One of the most helpful courses that I’d ever taken as an undergraduate student was a course called, “Engineering Entrepreneurship”. This was an intense course designed to simulate the actual process of developing a startup company based on an original technology. I spent long hours with a team of students working to draw up financial reports for our pseudo company, outlining an operations plan for development and putting together a business proposal at the end. A course like this is so important because many groups in biotechnology, energy, and other industries feel that nanotechnology is on the cusp of being an industry in and of itself if not for a few very impactful ideas.
There are many ways for nanotech applications to make it to the marketplace. Indeed, there are various drugs such as Doxil which have been around for years and were “nano” before it became a buzzword.(1) Nanotechnology has become a part of other industrial processes, giving antimicrobial properties to surfaces or improving microfab processes. We should look, however, not only to how nanotechnology can be used to supplement existing products or how to reliable existing products as nanotechnology but also how to cultivate a new industry based on nanotechnology.
How exactly can a nanotech industry be created? I think that is something much too involved to discuss in a single blog post. What I can suggest is that all engineering students look into taking business courses along with their other requirements. I believe that if engineers with a background in nanotechnology can become involved in the process of developing startups that then nanotechnology will be as recognized of an industry as biotechnology has become.
1. Doxil Home Page. Accessed 10/24/2013 <http://www.doxil.com>.
By Gregory Wiedman, a graduate student from the Materials Science Department who is altering natural peptides from Bee Honey venom to improve drug delivery.