Wednesday 30 January 2008

Tamil Nadu plans Nanotech park on Taiwan model

The Tamil Nadu government is proposing a nanotechnology park, similar to the highly successful Hsinchu Science Park in Taiwan. The park, likely to come up near Chennai, will focus on hi-tech manufacturing in semiconductor foundries, chip assembly and testing, optoelectronics, solar cell technologies and nanotechnology.   

         The nanotechnology park will require co-operation between governments, industry associations, companies, and research institutes and universities. It is a part of the state’s efforts to achieve ICT Vision 2011, which will see Tamil Nadu’s information and communication technology (ICT) industry growing to $30-33 billion from the current $6 billion. 

         Recently, a Taiwanese team led by a top official of Hsinchu Science Park visited Chennai as part of the Indo-Taiwan bilateral cooperation efforts. The team, which met with business community and top officials of the state government, had proposed the “science park” concept. A detailed project report in consultation with the authorities of Hsinchu Science Park will be prepared for the proposed Nanotech park, according to a top government official. 

         While an investment-friendly environment will be created to attract investments into the park, the state government will also explore the public-private partnership option for developing it. SIPCOT, the state nodal agency for land development, has been asked to identify land for the park within a radius of 70-80 km from Chennai, as access to the major city airport is seen as a critical factor for the project. The government is proposing to set up the park over 2,000 acres. 

         To foster co-operation programmes between research and development (R&D) institutes and companies, two or three engineering and management universities would be co-located within the nanotechnology park, which would be equipped with a social infrastructure. A meeting with Anna University and IIT-Madras has already been held for co-operation in creating an ecosystem in the park. 

         Complete product cycle companies such as R&D, design, marketing, and sales and service will also be encouraged to set up operations in the park. A separate location for companies in venture funding, component manufacturing, component distribution and office services like HR, legal, and finance and banking has been suggested. A delegation of power to the nanotech park administration committee for “one-stop operations” has also been proposed. 

         The 1,430-acre Hsinchu Science Park, which is known as Taiwan’s Silicon Valley, has been rated as one of the highly successful models to emulate hi-tech product development and manufacturing when compared with other models such as Eureka in Europe and Silicon Valley in the US, said the government official. 

         The Hsinchu Science Park has close co-operation between the government and other stakeholders like industry bodies, companies and academic and research institutions. It was established by the Taiwanese government in 1980 to create a Silicon Valley-like environment, lure back the expatriate talent pool, facilitate investment environment and build a strong ecosystem between universities, development institutes and companies in the park. 

         The Hsinchu Science Park currently has about 400 high-tech companies, including some of the big names, engaged in semiconductor, computer, telecommunciation and optoelectronic industries, aiding in transforming Taiwan into a high technology powerhouse. The park employs over 115,000 people and the turnover was about $30 billion in 2005. Companies in the park have to invest at least 4 per cent of their annual revenues towards R&D and product development