- Why is ProNano Needed?
Through large investments in research and development, Sweden has developed a leading position in nanomaterials. At least 700 million kronor from both public and private funding are invested annually at Swedish universities and institutes nano-related research. To take advantage of this position of strength requires further development of the ecosystem around the research. The goal is to create new value chains for product development and innovation. Today’s Swedish innovation ecosystems have weaknesses because product development requires expensive and sophisticated instruments, long-term funding and a deep competence base. Instead, promising startup companies are bought up by foreign companies and patents disappear out of the country. In other words, Sweden takes all the financial risk of research and development of nanomaterials and nanotechnology but is less successful when it comes to reaping the benefits of the investment.
- Why nanomaterial?
Nanomaterials are a critical factor in many types of product development industries, for example energy-related applications (photovoltaics, energy storage, light) or healthcare (pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, sensors, lighting). In the longer term, products relying on the use of nanomaterials are predicted to become a very large market. One statistic that is discussed (by BBC Research in November 2016 *) predicts the market to grow to 90.5 billion US dollars in 2021. Nanomaterials and nanotechnology are an important basis for the “Key Enabling Technologies” (Kets) ** and thus in many kinds of product development industries, such as electronics, biotechnology, and advanced materials. The European Commission has identified this as a key factor for economic growth.
- One hears a lot about graphene. Is nanomaterial the same as graphene?
Graphene is a certain type of nanomaterial. Graphene research makes up a very small part of Swedish research and development of nanomaterials. Which includes other semiconductor materials such as Si, SiC, III-V material, metals, nanoparticles and porous materials.
- What are the goals of ProNano?
With a specialization in terms of TRL (TRL 3-7) and materials that complement existing investments in Sweden, Pronano will be a pilot production facility for products based on nanomaterials. The equipment needed for product development is very expensive, 2-30MSEK or more for a single machine, with several machines needed for production and even more for characterization. Companies will be able to rent machine time on existing equipment in an open innovation environment. It will enable companies to bridge the gap between applied basic research and finished products (Valley of Death) through:
- Greatly reducing a company’s need to invest in expensive equipment
- Providing technical expertise in nanotechnology and nano-security in close cooperation with the world-leading research at Lund University.
- What is ProNano’s significance in relation to ESS and MAX IV?
It has always been the Swedish government’s expectation and intention that the major investments in ESS and MAX IV will lead to new jobs. The government states in the 2016 Research Proposition (bill): “Around ESS and MAX IV are good opportunities to establish an world-class competence cluster (also called Science Village Scandinavia) that will be able to expose the Swedish research, key technologies and competences to national and international actors.”
With its strategic location in the Science Village Scandinavia, directly adjacent to ESS, MAX IV and the nano research at Lund University (NanoLund), ProNano will, in an exemplary way, fulfill the governments expectations. ProNanos industrial customers will be potential users of MAX IV and ESS and will take advantage of the internationally unique concentration of skills and expertise in the field of materials created by ESS and MAX IV. It will be the first major cornerstone in the industrial utilization of SVS and, by operating through a cooperation between private, regional and institutional actors, ProNano will have great symbolic value.
- What is ProNanos business model?
ProNano will execute a rental agreement with a property owner that will build the facility. ProNano will buy (or lease) a cleanroom shell and equipment. Access to the cleanroom, equipment and competence will then be sold to companies and researchers on commercial terms. Thus the costs consist of a rental cost for the building, a capital cost (interest and depreciation) for the cleanroom shell and equipment, and operating costs. The user fees are expected, after an initial period of 10 years, cover ProNano’s costs.
- Isn’t ProNano very expensive? Can Sweden afford ProNano?
The cost of ProNano is the annual operating costs of approximately 25-50MSEK which is needed to run the business (see section on Business Model). The costs will be primarily financed by private funds. Public funding is needed initially for the first 5 years to start up the business when large investments and risk-taking must be made to promote the growth of the small and medium-sized companies that utilize ProNano. A certain public investment is certainly reasonable considering that ProNano will give Sweden an internationally leading position and provide the critical “missing link” that is needed to bring basic and applied research in nanomaterials to production and employment opportunities.
- At least 700MSEK is invested annually in basic and applied research within only universities and institutes of nanoscience and nanotechnology in Sweden. Investments such as ProNano are necessary to create the conditions for growth and employment that result from these investments.
