Jayanta Mallick

Kolkata, July 31

CIENTIFICA Ltd of the UK, the world's leading provider of nanotechnology information and consultancy services, is setting up a joint venture in India. It would outsource research in this frontier science from the country for commercialisation of industrial applications and contract research in the field.

Mr Tim Harper, CEO of Cientifica, told Business Line that its first commercial project in the country of Rs 50 crore would take off shortly.

Cientifica is participating in the equity in the joint venture with a local partner to begin collaborative research, commercialisation of lab techniques, manufacturing nanotech research tools and market training and consultancy products and services.

"The joint venture envisages the role of an incubator or venture capital fund in which co-investors may participate," he added. Cientifica's clients range from Fortune 500 companies to investment banks and startups in three continents.

The London-headquartered company is currently having operational locations in Madrid, Oslo and Singapore.

Mr Harper, who has been profiled by Time Magazine as "The face of European Nanotechnology", is now visiting the country to formalise research tie-ups with the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the IIT-Mumbai, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, and Jawahar Lal Nehru Research Centre, Bangalore.

"We hope to sign research agreements soon with these three nationally active research institutions for scaling up basic research to applications level. Health care, water treatment, advanced materials such as chemical polymers are the first set of research areas Cientifica is focusing on in India. The Indian joint venture with Yash Management & Satellite Ltd, an already listed entity, will have an equity component of Rs 45 crore and a loan of Rs 5 crore from the Technology Development Fund of the DST. The capital infusion by the local partner and Cientifica would be close to equal.

The process of seeking FDI into the joint venture has already been set in motion.

The Mumbai-based joint venture is also setting up its dedicated research and production facility for single wall carbon nano-tubes.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 1, 2005)
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