Oral evidence – Dr. Robert Harrison, Rouse Patents

This evidence was taken on November 5th 2003 at the World Nano-economic Congress, London, in the presence of Prof Ray Oliver, Nanotechnology Working Group member, and Dr Andrew Dunn of the Royal Society. The evidence was written up by the secretariat and has been approved by Dr. Robert Harrison.

Dr. Harrison noted that the key to defining nanoscience and nanotechnology lay in the different physical or chemical properties that materials have on the nanometre size scale. He saw the emergence of the terms nanoscience and nanotechnology to be mainly through marketing than scientific breakthrough.

Developments in nanotechnology IP
Dr. Harrison has observed a lot of patent applications in the area of sensors, and believed this to be evolving as a new area, particularly for sensors involving biological molecules. He has noticed patents on real-time offsite medical diagnosis already, however patents for new materials were not yet beginning to emerge.

Environmental, ethical and social issues
Dr. Harrison felt that the majority of small companies had not thoroughly thought through the effects of nanotechnology, and the implications of this on the environment, society and indeed corporate liability. His experience was that some had acknowledged concern only.