Nanoscience and technology take the limelight in Slovenia

RegioStars 2009 FinalistInnovation pushes ahead in Slovenia as researchers come together from the public and private sector to form a centre of excellence in nanoscience and nanotechnology (CE NS&NT). The centre boasts top level facilities that enable researchers to achieve optimum results for specific projects chosen in collaboration with local businesses. So far, six research institutes and as many as 26 businesses work with the centre.

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Nanotechnology in action for business and research Nanotechnology in action for business and research

“The Centre of Excellence on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology is increasing collaboration between industry and research institutions. One of the most welcome innovative elements of the centre is the sharing of expensive and sophisticated research equipment not only among public research institutions but also with businesses. Another important dimension of the centre is the involvement of the Jozef Stefan International Postgraduate School.”
Professor Dragan Mihailovic, Jozef Stefan Institute

Not only are the participating research institutes and businesses benefiting from the project, students from the local Jozef Stefan International Postgraduate School are also able to make the most of the sophisticated equipment for their own research and to participate in the ongoing research activities of the centre.

Cooperation opens new doors

Insufficient cooperation between public research institutes and businesses is seen as a major obstacle to economic growth in Slovenia. To exploit the potential of this untapped resource, the Slovenian government decided to create a Centre of Excellence in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology which would rely heavily on this form of cooperation.

By giving businesses access to the highly expensive equipment used for nanoscience and nanotechnology research, new opportunities have opened up for more advanced basic and applied research, development and testing activities.

The centre has bridged not only the public-private divide but also the disciplinary divide – research activities cover physics, chemistry and electronics. Before, public financing for cross-disciplinary research was practically unheard of, being available only for basic and applied research of a particular scientific field.

Raising skills across the board

Six research institutes and 26 businesses came together for six major research projects.
The projects are coordinated by the research institutes and the businesses involved as potential end-users provide funding. In some cases, the businesses also participate in the research.

The six projects cover: nanoelectronics and equipment for nanotechnology; synthesis of nanoparticles and nanocomposites; nanomaterials in electrochemical systems; nanostructured surfaces and layers; synthesis of 1D inorganic nanostructures and bionanostructures; characterisation on nanometric scale.

The ability to share the modern testing equipment has increased the motivation of industry partners, who previously viewed cooperation as a burden rather than a benefit. The project is also raising the skills among industry researchers and providing grounds for participation in research for postgraduate students and young researchers.

The team has recently applied for new funding from the ERDF for the 2010-2013 period. This will help to improve the centre’s facilities and give them the possibility of competing with some of the best nanoscience and nanotechnology facilities in Europe.


Draft date

16/12/2009