A scanning probe
microscope used to image
nanoscale structures.

Wales is to become home to what is thought to be Europe’s first centre for NanoHealth, to be built at Swansea University.

The €24.3m (£21.6m) Centre for NanoHealth has been given the green light after securing more than €11.3 (£10m) from the Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government.

The new Centre for NanoHealth will bring together the expertise of clinicians, life scientists, engineers and industry to develop cutting-edge technologies and devices for the benefit of patients everywhere.

These nanoscale technologies, for example, will enable researchers and scientists to apply engineering methodologies to successfully build, repair tissues such as cartilage and skin using advanced cell culture techniques including adult stem cell methods.

The Centre for NanoHealth will include business incubation space, and open-access nanotechnology and biomedical research and development facilities. This will enable businesses to fully realise the potential of nanotechnology innovation in healthcare from conception to commercialisation.

Dr Chris Wright, portfolio director for Process Engineering and Senior lecturer at Swansea University explains: “By applying techniques typically used in process engineering to regenerative medicine, we are able to not only predict and control the way cells and structures behave, but test these before they are reintroduced or implanted in the body to give better results in healthcare applications.”

Announcing the funding in Swansea, Deputy First Minister for Wales, Ieuan Wyn Jones, who is also the Minister for the Economy and Transport, said: “Support for innovation and the growth of our knowledge-based economy are essential if we are to help companies deal with the current downturn and ensure Wales is in a strong position to take advantage of the economic upturn.

Swansea University vice-chancellor Professor Richard B. Davies said the new centre builds on the university’s strong track record of working closely with private industry, and effective working relationships established between the new School of Medicine and the NHS.”

Professor Steve Wilks, co-director of the Centre for NanoHealth and Deputy Head of the School of Engineering said: “Nanotechnology is widely considered to be the next big thing; with markets associated with nanotechnologies projected to exceed €1.9 trillian ($2.5 trillion) within 15 years. We are at the leading edge of Research and Development in this field.”

The Centre for NanoHealth is forecast to assist around 400 companies, of which more than 300 will be small and medium businesses in Wales.