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Posted: April 2, 2009
Forum showcases Illinois' role in nanotechnology
(Nanowerk News) Illinois has become a hotbed for nanotechnology and a forum on April 21st will explore how to expand the state's role in the emerging sector. U.S. Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), Chair of the House Science and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, is participating in the event, which has been has been organized by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, iBIO, TechAmerica and the Illinois Venture Capital Association. It will be held at the University of Chicago's Gleacher Center from 9 a.m. to noon.
NanoNow: An Illinois Science & Technology Forum will bring together researchers, investors, business leaders and others engaged in what often is called molecular manufacturing. Nanotechnology is a branch of engineering that designs and creates materials and tools at the atomic and molecular levels. It holds promise in many industries including the quest for more powerful computers and communications devices as well as for medical-science applications.
"Nanotechnology is the next industrial revolution, and Illinois is one of the leaders in nanotechnology research," said Rep. Lipinski. "This forum not only will highlight our state's accomplishments, but it will also help us explore how we can use existing Federal and State resources to advance the Illinois economy." Rep. Lipinski holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University, a master's degree in engineering-economic systems from Stanford University and a PhD in Political Science from Duke University.
"It's critical that we do all that we can to help ensure that America and Illinois lead the way in nanotechnology innovation," said Dennis Sienko, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition. The Coalition seeks to increase resources for Illinois-based research and development activities to foster economic development and position the state as a global science and technology leader.
Illinois a Top State for Nanotechnology
Investment in nanotechnology in Illinois is not a new phenomenon, which is demonstrated in the diversity and scope of research and development in the state. According to a May 2007 survey by Small Times magazine, the State of Illinois was ranked eighth on its list of leading nanotechnology states and fourth specifically for research and education in nanotechnology. The survey also reported the strength of Illinois lies with its network of centers and laboratories, making it an "unparalleled multi-disciplinary environment for cutting-edge basic and translational research."
Illinois also has six leading nanotechnology research institutes, including the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, both at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University; The University of Chicago's James Franck Institute; the Center for Nanoscale Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical Manufacturing Systems, a partnership of five universities including the University of Illinois and Northwestern; and Argonne National Laboratory's Center for Nanoscale Materials.
Illinois is already a leader for high-tech jobs, adding 2,400 jobs in this industry in 2007. According to TechAmerica and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois ranks No. 7 in high-tech employment. Forty-two of every 1,000 private sector workers in Illinois are employed by high-tech firms.
Three Panels to Discuss Nanotech Aspects
At the NanoNow forum, three panels will focus on various aspects of nanotechnology and how it affects Illinois.
The first panel will determine the essential ingredients for a state or region to meet the needs of nano-businesses as well as any specific barriers or limitations in Illinois that inhibit such operations.
The second panel will concentrate on what government and institutional policies, programs and facilities are essential to facilitate the commercialization of nanotechnologies. What near-term enhancements would help encourage more investor opportunity. It also will look at what competitive advantages Illinois can bring to bear.
The third panel will explore what is needed to enhance the state's research profile, to better leverage existing assets and to encourage greater public/private collaboration.