation have approved the establishment of an ECO Nanotechnology Network in Iran.
This was announced at the 10th Summit of the 10 member states of the ECO -- Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - held in Iran's capital Tehran on 11 March.
The ECO Nanotechnology Network will be charged with strengthening research capacity in nanotechnology in the Middle East and Central Asia through connecting national nanotechnology institutes, researchers, scientists, engineers, and policy-makers from member countries of the ECO, promoting the continuous exchange of knowledge and research results.
The network will set up a website and establish a nanotechnology database listing institutions, scientists and their respective capabilities, and research programmes, within these neighbouring regions. It will also launch a public awareness programme promoting nanotechnology.
In cooperation with the ECO Transfer of Technology Centre, the ECO Science Foundation, as well as the standing committee on scientific and technological cooperation of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, ECO-NAN will promote nanotechnology applications for tackling poverty and achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals.
In particular, these will include the production of cheap sustainable energy, developing better methods for disease diagnosis and treatment, cleaning polluted water, enzyme biosensors that can monitor soil or crop toxicity, and 'nano-magnets' that can clean up oil spills by attracting oil.
The initiative will be coordinated by the Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council, which will provide training, consultancy and laboratory facilities for joint research activities.
Iranian technology transfer expert Mohammad Taeb of Islamic Azad University said ECO-NAN could be considered as ideal model for mainstreaming regional organisations in promoting South-South cooperation.
Taeb, a former coordinator of the science and technology programme at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Japan-based United Nations University, said ECO-NAN had immense potential to develop the capacity of the ECO member countries in using nanotechnology in their health and environment sectors.
Another opportunity would be developing their capacity to protect their economies against cheap nanotechnology product imports that could replace trades in their traditional materials and natural resources
Nazar Mohammad Halim, of the faculty of science of Kabul University in Afghanistan, welcomed the network: "It will help ECO's member states pool resources to ensure access to scientific information and technical knowledge about nanotechnology."
This could ease uneven development in nanotechnologies between developed, developing and emerging market countries, Halim said.