UK plc to benefit from leading role in development of nanotechnology


Wednesday, 9 November 2005

First meeting of new ISO Technical Committee for Nanotechnologies takes
place in London 9 November

The UK is set to advance global competitiveness by driving the international development of nanotechnology when it hosts the first meeting of the new ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Technical Committee for Nanotechnologies today. The meeting is a key milestone in ensuring UK plc is at the forefront of contributing to the creation of standards to support the growth of this emerging industry.

Earlier this year, the British Standards Institution (BSI) initiated the establishment of the new international committee and was awarded its Chair and Secretariat. The committee’s role will be vital in helping businesses across industry sectors maximise nanotechnology by developing international standards to provide an important foundation for its safe and sustainable growth. By giving nanotechnologists a uniform language and process, standardization will facilitate safer and faster product development and production and will enable interoperable end-products.

Hosted by Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards, and chaired by Dr Peter Hatto, Chair of the ISO committee, the meeting will provide delegates with the opportunity to hear speeches from Lord Sainsbury the UK Government Minister for Science and Innovation, Dr Brian Warrington the Vice President of Technology Development at GlaxoSmithKline, Dr Paul Reip the founder and Chief Technical Officer at QinetiQ Nanomaterials Ltd and Professor Mark E Welland of The University of Cambridge.

The meeting will be attended by 22 delegations from all over the world, many of which represent national committees set up specifically to support the new international committee. The delegates will discuss and determine the scope of the committee and review its structure with each country given the opportunity to suggest areas of focus for consideration for the work programme. The UK will propose four themes with a view to the development of ISO standards in each: terminology; metrology and methods of test; health, safety and the environment; and products and processes.

Director of BSI British Standards, Mike Low, said:

“This first meeting of the committee marks a significant step in the UK’s commitment to driving standardization in nanotechnology internationally.

“The global nanotechnology market is expected to reach $29 billion by 2008. It is crucially important that the UK plays a leading role in the development of nanotechnology, which is predicted to have a huge impact on the global economy. BSI is proud to be at the forefront of standardization activity in this important area.”

Science and Innovation Minister, Lord Sainsbury, said:

“This is an important opportunity for the international community to come together and start the development of standards for nanotechnologies. This already global industry is growing with astonishing speed and the UK is proud to play an important role in securing its long term development.

“Nanotechnologies are already having an impact on almost every industrial sector and there is much more to come. This government believes in the importance of international collaboration in this progressive field and is committed to the development of a set of robust standards for nanotechnology in the future.

“I am pleased BSI has been able to support this crucial meeting over the next three days.”

Coinciding with the meeting, BSI is launching a nanotechnology microsite designed to provide a vital point of reference to those involved in this emerging industry. The nanotechnology standards pages provides information about current BSI nanotechnology developments, projects and organizations participating in BSI’s Nanotechnology committee as well as free access to PAS 71, the BSI publication that provides a standardized vocabulary for nanoparticles.

Nanotechnology is being embraced by an increasing number of industries and is set to impact our lives significantly. It is facilitating innovation across several sectors, with positive implications for healthcare, energy conservation, raw materials and water purification.

- Ends -

Notes to editors

Nanotechnology involves engineering matter at the atomic and molecular scale, about 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair.

The new committee is known as ISO/TC 229 Nanotechnologies. Its establishment demonstrates the UK’s commitment to the safe exploitation of nanotechnology internationally and supports the Government’s response to the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering report ‘Nanoscience and Nanotechnology: Opportunities and Uncertainties.’

Countries attending the meeting include: Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.

The UK also currently convenes the European Standardization Committee (CEN) working group on nanotechnologies (CEN/BT/WG 166).

As part of the UK’s nanotechnology activity, BSI was commissioned by the DTI to develop a standardized vocabulary to provide a common language and terms of reference. Download the Publicly Available Specification PAS 71:2005 Vocabulary - Nanoparticles.

For further information on the UK government’s Technology Programme and Strategy please refer to: