It's a powerful motivator, isn't it? The New Year triggers thoughts of improving ourselves, our lives -- and our businesses. This year, I have 5 resolutions that need to push aside the usual suspects on you list. Nanotechnology is crucial to building your bottom line, pushing ahead of the competition, or eliminating the threat of someone leaving you in the dust.
That's not just my opinion. Research organizations of every kind provide testimony to the rapid escalation of nanobusiness. One report suggests over 48% compound annual growth rate through 2010. Wherever you look, nanotechnology is changing the rules -- nanofoods, nano-textiles, semiconductors, optics, displays, energy and health. Even nanotech tools could increase 30% next year. Another report suggests the U.S. nano health care market will show a growth rate of nearly 50% through 2009. Even the National Science Foundation sets nanotechnology at the $1 trillion mark by 2015.
So what are you waiting for? If you're going to capture the value of nanotechnology, start this year. Start today.
Nano-Resolution #1: Target three products for nano-ization in 2008. No more investigation. It's time to start producing. I guarantee your competition is hard at it -- even if you're not. Relax, you don't need a Nobel Laureate on your R&D staff to make it happen. The number of nano-enabled "off-the-shelf" opportunities is staggering. What can you put into practice right now? What can you adapt from another market? There are already billions of dollars invested in nano-enabled textiles. Where could that fit in your current product mix to make a product safer, more attractive, and longer lasting?
Nanocoatings now protect electronics, displays, glass, plastics, and metals. Which of your products could benefit from more durability, chemical resistance, and easy-clean characteristics? Nanotechnology is making foods tastier and longer lasting. It's giving lotions and creams new properties and better shelf life. There's a product improvement or a welcome solution waiting for you. Go find it.
Quite frankly, this is the only resolution that matters -- you've got to get nano in 2008. The other resolutions? Some smart ideas to help you achieve Number One.
Nano-Resolution #2: Make contact with three outside companies for nano-partnering. Have you been reading up on "Open Innovation?" It's a current approach to overcoming the "Not Invented Here" syndrome in so many companies. To me, it's a way to jumpstart your nano-efforts. There are plenty of small to midsize companies out there doing the nanotechnology research you many need to accomplish your transformation. Find them. Make an equitable partnership with them -- not a supplier/vendor contract, a real partnership. Co-develop something. You'll get the best from each other now, and build a relationship that will pay big dividends in the future.
Nano-Resolutions #3: Send 3 staff members to a nanotechnology conference. You need to get your team up to speed with you if you're going to accomplish Resolution #1. You can choose hard-core scientific nanotech events, of course. That's where they'll learn the latest technology and get a view of the horizons of possibility. Or, if you prefer, help your people "cut to the chase" of nanotechnology at work in your own industry. Of course, there are plenty of the obvious choices -- electronics, energy, medicine. But whatever your industry, there's probably already a conference that focuses on nano-innovation in it. Textiles? Yep. Food? Naturally. Automotive? From the battery to the paint job. Just go looking.
Nano-Resolution #4: Visit the nanotechnology labs of your local or regional universities. There are millions and millions of dollars going into university research labs. Someone will make a fortune moving the innovations out of the lab and into the marketplace. Why shouldn't it be you? Help guide a spin-off into a start-up into a moneymaker. Invest money when and where you can. Better yet, invest your experience, street smarts and market know-how. I suspect more start-ups have withered from lack of insight than lack of money.
Nano-Resolution #5: Write your Congressman. As with any young industry, there are plenty of issues to consider. First, funding needs to stay strong. The total investments by Asian governments are virtually the same size as North America's. We need to protect our strength. Take a stand on the Research Competitiveness Act, too. Introduced in 2007, this act is a lifeline for nanotechnology and other high-tech start-ups. It ties tax credits to Research and Experimentation costs, not Research and Sales costs. That's a boon to start-ups that don't have sales yet, but have plenty of costs. And, of course, all of us are concerned about environmental and health matters. Read up on the topic and let reason prevail.
That's the plan. Print it out. Tape it to the wall above your desk. Carry it in your wallet. Post it in the coffee room at the office. This is the year for your company to make the move into nanotechnology. Believe me -- it's the key to a Happy New Year, indeed.
Scott E. Rickert is chief executive of Nanofilm, Ltd., located in Valley View, Ohio. His e-mail address is [email protected].