Could there be a worse time to try to talk to policymakers in Washington, DC about the current and potential and economic payoff of nanotechnology? The word "preoccupied" barely begins to describe the mood inside the Beltway. In late March, DC was a boiling cauldron of budget disputes, TARP debates and shouting matches with bailout-seeking executives.
No matter. Leaders from dozens of nanotech companies who were part of the NanoBusiness Alliance's annual Public Policy Tour worked our way to front-and-center to deliver our message to Capitol Hill and White House policymakers. Not that it was easy. We held one briefing in a hallway -- our scheduled conference room had been hijacked by a subcommittee hearing to yell at AIG executives.
Bottom line: we did whatever it took to deliver our message. And I think Washington was glad we did. Why? We may have supplied the only good news of the week: nanotechnology can be the kind of boost for the economy the country is seeking.
Nanotechnology's mantra? Jobs, jobs, jobs.
I bet that got your attention, too. Let me explain. Nanotechnology is providing the kind of innovation that drives economic growth and creates jobs. We're making surprising strides in tough times, and we were in Washington seeking the support to keep a good thing going.
The companies on the tour are the hard proof of success worth building on. I was joined at the conference by executives from familiar mainstream companies like Lockheed Martin, as well as nanotechnology names like Nanosys, NanoComp and other nanotechnology leaders. We're already developing and selling nano-based products and technologies to markets from sporting goods and tableware to energy and defense.
The benefits to the American economy add up pretty quickly. We're already posting a return on the dollars government and private investors have put into the game. We're creating high-paying knowledge jobs - the jobs of the 21st century. We're hiring our own researchers, product developers, production people.
And the outlook for future jobs keeps growing. Experts tell us that by 2014, global revenues from nano-products will grow to $2.6 trillion -- 15% of projected global manufacturing output.
There's more. Nanotechnology is unquestionably going to be a key to success in the other economic stimulus plans. Do you think alternative energy will ever become truly viable without nanotechnology advances in batteries, conductive materials, and components that can stand up to environmental assaults? You'll find nanotechnology at the core of a healthcare economy, too. We're already getting started with improved drug delivery and more innovations are on the near horizon.
The message is simple. In the Real Economy, nanotechnology is a Real Player and a vital resource. Think our Washington audience was interested? You bet. They wanted more of our hard numbers on nanotech's near-term economic impact. They wanted more on research investments, employment, job growth, and product revenues. They wanted more individual success stories.
Me? I'm writing good economic nano-news as fast as I can to send to Washington. And I'd welcome more. If you've got a story you'd like me to tell, email me. We're going to continue to make noise about jobs, success and a revitalized economy. And who wouldn't like to hear that?
Scott E. Rickert is chief executive of Nanofilm, Ltd., located in Valley View, Ohio.