Posted: January 19, 2008

Room for improvement in nanotechnology field

(Nanowerk News) Northeast Ohio and the entire state have some of the right materials to build a strong nanotechnology industry, but a few key elements are missing, according to a report released by regional technology advocacy group NorTech and the Nano-Network, a program focused on connecting the region’s nanotech companies and assets.
The state harbors a relatively large number of small and midsize companies related to nanotechnology when compared with the rest of the Midwest, but research institutions and large companies in the state file relatively few nanotech patents, according to the Northeast Ohio Nanotechnology Report.
The report also stated that Northeast Ohio in particular has yet to exploit many resources it could use to build a stronger nanotechnology industry, such as a sizable health care industry and expertise in polymers.
Building that industry is a worthy goal because nanotechnology — a branch of science devoted to building or altering products on the molecular level — eventually will have a large impact on the global economy, NorTech president Dorothy Baunach said in a statement.
“Keeping that in mind, we want to cultivate an ecosystem that fosters nanotechnology growth and commercialization in Ohio to ensure that we advance innovation and remain globally competitive,” she said.
A laggard in patents
The study said Ohio was home to 35 small and midsize companies with a focus on nanotechnology as of mid-2007. That’s about 10 more than Michigan or Illinois, according to the study, which also looked at Indiana, Missouri and Pennsylvania. More than 20 of those companies are located in Northeast Ohio, putting it on par with Greater Chicago, though Chicago’s companies were larger.
Ohio’s research institutions fell in the middle of the pack in terms of the number of publications written on nanotechnology, but they were less active in terms of patents. Ohio research institutions applied for roughly 60 nanotech patents from 2002 to 2007, while institutions in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Michigan filed roughly 175, 125 and 90, respectively.
The private sector also lacked a strong focus in the area. Nanotechnologies accounted for just 1.5% of patents filed by Fortune 500 companies in Ohio from 2002 to 2006, putting the state barely ahead of Indiana and Michigan. By contrast, nearly 6% of patents filed by Fortune 500 companies in Missouri and Pennsylvania were related to nanotechnology. The study excluded companies in the financial, information technology, retail and wholesale sectors.
The report, funded by the Generation Foundation, included a caveat that the data is not perfect because institutions sometimes define nanotechnology differently, and some do not publicize their activities.
Source: Crain's Cleveland Business (Chuck Soder)
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