The agreement was signed in Riyadh between KACST and IBM in the presence of KACST president, Dr. Mohammed I. Al-Suwaiyel; KACST vice president for research institutes, His Highness Dr. Turki bin Saud; IBM vice president for business development and licensing William LaFontaine Jr. and general manager for IBM Middle East, Egypt and Pakistan, Mr Takreem El Tohamy.
Under this multi-year agreement, Saudi scientists and engineers will work side by side with IBM scientists and engineers on advanced nano-science and nano-technology programs in the fields of solar energy, water desalination and petrochemical applications such as recyclable materials. The work will be conducted between teams working at IBM laboratories in Zurich, Switzerland; Almaden, California; Yorktown Heights, New York; and the KACST/IBM Nanotechnology Centre of Excellence in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“Working and partnering with IBM, one of the leading global technology companies and the world’s largest nanotechnology research institution, not only helps us to address
important scientific and economic challenges to the Kingdom such as energy and water desalination but also helps us to evolve our strategy and take our research efforts to new heights,” said Dr. Al-Suwaiyel, KACST president. He added: “This type of joint technology development agreement is critical for the Kingdom as it builds its capabilities in advanced scientific research and development.”
The first-of-its-kind agreement will enrich the know-how of Saudia Arabia’s scientific community and advance the Saudi government’s economic development and policy initiatives in the fields of alternative energy, water treatment and materials science. At the same time, it will advance IBM’s strategic interests in nanotechnology and environmental innovations, through access to the materials and technology created as a result of the agreement.
“The world’s most important societal issues, such as those related to the environment, can no longer be addressed in isolation,” said William LaFontaine, Jr., vice president, business development & licensing, IBM. “Today’s announcement demonstrates that when it comes to creating renewable energy or clean drinking water, the nature of innovation is changing to become more global and collaborative.”
“We believe our long term prosperity lies in producing technology and intellectual capital,” said His Highness Dr. Turki bin Saud, KACST vice president for research institutes. “We believe passionately that nanotechnology is inflective – that it has the capability to completely turn our present thinking and assumptions on their head and build innovations that will give us new ways to address old challenges.”
“Working together with KACST in such an advanced field of technology will enable both organisations to develop new capabilities and forge a long term collaboration that builds value for us both,” said Takreem El Tohamy, general manager of IBM Middle East, Egypt and Pakistan. “IBM’s global resources, together with the commitment and knowledge residing here at KACST, can truly open up new avenues in the development of this cutting edge technology.”
Nanotechnology is the field of applied science focused on the reliable and repeatable design and control of the structure of very small objects. The length scales range from the atomic to the macroscopic — generally, from one to 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter – roughly 100,000 times thinner than a human hair.
The joint research work in solar energy will include a focus on novel materials for the direct conversion of sunlight to electricity, known as photovoltaics. The water treatment research will focus on the use of new nano-membrane materials for reverse osmosis seawater desalination. The research on efficient organic catalysts builds on IBM’s advance materials expertise to develop novel synthetic methods for recycling of plastic materials.
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