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Huge things in pipeline for future nanotechnology in Aust

18 July, 2007

Australia's nanotechnology is expecting further growth with the establishment of a $21.5 million (US$17.8 million) National Nanotechnology Strategy, announced by Prime Minister John Howard and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane.

The four year strategy is part of the Australian Government's $1.4 billion Industry Statement which also includes tax breaks for R&D investors by extending eligibility for the 175% R&D tax concession.

Changes to the beneficial ownership test, effective since 1 July 2007, allow companies to claim the tax concession for R&D projects undertaken in Australia, even if the intellectual property is held offshore. This will make it more attractive for multinational enterprises in technology intense sectors to establish or expand operations in Australia.

Australia's nanotechnology community is comprised of 65 nanotechnology companies and around 90 individual research groups, faculties, facilities and centres from research institutes across Australia. The local industry has increased significantly over the past three years, with the number of companies and research institutes increasing three-fold.

"Nanotechnology is a tiny technology with massive potential. It will have a significant impact in the 21st century, just as information technology had in the 20th century," said Fred Welz, Invest Australia's Senior Investment Commissioner for North America.

"Consumers are already benefiting from Australian nanotechnology products without even knowing it - from plastic bags that keep salads fresh in the supermarket, to cosmetics and water treatment solutions. This practical solutions-based technology offers investors exciting commercial opportunities," said Welz.

The Australian Government is committed to developing a globally-focused nanotechnology capability and is continuing to develop measures that will increase investment into this emerging industry.

"Nanotechnology has the potential to transform manufacturing, energy, environment management, electronics and communication by introducing new processes, products and services that could be worth up to A$50 billion [US$41 billion] over the next decade."

"The Government is investing $21.5 million to ensure Australia captures the full benefits of this exciting technology while addressing health, safety and environmental issues."

With the global market for nanotechnology estimated to be worth US$3.6 trillion over the next decade, Australia recognises the importance of its local industry continuing to be competitive in this emerging technology and ensuring that Australia has world class businesses based on world-class innovation. Nanotechnology is increasingly becoming an integral part of transforming other industries and helping them to become more globally competitive.

Australia's world-class nanotechnology strengths include energy-related technology, nano-bio, and across water-treatment and environmental nanotechnology research. Australia's Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation, CSIRO, has undertaken over 40 separate nanotechnology projects and over 60 nano-focused companies have emerged in the past five years. CSIRO's new A$36.2 million (US$30million) Niche Manufacturing Flagship will focus on developing nanotechnology applications, including high-value manufacturing industries such as scientific equipment and instrumentation and medical devices.

Australia has a reputation for scientific and technological creativity, and its powerful network of nanotechnology research organisations and companies is ensuring a rich flow of commercial products.

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