The agreement represents a common effort to promote entrepreneurship and to boost, in the framework of the nanoBasque strategy, the development of a new industrial sector in the Basque Country that would be enabled by nanotechnology.
Bic Gipuzkoa Berrilan will scan and identify new projects and ideas that could be candidates to become nanotechnology-based business initiatives. Bic Gipuzkoa Berrilan will also investigate the feasibility of the existing proposals and will offer advice and guidance to entrepreneurs with the aim of maximizing success.
NanoGUNE will host the nanoincubator, where entrepreneurs will be able to start their activity. Entrepreneurs will benefit from the ongoing world-class research and state-of-the-art scientific equipment at nanoGUNE.
The nanoincubator has space to host 5 entrepreneur projects. The first new company to be hosted at nanoGUNE is Graphenea, a start-up company created in April 2010 with the mission of commercializing graphene wafers as well as developing graphene-based processes and conducting related research activities. Graphene, first obtained at the University of Manchester in 2004 (this yielded the Physics Nobel Prize of 2010), is a one-atom-thick planar sheet made of carbon atoms and their bonds, which is essentially an isolated atomic plane of graphite and exhibits extraordinary electronic and mechanical properties.
Compromised with the local industry and following the success of the 1st nanoBusiness Workshop organized in November 2009, ADEGI and nanoGUNE have organized a new workshop putting together nanotechnology research and industry. The workshop, open to the participation of Gipuzkoan and Basque Companies, intends to bridge the gap between science and application, inviting companies to get exposed to the benefits of nanotechnology.
The objectives of the workshop include:
- Introduce the basics of nanotechnology and why it is identified as one of the most disruptive new technologies.
- Present the framework and scope of the nanoBasque strategy to promote the introduction of nanotechnology in Basque companies.
- Introduce the activity of nanoGUNE especially those actions directly oriented to the promotion of nanotechnology in Basque companies.
- Establish an open discussion with companies that are already in the process to incorporate nanotechnology to their business.
- Open a framework for discussion in order to develop links between science and industry.
- 10:30 Welcome – Angel Castrillo, ADEGI.
- 10:35 «Nanotecnología: ¿sensacionalismo o realidad?» Pedro Miguel Etxenike, CIC nanoGUNE.
- 11:15 «NanoGUNE: el gran reto de lo pequeño» José María Pitarke, CIC nanoGUNE.
- 12:00 «Estrategia nanoBasque: una visión de futuro» Agencia nanoBasque-SPRI.
- 12:15 NanoCompanies Forum:
- 12:15 Graphenea, Jesús de la Fuente
- 12:30 Maier, Jabi Sobrado
- 12:45 GKN Driveline, Alex Roteta
- 13:00 Visit to nanoGUNE facilities.
- 14:00 End of the Workshop.
Free entrance, but registration is necessary. Use this link to register.
The word ‘nano’ is in fashion. What is the reason for the boom in nanoscience over the last few years? What impact does nanotechnology have on people’s everyday life?
It was little over two decades ago when human beings began to be able to manipulate matter atom by atom and imitate nature in the self organisation of systems at a nanometer scale. And it has precisely been the ability to manipulate material at this scale, the scale of atoms and molecules, which has awoken the imagination of all, from scientists to the most sensational journalists, and has produced the ‘nano’ explosion. The potential is extraordinary. Nanotechnology is already impacting our lives with mobile telephones, computers, electronic books and cutting edge hard drives, but this is nothing compared to the nanotechnology revolution which may still be on its way. There is no industrial sector which cannot benefit from the development of nanotechnology, in particular, one of the fields in which more hope is placed is in medicine, in which nanotechnology could represent a strong revolution in the manner in which we deal with diagnosis and the treatment of illnesses.
In this context, the Basque Government made an important commitment to this field with the start up of the nanoBasque Strategy. What is the position of the Basque Country in the world map of nanoscience and what can it contribute?
Science and technology demand long term investments with a view into the future. The Basque Government made a commitment years ago with a wise decision to support nanotechnology and fortunately continues committed today. Diverse initiatives driven by the nanoBasque Strategy (not only the launch of nanoGUNE, but also the start up of collaboration programmes between research groups from the Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC), the UPV/EHU, Tecnalia and the IK4 Research Alliance), combined with the incorporation of new researchers through the Ikerbasque programme, are allowing us to gain a position which is becoming more and more visible in the world of nanoscience. We will continue competing and collaborating with laboratories from all over the world until we find the space that will allow us to offer something different. This is the big challenge of the small.
What profits will the strong public commitment to nanotechnology have for Basque society now and in the future?
