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|Articles - July/August 2013|
|Monday, July 08, 2013|
Page 1 of 4
BY APRIL STREETER // PHOTOS BY ERIC NÄSLUND
Nanoscience — the study of particles as tiny as a billionth of a meter in size — is opening a brave new world. Such particles can behave very differently from larger particles or molecules, and they offer tantalizing improvements to post-modern life: everything from an embedded skin chip whose nano “pores” help tell when it is time to dose with insulin, to tiny dots that form a coating to make eyeglasses scratchproof. But as with all newfangled technologies, nanoparticles can bring unforeseen dangers, as too little is known of their effects on humans and the environment.
For more than a decade, Oregon has built a network of support for new businesses utilizing the novel properties of nanoparticles to innovate in health care, electronics and manufacturing. But the payback — a cluster of healthy businesses drawing more of the same to Oregon — has yet to materialize.
Two of the biggest nano-related companies in the U.S. have a presence in Oregon, nearly across the street from each other in Hillsboro: electron-microscope provider FEI and Intel Corporation. The latter has shipped hundreds of millions of products that incorporate nanotechnology, and there is an Intel connection at practically every nano-related business in Oregon.
On the public side, Corvallis-based Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) is the nexus of local nanoscience advances, helping bootstrap nano-related startups with investments, access to facilities and equipment, and links to the local talent pool. Other members of the support web include the state’s Oregon Innovation Council; business accelerator and tech transfer programs at Portland State University, OHSU, OSU and the University of Oregon; and the Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute (OTRADI).
“It’s a very collaborative community in Oregon,” says ONAMI’s executive director, Skip Rung. “Everyone knows everyone.” Rung says he expects and hopes that in addition to the millions of dollars in sales of Intel chips with “nanotechnology inside,” new nanotech businesses in the state will be worth up to $100 million within the next decade. The global market for nanotechnology is expected to be $50 billion by 2017.
But the pressure is on, as currently there isn’t a substantial stock of seasoned, medium-size Oregon nanotech companies, nor has a nanotech concentration or specialty emerged here. Instead the state has an abundance of companies in early, nonrevenue-generating stages.
There is Beaverton-based Puralytics, which recently began selling the SolarBag water purification system, based on nano-size photocatalysts that break down contaminants with the aid of sunlight. CSD Nano in Corvallis makes antireflective coatings for solar cells and is currently exploring coatings to reduce infrared light and heat from seeping through window glass to make it a superior insulator.
These and other fledgling companies basing their innovations on nanotechnology have glimmers of promise but no guarantee of mainstream success, nor a similarity between them that might be a magnet for venture capital.
“We don’t yet have a nano cluster,” says Eric Rosenfeld, founder of the Oregon Angel Fund, a local venture capital firm. “We have the foundation and some real assets. Now we need more companies to achieve greatness, success and wealth.”
To find out what it will take to make that happen, Oregon Business met with four individuals who play different roles in the state’s nano ecosystem: a researcher, an investor, and two entrepreneurs. The conversations revealed a wealth of energy and drive that could make Oregon a big beneficiary of nanotechnology’s economic rewards. Just not quite yet.
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.
Friday, October 17, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
How can you move from a command-and-control leadership model to one of true empowerment and accountability? David Marquet did, and he took notes along the way.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE
Fred Ziari aims to feed the global population.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
14BY KIM MOORE
Proud, diverse and underpaid.
Pride in their organizations’ mission, fairness in the treatment of women and ethnic minorities, flexible work schedules — these are just a handful of workplace characteristics that employees of this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits appreciate about their organizations.
Thursday, October 02, 2014
Oregon Business magazine has named the sixth annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Most smartphones come equipped with speech recognition systems like Siri or Cortana that are capable of understanding the human voice and putting words into actions. But what if smartphones could do more? What if smartphones could register feeling?
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
BY JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG
A flare-up in the Elliott Forest raises questions about détente in Oregon’s timber wars.
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Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
Get ready for two days of special events produced with the EPA, Portland Timbers and ISOS before and after the GoGreen Conference on October 16.
Rotary’s Oregon Ethics in Business aims to raise consciousness about business ethics by honoring exceptional companies.
Barran Liebman’s annual employment law seminar is an industry classic.
Business leaders descend on Portland in December for the region’s largest environmental conference and trade show.
More than 400 "Change Makers" will gather to invest in a socially sustainable community.