The Ministry of Science and Technology has planned to launch two nano technology institutions next year as joint ventures with the private sector, the ministry said.
Under the project, two institutions, named NANCO and the Sri Lanka Institute of Nano Technology (SLINTEC) will be set up.
NANCO will be the holding company that will own the nano park proposed to be established in Homagama.
State of the art laboratories will come up in the park to facilitate private sector companies and other research institutions, the Ministry said yesterday.
SLINTEC, the research institute, will be a joint venture with the private sector. Private sector will invest 50% to set it up and this investment will decide on the salaries and other emoluments to the professionals who will join the institution.
It will conduct research programs directly focused on upgrading the industrial products, initially our main industrial exports. Any innovation of SLINTEC will be used by the private sector partners of the institute. The investment of the project is Rs. five billion.
"The major advantage Sri Lanka tend to gain in this new technology is the human resources we have," the Secretary to the Ministry A.N.R. Amarathunga was quoted as saying.
Some of the world's top nano scientists are Sri Lankans who will extend their support to the project. Professors Ravi Silva and Gihan Amarathunge will join from the beginning. Prof. Silva is due here by next month (January).
Prof. Silva is presently attached to the University of Surrey and is one members of the five member consultative committee of the UK government on nano technology. Prof. Amarathunge is in the University of Cambridge.
"Sri Lankan nano research will initially focus on industries such as apparel, rubber, ceramic, chemical products such as paints, activated carbon, mineral and herbal products which are the main industries in Sri Lanka.
Nanotechnology research will enable these industries to face the risk and compete globally. For instance our apparel industry is catering for high end niche markets and we are competing in quality and not in volume. Nano technology can be used to produce high quality apparel products. In rubber industry too we can add more value to our rubber products, the Ministry said.
Nano technology is a vast area and can be applied in every industry, Amaratunga said. The private companies that will join the project are MAS Holdings, Brandix, Jinasena, Dialog and Sri Lanka Telecom. Some countries have agreed to technically support the project.
Some universities and research institutes have already started training scientists in nano science. SLINTEC will be initially located at Biyagama and later shifted to the nano park in Homagama. once the construction work is completed, which will take around two years," he said.
"This is the first time the corporate private sector will collaborate with the government in research and development.
Nanotechnology is a new breakthrough in science and if we grab the opportunities at the very beginning the country will benefit immensely. We missed the industrial revolution, electronic revolution, bio revolution and the IT revolution.
Many developing countries successfully utilised these technologies in their economic development.
Our objective is to be a leader or at least an equal partner in nano research, Amaratunga said.