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Posted: March 27, 2008
42 Firms Register for Oklahoma Nanotechnology Program
(Nanowerk News) Jim Mason, executive director of the Oklahoma Nanotechnology Initiative, said 42 companies have publicly registered with the branch of the State Chamber of Oklahoma that encourages research and the adoption of various forms of nanotechnology.
"We've seen an amazing number of companies that aren't just thinking about nano but are doing some great things," he said.
Mason said even more Oklahoma companies than that are using nanotechnology, or the science and manipulation of matter at the molecular level, but do not wish to be publicly listed by ONI for fear of tipping off competitors.
"There are companies that feel like it will give them a competitive advantage," he said.
Products using nanotechnology have already become available, including sunscreens, water-repellant clothing, and automotive and sporting goods with lighter and stronger metals.
The technology can also improve the manufacturing process itself, and has myriad medical applications.
Last year, ONI helped the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology distribute $1.25 million to five Oklahoma companies to help them incorporate nanotechnology. Mason said the organizations will announce the recipients of an additional $1.5 million this spring.
Mason said funding for various projects is no longer the main hurdle. The top need now is for more researchers.
"Even though we have some high-quality research being done, we're still a low-population state with a low number of researchers focused on nanotechnology," he said.
ONI is turning to schools and universities to help address the shortage, he said. The organization has long encouraged collaboration on nanotech research at both the corporate and academic levels.
Mason said the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa have people teaching and working in nanotech, though ONI is looking for more. The organization now wants to help regional and community colleges acquire staff that can teach and do research in nanotechnology.
It's also pulling together lesson plans for teachers in public schools.
"We're aimed at getting kids interested in a career in nanotechnology," Mason said.