The Nanomanufacturing Summit 2011, held this past week in Boston, provided some high level discussions with focus on, amongst other topics, nanotechnology commercialization, translational research emerging from academic research centers, and manufacturing innovations. In the first event wherein the NNN has teamed with the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association, key topics also included nanoEHS, Patents and Intellectual Property, Regulation, Nanomedicine, Green Manufacturing, and Commercialization strategies and successes. With a broad emphasis on the success of investments made by the Federal Government in the first 10 years of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), keynote speakers Sally Tinkle, Acting Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO), and Mihail Roco, Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology at the National Science Foundation (NSF), provided information regarding the formation of strategic plans within the NNI, including the recently published EHS strategy, which was developed through a series of workshops and public comment. Reiterating the increased emphasis on effective technology transfer from fundamental research to product commercialization, and nanomanufacturing, the growing trends impacting future economic development and job creations were also cited, with estimates that nanotechnology commercialization will create 6 million jobs by 2015, with 2 million of these located inside the U.S.
Additional presentations by several of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers (NSECs) focusing on nanomanufacturing provided a glimpse of emerging process technologies impacting a range of applications including electronics, healthcare, energy, and advanced sensors. Key challenges being addressed by these NSECs located at Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and University of California Berkeley respectively, included advanced lithographic tools using plasmonic techniques, directed self-assembly to create next generation nanoelectronics, and combined nanoimprint and nanoparticle driven assembly techniques established on roll-to-roll platforms for future flexible electronics applications. Additional keynotes by both investors in nanotechnology companies, as well as CEOs of nanotechnology companies discussed the approaches towards commercialization of their companies products, citing effective approaches to leverage academic research and technology transfer, the value of public-private partnerships, methods to build revenue and avoid the “valley of death” that so many start-up companies encounter in attempting to mature their products and applications.
Presentations by Doug Jamison, CEO at Harris and Harris group, and Scott Livingston from Livingston Securities, further addressed issues facing investors in nanotechnology startup companies. Doug Jamison emphasized the commitment and patience that is necessary for nanotechnology investors as it is typically on the order of a decade for many nanotechnology startups to grow and become viable. Additionally, he cited that many companies have had to revaluate their business plans and strategies over this time as re-positioning within the value chain is usually necessary for growing companies in order to adjust to shifting technologies, competition, and financial requirements. Doug reiterated that the patience is beginning to pay off with recent successful IPOs and acquisitions coming from his portfolio of companies in this space. Scott Livingston discussed the need for access to capital for nanotechnology companies to grow and approach the IPO stage. He further lamented on the slow pace of banks in pushing out new IPOs, and that this was stifling the industry. He advocated the need for new methods of raising the necessary capital for bringing nanotechnology companies into public offerings, and further cited an innovative approach his company is providing.
In summary, the Nanomanufacturing Summit 2011 provided the platform for key information exchange amongst stakeholders from all areas. Overviews of the event will be posted on Internano and the conference website, where conference presentations and information’s for future events can also be accessed.