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November 24th, 2008
A local developer and a group of scientists hope to show that even the little stuff is bigger in Texas.
They want to create something called "Nano World Headquarters" just south of Houston in a 150-acre Pearland development called the WaterLights District.
The bold, but still unfunded, plan calls for the development of a large facility where nascent nanotechnology companies can gain access to lab space and expensive, sensitive equipment without having to buy it.
Nanotechnology involves the design and creation of materials at the molecular scale, tens of thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. Potential applications range from super-light, durable spacecraft to tiny, disease-busting robots in the bloodstream.
Such business incubators are seen as critical to nurturing laboratory breakthroughs into commercial enterprises. Historically, Houston has had a poor reputation for shepherding research in such fields as biotechnology into successful businesses. Those kinds of endeavors have led some areas, such as Massachusetts and California, to become national leaders in biotech research and development.
With nanotechnology, Houston has some built-in advantages over other parts of the country. The basic research of the late Rick Smalley, Rice University's Nobel Prize-winning nanoscientist, and others has made the institution a world leader in the field. The region also has large industrial bases in energy, health and aerospace, fields in which nanotechnology is expected to make a significant impact.
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