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Bitter Setback for the European Nanobiotechnology Sector

Following four years of successful work, the funding programme for the European Network of Excellence Nano2Life is to be discontinued.

The largest European network in nanobiotechnology Nano2Life will be pulling out all the stops again, at the meeting to be held in Brussels on 26.2.2008 for European Commission collaborators, scientists and political scientists, to present its achievements and to urge for an extension of its successful work.

Nano2Life is made up of 23 leading organisations from different life-science disciplines, which are working in the nanobiotechnology sector. Intelligent implants, lab-on-chip systems, bioindicators, cancer treatment and many other ‘nanomedical’ applications constitute the fields of research in which approximately 400 research workers from 12 different states, including Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, and even Israel, are engaged. Up to a few years ago, the European nanobiotechnology sector was disconnected and splintered into separate disciplines, institutes and work groups.

The Network of Excellence Nano2Life was created in 2002 with the help of the European Commission in order to be able to compete with research associations, for example, in the USA or in Japan. The objective was to overcome this fragmentation, to unite the key players in the European nanobiotechnology sector and for them to work together to meet the challenges of interfacing the ‘nano’ and ‘bio’ worlds.

“It was hard work explaining to the scientists that the primary function of Nano2Life is essentially networking and not the financing of specific research projects” commented Patrick Boisseau, Coordinator of the network. Such a structure was completely new to many researchers, as was the idea of multidisciplinary conferences. In many cases, chemists, biologists and physicists must first find a common language in order to be able to solve a problem together. Young scientists were the first to understand and take advantage of the opportunities offered and have eagerly taken part in international network conferences, research meetings and internal competitions. In fact, it is these newcomers who have left their mark on the network, creating the exceptional ‘Nano2Life spirit’: a stimulating, almost intimate, work environment which embraces all disciplines and which ensures a particularly open and innovative exchange of information. “Imagine that only two young scientists from different disciplines and different institutes attend a meeting and, a few years later, these two young scientists set up a company together.

The products and jobs which could be created in this case would easily recover the investment in Nano2Life” - a summary of the Nano2Life vision proposed by a young Swedish graduate preparing for his doctorate. Numerous publications and meetings, 44 new joint research projects as well as a highly reputed work group overseeing ethical issues testify that these aspirations are not set too high.

The funding programme of the European Commission is to be discontinued in September 2008 and many members of Nano2Life fear that the system of exchange established between the ‘nano’ and ‘bio’ worlds, between the organisations and countries taking part and between the work groups will fall apart again. Therefore, it is hoped that the forthcoming meeting in Brussels will draw attention to the issue and encourage deliberations on the prospect of continuing the existence of Nano2Life.

Venue of the meeting is the Stanhope Hotel, 9, Rue du Commerce, 1000 Brussels. The meeting will take place from 2.30 pm to 5 pm and end on a lighter note with a get-together. A press conference will be held from 1.30 pm to 2.30 pm. The event will be webcastet live:

Matthias Mahlmann | alfa
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