£1 million Celtic alliance to deliver major healthcare advances

Four world-class institutions from Wales and Ireland have launched an exciting new alliance to lead the way in developing cutting-edge healthcare.

image1 plasma etch tool The £1 million Celtic Alliance for NanoHealth (CAN) will help companies on either side of the Irish Sea stay at the forefront of innovation and growth in what is a fast developing and hugely influential healthcare sector.

Swansea University will be the lead partner in the alliance, which is backed by £765,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the Ireland Wales Cross Border (INTERREG 4A) programme.

Based at the University’s Centre for NanoHealth – also backed with EU funding – the partnership will pool resources with three Dublin-based institutions – University College Dublin’s Centre for BioNano Interactions, Trinity College Dublin’s Institute of Molecular Medicines and Centre for Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN), and Dublin City University’s Biomedical Diagnostics Institute and Nanobiophotonics and Imaging Centre – each boasting specific areas of expertise in nanohealth.

Deputy Minister for European Programmes, Alun Davies, said: “Nanohealth has the potential to deliver major advances in healthcare, and in doing so drive innovation and deliver sustainable economic and social development.

“I welcome this EU-funded initiative which will help forge a strong alliance between academia, healthcare providers and business to deliver healthcare solutions.”

The alliance will enable small to medium sized companies interested in developing nanohealth technology to access world leading resources as well as the opportunity to link-up with potential investors.

image2 metasystems imaging system This includes two showcase business events planned in September of 2012 and 2013 in Swansea and Dublin, in collaboration with the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at the Rice University in Houston, Texas, aimed at providing opportunities for companies to link up with investors tailored to the nanohealth sector.

The alliance is also in discussions with the United States government, exploring opportunities for Welsh companies in America.

Through CAN it is expected that new and faster ways of screening for diseases using nanotechnologies will be developed. These will provide advances in patient care and safety and enhance the speed at which novel developments can be translated for patient benefit.

For example, Nano-devices and Nano-biosensors allow the detection and measurement of biomarkers in fluid or tissue samples at a level of sensitivity far beyond current methods, aiding the early detection and treatment of a wide range of diseases including cancer and heart disease.

image3 scanning electron microscope Dr Steve Conlan, Director of the Centre for NanoHealth at Swansea University said: “Establishing a coordinated cross-border cluster will create a world-class alliance of key opinion leaders, internationally distinguished researchers and state-of-the-art infrastructure.

“This alliance will have the scope, capacity, and flexibility to lead nanohealth internationally from scientific, technological, and economic innovation perspectives.

“NanoHealth is an emergent business area that will undergo rapid growth to deliver future healthcare, and CAN will directly impact on economic prosperity through the transfer of innovations from the partner higher education institutions to industry, in particular SMEs.

“The alliance will realise cross-border innovation in research and development, training and commercialisation programmes through this unique partnership.

“NanoHealth is an emergent business area that will undergo rapid growth to deliver future healthcare CAN will work closely with Welsh and Irish businesses to explore and exploit opportunities presented by the effective development and management of the nanohealth platform, and will work to disseminate these advances to the European academic and industry base.”

As well as providing scientific expertise, the alliance plans to help companies gain financial backing for their developments.

For more information about the Celtic Alliance for NanoHealth (CAN) visit www.celticnano.eu.

Image captions:

Facilities at Swansea University’s Centre for NanoHealth including (image 1) the SPTS – ICP plasma etch tool (200mm wafer capability); (image 2) the MetaSystems Imaging System; and (image 3) the Hitachi S4800 Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM).