NanoBCA Interview: Mihail (Mike) Roco, Senior Advisor for Science & Engineering, NSF

Posted on May 28th, 2019 | No Comments »

We are excited to share the next interview of our NanoBCA Interview Series. Through this series we offer in-depth interviews with some of the key stakeholders influencing our nanotechnology community today. Many of these dynamic professionals will be participants at our:

18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference
Tuesday, June 4, 2019

REGISTER HERE $250

CONFERENCE LOCATION

K&L Gates
1601 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006-1600

Our next interview is with Mihail (Mike) Roco, Senior Advisor for Science & Engineering, National Science Foundation.

Steve Waite: Thanks for taking time to speak with us today, Mike. You have been involved in nanotechnology at a very high level for many years. How did it all begin?

Mike Roco: I started as a faculty of mechanical engineering at the University of Kentucky in 1981 where I became full professor in four years. While at the University of Kentucky, I received two grants through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore ultrafine particle dynamics and multiphase systems and several contracts from IBM and other companies to explore small particles in reverse coating and two-phase machineries. In 1986-1987 I was visiting professor at Caltech and Tohoku University.  In 1990, I proposed a new research program to the NSF for the U.S. government through the Emerging Technologies competition that encompassed the synthesis of nanoparticles at high rates. That program was relatively small, only $3 million per year over a period of six years.

During this time, I realized that research in this area was a much broader topic that crosses and unifies many scientific fields, with potential to become a general-purpose technology. This realization led to collaboration with experts from diverse fields and the preparation of a report titled “Nanotechnology Research Directions: Vision for the Next Ten Years and Beyond.” It was published in 1999 and was adopted by the National Science and Technology Council, White House, as an official report. This became the foundational document for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). Later it was adopted in research planning in over 80 countries.  It proposed a unified definition of nanotechnology as well as a 10-year outlook for exploration in key R&D sectors and a vision for the next thirty years. This was equivalent to a phase change for the scientific community. Prior to this, only a few people in physics and chemistry were interested. After the unified definition became accepted, other scientists and engineers from many other fields expressed an interest in nanotechnology. The NSF became the playground for the first phase of nanotechnology research. I should note that there was a lot of skepticism in the scientific and industry communities about nanotechnology when we started out (e.g., What is new? When would be the first product?).

SW: There always seems to be a great deal of skepticism when a revolutionary technology is in its infancy.

MR: Yes. In our case, we used the NSF as a playground to ramp up the research in nanotechnology. Over time, the work in nanotechnology blossomed in the U.S. as well as overseas. I am the founding Chair of the Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science and Engineering set up in 2000 at the White House, the interagency organization that steered the NNI.  Currently I am Senior Advisor for Science and Engineering at the NSF.

SW: As a key architect of the NNI, what did you see as the need for a National Nanotech Initiative?

MR: To provide some context, at that time the President was looking at creating an R&D program that would have a long-term impact and recognition. A competition was organized by the White House under the auspices of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and Economic Council. In March 1999, I was invited to the White House in the Old Indian Treaty Room to speak about nanotechnology. Then I proposed the NNI on behalf of an interagency group with an annual budget of $500 million dollars in 2001. They gave me ten minutes. Believe it or not, we ended up speaking for over two hours.

SW: Wow! It sounds like you hit the idea out of the park at that meeting.

MR: It was a seminal event for nanotechnology in the U.S. After the event, the White House gave us approval to speak about the potential for a national program. This work became the foundation for the national science, engineering and technology initiative in nanotechnology, which was unveiled by President Clinton at Caltech in early 2000. By 2019, four Presidents (Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump) have supported the initiative and each highlighted it as a model for S&T national programs.  The cumulative investment is about $27 billion since the inception of the NNI including the 2019 budget estimate. After the announcement of the NNI, nanotechnology has become de facto an international science and technology initiative, a competitive domain between U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia.  The vision of the NNI has been long term in nature (see: “The Long View of Nanotechnology Development: “The National Nanotechnology Initiative at 10 years”). We saw nanotechnology having an impact on industry and society at large over the course of decades.

To answer your question, the need for the NNI came out of the realization that the control of matter at the nanoscale is important to the entire economy and society. We saw the NNI as fostering the research necessary to control matter at the nanoscale. There was a gap in knowledge between the 1 to 100 nanometer level. People did not have concepts to understand the functioning of matter at this small scale. There was no accepted unifying concept across all the fields. Initially, there was fragmentation. The opportunity we saw with the NNI was associated with the nature of nanotechnology as a general-purpose technology that will have a widespread impact across all sectors of the economy. We saw the NNI as fostering activities that were collegial across scientific fields and across agencies.

We saw nanotechnology evolving through the NNI in three phases. First, one has to develop the basic concepts and components. We envisioned it taking roughly ten years to develop the foundation science and create a library of nanocomponents from most elements of the periodic table. The second phase involved the integration of nanotechnology components in larger structures that are useful nanodevices, biosensors, hierarchical structures of polymers and artificial tissues, to name a few. The third phase, which is expected to be in full effect after 2020, is integration with other systems to be used effectively and economically in almost every product. For all of this to happen, we needed general methods for nanoscale investigation, design, manufacturing, and integration with other emerging fields. By the end of the third decade, the vision is to have methods of design and manufacturing for effective integration of nanotechnology in industry, medicine, space, etc. I think we are on this path.

SW: It certainly seems that way.

MR: Yes. To give an example. As you know, in semiconductors more than 70% are based on nanoscale phenomena and components if we speak about the U.S. based companies. In advanced chemicals, it is more than 40%.  About the same for pharmaceuticals. We already see that the penetration of nanotechnology is significant, and yet we are still at an early stage, as the concepts and processes are evolving. Nanotechnology is improving continuously. Once we have the methods of how to design economically at the nanoscale level, penetration will accelerate. We knew when we started that we had to develop this foundational knowledge of how to create larger structures from the nanoscale on up. Where we are now, the critical problem is to be able to create by design and to manufacture larger structures that have multiple functions and can be integrated into larger systems.

Another major challenge today is to integrate nano with bio, information, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science. Other challenges at the present time include the need to do sustainable nanotechnology for global sustainability and to use nano as a condition for modern biology (e.g., gene editing and nanorobotics for surgery). Nano is now an integral part of the revolution in medicine. Within this field, there is a major challenge for nanotechnology to help create brain-to-brain, brain-to-machine, brain-like devices and hardware systems for artificial intelligence. I would also note that a field that started from nanoscale science and engineering is quantum. There is a focus today on quantum communications and quantum computing that stems from the foundational work we have done in nano.

It is important to note that nanotechnology is a foundational field. Since the year 2000, we have seen many spinoff fields. For instance, in 2003 in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) we created a quantum science and technology group that was a spin off on the NNI. That was done on a more confidential basis for fifteen years. This year we have a quantum initiative at the national level in the U.S. There are more than twenty fields today that started specifically from the NNI research programs. For example, we started a program in metamaterials in 2004. Within a period of three years, we went from one NSF proposal in this area to hundreds of proposals and thousands of publications.

I would also point out that synthetic biology and plasmonics were enabled as part of the NNI up to 2004 and were subsequently spun off. The Materials Genome Initiative initially started from the nanomaterials-by-design modeling and simulation area of focus within NNI. The basic concepts from the nanophononics area formed a foundation and evolved to be integrated in the 2012 National Photonics Initiative. Other notable fields that were spun out of the NNI research programs and at the confluence with other foundational areas are: nanofluidics, carbon electronics, nanotechnology sustainability, nanostructured wood fibers, DNA nanotechnology, protein nanotechnology, and nanoscale-mesoscale systems.

My point is nano is a foundational field that creates a base and has not only created new knowledge, but new fields of science and new disciplines. There are successive phases of growth to a foundational field such as nanotechnology, as well as many players. There is no ending. There is an evolution that takes place over many decades.

SW: Given what you have learned over the years, what types of things would you have done differently, if any, to make the NNI more effective?

MR: The NNI started out as a science project and blossomed into a unified knowledge base and a community that did not exist before. We also have created a flexible infrastructure for research and production. This would not have happened without the organization that went into the NNI. We can also see that the work associated with NNI has inspired other emerging technologies. When I think about what could have been done differently, we have to recognize that when we began we faced some limitations. One limitation was the ability to engage with industry from the beginning. That said, the NanoBusiness Alliance launched in 2001 at an early stage of the NNI. But there was fragmentation within industry, due to various factors, that limited progress. Nevertheless, industry has adopted nanotechnology, even if it has not been widely advertised over the years. Based on our estimates, nanotechnology today accounts for products that cumulatively represent more than 4% of U.S. GDP, which equates to about three quarters of a trillion dollars.

SW: We vividly recall those trillion-dollar projections for nanotech in the world. Are we there?

MR:  Our estimation published in 2001 was that the worldwide revenues from products that have nanotechnology as the key feature for competitiveness would reach one trillion dollars by 2015, of which about one third would be in the U.S.  If we use the Lux Research industry surveys, in agreement with other estimations and extrapolations, we reached both of those worldwide and U.S targets in 2013. Now, I would like to add that another limitation was the inability to develop applications quickly caused slower than expected progress in modeling, simulation and design. For example, as we go to larger structures, we cannot use trial and error like we can do with nanoparticles. If you want to build a system, one has to develop better generalized theories that include all of the phenomena and types of interactions. This, in my opinion, is still a place where we can improve. When I look at Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) I think we have done pretty well overall because we started to focus on this at the beginning. Now the focus is shifting to ELSI (Ethical, Legal and Societal Implications) that have become just as important as EHS because we are moving to larger and more complex systems.

In summary, when I look back certainly some things could be improved. But overall, I think we had a very good macro approach to address the foundational general-purpose technology that is nanotechnology. After 2007, there was a perception that we have the results and now all we need are applications. However, I believe that we must continue to develop the methods for new nanotechnology generations in parallel with translational efforts and applications.

SW: How do you see the NNI evolving in the years ahead?

MR: We have not generalized efficient methods for manufacturing or generalized methods for integration with nanotechnology. In my view, this has to be a focus going forward. We are at the end of the second phase of development I spoke about earlier. The next phase, the third one, will see the development of new architectures for nanotechnology as well as new methods that are generalized and can be applied economically. The moment to capitalize on results we have obtained with the NNI is coming during the next phase, which will take out us to 2030 and beyond. Nanotechnology blossoms into its full potential when you can develop new architectures and integrate it into society economically and efficiently to tackle some of the biggest challenges we see today. We are on the path, but we have a lot more work ahead. I do believe the NNI can continue to play a role in helping to foster the development of nanotechnology in the decade ahead.

SW: You co-authored a book in 2011 titled, Nanotechnology Research Directions for Societal Needs in 2020: Retrospective and Outlook.” The year 2020 is around the corner. Where are we on your Nanotechnology 2020 roadmap?

MR: That’s a very good question. Almost all the important targets we discussed in the book are on the way. The progress over the past decade has been significant. There is a great deal of work in nanotechnology being done outside of the U.S. There is a realization overseas that now is the time to reap the benefit of nanotechnology, so they are investing more. There is a research challenge as well as a development challenge. I think this has to continue in order to reap the benefits of nanotechnology in the decade ahead. Nanotechnology is an inspirational and enabling field for new science and technology platforms.  Key areas of converging technologies integrated from the nanoscale have been benchmarked in more than 30 countries in the report “Convergence of Knowledge, Technology and Society.” Many visionary ideas were initially advanced in the foundational convergence report, “Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance: Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Sciences,” are on their way of realization. 

SW: We have reached the 7-nanometer level in semiconductors. There is a lot of discussion in the semiconductor industry these days about the need for new types of architectures and designs. What role can nanotechnology play in fostering these new architectures and designs?

MR: Nanotechnology offers the opportunity to develop new architectures for computing. We have gone a long way in developing new nanoscale components. Now we have to go to the next phase to create new principles and new architectures at the nanoscale level. Computation in the cell is at the nanoscale level. Computing in the quantum is at the nanoscale level. Computing for photonics and optics is at the nanoscale level. We were discussing quantum when we launched the NNI. A separate spin-off program was created for quantum in 2003. Nanotechnology has the potential to usher in new architectures for semiconductors and for computing such as quantum. The field for these new architectures is completely wide open. In addition, AI offers new ways to design, manufacture and use nanosystems.  A key challenge is building the nano-enabled hardware to be suitable and work well with the AI software.

I should add that the NSF currently has a collaboration with the SRC (Semiconductor Research Corporation) and NIST. There are nearly two dozen new ideas of how to progress, even in the nanoelectronics domain. The scientific and engineering challenges we see in semiconductors today are even richer than they were twenty years ago when the NNI was launched.  Benchmarking of new computing elements and their assemblies using convergence performance criteria is a promising opportunity of selecting priorities.

SW: How do you see the NSF’s role in nanotechnology evolving in the years ahead? 

MR: NSF is addressing all the fields of nanoscale science and engineering. We have about 6,000 active awards focused on upward research going from quantum, to biosensors, to building nanostructures using bio principles from synthetic biology. A portion of these are in so-called core programs where you leave people open to proposing any idea while others are conceptually-driven top-down, so-called big ideas or focused solicitations. In parallel, we have three other activities. One is to create the infrastructure focused on the academic field. The second is education and training. In education we look to various methods, from individualized learning, to virtual reality to using convergence methods. Thirdly, we look to societal implications of the research done and possible applications. The NSF has the most focus on this area. We also look at economic, environmental, health, and ethical issues related to nanotechnology development and the development of other emerging fields in connection with nanotechnology.

I should add that the NSF has a lot of international collaborations. More than 20 percent of the 6,000 awards have formal international collaborations. We train 10,000 students per year, which is a large number. We have about 30 large centers and about 14% of all awards made by the NSF have nanotechnology inside in the last five years. In addition, NSF annually funds about 25 new SBIR/STTR nanotechnology awards, as well an increasing amount for Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) for joint academe-industry research awards, I-Corps for innovation training linking completed basic research professionals to entrepreneurs and industry, and INTERN for graduate student internships in industry.

SW: What type advice would you give to a high school student today who is interested in nanotechnology?

MR: Nano is exciting, is futuristic, it applies to all of the material world, and is highly rewarding. For the past several years, NSF has organized a national competition for high school students called Nano Generation. We give prizes to the winners. Next year, this will be merged together with the Museum of Science activities across the U.S. For a high school student, it is essential to follow this line of thought: The specific fields of jobs changes continually. However, if you learn something more foundational, you can cross from one field to another. To have a good salary in the U.S., you need to have a good education. Considering that nanotechnology is a general field that crosses and intersects with many fields, if you learn nanoscale science and engineering well you can find a job in many fields. Secondly, if you have a background in nanotechnology you may have a higher qualification that will put you in a better position to have an interesting and fulfilling job. From a broader intellectual point of view, nanotechnology offers a grand perspective of nature, and how things work around us.  

SW: Last question for today, Mike. What type of advice would you give to policymakers today with respect to encouraging the development of nanotechnology in the future?

MR: I do this every day. There are many challenges ahead, increasingly more sophisticated and more impactful. The main technical direction I think now is to construct larger nanostructured systems with more atoms, information and complexity contents that can be integrated economically and to work together with information, quantum, bio and artificial intelligence. Nanotech cannot strive in isolation. Nano is the foundational technology from which other technologies can emerge and evolve. The convergence with other foundational fields such information technology and cognitive science to name a couple, can help foster sustainable economic development.

From my vantage point, nanotech becomes part of the solution in many fields. It is not a solution just for a final product. From the beginning it has to be integrated with other ideas. Those who do nanoscience and engineering are engaged in multidisciplinary science that includes bio, cognitive, information and other fields. In fact, nanotechnology is one of the foundational fields together with digital technology that are general purpose in nature. As a confirmation, nanotechnology is critical to all newly announced WH Industries of the Future (March 2019) to receive priority in funding: Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Manufacturing, Quantum Information Science, and 5G networks. In summary, I see nanotechnology evolving to larger, more sophisticated systems that maintain the nanoscale behavior at the smaller scale while at the same time integrating with other emerging technologies.

SW: Thank you for your time today, Mike. The NanoBCA commends you for all of the great work in nanotechnology you have done over the years. We wish you all the best in the future.

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Steve Waite is the author of several books including Quantum Investing and Venture Investing in Science.

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I hope you enjoyed this month’s interview. Our 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference offers outstanding opportunities to connect with a diverse nanotechnology-related group of professionals in the heart of Washington DC.  We hope you will be able to join us on June 4th!

Agenda Update: Water 2.0 Conference 6/5 DC

Posted on May 28th, 2019 | No Comments »

Today we are excited to share an Agenda Update for our: 

Water 2.0 Conference: Advancing Water Infrastructure Repair
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

REGISTER TODAY $250

CONFERENCE LOCATION(S)

We will be meeting at 10:00am for a continental breakfast at the law offices of K&L Gates1601 K Street, NW, Washington, DC.From there we will proceed to Russell Senate Building, Room 385 where the conference will be located.

Speakers for the Water 2.0 Conference Include:

AGENDA

10:00-11:00  Registration & Continental BreakfastK&L Gates, 1601 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006-1600

Opening Remarks and Introductions
Vincent Caprio, Water 2.0 Executive Director & Conference Chair

11:00-11:30  In transit to Capitol Hill – Russell Senate Office Building

11:30  Conference Presentations begin at Russell Senate Office Building – Room 385

11:30-Noon Innovation as a Service
Alan Hinchman, Chief Revenue Officer, GrayMatter Systems

Noon-12:30 Kenneth E. Russell, PhD, Consulting Executive and Author

12:30-1:30  Lunch

1:30-2:00  Nate Wilson, Water Quality Product Lead, Mueller

2:00-2:30  Karen Sorber, Executive Chair/CEO, Micronic Technologies

2:30-3:00  At the Edge: The IoT Cyber Security Imperative
Paul Clayson, CEO, AgilePQ

3:00-3:30 Point of Use filtration: How to protect your water while waiting for the infrastructure to be fixed
Bryan Eagle, CEO, Glanris

3:30-4:00  Soohyun Julie Koo, President & CEO, IOREX Global Company

4:00-4:30  Water Investing: State of the Union 2019
Vincent Caprio, Water 2.0 Executive Director & Conference Chair
Jim Hurd, Director, GreenScience Exchange

4:30  Conclusion

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Questions in regard to the event may be directed to:
Vincent Caprio vincent@water2.org

Click here to see completed Water 2.0 events

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The Water 2.0 Conference Series offers outstanding opportunities to connect with a diverse water-related group of professionals in the heart of Washington DC.  We hope you will be able to join us!

Final Agenda: 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference 6/4 DC

Posted on May 28th, 2019 | No Comments »

Today the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association (NanoBCA) is excited to share the Final Agenda for our:

18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference
Tuesday, June 4, 2019

REGISTER HERE $250

CONFERENCE LOCATION

K&L Gates
1601 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006-1600

This year’s event will feature experts from private industry, representatives from government agencies, and public policy leaders who will address the opportunities and challenges in the ongoing commercialization of nanotechnology-based products and nanomaterials.

AGENDA

8:00-9:00  Registration & Continental Breakfast

9:00-9:30  Opening Remarks
– Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBCA
– Paul Stimers, Partner, K&L Gates
– Steve Waite, Author, Venture Investing in Science & Quantum Investing

9:30-10:00  Doyle Edwards, Director, Government Programs, Brewer Science

10:00-10:30  Matthew Putman, PhD, CEO, Nanotronics Imaging

10:30-11:00 Lisa Friedersdorf, PhD, Director, NNCO

11:00-11:30  Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Director, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

11:30-12:15  Arthur Herman, PhD, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute; New York Times Bestselling Author; Pulitzer Prize Finalist

12:15-1:00  Lunch

1:00-1:30  Jim Phillips, Chairman & CEO, Covenant Ventures

1:30-2:00  Penelope T. Salmons, President/COO, Fibrtec Inc

2:00-2:30  Hugues Jacquemin, CEO, OCSiAI LLC

2:30-3:00  Samuel Brauer, PhD, Principal, Nanotech Plus, LLC

3:00-3:30  Anis Rahman, PhD, Chief Technology Officer, Applied Research & Photonics, Inc

3:30-4:00  Marco Curreli, PhD, Founder & Executive Director, Omni Nano

4:00-4:30 Deb Newberry, CEO, Newberry Technologies

4:30-5:00  FBI: Economic Espionage Program – Topic: Intellectual Property Theft/Industrial Espionage

5:00-6:00  Post-Conference Networking


—————————————————————————
NanoBCA Interview Series

The NanoBCA Interview Series offers in-depth interviews with some of the key stakeholders influencing our nanotechnology community today. Many of these dynamic professionals will be participants at our 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference. Below you will find links to interviews featuring:

Greg Schmergel
Co-Founder, Chairman & CEONantero, Inc.

Paul Stimers
Partner
K&L Gates

Arthur Herman, PhD
Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
New York Times Bestselling Author
Pulitzer Prize Finalist

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18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference Media Partner

Precision Nanomedicine

—————————————————————————
Questions in regard to the event may be directed to:
Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBCA
vincent@nanobca.org

—————————————————————————
Our 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference offers outstanding opportunities to connect with a diverse nanotechnology-related group of professionals in the heart of Washington DC.  We hope you will be able to join us!


Speaker Announcement: Water 2.0 Conference 6/5 DC

Posted on May 8th, 2019 | No Comments »

Today we are excited to share a Speaker Announcement for our next Water 2.0 Conference.

Water 2.0 Conference: Advancing Water Infrastructure Repair
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

CONFERENCE LOCATION(S)

We will be meeting at 10:00am for a continental breakfast at the law offices of K&L Gates1601 K Street, NW, Washington, DC.From there we will proceed to Russell Senate Building, Room 385 where the conference will be located.

