Big agreements sometimes start in very small packages. In the case of a new partnership between Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and the United Nations, that package is nano-sized.

Bar-Ilan’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA) has signed a landmark research and cooperation agreement with the United Nations International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) in Portugal.

The agreement was signed by BINA Director Prof. Dror Fixler and INL Director Prof. Lars Montelius (who also chairs a European network of nanotechnology institutes) earlier this month at Bar-Ilan’s Ramat Gan campus during a joint workshop. The groups will continue their work in September in Portugal.

INL comprises 100 researchers from 30 countries across Europe. Established 10 years ago by the governments of Spain and Portugal, the UN’s nano lab has an annual budget of €100 million.

In June, BINA researchers will present a proposal for applied research that has the potential to be patented, Fixler said. Three other joint projects have already been funded.

“This important agreement offers our researchers an international stage to promote their groundbreaking research,” BIU Vice President for Research Prof. Shulamit Michaeli said.

Bar-Ilan established BINA in 2007. The institute is housed in the Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Nanotechnology Triplex on the Bar-Ilan campus and has 40 laboratories and “Scientific Service” facilities for electron microscopy, nanofabrication, surface analysis, fluorescence and magnetic measurement available for use by the wider scientific community. BINA regularly collaborates with some of the world’s top research institutes, including GM, Merck and Phillips.