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Nanotechnology executives responding to a national Small Times Magazine - UMass Lowell survey are bullish on their own firms' potential sales. About sixty percent said they have the infrastructure, capital and workforce they currently need for their companies to commercialize their nano-enhanced products, and high-volume manufacturing is the most critical R&D need.
"Nanotechnology leaders are showing both the optimism and uncertainty of pioneers," said Barry Hock, Associate Director of UMass Lowell's Center for Economic and Civic Opinion, which conducted the national benchmark study of 407 nanotechnology business leaders.
The survey found that 25% of the respondents expect sales of $10 million or greater next year, rising to 56% who expect those sales levels in three years. "We believe their optimism comes from the success they've had so far with improvements to existing products and processes," said Edward March, Executive in Residence at UMass Lowell, noting that most of the companies were already marketing nano products to customers.
On the other hand, some uncertainty about the future is revealed -- nearly two-thirds said that the risks to the public, environment and workforce due to exposure to nano particles are not yet known. Almost half thought that lack of financing and intellectual property issues were significant barriers to their companies' future growth.
"Companies with a longer development time horizon to commercialize their breakthrough, 'gee whiz' products are more likely to be concerned about financing since they might need expensive, sophisticated equipment in the future," said March. "Developing agreements concerning shared-use facilities and intellectual property rights among partners will also be an increasing challenge going forward."
Thirty-nine percent of respondents said if the U.S. were to strengthen its R&D capability in nanotechnology, high-volume manufacture of nanotech materials and products would be most important. The second-place answer, basic long-term research, garnered only fifteen percent.
Hock said that UMass Lowell is well-positioned to work with the nanotechnology industry and with government to meet future needs. He cited the university's early leadership in nanomanufacturing, funding for a new $80 million nano- and biomanufacturing facility, and a campus-wide commitment to sustainable development and related environmental, health and safety research and applications.
The survey was conducted jointly by the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Small Times Magazine, which published the results in its Jan/Feb 2007 issue and online at http://www.SmallTimes.com . The full report can be found at http://www.MassEconomy.org on the Surveys page.
About UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health. UML offers its 11,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelorís to masterís programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. http://www.uml.edu .
Small Times is a leading source of business information and analysis about micro and nanotechnology, offering full news coverage through its business trade magazine, daily news Website and weekly e-mail newsletter.
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