We should not let ourselves get carried away by a short term profitability. Investing in bricks and mortar was very profitable in the short term, but we have seen that it was not in the long term. What is most profitable is training and attracting the best professionals and creating the culture that is needed so that the work of these professionals can be transformed into ideas, employment and wealth for the country. The commitment to nanotechnology is founded on its horizontality, on its capacity to impact the most diverse sectors. Nanotechnology will help us, undoubtedly, to open new industrial sectors that are knowledge intensive, and we also hope that, thanks to nanotechnology, our traditional companies will be able to provide added value to their products, making them more competitive in a global market. Nanotechnology will provide us with new materials, new properties, and a reduction in the consumption of raw materials and energy. Nanotechnology will give us more for less. How could we possibly stay on the sidelines of a long-awaited revolution?
CIC nanoGUNE began in 2009 to promote research in nanoscience. What human resources and scientific infrastructures does it have? What are its main areas of research?
NanoGUNE currently has 74 researchers and technicians working on nanomagnetism, self-assembly, nanooptics, nanobiotechnology, nanodevices, electron microscopy, theory, nanoimaging, and nanomaterials. In addition, at nanoGUNE we are promoting research in collaboration with groups at the DIPC, the UPV/EHU, Tecnalia, and IK4 in nanomagnetism, polymers, photonics, graphene, and cementitious materials. As for the infrastructure, we have a 1,500 square-meter basement divided up into a cleanroom and 15 laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art tools. We have techniques for the deposition of nanomaterials and nanolithography, equipment to manufacture nanoscale structures, characterisation techniques to analyze the technological potential of nanostructures, and an advanced electron-microscopy platform which, at the service of the Basque Science, Technology, and Innovation Network, has positioned us as world leaders in this type of infrastructures.
What is your evaluation of the scientific dimension which the centre has acquired since its inauguration? What research projects would stand out as the most relevant at this stage?
Infrastructure and the training of the research team, we can say that all our initial goals have been gone beyond all expectations. Not only have we developed in a record time an infrastructure comparable to those of the best nanotechnology centres in the world and have we been able to attract researchers that are well recognized in their respective fields, but also during the three years that the centre has been in operation we have advanced significantly in all fronts: we have published in the very best research journals, we have solicited patents, we have initiated research projects with companies under contract and we have been able to launch, along with an investing group, our first business initiative, Graphenea, with the aim of manufacturing and selling graphene, the two-dimensional material which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. Among the most relevant research projects we can highlight the design of a new microscopy technique that analyses several nanostructures and its properties in three-dimensions, and the development of new electronics based on the spin (intrinsic moment of rotation) of the electron. These are extraordinarily innovative projects which are developed in the frontiers of knowledge and are being financed by the European Research Council with almost 1.5 million Euros each for a period of five years in the framework of the Starting-Grant prestigious programme.
The centre has acquired three new pieces of equipment for its electron microscopy laboratory. What possibilities have been opened now for CIC nanoGUNE with these installations and how can the new laboratory interact with the centre’s other research units, with the rest of the nanoBasque entities, and with the international scientific community?
The advanced electron-microscopy laboratory puts us as world leaders in this type of infrastructure, not only because of the characteristics of the microscopes but also because the laboratory is run by leading researchers in the field who are capable of exploiting this cutting-edge instrumentation to the limit of its capabilities. The laboratory is the fruit of a collaboration agreement with FEI, leading company in the manufacturing of scientific equipment, an agreement which, in addition to the acquisition and installation of the tools, includes the development of certain joint research projects funded by FEI. The laboratory includes a high-resolution transmission electron microscope which allows for the visualisation of individual atoms and the characterisation of nanostructures in relation with its function, an environmental scanning electron microscope that is specially suited to analyse samples in humid conditions and is of special interest in applications related to nanofluidics and nanomedicine, and a dual-beam (ion and electrons) focused ion beam which operates as a real three-dimensional nanostructure factory with a resolution that is not accessible with other techniques. The start
up of the advanced electron microscopy laboratory has been extraordinarily profitable for nanoGUNE’s research, having given way to an excellent scientific production which we have published in top journals like Nature, Nature Materials, and Nature Photonics. In addition, the laboratory is at the service of research groups outside nanoGUNE; in fact, we have promising collaborations which we hope will increase in the near future.
A new theoretical research group has been created. Can you tell us what its composition and mission inside the centre will be?
