Big award for tiny technology

19 Nov 2009 11:03:00.000

PA 298/09

A University of Nottingham spin-out company has won a major award for its ground-breaking work in eco-friendly nanotechnology which is pushing the boundaries of green energy and healthcare.

Promethean Particles won a prestigious Business Innovation Award at the UK NanoForum and Emerging Technologies Conference 2009. The award recognises pioneering developments in nanotechnology and helps companies further their research and launch commercially viable applications.

The company won the award for the development and manufacture of dispersed high-specification inorganic nanoparticles which have uses in green energy storage, for example making solar cells more efficient, and in the healthcare industry. The firm was founded on innovative research by Dr Ed Lester from the University's Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering in collaboration with The School of Chemistry and Dr Sandy Gordon, a Business Science Fellow.

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This successful collaboration between chemists and chemical engineers generated a reactor that allows the highly-controlled creation of nanoparticles in water. This is a safer, greener and cheaper production method which has wide-ranging high-tech applications from electronics to the healthcare industry.

Reacting to the award, Dr Ed Lester said: “It’s been a good year for Promethean overall and this is a significant win for the company, against some stiff competition.

Over the last 12 months we’ve been working with partners on some exciting new applications that are enhanced by the integration of our nanoparticles. Promethean’s production technology uses water as a solvent for the continuous production of dispersed nano-sized product. The fact that we are using water, rather than an organic solvent, gives it a major ‘plus’ on sustainability grounds. Our products are liquid-based pre-formulated materials (i.e. ready for use) which also sidesteps the problems associated with handling dry nanopowders.

Most people believe that the nano-enabled industry is still in its infancy and that society will see more as higher quality nanomaterials (with enhanced properties) make it from the lab-scale into the to full scale industrial production. Promethean already has a scalable technology, ready to meet this demand, so we are looking to new challenges in 2010.”

The award was presented at this year’s UK Nanoforum & Emerging Technologies conference which drew more than 450 delegates from the UK and overseas, was hosted by the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN) and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)

Established by the Technology Strategy Board, the UK NanoForum is one of the major industry events of the year with over 250 one-to-one meetings and international organisations attending from some 19 countries including Taiwan, Sweden, India, Portugal and Japan. The event provides delegates and exhibitors with a platform for discussion on how nano and emerging technologies can and will create future wealth to the UK and Worldwide.

Lord Davies of Abersoch, the Minister for Trade, Investment and Small Business said: "Here in the UK we have a truly first-class record of innovation. The country’s most forward-thinking companies are helping to shape the future and secure our future prosperity. I am determined that the UK should remain a world leader in innovation. With the support of UK Trade & Investment, this event provides a platform for trailblazers who want to take their business to the world."

Director of the NanoKTN, Alec Reader said, "Widespread commercial uptake of emerging technologies is vital to the wealth-creating power of the UK, and nanotechnology is leading the way in driving the future wealth of UK economy. The Business Innovation Awards recognise positive developments in nanotechnology and actively help businesses to further develop and launch commercially viable applications."

— Ends —

Notes to editors:

Pictured holding the Business Innovation Award trophy is Dr Sandy Gordon of Promethean Particles.

The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.

The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.

 Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives ( in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.

About NanoKTN:
The NanoKTN facilitates the transfer of knowledge and experience between industry and research, offering companies dealing in small-scale technology access to information on new processes, patents and funding as well as keeping up-to-date with industry regulation. The four broad areas that the NanoKTN focuses on are: Promoting and facilitating knowledge exchange, supporting the growth of UK capabilities, raising awareness of Nanotechnology, and providing thought leadership and input to UK policy and strategy.

About Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs):
Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs) are national networks in specific fields of technology or
business application, which bring together people from businesses, universities, research, finance, the public sector and technology organisations to stimulate innovation through
knowledge exchange.

Funded by the Technology Strategy Board, their activities play an increasingly important role
in the development of the Government's technology strategy, and help to feed and drive the
Collaborative Research & Development Programme and other innovation interventions.
There are currently 24 KTNs with a total membership of about 25,000 people.
For further information please see

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More information is available from Dr Ed Lester on +44 (0)115 9514974


Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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