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5 July, 2006 - 15:51 By Staff Reporter

US Department of Defense adds to Owlstone’s success

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has added further momentum to the growing Owlstone Nanotech success story with a £55,000 award for the development of an advanced contaminant detection system to monitor the air inside aircraft cockpits.


The grant is being delivered through the US Air Force in the shape of a $99,793 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I award and follows quickly on from the announcement of mounting sales of Owlstone’s debut product, the month-old Owlstone Tourist test package.

Owlstone, a subsidiary of New York-based Advance Nanotech, spun out of the University of Cambridge in 2004. It has since proved to be a pioneer in the commercialisation of nanotechnology-based chemical detection products and is already developing and testing chemical detection sensors for several civilian applications.

Owlstone’s chief executive, Bret Bader, said: "Owlstone Nanotech has developed the most advanced and effective technologies for detecting airborne chemical hazards.

"This SBIR award will enable us to explore new applications of our technology that will protect the health and safety of pilots and crews. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to serve the Department of Defense in this capacity."

Owlstone will use the SBIR grant to develop an advanced sensor to identify and quantify contaminants in cockpit air by employing the company’s field asymmetric ion mobility spectrometer technology.

Owlstone’s goal is to produce a highly sensitive, low-cost, portable detection sensor that outperforms devices currently being developed.

The SBIR programme is a competitive award programme that provides support to small businesses to develop innovative technologies with significant commercial potential.

Each year Federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program set aside approximately 2.5 per cent of their extramural research and development (R & D) budgets for the award.

The DoD’s SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programmes provide more than one billion dollars each year to early-stage R & D projects that demonstrate the potential to serve both a DoD need and a commercial market.

Owlstone Tourist is a revolutionary microchip spectrometer that can be programmed to detect a wide range of chemical agents that may be present in extremely small quantities.

There are numerous applications in industries from security and defense to automotive and healthcare, each dependant on the rapid, accurate detection and measurement of chemical compounds.

Advance Nanotech is currently funding more than 20 nanotechnologies in the electronics, biopharma and materials industries. The firm provides services ranging from funding, to human capital and research equipment essential to ensuring that the most promising companies can accelerate the path to rapid commercialisation.

In this way, investor exposure to any particular technology is mitigated with Advance Nanotech retaining the option to increase investment in those technologies that successfully mature.

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