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Spending more but commercializing less?

from the bang-for-the-buck dept.
An article in Red Herring dated July 12, 2002, Slow starts: Canada and Europe slouch toward nanotechnology blames the bureaucratic culture in Europe and in Canada for slowing efforts to commercialize nanotechnology, despite very sizeable public investments in nanotechnology research.

The article claims that an exodus of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and talented young researchers leaving Canada and Europe to go to the USA and Asia can be explained by a culture of risk-aversion, high taxes, over-regulation of new technologies, and an attitude that profits taint science. The article is short on numbers to buttress those claims, but quotes three sources familiar with nanotechnology in Canada and Europe: Dan Wayner, a nanotechnology specialist at the National Research Council in Ottawa; Tim Harper, executive director of the newly formed European NanoBusiness Association in Brussels, Belgium; Uri Sagman, president and CEO of the nanobiotech firm C Sixty and executive director of the Canadian NanoBusiness Alliance in Toronto.

As for European investment in nanotechnology, the June 24, 2002 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, on page 18, reports that the European Union "is investing some $700 million in nanotechnology as part of its 6th Research Framework Programme. European commissioners worry that, without EU measures, nanotechnology research in Europe will remain scattered, and the sector will not reach the break-even point. Among the areas that appear most promising to the EU are energy storage and distribution; detection, measurement, and testing; display technologies; bioanalysis and drug delivery; robotics; and prosthetics."

For more on Europe and nanotechnology commercialization, see Nanodot post of June 20, 2002.

One Response to “Spending more but commercializing less?”

  1. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Maybe it's still too early?

    On one hand, we hear all the hype that nanobulk is going to result in millions, maybe billions, in the next 2 or 3 years. But on another hand we hear that there is still a lot of thankless research and development that needs to be done and it might be 5 or 10 years before anyone sees a dime of profit. Will the result be a bunch of overenthused investors getting burned?

    Perhaps Europe and Canada are right to adopt a "Japanese strategy" of slow, steady improvements, progress and investments and waiting for the long term big payoff. The US has shot itself in the foot many times with it's impatience and willful ignorance of the facts, the current scandals on Wall Street are indirect proof of that.

    What might happen is that dazzled US capitalists invest in the current schemes which, however well meaning, fail to materialize. The US market then turns totally sour for at least a decade. Wiser heads, with realistic expectations, elsewhere in the world pull out ahead in the intervening time. Remember the VCR? Remember transistor radios?

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