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Posted: May 16, 2008
Texas turns attention to nanotechnology
(Nanowerk News) Nanotechnology, particularly as it merges with biotechnology, is likely the next hot industry in Texas, which remains economically strong despite a broad national slowdown, Secretary of State Phil Wilson said this week as he completed a trade trip to the Big Apple.
Wilson led a delegation of Texas business leaders here for three days of meetings with companies and consulting firms. The goal was to gain economic insights and promote Texas as a place to do business.
Wilson presided over the closing bell ceremony Wednesday at the NASDAQ stock market, which he noted lists 161 Texas companies with a total market value of $120 billion.
"We've been very focused the last few years in bringing new jobs to Texas, and part of that approach is visiting with site selectors and business consultants from across the United States and telling them our Texas story," Wilson said in an interview at a Manhattan hotel.
Many site selectors, hired to grow businesses and relocate companies, are based in New York. This was the Texas group's third trip here in the last year and a half.
Part of the story Wilson tells involves a focus on emerging technology.
He said Texas is trying to start the "next hot thing in our state" by turning university research into business reality and nurturing new companies. That next thing will "probably be in the nano arena," he said.
Texas schools, including Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin, have "some of the foremost nanotechnologists in the world," Wilson said.
He noted the work toward merging the biological sciences with nanotechnology and research into advanced lightweight and heat-resistant materials used in fields such as aircraft design.
Wilson dismissed concerns that the Sematech research consortium's growing presence in Albany, N.Y., which aims to become a national high-tech mecca, is a threat to Texas industry.
Sematech set up shop in Austin in the late 1980s and helped fuel the city's economic growth and status as a technology leader.
"The genesis of ideas coming from one (location) or the other will benefit both projects," Wilson said. "Sematech Austin is now more focused on a lot of other types of technologies besides semiconductors. They're focused on bio-life sciences, they're focused on nanotechnology as it relates back to semiconductors."
Specifically on Austin, Wilson said the city has had "a great few years" and it is perceived as a "true technology hub for the southwestern United States and throughout the country."
Echoing the pitches he's made on his trip, Wilson noted that Texas has added 1 million new jobs in the last four years, is the top exporting state, the top wind energy producer and last month surpassed New York as home to the most Fortune 500 companies.
He said Texas is doing well despite the nation's economic woes.
"We've been very fortunate that we did not get caught up to the same degree in the subprime fiasco that's taken place," he said. "We also have a great deal of land, so people are still building all the time in Texas and it's affordable."