Speakers for the Water 2.0 Conference Include:

Mark Modzelewski, General Partner, Treeline Interactive

Paul Clayson, CEO, AgilePQ

Alan Hinchman, Chief Revenue Officer, GrayMatter Systems

Nate Wilson, Water Quality Product Lead, Mueller

Karen Sorber, Executive Chair/CEO, Micronic Technologies

Kenneth E. Russell, PhD, Consulting Executive and Author

Jim Hurd, Director, GreenScience Exchange

Vincent Caprio, Water 2.0 Executive Director & Conference Chair

—————————————————————————
Questions in regard to the event may be directed to:
Vincent Caprio vincent@water2.org

Click here to see completed Water 2.0 events

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WATER NEWS

Trump and Pelosi both claim progress after infrastructure meeting
Los Angeles Times

Democrats say Trump agrees to $2 trillion for infrastructure, but details unclear
USA Today

Trump, Pelosi infrastructure talks invite skepticism
The Hill

Flint’s Water Crises Started 5 Years Ago. It’s Not Over.
The New York Times

Microplastics are raining down from the sky
National Geographic

At our current pace it’ll take 80 years to repair all the structurally deficient bridges in the US, a report finds
CNN

Jerry Merryman, Inventor of the Pocket Calculator, Dies at 86
Newsweek

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The Water 2.0 Conference Series offers outstanding opportunities to connect with a diverse water-related group of professionals in the heart of Washington DC.  We hope you will be able to join us!

Agenda Announcement: 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference 6/4 DC

Posted on May 8th, 2019 | No Comments »

Today the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association (NanoBCA) is proud to announce Arthur Herman, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, New York Times Bestselling Author and Pulitzer Prize Finalist as a speaker at our 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference. We recently interviewed Arthur Herman for our NanoBCA Interview Series. Click here to read the interview. We are very excited to have Arthur join us on June 4th in DC!

18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference
Tuesday, June 4, 2019

REGISTER HERE $250

CONFERENCE LOCATION

K&L Gates
1601 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006-1600

This year’s event will feature experts from private industry, representatives from government agencies, and public policy leaders who will address the opportunities and challenges in the ongoing commercialization of nanotechnology-based products and nanomaterials.

AGENDA

8:00-8:30  Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:30-9:00  Opening Remarks
– Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBCA
– Paul Stimers, Partner, K&L Gates
– Steve Waite, Author, Venture Investing in Science & Quantum Investing

9:00-9:30  Doyle Edwards, Director, Government Programs, Brewer Science

9:30-10:00  Arpana Verma, PhD, Chief Science Officer, NanoMech

10:00-10:30  Matthew Putman, PhD, CEO, Nanotronics Imaging

10:30-11:00 TBD

11:00-11:30  Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Director, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

11:30-12:15  Arthur Herman, PhD, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute; New York Times Bestselling Author; Pulitzer Prize Finalist

12:15-1:00  Lunch

1:00-1:30  Jim Phillips, Chairman & CEO, Covenant Ventures

1:30-2:00  Penelope T. Salmons, President/COO, Fibrtec Inc

2:00-2:30  Hugues Jacquemin, CEO, OCSiAI LLC

2:30-3:00  Samuel Brauer, PhD, Principal, Nanotech Plus, LLC

3:00-3:30  Anis Rahman, PhD, Chief Technology Officer, Applied Research & Photonics, Inc

3:30-4:00  Marco Curreli, PhD, Founder & Executive Director, Omni Nano

4:00-4:30 Deb Newberry, CEO, Newberry Technologies

4:30-5:00  FBI: Economic Espionage Program – Topic: Intellectual Property Theft/Industrial Espionage

5:00-6:00  Post-Conference Networking

—————————————————————————
NanoBCA Interview Series

The NanoBCA Interview Series offers in-depth interviews with some of the key stakeholders influencing our nanotechnology community today. Many of these dynamic professionals will be participants at our 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference. Below you will find links to interviews featuring:

Greg Schmergel
Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO
Nantero, Inc.

Paul Stimers
Partner
K&L Gates

—————————————————————————
18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference Media Partner
Precision Nanomedicine

—————————————————————————

Questions in regard to the event may be directed to:Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBCA
vincent@nanobca.org

—————————————————————————
Our 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference offers outstanding opportunities to connect with a diverse nanotechnology-related group of professionals in the heart of Washington DC.  We hope you will be able to join us!



NanoBCA Interview: Arthur Herman, Senior Fellow, The Hudson Institute

Posted on April 23rd, 2019 | No Comments »

The NanoBusiness Commercialization Association (NanoBCA) is excited to share the next interview of our NanoBCA Interview Series. Through this series we offer in-depth interviews with some of the key stakeholders influencing our nanotechnology community today. Many of these dynamic professionals will be participants at our:

18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
K&L Gates Washington DC

REGISTER HERE $250

This month we are excited to share the following interview with New York Times bestselling Author and Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Dr. Arthur Herman. Dr. Herman is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC.

Steve Waite: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today, Arthur. There is a lot of ground to cover. Let’s start with the work you are doing on quantum technology, which encompasses nanotechnology. What inspired you to get involved with quantum technology?

Arthur Herman: I wrote a book titled, “Freedom’s Forge: HowAmerican Business Produced Victory in World War II,” that was published in 2012. It became a big hit, both in business circles and in the U.S. defense department. There was a lot of discussion in the book about how to return to the principles that underlay the building of the Arsenal of Democracy, which we seem to have gotten very far away from in terms of a big, labyrinth, bureaucratic organization we see today. I’m working with the DoD on ways in which to get back to those principles. Getting involved with the DoD has got me interested in the ways in which technology and national security, and defense technologies, are engaged in an interplay and the way in which policy shapes the evolution of technology, and likewise how the evolution of technology shapes national policy.

They brought me to the Hudson Institute to work on these kinds of issues, initially in energy and then in the area of cyber security and cyber deterrence. One day, we had as a visitor here, Mike Rogers who is the former Chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House. He mentioned quantum computers and the possible future threat of a quantum computer for decrypting public key encryption systems and networks. I suddenly had this flash in my mind of a scene from the movie, Sneakers. In the movie, an eastern European scientist devised a black box that instantly decrypts all encryption systems and lays bare the secrets of the National Security Agency. The code phrase for the black box is “no more secrets.” It struck me that this is a fascinating technology. That was about three years ago. Since then, I have become more interested and delved into it from the point of view, both from the threat of quantum computing, but also the huge opportunities that come from tapping into the power quantum-based technologies. I find quantum technology an irresistible subject.

SW: Very interesting, Arthur. You launched the Quantum Alliance Initiative (QAI) at the Hudson Institute. It appears to be kindred with what Paul Stimers is doing with the Quantum Industry Coalition. Tell us about the QAI.

AH: The QAI was set up to accomplish two things. The first is to foster collaboration and bridge the gap I was seeing in the quantum technology landscape. What I noticed when I surveyed that landscape was a kind of stove piping of effort among the various communities that were working on quantum computing and quantum cryptography. They were not talking to each other, and in many cases, were actually rather suspicious of each other. I realized that the people in each group had different scientific backgrounds. A lot of people who are working in quantum computing have backgrounds in physics, while a lot of people working on quantum and post-quantum cryptography had mathematics backgrounds. Neither group seemed to have much interest in what the other was doing.

One of the messages I wanted to send through the QAI is to urge the people working quantum encryption to pay attention to what the people who are working on quantum computers are doing and vice versa. I believe the people working on quantum computing need to be fully cognizant of the development of ways to protect and secure data in the future because of the implications quantum computers have for cyber security. Ultimately, if we are going to have quantum key distribution networks they are going be networks built around quantum computers.

The second mission of the QAI has to do with the notion that the U.S. cannot win the quantum race by going it alone. In many areas, such as quantum communication and post-quantum cryptography, we have key allies, like Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who are major contributors to exciting developments in quantum technology.

The reason we call it The Quantum Alliance Initiative is we are looking to internationalize, to build a strong and vibrant alliance for the U.S. in its quantum efforts, and to build a strong alliance between the different quantum communities: quantum communication, quantum secure cryptography and quantum computing. We want to bring these all together so there is an ongoing dialogue and discussion. Our first conference in October 2017 was the very first to try to achieve this in Washington. This is the direction we’ve been going in all along.

