Monday, March 23, 2009

Nanobusiness is about business, yes; but it's also about possibilities

Beware of nanotech "news stories" that declare that the scientific breakthrough of the day "may someday lead to ... " or "will be on the market in the next 5-10 years ..." Odds are, it's great science, but its business application is miles away from port.

And that's fine. I love to follow science news from the world's top universities and labs. I read tons of it every day. Not much of it, however, makes it onto the pages of Small Times or is posted online here.

There are lots of other online nanotech portals for that.

Back in 2001, when I was among the founding editors of Small Times, the mantra we began as one of the first to cover nanotech from a business perspective was "Is it us?" I would ask my group of scattered of freelance correspondents -- sometimes to their annoyance -- what about the story they were pitching to me makes it rise above the level of lab breakthrough and into the realm of a business story.

About eight years later now, it's a lot easier to tell the difference as more of the science experiments we covered in the beginning are being commercialized.

It has gotten to the point now where Scott E. Rickert, chief executive of Nanofilm Ltd., has gone as far as to declare that "the era of endless exploration is over -- at least as long as the economy stumbles." Writing in IndustryWeek, Rickert expresses his impatience now with nanotech information that is not directly related to business.

"Nanobusiness is business. Period. First, last, always," Rickert declares.

And, of course, he names Small Times as one of the few publications he turns to when he wants to read about trends in nanobusiness as opposed to nanoscience.

I thank Scott for the "shout-out." We've been trying for years to make Small Times different than your average sci/tech publication. And, of course, your contribution helps, too. If you are commercializing nanotech, or are about to, please contact me and let's generate some coverage.

But, as those who know me from some of my other projects have seen, I do not always believe in hard-and-fast rules. Sometimes, it is just plain cool to read about the future possibilities of where today's nanobusiness might take us.

1 comment:

Slamet said...

But the line between possibility and experimental research can be blurry, can it not? And once in a while, the chase of a "dream" that is backed by big budget can lead to an "acceleration" of it becoming a possibility and then a reality. I.e. I am thinking about landing man on the moon.

The following article on nanorobot is in the "dream" category, but if it received big budget, maybe it will become a reality someday. And it got a real business possibility too.