IBM and the Bulgarian government last week officially announced their cooperation in the area of nanoscience and a deal for IBM to support the creation of what will be the first Bulgarian nanotechnology center.
The General Framework Agreement signed today defines the scope of cooperation between IBM and the Bulgarian government and ways to encourage industry, universities and the Bulgarian Academy of Science to work together in the emerging field of nanoscience. The government's three-year program is aimed at creating different nanoproducts, micromachines and microsystems.
In a separate commercial agreement also being signed today, IBM technology and business consultants will assist the Bulgarian government in establishing a new nanotechnology research facility which will use state-of-the-art equipment to explore and develop new innovations in nanoscience. To enable the computing-intensive projects, the new laboratory will draw on IBM's Blue Gene -- the most powerful Bulgarian supercomputer, owned by Bulgarian State Agency for Information Technology and Communications
"Realising high-tech projects like this is key in the current environment when it is important to not only focus on short-term measures, but to also create the basis for future recovery," said Plamen Oresharski, Minister of Finance, Republic of Bulgaria. "We have a window of opportunity right now to transform industry to become more technology intense. This will not happen automatically, but requires dedicated effort, part of which is the current agreement with IBM."
"Today's agreement is a true step forward for Bulgaria and for its partnership with the United States," said Nancy McEldowney, US Ambassador to Bulgaria. "It positions Bulgaria as a leader in innovation, opening up many new possibilities and extending the horizon for both of our countries."
Once the center is created, its Bulgarian government intends to conduct applied research in the following areas:
- Microfluidics and nanofluidics - to gain a better understanding of cells and tissues and other biological specimens to support drug toxicity testing and the development of new medicines.
- Nanosystems for electronics and sensing - using nanoscale sensors and actuators to support the development of point-of-care diagnostics, environmental monitoring (such as atmospheric pollution analysis) and security.
- Nanomaterials - advanced virtual substrates for compound semiconductors which could pave the way for future, nanoscale electronic circuitry.
"Bulgaria's important step into the world of nanoscience creates a global opportunity for the country and the region," said Marcelo Lema, General Manager, IBM Central and Eastern Europe. "IBM has been a leader in nanoscale science for many years and our participation in this project will support the accelerated success of the Bulgarian Nanotechnology Center. We see this type of collaboration as an emerging model for future industry-academic partnerships."
Due to be completed next year, the Bulgarian Nanotechnology Center will occupy nearly 500 square meters of laboratory space and will support researchers and engineers working in close collaboration with Bulgarian universities.
"According to Lux Research, nanotechnology will impact $2.9 trillion worth of products across the value chain by 2014," said Alex Rakov, Country General Manager, IBM Bulgaria. "I am extremely proud that IBM will help Bulgaria to be at the forefront of this trend and further support its efforts to become a knowledge based economy."
Nanotechnology is the field of applied science focused on the reliable and repeatable design and control of the structure of very small objects. The length scales range from the atomic to the macroscopic -- generally, from one to 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter -- roughly 100,000 times thinner than a human hair. Nanotechnology is expected to spark advances in various fields. These include advanced functional materials, nanoelectronics, information and communication technology, sensing, tools, healthcare and life sciences, and energy technology. Nanotech applications in the energy sector for example which ensure more efficient use of solar energy, or new ways of purifying or desalinating water, may even help tackle some of the biggest challenges of our time.