I should mention that we are also reaching out to other technology communities. We just had a conference on quantum and artificial intelligence. We had an event on quantum and the problem surrounding intellectual property. Our mission is to help people not think of this as some kind of exotic, science fiction, fantasy world, but one that can address fundamental principles that apply to all emerging technology through what is happening in the quantum area.  

SW: That makes a lot of sense. There is a great deal of hype, and at the same time, skepticism about quantum computers. Where is the hype and skepticism coming from and how do we navigate through it all?

AH: One feeds the other. Let’s be honest. We have companies crowing about their latest advances in quantum computing and making bigger and bigger claims about future developments. This type of behavior generates skepticism. One of the ways to navigate through hype is to internationalize your perspective. Look at the effort the Chinese are putting into quantum. They are going at it in a very deliberate and strategized way. According to the recent report from CNAS in China’s quantum effort, government spending on China’s flagship National Laboratory of Quantum Information Science in Hefei will amount to $15.76 billion over the next five years. At the same time, they are aggressively pursuing advances in quantum communication. They launched their quantum satellite. Their Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) network connects Shanghai and Beijing. By contrast, U.S. government spending on Quantum Information Science (QIS) over the next five years, counting the $1.25 billion authorized under the Quantum Alliance Initiative Act, plus the $200 million the U.S. government normally spends through other programs, amounts to $2.25 billion, which is 14 percent of what China is investing. 

Now, the quantum skeptics, some of whom I have spoken to here in Washington, think this is ridiculous. I understand the skepticism, but this is how revolutionary technologies get launched. Once quantum repeaters come into play – and there are people who are working diligently on this today – there will be more breakthroughs. Then you will see the QKD networks really become more than just simply science experiments. What you will see is something that will provide hack-proof information connections. And this is exactly what the Chinese are doing and what they have been thinking about for the past four years. If you look at their record on patent applications going back to 2015 they lagged behind the U.S. in quantum computing, but they are the world leader in quantum communication patent applications. That tells you they are moving ahead on this front in a major way.

I would also point out that the quantum computing skeptics do not yet seem to fully appreciate the potential for a cyber security and privacy disaster. There is a growing recognition of this threat that was recognized by The National Academy of Sciences report on quantum computing. Let me quote from that report: “Even if a quantum computer that can decrypt current cryptographic ciphers is more than a decade off, the hazard of such a machine is high enough, and time from transition to a new security protocol is sufficiently long and uncertain, the prioritization of the development, standardization and deployment of post-quantum cryptography is critical for minimizing the chance for a potential security and privacy disaster.” The upshot of this message is you better get ready and the time to start is now. There is not much the skeptics can say to refute this statement.

I have to say I encounter a lot of quantum skeptics in my travels throughout the world. My sense is that a lot of them do not understand how quantum technologies work because they don’t have the backgrounds required to understand it. Even the quantum skeptics have to concede that the very possibility of such a threat to cyber security and privacy means that you have to make major changes to the way in which encryption works. I think even the skeptics can agree on the need today to develop agile solutions, not just for quantum cyber security threat, but also for the current classical threat. If you don’t have agile PKIs (i.e., Public Key Infrastructure) that can be updated and can evolve with the technology, then you are going to constantly fall behind and playing catch up.

SW: What are some of the major market opportunities for producers of quantum technology over the next three to five years?

AH: I should first note that I look at quantum technology from the point of view of national security policy, not from the point of view of investment. That said, I see several active areas of opportunity today. One is quantum software for quantum computers. As quantum computing hardware develops, there is going to be a huge demand for ways in which to program them. Another area is the development of quantum materials. There is a need for new materials, to develop ways to facilitate entanglement and finding ways in which materials allow the qubits to do the seemingly impossible. Right now, the challenge with qubits is that any contact with any kind of matter – boom! They are gone. Quantum materials that can facilitate and ease that transition will be important, whether for quantum computers, as Michelle Simmons is trying to do with developing a microchip for quantum computers – or whether you are talking about Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) and QKD. If you have quantum materials that facilitate entanglement from one node to the next you don’t have to start over at each node, then you have QKD repeaters that can take off from there.

Another area I would mention is quantum sensors. Quantum sensing is already here and already in use. Developments there would be of interest to Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. Lastly, I would add quantum communications, and in particular, hardware that would be useful to U.S. government agencies. I have some thoughts on this area of quantum opportunity but would prefer not to discuss it at the present time.

SW: We appreciate your perspectives on near term quantum opportunities. What are some of the major challenges and impediments for producers of quantum technology today?

AH: We have a lousy export control regime at the present time that limits the possibility for international cooperation and also retards our ability to have a truly innovative quantum technology ecosystem. If you place all the stress on everything having to be U.S. made, it will be challenging to do this if you are freezing out international partners. In the larger picture, export control as status quo limits our possibilities in a lot of advanced technologies, not just in quantum. And, of course, the current regime is associated with the concern that the technology will end up in the hands of the Chinese. It is an understandable concern. However, as we are finding with the current furor over 5G, we are going to have a tough time convincing even our close allies to shy away from using Chinese technology in this area if we don’t have a reasonable and viable alternative to offer. We are having a big problem with that and 5G, and I believe we are going to have even more of a problem with regard to quantum. We must also keep in mind that many U.S. companies working in this area are global with offices all over the world, including China.

The other major challenge is associated with something we’ve already touched on, and that is the walls and lack of cooperation within the quantum community. This is a big problem. We know from the work in nanotechnology over the past two decades that we need cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary interaction to foster advancement and spark new thoughts, ideas, partnerships, and, ultimately innovation.

SW: Right on, Arthur! Given all of the challenges today, are you concerned that the U.S. may fall behind in the development of quantum technologies?

AH: Well, let’s compare what is going on in China with what is going on here in the U.S. at the current time. Over the next five years the U.S. federal government will be spending $14.25 per second on QIS, whereas China’s government will be spending $99.49 or nearly $100 per second, almost seven times the amount the U.S. is spending. If we subtract the NQI Act money, which still has not been appropriated yet, we’re looking at $6.34 per second, or fifteen times less than China is spending. By comparison, the European Union, which is slated to invest $550 million in QIS over the same five years, is looking at a spending rate of $3.48 per second.    

SW: We know that the amount of spending does not necessarily correlate with the amount of innovation. The two Steves at Apple (Jobs and Wozniak) had a much smaller research and development (R&D) budget than IBM when they started out, but Apple was the far more innovative company in the personal computer segment.

AH: Totally. Money is never the answer, and that is one of the mistakes the Chinese may make. But having said this, notice what the Chinese have done. The money that they are spending is not in R&D. They steal the R&D from us. It is really fascinating to look at the big Chinese IT firms like ZTE and Huawei. These companies generate an enormous amount of patent applications and are at the forefront of where the technology is going, but their R&D budgets are extremely low. The R&D is done for them by the American companies, European companies, as well as American and European universities. They just help themselves to whatever it is useful to them. What is scary about the difference in the money being spent on quantum technology in China versus the U.S. is that the money in China is being spent on the application of the technology, the building of infrastructure, the hiring of staff, the creation of a workforce that is devoted and focused entirely on these technologies.

In the end, what it really reflects is a comprehensive national strategy which the Chinese have, and which a lot of our European partners have as well. We haven’t really developed a national quantum strategy in the U.S. We have a lot of very able people and a lot of programs that are underway that are being led by the U.S. government. But there is no comprehensive strategy at the present time.

SW: Yes. Paul Stimers and I talked about this during our NanoBCA interview last month. Given what the Chinese are doing today, do you see quantum technology as a moonshot challenge?