The leader of the theory group, Emilio Artacho, joined us in October last year. Emilio Artacho, who had a professorship at the University of Cambridge, is an expert in the development of methods to simulate the electronic properties of materials at a nanometer scale. I have no doubt that Emilio, because of his knowledge and versatility, will be able to launch a research group which, in addition to developing new methodologies on the frontiers of knowledge, will generate synergies and new ideas among the experimental groups. Besides this group, we also have the incorporation of Mato Knez, from the Max Planck Institute in Halle, Germany, who has started up a new research line in the synthesis of nanomaterials based on the use of atomic-layer-deposition techniques in which he is a recognized international expert, and in September, Nacho Pascual, professor at the University of Berlin, joined us to lead a laboratory dedicated to probe (tunneling and atomic-force) microscopies, allowing nanoGUNE to go from being a user of these techniques to becoming a centre of reference in their development.
CIC nanoGUNE has consolidated itself as a reference in research in the Basque Country, with top level installations and a human team of dozens of highly qualified researchers. How do you see the centre in the future?
NanoGUNE aspires to become an international reference in nanoscience and nanotechnology which should stand out not only for carrying out research of excellence at the frontiers of knowledge but also for playing a key role in the incorporation of nanotechnology to the Basque business fabric and for its leadership in the staging of an efficient cooperation among different agents in the Basque Science, Technology, and Innovation Network.
Interview with Jose Maria Pitarke, Director General of CIC nanoGUNE,published at www.nanobasque.eu.
The event will take place on November 12 at 15:00h at the University of Deusto (Bilbao Campus). 11 entrepreneurial projects in the biosciences-health field, including Evolgene, will be presented to investors.
Evolgene combines knowledge of industrial biotechnology, advanced materials and nanosciences for the development, production and sale of high quality nanocellulose using an exclusive patented biological technology. Nanocellulose is a biomaterial with application in multiple industrial sectors including pharmaceutical, food, cosmetics, electronics, packaging, etc. in which its properties of high strength, lightness, biocompatibility and sustainability make it competitive with plastic polymers. There are also high added value applications in tissue and organ engineering, where nanocellulose is being adopted as a support in 3D tissue bioprinting or in bioelectronics. Evolgene was founded in 2018 as a spin-off from CIC nanoGUNE.
At the inauguration of the new headquarters of Graphenea have been present the deputy general of Gipuzkoa, Markel Olano, the mayor of Donostia-San Sebastian, Eneko Goia, the director of the company, Jesus de la Fuente, and the director of nanoGUNE, José M Pitarke, among other distinguished guests.
Graphenea was founded in 2010 as part of a joint venture of nanoGUNE with a group of private investors with the purpose of manufacturing and commercializing high quality graphene wafers and developing technologies based on this material. At present, the company based in Donostia is a world leader in the sector, with 14% of the global market share. Its turnover reaches two million euros in a market with a great potential for growth.
The new facilities have required an investment of three million euros, and include a clean room and a pilot plant of graphene oxide that can produce up to one ton of this material per year. Graphenea currently employs 25 people, mostly women.
The beauty, gastronomy and cultural life of San Sebastian are some of the most outstanding assets of our small city. Nevertheless, following the last virtual issue in ACS nano, San Sebastian also stands as a city of science and technology, specially devoted to the nanoscience field. The present work highlights the contribution of the nanoscience community of San Sebastian to nanoscience and technology.
As described in the editorial of this issue, some of the main representatives of the nanoscience community in San Sebastian stand together, namely, the Nanoscience Cooperative Research Center (CIC nanoGUNE), the Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC), the Basque Center for Macromolecular Design and Engineering (Polymat), the Center for Cooperative Research in Biomaterials (CIC biomaGUNE), the Technology Centers Cidetec, CEIT, and Tecnalia, and the Health Institute Biodonostia along with the Centro de Física de Materiales (CFM), a joint initiative of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC).
This research force has contributed considerably to ACS Nano with more than 100 publications during the past decade, some of which have already had significant impact and are highlighted in this virtual issue.
As reported by the authors “This collaborative work has been combined with our commitment toward industrial development of nanotechnology both locally and worldwide, which has led not only to an increase in top-notch industrial research in our community but also to the launch of a number of promising nanotechnology-based start-up companies”.
The entities highlighted above, express they are confident that, with the continuous and synergetic support from Spanish and Basque authorities, the research activity in the area of nanoscience and nanotechnology will continue to flourish in our beautiful city.
GraphenePioneer will be able to take advantage of a customized acceleration program between June and August 2020 organized by BerriUp —experts in business acceleration—, CIC nanoGUNE —the Basque Nanoscience Co-operative Research Center—, and Graphenea —nanoGUNE’s first start-up and a world leader in graphene production—. Thanks to the collaboration between these three organizations, the company will benefit from personalized coaching to boost the marketing of its graphene-based products.
This is the first time that CIC nanoGUNE, BerriUp, and Graphenea have joined forces to promote a call, the Global Graphene Call, designed to develop business ideas linked to graphene.