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[BUENOS AIRES] Argentina will invest US$10 million in nanotechnology over the next five years. The funds will go towards building facilities, training personnel and designing and testing products, and the programme will benefit from an agreement with US company Lucent Technologies.

Roberto Lavagna, minister of economy, made the announcement on 29 April, during the formal launch of the Argentinean Nanotechnology Foundation.

Lavagna said the initiative's first research projects will address the needs of the medicine, automotive and optics industries.

Because Argentina lacks special 'clean rooms' (where the air is so clean it does not affect the construction of microscopic devices), the government struck a deal with Lucent Technologies to use the company's Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, United States.

"Lucent and the Bariloche Atomic Centre have been collaborating for a few years, so both parties sought the agreement. The company will train Argentinean scientists, and Lucent researchers will work on Argentinean projects," Daniel Lopez, an Argentinean researcher and member of the Nanofabrication Research lab at Bell Laboratories, told to SciDev.Net.

Lopez will be a member of the board along with David Bishop, the president of the nanotechnology group at Bell Laboratories.

According to a spokesperson for the secretary of industry, the US$10 million will be used to build less complex clean rooms in Argentina, where nanodevices built in the United States will be tested.

In the first year, US$1.9 million will be used to start building a laboratory in Argentina and to train personnel. In the second year, a further US$2 million investment should help generate the first prototypes, equipment and more scientists.

In the project's third year, manufacturing is expected to begin in the United States, with an expected investment of US$1.7 million.

Several public research laboratories will take part in the initiative, including the Bariloche Atomic Centre, a research centre that belongs to the Atomic Energy National Comission (CNEA), where the nanodevices will be designed. Other partners have yet to be determined. The programme will be headed by the secretary of industry, Miguel Peirano.

A board of directors will be selected among the ministries of Economy, of Education, Science and Technology, of Federal Planning and in Lucent itself.

Read more about nanotechnology in SciDev.Net's Nanotechnology quick guide.