Home Back Issues July/August 2013 Oregon's nanotech industry: Can small be large?

Oregon's nanotech industry: Can small be large?

| Print |  Email
Articles - July/August 2013
Monday, July 08, 2013
Article Index
Oregon's nanotech industry: Can small be large?
The Scientist
The Investor
The Entrepreneurs

The Investor

0713 Nano 03Oregon Angel Fund founder Eric Rosenfeld would agree that he and his band of intrepid investors are enticed by nanotechnology. He’s also quick to note, however, that OAF investors tend to gravitate toward Oregon industries “where there is already a concentration or cluster of talent to draw from,” i.e., not nano-inspired businesses. Since 2007, OAF has put together a fund each year (this year’s is $5.7 million with 130 investors) with the aim of making four to seven company investments, from $100,000 up to $1 million.

Prior to 2011, Rosenfeld says, OAF didn’t have particular investor expertise in the nanorealm; roughly 50% of the last two funds’ investments were in software-related companies. However, the due-diligence committee formed to explore investment possibilities in Portland-based Pacific Light Technologies helped shift that. OAF has given money to Pacific Light and NorthShore Bio, and now has an investment offer pending with bioMetric Holdings.

Rosenfeld, 48, says OAF searches for “showstopper” ideas among the 100 to 200 business plans they see each year. Intel alumni are a source of both investors for OAF funds and ideas for companies; Rosenfeld says Intel is almost like having a semiconductor university in the region.

“We see the really neat stuff, the nano innovations, happening at the intersection of different disciplines rather than within the core disciplines,” Rosenfeld says. “Like in the case of NorthShore Bio, where people coming out of Intel who understand semiconductors are coming together with others who get digital biology, to develop sensing ‘nanopore’ chips. And even Pacific Light, which blends expertise in electronics with advances in nano-level optics.”

Despite enthusiasm for OAF investments in these “intersection” nanocompanies, Rosenfeld is clear that an economic success is now needed, and the sooner the better.

“It’s still early, but we need a success and some wealth generation to initiate that cycle of wealth creation,” he says. “The cycle works in Seattle and the Bay Area, but it hasn’t happened here in nano.”

Practically speaking, without a nanocluster, whether in digital biology, electronics or some other area, supply chains don’t develop. Existing companies also have less of a local talent pool. In addition, as Rosenfeld explains it, OAF is typically a first or lead investor in local Oregon startups. As companies go through further funding rounds, however, Oregon’s venture capital community may not be big enough, and some startups may bow to demands to pick up stakes and move nearer the Silicon Valley investor community.

“We have the inklings, the embryonic stages,” Rosenfeld said. “But these days it actually takes a village to grow a successful company.”



 

More Articles

Trends in business succession

News
Thursday, July 03, 2014
TrendsBY TED AUSTIN & MIKE BAELE | GUEST CONTRIBUTORS

The Office of Economic Analysis announced that Oregon is currently enjoying the strongest job growth since 2006. While this resurgence has been welcome, the lingering effects of the 2008 “Great Recession” continues to affect Oregon businesses, especially with regard to estate planning and business succession.


Read more...

Blips and trends in the housing market

News
Thursday, June 26, 2014
062614 thumb realestateBY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER

Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?


Read more...

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...

Who said we should sell in May?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, July 18, 2014
BullMarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Back in May, we shared a common Wall Street quote about investing, “Sell in May and go away.” Fast forward to July and the most common question we have been getting from clients is, “When is the market pullback going to occur?”


Read more...

OB Video: Oregon MESA

News
Thursday, June 26, 2014

ThumbOregon Business hosts an informal roundtable discussion about the Oregon MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) program.


Read more...

Oversight? Or gaming the system?

News
Monday, July 14, 2014
AmazonBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.


Read more...

Portland rises

News
Monday, August 18, 2014

IMG 2551Portland is in the middle of another construction boom, with residential and office projects springing up downtown, in the Pearl and Old Town. OB Web Editor Jessica Ridgway documents the new wave.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS