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19 December, 2006 - 11:05 By Staff Reporter

100 plus nanotech jobs for Cambridge

A revolutionary air conditioning technology that Business Weekly first covered over two years ago is coming to Cambridge, bringing a quarter of a billion dollar cashpile and the promise of up to 150 new jobs within 18 months.AirNatech Holdings, the developer of a nanotech solution to make heating, ventilation and air conditioning units at least 50 per cent more efficient, has decided to establish its global headquarters in the city.

The plan, according to the government agency that brokered the move, UK Trade & Investment, is to “acquire local companies, resources and skills to bring the technology to commercialisation.”

The company has not yet decided on a precise location for the facility within Cambridge and is shopping for the optimum site.

UKTI’s entrepreneur in residence, Eric Van der Kleij said: “The aim, which we have a very realistic chance of realising, is to make Cambridge the world centre for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technologies.

“A major factor in choosing Cambridge is that it is home to some key technologies and assets that we need to bolt on to bring the solution to market.”

AirNatech was set up following US Investment banking boutique Bridgehead Group’s investment in UK company Airnacon and Danish company NIL Tech-nology. The new venture has secured the first closing of a $250m (c £130m) financing, with the full closing expected in the first quarter of 2007.

The technology is the brainchild of Dr J H Lee, an ex-NASA scientist that helped develop the powerless cooling technology for the US space shuttle. Dr Lee developed the nano copper which goes into the heat exchangers, while NIL technology will provide the nano structures that go inside the copper.

We first reported on Dr Lee and his technology in May 2004, at which stage it was being developed by a company called i-Curie Lab.

The hope at this stage was that i-Curie would itself set up in Cambridge. Although this did not materialise, with London preferred by the company (now Celsia) in the final analysis, the area has in the long run managed to bag a considerably more valuable inward investment.

While Celsia concentrates on potentially valuable PC and LED cooling applications, AirNatech is addressing the potentially mammoth A/C and refrigeration market. It is estimated for example, that roughly 50 cent in every dollar in the US spent on energy is spent on air conditioning and refrigeration.

The players involved confidently predict that AirNatech will be capitalised at $1bn within a year.

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