March 15, 2013, 7:46 pm
By Mario Andree
Nanotechnology has the advantage of creating better value added products but local conglomerates are not capitalizing on research work carried out by local nanotechnology experts, although international businesses are showing more interest in their work done in Sri Lanka.
With the country focusing on high economic growth, the government has identified 50 acres in Homagama to establish a Nano Tec Zone to promote private sector investment.
With the Sri Lanka institute of Nano Technology (SLINTEC) showing progress, and after it sold the Intellectual property right of one of its key findings, Nano Fertilizer to a Indian fertilizer producer, a pilot project to commercialize titanium oxide using local soil has been launched.
SLINTEC Chief of Research and Innovation Prof. Gehan Amaratunga addressing a recent forum organized by the Institute of Policy Studies said that the institute was showing encouraging progress. According to him, one of patents had been sold to a Indian fertilizer producer for testing, the first ever IP sold outside of Sri Lanka.
Nano Fertilizer has been a successful project which can cut down fertilizer use and increase the average yield. After the lab and green house tests, it has gone through a successful field test.
He said Sri Lanka was a major exporter of row iron titanium oxide (FeTiO3) and was also a major importer of titanium dioxide (TIO2). The import value of TIO2 out paces the export of raw FeTiO3. SLINTEC has tested the creation of TIO2 and a pilot project of commercializing TIO2 is in progress.
He said that Nano Technology had the advantage of creating better value added products which the local producers could benefit from, however local conglomerates are not capitalizing on the research of the local professionals though international businesses are showing interest.
Further he said that the country had no risk capital scheme to support entrepreneurship in latest technology and highlighted the need of good venture capitalists and risk capitalists to support new product development.
Senior Minister for Scientific Affairs Prof. Tissa Vitharana stressed the need for innovation for the country’s development drive.
Institute of Policy Studies Executive Director Dr. Saman Kelegama said "The Sri Lankan Economy cannot achieve faster growth and sustain it without a heavy focus on exporting knowledge-driven goods and services with innovation at its core. In an increasingly troubled external economic environment, Sri Lanka will need to develop world-class products by a world-class workforce."