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quarta-feira, 18 de julho de 2012

Science minister: Investment in nanotech key to Turkish tech industry

Science and Technology Minister Nihat Ergün urged continued investment in Turkey's growing nanotech industry at the 2012 Gebze Nanotechnology Workshop this weekend, stating in his keynote speech that “the field of nanotechnology carries tremendous value, given that it can be utilized in industries from medicine to electronics, energy to agriculture.”

Nanotechnology … makes it possible to change the very foundations of the substances we use in everyday life,” Ergün said of the field, which has grown significantly since the government's first $120 million grant and the creation of the state-funded National Nanotechnology Research Center (UNAM) in 2005. In the past seven years, dedicated nanotechnology research divisions attracting large private donations have opened in universities across Turkey, including science heavyweights Bilkent University, Ankara University, Sabancı University and Middle East Technical University.

In April of 2011, Turkish scientists at Ankara University garnered international attention when they manufactured the longest and thinnest nanowires ever made, using specially developed methods for shrinking matter by a factor of 10 million. Researchers at Ankara, in conjunction with colleagues at Bilkent University, later published their findings in the science magazine Nature Materials, arguing that the method might one day help create more efficient solar technology as well as DVDs and hard drives of dramatically higher capacities.

The growing sophistication of Turkish nanotechnology programs, Ergün said, is in line with a growing number of products worldwide that incorporate nanotech in their design and construction. Ergün cited a 2011 study by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., that studied 175 different “nanoproducts” and concluded that by 2015, the global annual market for products using nanotechnology will total $2.4 trillion, an 11 percent increase over 2011.

The minister's bullish predictions for Turkish biotech come amid the country's own ambitious plan to become a top-10 economy by 2023, aiming to increase its gross domestic product (GDP) from $1.1 trillion to over $2 trillion in the next 11 years. “The success we've had in the past few years shows that we can be successful in reaching this impressive goal,” the minister said. Ergün argued that a key part towards achieving that goal will be to strengthen the country's once-lackluster investment research and development and reverse the brain drain of Turkish graduates seeking funding for research in the EU and US.

One critical development in reversing a decades-long process of brain drain was a 2007 decision by the EU to allow EU science funds to be allocated to universities in candidate countries, which Turkish officials say has helped strengthen domestic science programs and keep researchers in the country. Ergün nonetheless argued over the weekend that Turkey should do more to convince its researchers to stay home. “We'll be talking to [Turkish] scientists,” he said of the ministry's plans to attract talent back to Turkey.

Fonte: Today's Zama