The Right Honourable Kenneth Clarke, QC, MP has opened new premises at Nottingham Science Park for Promethean Particles, a University of Nottingham spin-out business which specialises in manufacturing particles as small as a billionth of a metre.
Nanoparticles are used in a diverse range of industrial applications including automotive, electronics, healthcare and green energy, because they enhance performance and functionality in products. In coming years, products based on nanotechnology are expected to enter the consumer markets in large quantities.
A $1.6 trillion market
The market for goods incorporating nanotechnology is forecast to reach $1.6 trillion by 2013. Global sales of nanoparticles alone has been estimated at around $2.9 billion and is growing at a rate of 20 per cent per annum.
Professor Ed Lester from The University of Nottingham, developed the technology behind Promethean, which is a process to manufacture nanoparticles suspended in hot pressurised water. Promethean was launched as a University spin-out business in 2008.
Earlier this year, Promethean secured £500,000 of private funding. This has enabled the business to move on from its premises in BioCity Nottingham into two larger units at the Nottingham Science Park where it can increase its manufacturing capabilities and expand its staffing.
In addition to the investment funding, Promethean Particles, was also successful in securing a European research project called SHYMAN (Sustainable Hydrothermal Manufacturing of Nanomaterials) which is worth more than £7 million.
Several end users of nanomaterials will also be working with Promethean and the University as part of the pan-European project, including Fiat, PPG and Repsol. Each business is looking to have specific nanomaterial developed into commercial products in a variety of applications ranging from coatings to composites to healthcare.
Increased manufacturing capacity
The 2000sq footage of space which the two new units will provide will enable it to manufacture 10 tonnes of nanoparticles per annum on site.
Speaking about the move to the new building, Professor Barry Stickings, Chairman of Promethean, said: "This is a very exciting development for us. The move to the Nottingham Science Park means that we are able to expand the scale of our manufacturing, work on new projects and recruit new staff.
"This has been a very eventful year with us, with significant new funding coming into the business from our investors. We have also won a number of large contracts such as the European SHYMAN project, and secured work for customers in this country and in countries such as the USA, Japan and South Korea."
Although still small, Promethean is also creating a number of new jobs and has doubled its staffing levels from three to six in the last six months alone.
Economic recovery is reliant on SMEs like Promethean
Speaking at the event, Ken Clarke said: "I'm delighted to be officially opening these new premises, which will give Promethean the space it needs as it grows. The recovery and future success of the British economy is reliant on SMEs like Promethean Particles."
The University of Nottingham is still the largest shareholder in Promethean Particles. The company is one of 28 spin-out businesses from University of Nottingham research, in which the University has an equity stake.
Opportunities to invest in other spin-outs
Dr Susan Huxtable, Director of Intellectual Property Management and Commercialisation at The University of Nottingham, added: "It is excellent news that Promethean Particles has secured the investment it needs to take the business to the next stage of its development.
"At the University, we also have a number of exciting investment opportunities in our portfolio of spin-out businesses. I would encourage anyone who is interested in finding out about new investment opportunities in our companies or our technologies to contact us to explore options."