AH: Given the stakes involved, and the opponent we are dealing with, which is China, I think there is a need for a moonshot type offense. I say this with two caveats. The first is that it can be done with a fraction of the expenditure that we see in China today. I don’t believe we need to spend all that much money. Second of all, it is one in which the drivers will have to be private industry and the entrepreneurs. In other words, it’s not so much picking winners and losers. Nobody wants that to happen. It is a peril because the temptation is so great. We’ve seen that failure with areas like Green Energy.

SW: Boy, did we ever. What a disaster.

AH: Solyndra is a case study in how bad this could go. What you have to do is build in the safeguards to prevent this from happening. But what is really necessary is summing up all the animal spirits and exuberance and keeping everybody pointed in the right direction. That’s where a national strategy will come in handy. We can set certain types of benchmarks for what we want to achieve, where we want to see resources going, the allies with whom we want to work and the international players with whom we don’t want to work. The Chinese are totally unprincipled about what they help themselves to and what they are going to do with these technologies. There is very little to be gained and a great deal to be lost by allowing them to be players in the R&D ecosystem, because that is where they have been able to leverage their advantage. We have to find way to screen them out, while also inviting our foreign partners, as well as our own homegrown entrepreneurs, to work together. I don’t think it’s going to be that complicated to do this. The real challenge is educating lawmakers, decision makers and the general public as to what quantum technology is really all about.

SW: You are a regular contributor to Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and other popular media outlets. Do you find your work on quantum technology generating greater interest among the general public?

AH: Here is the way I would measure that. The amount of time I have to spend in each column explaining what quantum computing is has been shrinking. It used to be two paragraphs and it is now down to one paragraph. Increasingly, going forward, I think it will be down to a sentence. That is a sign to me that something is happening. The first article I wrote for The Wall Street Journal on quantum computing in 2017 I had to write a column that was three times longer in order to get the editor – who is a very smart guy, by the way, and whose background is in technology and science – on board with what a quantum computer does and how it is different from a classical computer. I don’t have to do this type of explanation anymore. That’s a sign of progress.

The real challenge we face in trying to foster an informed public and informed decision makers, is trying to navigate around the hype that is being generated by the companies themselves who are involved with quantum technology. We face a challenge to come up with a more realistic timeline for where this technology is going and have a more sober assessment about the risks involved and how difficult it is going to be if we do not start dealing now with the future threat.

SW: I want to switch gears now and discuss some of the great books you have written. You published a book in 2013 titled, “The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization.” Tell us about the inspiration for that book.

AH: The roots of that book lie in my first book, “The Idea of Decline in Western History.” There is also a link to another book I wrote titled, “How the Scots Invented the Modern World.” In writing these books what I was coming to understand was the degree to which the declinists tended to be philosophers influenced by Plato whereas the more optimistic view, the one I actually subscribe to with regard to the progress of civilization, tended to follow much more of an Aristotelian way of thinking. From that, I was able to begin to say maybe what we are really seeing here unfolding is two conflicting worldviews. One, arising from the philosophy of Plato and the other arising from the philosophy of Aristotle, which was specifically directed against, as a reply to and refutation of his old teacher’s theories of nature, of society, of politics, etc.

SW: Fascinating! Please continue.

AH: If we look at the history of western ideas and culture going all the way back to Hellenistic times, the successors to Plato and Aristotle, we see this constant tug of war between these two different world views. It is this tug of war and the tension between the two that has given western civilization its unique dynamic that everyone has recognized. Why is it that western civilization is so adaptable? What is it that is able to undergo renaissances and a rebirth of principles, even in times when its future is at its darkest and it is most in doubt? In the book “The Cave and the Light,” the reason is that it is the dynamic tension – the dynamic balance between the world view of Plato and the world view of Aristotle, which are ultimately irreconcilable – that is fundamental to giving western civilization its creative impetus.

SW: You mentioned several books you have written. We could talk about your other books, including “1917: Lenin, Wilson, and the Birth of the New World Disorder,” the Pulitzer Prize finalist, “Gandhi and Churchill,” and “To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World,” but there isn’t sufficient time today. However, inquisitive minds do wonder and have to ask: What is the next book about and when will it be released?

AH: The new book is on the Vikings. It discusses the Scandinavian contribution to not just western civilization, but the whole way in which history has been shaped, including the history of the United States. I am hoping to finish the manuscript this summer and expect the book to be out in spring 2020.

SW: Very good! We look forward to reading it. If somebody asked you to state your overall mission with your work and books, what would you tell them?

AH: If I have any overall mission, it’s making sure technology supports freedom not tyranny. We need a path forward that shows us how to be part of the modern world, without being devoured by it. A path the Scots understood, and the Vikings and their descendants and admirers have instinctively felt. My grandparents on both sides include Norwegian immigrants. The story of the Scandinavian migration to America is a very powerful one. It is, I think, a way of restoring some faith in what America represents. One of the important themes of the new book is: Why are we always so fascinated by the Vikings? A large part of the book discusses the Vikings and the way in which Scandinavia had in the shaping of western civilization once the Roman Empire collapsed. Scandinavian culture has enormous impact on what that looks like.

The reason we are so fascinated by the Vikings is because what is encapsulated in the Viking experience is the core of what every child goes through in terms of confronting unseen dangers. The human experience of going out, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. In the Vikings we have a people venturing into new lands, including America. People who venture out into the unknown, confront their deepest fears and greatest dangers, and overcome them in order to build a new life from themselves and their families. This is what the whole Vikings experience encapsulates and why I think we are so perennially fascinated by it.

SW: I have one final question for you today, Arthur. Looking out over the next couple of years, what are the one or two positive developments you think might surprise people? Is there anything you are excited about that’s not on many people’s radar screens today?

AH: I would say one of the things, which I think goes back to my book, “1917: The Birth of the New World Disorder,” is that the roots of the worldview, which has dominated over the last century, are eroding. This worldview is really driven by a progressive and Marxist – and ultimately, Hegelian worldview – which is that government in the hands of a leadership elite, could achieve a kind of utopian reality where all human needs and wants would be met. We see this in the political sphere right now. It lingers on. I am sensing a growing discontent with this type of worldview. There is a realization that with this view people no longer count, and in which culture and community are seen as being basically erased or being homogenized in ways that human beings lose their identity. What I see taking place is a shift of rediscovering the importance of roots. I don’t mean identity politics. I’m talking about the ways in which nation states, whether it is the United States, Israel or Norway, Denmark and Sweden, and what it is that makes it possible for human beings to be happy in a community, is that sense of shared values and shared culture which is distinct from and different from other cultures. That the effort toward homogenization, far from making us happier, is actually a major source of chaos and disorder.

In conclusion, while I think there are a lot of things to be concerned about today, including the state of our colleges and universities outside of science and technology here in the U.S, I am sensing a growing disenfranchisement with the Marxian world view, that it is not working. You look at what’s going on in the U.S., in Europe and Scandinavia. People are realizing that there are things that are undercutting what makes people happy and what makes nations function properly. These are harbingers of things to come. In many ways, the new book on the Vikings, which I’ve tentatively titled, “The Viking Heart,” is about how that story may, in fact, have a happy ending.

SW: Thank you, Arthur. It has been wonderful speaking with you today. We thank you again for your time and wish you all the best with your quantum technology-related work and book writing endeavors.

Steve Waite is a member of the NanoBCA Advisory Board and author of several books including Quantum Investing and Venture Investing in Science.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s interview. Looking forward to seeing you on June 4th in DC!

