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11/05-11   -   Press releases

Surrey Professor helps set up science centre in Sri Lanka to boost new hi-tech economy

A professor based at the University of Surrey has helped to launch a new research centre in Sri Lanka which will concentrate on nanotechnology – the science of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale which is a length scale of one billionth of a meter.

Professor Ravi Silva FREng, Director of the Advanced Technology Institute, said: “Through nanotechnology we want to make products manufactured under the Sri Lankan label to be high tech, high quality products."

Nanotechnology is expected to make most products lighter, stronger, cleaner, less expensive and more precise by better understanding the molecular make-up of materials and products.

The NANCO company will own the Nanoscience park at Homagama in Sri Lanka, which will be one of the first in the world in this cross-disciplinary field and has 56 acres of land for development, is expected to contribute significantly to national economic development.

It aims to help increase Sri Lanka´s high-tech value added exports from 1.5% to 10% by 2015 through commercialisation of Nanotechnology.

Today nanotechnology has become the common language among scientists of different fields. It is rapidly becoming an interdisciplinary field and biologists, chemists, physicists and engineers are all involved in the study of substances at the nanoscale.

The Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) – was set up in 2008, and has been a successful model for Public-Private Partnership. It is where scientists from various disciplines meet with private sector industrialists and get the chance to share their expertise to solve problems and issues in their research and development.

Professor Silva commented: “The public-private partnership to solve real world problems in a synergistic manner such that the benefits to society are maximised, with experts from both groups unified by a common purpose, working under the same roof has never happened locally".

"The creation of critical mass teams, with diverse discipline expertise, working in close proximity was the philosophy behind in establishing the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey. Scientists had laboratories scattered all over the university premises and with everyone working in a framed environment on their own research project/problem. Therefore it was decided to put up one centre for all scientists working in electronic and photonic devices to share their experience and to conduct research on global challenges. As a result the Advanced Technology Institute was set up in 2002, which has already given rise to many significant achievements. “

"This 50:50 combination of public and private partnership has today become an extremely robust collaboration in the Sri Lankan science arena which has given brilliant results within a very short period of time. “

Dr Peter Marshall, Director of Student Recruitment at surrey added: ´We are delighted with this exciting development which builds on Surrey´s long and successful relationship with Sri Lanka. We currently have 53 Sri Lankan students studying at the University, mostly in engineering subjects, including the popular MSc in Nanotechnology and Nanoelectronic Devices. The traffic is not just one way. Staff visit the country several times each year and Surrey students starred on the recent Sri Lankan TV programme Ideators´.

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