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|Articles - July/August 2013|
|Monday, July 08, 2013|
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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.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY DAN COOK
The Affordable Care Act has triggered a rush on health care plan redesign, a process fraught with hidden costs and consequences.
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY SAM BLACKMAN
Storyteller-in-chief with the CEO and co-founder of Elemental Technologies.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
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Court experience helps legal firm anticipate potential problems for clients and prevent expensive litigation.
When Garmin AT needed to consolidate operations for its 550 employees, it scanned its entire corporate map for possible sites.
The technology industry is always in flux. And this rapid rate of change poses challenges to companies ranging from nimble startups aiming to make their mark to established organizations fighting to remain relevant. This is particularly true in the competitive digital display market, where an Oregon company has been at the forefront of nearly every major breakthrough in the last three decades.
A look back at the shifting sands of Portland’s growth and development.
Robert S. Wiggins has joined Lane Powell as a Shareholder in the Corporate/M&A Practice Group. Wiggins is a well-known lawyer, entrepreneur, and investor with more than 30 years of experience leading and advising established and emerging companies in the Pacific Northwest. Wiggins will focus his practice on offering outside general counsel services, including general corporate and board representation, business transactions and capital events.
DEDICATION PARTY: Help the Port of The Dalles celebrate its newest shovel-ready industrial land Friday, July 31, from 1:30 to 4 p.m.