NanoBCA Interview: Paul Stimers, Partner, K&L Gates

Posted on April 15th, 2019 | No Comments »

The NanoBusiness Commercialization Association (NanoBCA) is excited to share the next interview of our NanoBCA Interview Series. Through this series we offer in-depth interviews with some of the key stakeholders influencing our nanotechnology community today. Many of these dynamic professionals will be participants at our:

18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
K&L Gates Washington DC

REGISTER HERE $250

This month we are pleased to share the following interview with Paul Stimers, Partner at K&L Gates and NanoBCA Policy Advisor. K&L Gates will be hosting our 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference.

Steve Waite: Thanks for taking time to speak with us today, Paul. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). What have been the major accomplishments of the NNI from your perspective?

Paul Stimers: I think the main accomplishments have been a coordination and acceleration of federal research and development in the nanotechnology space, as well as a more intentional, a more thoughtful, and hopefully more efficient, application of funds to the problems associated with nanotechnology.

PS:  That’s an interesting and somewhat challenging question that gets to what I think is one of the missed opportunities of the NNI. That is, we are pretty good at the pure research end of the research, development and commercialization spectrum. Looking back, we were not as good at the development side, and we were quite bad at the commercialization side of things. The NNI made great strides on the pure research side. China took up a lot of our basic research and commercialized it. They did so very aggressively with industrial policy and incentives for companies, including buying the assets of distressed U.S. nanotech companies that were not able to bridge the valley of death between the R&D side and the commercialization/go-to-market side.

SW: What industries have been the biggest beneficiaries of nanotechnology over the past twenty years?

I think that is a very important lesson we learned from the NNI. But to answer your question the rest of the way, one of the key places we have seen a lot of development from the NNI is in novel materials that are used as building blocks for a whole variety of different industries. The materials and the coatings side have been tremendously benefited. I think some of the work in nanoelectronics has been tremendously helpful as well. 

SW: Having monitored the nanotech space closely for the past two decades, it seems like U.S. policymakers have been on the one hand, supporting nanotechnology research through the NNI, and on the other hand passing regulations that work against nanotech commercialization. Is that how you see things?

PS: Well I think that is certainly part of it. It was difficult for companies to do IPOs in the U.S. for a long time, although I think it is fair to say that nanotech companies were particularly hard hit. With respect to the NNI, there were a couple of different ways that we slowed our ability to commercialize. One way is by following what is a perfectly reasonable impulse to its unreasonable conclusion. That is, we do not want to pick winners and losers in the marketplace and we do not want to latch on to specific technologies as a government. That is not the role of government in the U.S. But in trying very hard not to do that, we ended up strictly on the pure research side and not providing anywhere near as much help on commercialization as we could have without crossing that line. We did not have much of a push. The second aspect of it is that the NNI was, to some degree, captured by the academic world. There were a lot of universities spending a lot of time and effort and engaging a lot on pure research. That is fine and great. There’s nothing against this, but it did seem to crowd out some vital commercialization activities.

This is where the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association (NanoBCA) comes into the picture. It is a valuable voice in the nanotechnology community. We saw why this was important. We also saw over time the challenges that arise when that voice is not as prominent as the academic voices. At the end of the day, the combination of those two impulses ended us up focusing I think, more than it was optimal, on the pure research side and less than what was optimal on commercialization. As a result, we had a lot of companies in the U.S. that could not cross the valley of death and could not make it.

There is one other aspect of this, and that is the federal government can be very helpful by being a good customer, and by on-ramping nanotechnology-enabled products and working with nanotechnology-focused small and medium-sized businesses to purchase their products and help create a market. Not out of charity or industrial policy, but because the products are going to be very useful to whatever mission or whatever the agency that is buying them is trying to accomplish. A number of agencies, especially the Defense Department, are wrestling with how to be a good customer. This is an ongoing battle that is by no means limited to nanotechnology. It is something that the government recognizes as a challenge. This challenge is limiting our ability to build innovative industries and to ensure that the latest and greatest new products get to the government as a customer.

SW: What government agencies have benefited the most from the NNI’s initiatives?

PS: Unquestionably, the research agencies such as the NSF and NIST have been big beneficiaries. If you are talking about mission-focused government agencies whose mission is not research, they have had some successes. But better commercialization efforts could have given them more successes.

SW: How do you see the NNI evolving in the years ahead?

PS: The NNI itself is in the process of winding down. Congress has indicated a desire to do that. I think this is a recognition that the field has matured to a substantial extent. Let me emphasize that nanotechnology is not an industry. 

SW: Correct! There is a tendency to confuse a disruptive technology such as nanotechnology with being an industry.

PS: Right. My sense is that the bootstrapping mission of the NNI has been successful and is no longer such an urgent priority, which is great. I think we will see a continuation of research activities of the two dozen or so agencies that have been involved in the NNI, with a little bit less of a centralized clearinghouse like the NNCO – the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office – being needed to make sure we are not having gaps and overlaps. I think the natural progression of research is going to take the interested parties in their own direction. The field is mature enough now, and characterized well enough now, that people understand what is going on.

SW: What are some of the challenges facing policymakers in the realm of nanotechnology?

PS: I think there are issues related to EH&S – Environmental, Health and Safety. Those issues continue to lurk and will be ongoing issues if there are flare-ups – stories in the media or studies that are done that attract attention. In general, nanotechnology is vastly better for the environment than the technologies it is replacing. It enables a tremendous amount of environmental benefit. It enables a tremendous amount of health and safety benefits as well. But, of course, the media will want to focus on negative aspects because that will be what drives views. We also have to keep an eye out for this and be prepared to tell the other side of the story.

SW: Which typically does not sell papers and attract views.

PS: Right. The second area policymakers will focus on in the future is in areas where nanotechnology plays into activities such as advanced manufacturing. EH&S and advanced manufacturing are the primary areas I see immediate potential interest from U.S. policy makers. For now, we can expect a somewhat quiet period as nanotechnology returns to its original fields and progresses along within those.


SW: What kind of advice would you give to policymakers today with respect to encouraging investment in nanotechnology?

PS: To begin with, anytime we are dealing with a disruptive technology, it is important to help policymakers understand what it is and why it is important intrinsically. In the case of nanotechnology, we speak about it having to do with a certain scale and the special characteristics that emerge at that scale. Then we discuss why we can use those characteristics to do new things that were previously unavailable to us. Then we take this and apply a public policy lens to it. We address why it is important that we be leaders in this field and what it means for U.S. innovation, jobs, and national security and international trade. This is the positive case we build for nanotechnology.

After that, we begin discussing what we need to do to make U.S. leadership happen. In the case of the case of the NNI, it was, “Let us coordinate and accelerate federal nanotechnology R&D. Let’s get everybody together and understand what’s going on so we can think carefully about where to invest – based on our comfort that we are doing the right thing and not duplicating efforts and leaving substantial gaps in our research. Let’s go ahead and put more money toward the R&D because we believe we are not wasting it. Then hopefully we will do a little bit better on the commercialization side of it.” The end goal is to have all of that trickle out through the scientific process and the marketplace to the benefit of U.S. citizens and the U.S. economy.


SW: You recently launched the Quantum Industry Coalition and are leading the charge on the quantum front in the U.S., of which nanotechnology is part. Tell us about the purpose of the coalition.

PS: The Quantum Industry Coalition was a direct result of my work with the NNI and the NanoBusiness Alliance and the NanoBCA. About two and a half years ago, I started seeing around the quantum fields – quantum computing, cryptography, communications and sensors – the same sorts of things I had seen twenty years ago around nanotechnology. I had seen a bunch of small companies, each of which had radically different approaches to addressing the problem. I was seeing a smattering of federal R&D funding that was not particularly coordinated or thought out from a strategic perspective, although each of the particular projects made plenty of sense. I also saw a significant international competition aspect and a national security aspect. When all of those things are present, what I learned from the NNI is that we need a national coordination and acceleration plan to ensure U.S. leadership in the field.