- The private sector invests billions in R&D related to nanotechnology and start-up companies in the nanotechnology and materials sector. Investments such as ProNano create the conditions for these companies to develop in Sweden.
- In addition, billions are invested in MAX IV and ESS with the specifically expressed intention of stimulating the economy (see section on ProNanos significance in relation to ESS and MAX IV). To really stimulate the growth related to ESS and MAX IV requires an investment like ProNano.
- The social benefits will be far greater than the investments in ProNano. Currently, Sweden is in a downward trend in the application of nanotechnology in an industry that is expected to grow by 17.5% annually for the foreseeable future.
Sweden cannot afford not to invest in initiatives such as ProNano.
- Who will be ProNanos customers?
ProNano’s customers will primarily be companies with a need to finalize the development of products and production methods to begin production for the sale of new products based on nanomaterial. They can be both start-ups and established companies mainly from Scandinavia and Northern Europe. The focus will be primarily determined by the needs of customers, but most likely will revolve around the basic research conducted at Lund University.
- Are there other actors in Sweden that offer the same services as ProNano?
There are initiatives with similar objectives, for example within parts of Myfab. These initiatives may not meet all the needs of the very broad spectrum of product development associated with nanomaterials. ProNano’s activities will be complementary to Myfabs operations and will address needs that cannot currently be met by Myfab or other existing facilities. By offering new services, skills and capacities, ProNano will open up a new national and international network of customers. Initially, we expect that ProNano will focus on semiconductor materials and components based on nanostructures, provide expertise in nano-safety and act as a mediator towards industry users of MAX IV.
- Is there funding available for new companies that can become users of ProNano?
To insure optimal conditions for the development of KET-based businesses, an initiative is ongoing to create an investment fund, parallel to the realization of ProNano, Spirit Ventures, with a specialization on the financing of KET-companies with a longer time horizon, up to 8-15 years, with focus on Northern Europe.
- What is the competition internationally?
There are several international models that ProNano will use as examples to learn from. Examples within nanotechnology are DanChip in Denmark, Micronova in Finland, MinaLab in Norway, IMEC in Belgium, Fraunhofer in Germany, Catapult in UK, and MESA+ with their High Tech Factory in Holland.
With a foundation in the unique nanomaterial research at Lund University and other universities and institutes in Sweden, ProNano will define an international niche and thus be a complement to other international efforts. The goal is to attract international customers through a niched offer and position within the globally unique ecosystem for material research around ESS and MAX IV.
- Who is responsible for ProNano?
ProNano will be run commercially in company form. ProNano is a joint initiative of Lund University, Region Skåne and Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), with national representation through, among others, SwedNanoTech. With the support of the other parties, RISE will lead in the establishment of the commercial company.
- Why should ProNano be in Lund?
The investments in ESS and MAX IV will make Lund into an international center for material science. This, combined with the outstanding international environment at Lund University for research on materials and nanotechnology, creates a fertile breeding ground for advanced Swedish start-up companies with a need to develop. This is also emphasized by RISE Acreos latest investment to set up and develop a local presence in Lund to support companies focused on materials research and foster collaboration between companies and university-driven materials research. ProNano’s focus on supporting startup company development from the research phase to production is completely in line with the needs that exist within this ecosystem in Sweden. Lund is a natural location with the synergies available with ESS, MAX IV and nanotechnology research at Lund University. To also co-locate ProNanos facility with Lund NanoLab in close collaboration provides a unique opportunity to create an integrated environment, from basic research to production.
An analogy that can be mentioned for comparison is the investment in the Stockholm region where ABB Hafos old facility in Järfalla is used precisely for the purpose of creating an infrastructure for building businesses based on research when it has matured. Many companies that have had their origins in the research activities of Acreo and KTH in Kista have relocated to Järfälla and therefore could develop and grow. These companies include Altitune, Silex Microsystems and Finisar. In Järfälla there is currently no further cleanroom space available to industry.
- When will ProNano be available?
At the moment we are waiting on various decisions and permits. If all goes according to plan, ProNano will be available for moving-in during the first half of 2019.
ProNano offers access to a state-of-the-art modular semi-automated pilot production plant for nanotechnology products.
- Rental of large cleanroom production areas designed for electronic manufacturing.
- Rental of office space.
- Rental of metrology equipment, and/or metrology servies.
- Automatic data acquisition system of equipment and enviroment, as well as storage and data mining.
- Rental of etching and lithographic equipment.
- Possibly also rental of some deposition equipment.
- Access 24h.