Posted: April 14, 2009

Micro, nanotechnology and materials industry reacts to economic crisis in a constructive way

(Nanowerk News) The European micro, nanotechnology and materials enterprises intend to react to the general economic crisis mostly with constructive measures. Almost 70 percent of the companies intend to intensify their efforts to acquire new customers; more than 65 percent want to develop new business fields.
This is a result of a survey IVAM Research has conducted in February among 2,300 enterprises and institutes involved in microtechnology, nanotechnology and advanced materials in Europe.
Micro, nanotechnology and materials industry reacts to economic crisis in a constructive way
IVAM will present the results on April 23 during the HANNOVER MESSE on the forum “Innovations for Industry”, which is part of the MicroTechnology exhibition in hall 6. Other measures against the crisis taken by the mostly small and medium-sized enterprises are to intensify marketing efforts, to access new regional markets and to invest in innovations. The industry does, however, not get around cutting costs: almost 35 percent of the enterprises consider reducing labour costs, while 14 percent want to reduce investments in research and development.
Almost half (47 percent) of the responding small and medium-sized high-tech enterprises were affected by the economic crisis in 2008, mostly by a decrease in orders (78.4 percent) and a decrease in sales (63.6 percent). Prognoses are worse for 2009, when more than two thirds of the enterprises anticipate negative effects on their business development.
Export share steady – staff development static
The global economic crisis has had no drastic effects on the export share of the European microtechnology, nanotechnology and advanced materials industry in 2008, which remained steady compared to previous years. Altogether, almost 50 percent of the small and medium-sized enterprises have gained at least half of their annual sales with export in 2008. The USA is still the major export country of the European industry. Half of the companies say that their total sales have increased in 2008, while 20 percent report a decrease in sales. For the current business year, even 28 percent of the respondents anticipate a decrease in sales.
Prognoses for staff growth are noticeably less optimistic in the current business year than they were in the previous years. Altogether, only a third of the European micro, nano and materials enterprises are expecting their staff numbers to grow in 2009. More than half of the enterprises expect to keep staff numbers steady in 2009, while almost 17 percent expect a decrease.
Enterprises depend on automotive industry despite sales crisis
The current sales crisis of the automotive industry apparently does not prompt the high-tech suppliers to turn away from this industry. Apart from medical technology, which continues to be the major market for the European micro, nano and materials enterprises, the automotive industry is their second most important market. More than 50 percent of the small and medium-sized enterprises are supplying the automotive industry. Nevertheless, 73 percent of the automotive suppliers are expecting a decrease in orders and 61 percent a decrease in sales in 2009.
Microsystems for renewable energies are trend-setting
Microsystems for renewable energies, e.g. photovoltaic applications, are a promising market for the European micro, nano and materials enterprises. 55 percent of the companies involved in energy technologies intend to focus on renewable energy applications in the near future. 45 percent of the enterprises intend to work on functional surfaces that save energy and costs. 10 percent of the companies that deal with energy and efficiency technologies plan to focus on “micro energy harvesting”, where ambient energy, which is gained from the surroundings, is used for powering microsystems. “Energy harvesting” is also the topic of a session on the forum “Innovations for Industry” during HANNOVER MESSE from April 20 to 24 in Hanover, Germany. The forum and the Product Market “Micro, Nano & Materials” of the IVAM Microtechnology Network are situated in hall 6, booth F08 and E16.
Source: IVAM
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