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Posted: April 28, 2008

Astute Nanotechnology celebrates first year of success

(Nanowerk News) University of Queensland-based Astute Nanotechnology will celebrate the achievements of its first year in business with a special presentation and cocktail reception tomorrow Tuesday, April 29.
Astute Nanotechnology creates opportunities for industry partners to access the expertise and resources of scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials (ARC CFN).
Located within the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at UQ, Astute Nanotechnology is a trading business of UniQuest Pty Limited, one of Australia's leading technology transfer companies for public sector research.
A highlight of Astute Nanotechnology's first anniversary celebration will be an address by world-renowned academic and founding director of the ARC CFN, Professor Max Lu. His presentation will promote the ‘clean-tech' innovations being developed by his team of scientists at The University of Queensland, the University of NSW, the Australian National University and the University of Western Sydney.
Dr Richard Taylor, a director of the Australian Nanotechnology Alliance (ANA), will offer the closing remarks. The event is supported by the ARC CFN, ANA, AIBN and UniQuest.
UniQuest's Managing Director, Mr David Henderson, said Astute Nanotechnology had achieved an impressive record in its short life, including 18 scientific disclosures and nine patent applications.
“Astute Nanotechnology is connecting industry partners with university researchers for what is now being called the ‘dot.watt' boom. The clean-tech industry is estimated to be worth more than $150 billion, with global investment in clean energy alone experiencing 60% growth in the past year or so. All kinds of industries are keen to invest in the development of alternative energy sources and smarter water treatment systems,” Mr Henderson said.
“As the current debate on climate change has shown, the need for research on how best to overcome existing environmental problems and prevent further degeneration is greater than ever. We are pleased to support Astute Nanotechnology in bringing commercial partners closer to finding solutions that will enhance the value of their products for consumers and the environment.”
One of the innovations developed by Professor Lu's team is Lightanate, a technology which uses photocatalysts to harness the energy of visible light.
Photocatalysts speed up chemical reactions when exposed to light. They are recyclable, potentially renewable, non-toxic and versatile. The Lightanate technology can harness up to nine times more available energy than existing photocatalysts and be applied to a range of processes, including water treatment and air purification.
The technology has been licensed to a start-up company of the same name to attract investment. Last year, Lightanate was a finalist in UQ Business School's prestigious $100,000 Enterprize business plan competition.
Astute Nanotechnology's Manager of Innovation and Commercial Development, Dr Fouad Haghseresht, believes Lightanate Pty Ltd has the potential to become a global manufacturer and supplier of photocatalysts, with commercial sales possible within two years.
“Lightanate's lower operating costs and ability to treat persistent pollutants will make adapting to clean-tech systems more appealing to many different industries. One of Astute's major objectives for our second year of business is to secure investment and manufacturing partners so we can advance the technology transfer as soon as possible,” said Dr Haghseresht.
“We are currently engaging with industry and seeking regulatory approvals, hoping to commence manufacturing trials for the Lightanate technology within 12 months.”
Other ARC CFN projects for which Astute Nanotechnology will be seeking commercial partners focus on such challenges as ethanol conversion, photovoltaics and membranes for clean coal technology, catalytic conversion of oils to fuel, encapsulation technologies for environmentally-friendly pesticides, and bone substitute materials to improve long-term outcomes for orthopaedic patients.
ARC CFN is a world-class research centre and a partnership of The University of Queensland, the University of NSW, the Australian National University and the University of Western Sydney, supported by the Australian Research Council.
Astute Nanotechnology coordinates commercialisation activities for the ARC CFN, including establishing collaborations and partnerships; securing investment; negotiating and managing licenses and research contracts; and facilitating consultancy services.
The ANA is a business intermediary which aims to foster entrepreneurship and commercialisation between nano stakeholders; advise all levels of governments on the dramatic impact nanoscience and technology have on current and future products and turn-of-the century industrial processes; build national economic growth; and bring recognition to the sector.
UQ's AIBN is an integrated multi-disciplinary research institute bringing together the skills of world-class researchers in the areas of bioengineering and nanotechnology. Its primary research and development focus leads to new products, processes and devices for improving human health and quality of life.
Source: University of Queensland