I started speaking with quantum companies and asking them what they thought about whether or not we needed such a thing as the Quantum Industry Coalition. Quite a number of them agreed that we do need a National Quantum Initiative like the NNI. We formed the new coalition to advocate for just that purpose. As it turned out, as we were pulling the coalition together we learned that the House Science Committee was putting together legislation to do precisely that. We had an opportunity to consult with them as they drafted that legislation – to make some suggestions from the perspective of the U.S. quantum business community, and then to help pass the bill.

The bill was remarkable in that it had bi-partisan, bicameral support from the get-go. It passed the House of Representatives quite quickly and overcame a little jurisdictional hiccup to pass the Senate. It was signed by the President in December. All of which took less than a year, which is blindingly fast from a Congressional perspective. I had planned to use the coalition to press for this bill all of this year and possibly all of next year. We have had to come up with new things to do since the bill has already passed, which is a nice problem to have. In fact, what we are spending this year doing is ensuring that the National Quantum Initiative is funded and is implemented well by the Administration. We are also working on developing an analog initiative for the defense side and the intelligence community side, because the National Quantum Initiative Act focused entirely on civil quantum.

SW: Who are some of the companies in the coalition and what types of things are they working on?

PS: We currently have fifteen members. There is a mix of large and small companies, some pure-play quantum and some very much “not just quantum.” What they all have to have in common is a desire for the U.S. to be a leader in the quantum fields. Beyond that, anything that they are doing in quantum is fine with us. Our goal is to be strictly business. That is, we don’t have non-profits, academics, or professional societies involved. We have nothing against them. There are other organizations that we work with very closely who have those voices in them. But our charter is strictly the voice of the U.S. quantum business community and those internationally who support U.S. leadership. We want to make sure we are just business, but we want to make sure we are ecumenical within quantum. We are not picking different methods or technologies. And we are also consensus-based. We require everybody’s buy-in before we do anything. What that means is we are driven to the fundamental principles everybody can agree on even though they may be competing against each other tooth and claw. This gives us a very effective platform in which to operate.

SW: What is your view of quantum computing? There are some naysayers out there who think it will be many decades before we see commercial quantum computers.

PS: There have always been naysayers around any disruptive technology. I am not aware of a disruptive technology did not have an army of naysayers around it. The trick, of course, is distinguishing a disruptive technologywith an army of naysayers around it from quackery with an army of naysayers around it. That is hard to do. Equally hard, if not harder, is nailing the timing. We do not know what will pan out or when. There are people who are working right now on time horizons in the twenty-year range and there are people who may have something within the two-year range. The thing is, you never can tell who is going to win and when.

SW: One of the best quotes I’ve seen on quantum computing recently came from MIT professor of physics and electrical engineering, Isaac Chuang, who said: “The thing driving the hype is the realization that quantum computing is actually real. It is no longer a physicist’s dream—it is an engineer’s nightmare.” Does that perspective resonate with you?

PS: Yes, it does resonate. A lot of the issues we are wrestling with are engineering challenges. I deal with the commercial space industry and there are some useful parallels. For instance, when people were talking about building airplanes back in the late nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century, the general expectation at the time was that the first airplane was going to be developed by Samuel Langley, the Secretary of the Smithsonian at the time. He had a tremendous amount of funding and support. He was going to be the guy who finally got us off the ground. As it turned out, his airplane was a disaster. It was a couple of bike mechanics out of nowhere – the Wright brothers in Ohio – who achieved the first powered flight.

This is a lesson that shows that we just don’t know what will happen, especially when you are dealing with a technology that, all things considered, does not require a massive capital investment in order to play. You should be very careful about assuming that an entrant can’t disrupt, even a very non-traditional entrant. You may need a billion dollars to build a microchip fab or to manufacture a passenger aircraft, but you don’t necessarily need a whole ton of money to make a real impact in quantum. We do not know where it will come from, and we cannot accurately predict the timeline. We can be humble about it, we can warn that there will be hype, and we can stick to principles like “no technology mandates,” “not picking winners and losers,” things like that, that should protect us from having the federal government invest somewhere that turns out to be worthless or turns out to be a poor decision. We need to be really careful about pretending we know more than we do.

SW: Well stated, Paul! Do you sense a growing awareness in Washington of the potential threat of quantum computing to cyber security?

PS: Yes. I think about this frequently and work on it constantly. It is a serious issue. What I see is that a country such as China is moving forward with quantum in a big way, with a plan that is directed at both developing an advantage over the U.S. and attacking our own capabilities. I believe we need to take what China is doing seriously. We recall the Sputnik moment, but what we don’t recall is that it was actually three moments. The Soviets launched the first Sputnik satellite, and that was a surprise and caused great consternation. Then, a month later, they launched a second satellite which demonstrated a proficiency at doing it. Then, third, when the U.S. tried to answer the Soviets, we failed. The rocket we built that was supposed to carry our own satellite blew up. It was a disaster. It was after that failure that the U.S. really got serious.

China has now demonstrated a capability to have a quantum downlink from a satellite, which is something that, at least publicly, we are not able to replicate. They have also demonstrated a quantum broadband connection, another capability that, at least publicly, we are not able to replicate. Thirdly, they have dedicated $10 billion in funding to a quantum cluster in China. This is a level of funding commitment that, at least publicly, we are not able to replicate. Our own funding for the National Quantum Initiative is $1.25 billion over five years. The three quantum developments, taken together, indicate to me that China is worth taking seriously. Now, China’s focus so far has been on quantum communications. That’s interesting. In the U.S., we are more focused on quantum computing. My expectation is that China will attempt to acquire our quantum computing capabilities by hook or by crook and is counting on us to develop it, so they can have it later. I don’t believe we should be complacent about that at all.


SW: That makes sense. Thanks for your perspectives on the Quantum Industry Coalition and related quantum developments. We look forward to hearing more in the future. I wanted to ask you about one of your other areas of specialization. You work closely with the commercial space industry. Tell us about the work you do in this area.

PS: For the last twelve years or so, I have been involved in commercial space policy, which has involved representing the industry association for commercial space flight as well as many of its members in the launch space, in the satellite space and advanced manufacturing, off-world and asteroid mining and other related things. It has been incredible to be at the policy center of another major revolution in our capabilities. Over the last couple of years, we have gone from traditional space, where the government builds, owns, and operates a rocket, to an entirely new paradigm where the government is buying rides on rockets that are manufactured by private industry.

In this emerging new paradigm, the government is the customer rather than the owner and operator. We are also seeing, for the first time, reusable rockets. Imagine how often you would fly if you had to throw out the plane every time you flew somewhere. That’s what we have been doing. Now that we have reusable rockets, thanks in part to nanotechnology and a number of industrial innovations, all of a sudden – literally just in the last couple of years – that has gone from impossible to “of course that’s what we do.”

This fundamental shift has been really incredible. What we are going to continue to see is the development of this commercial space infrastructure that enables people to innovate at the application layer, just as Amazon and Facebook and others were able to take advantage of the internet and other aspects of the physical infrastructure level to innovate at the application layer and change the world. We are going to start seeing that capability develop with respect to space. I think this is an extremely exciting time for the country and for the world. This is like the dawn of aviation. It is the change between government-led exploration and private sector expansion. It’s the change between the Lewis and Clark expedition and the wagon trains. It’s just a tremendous time to be around for, let alone to be a part of it.

SW: What are some of the major milestones we are likely to see in the commercial space industry in the years ahead?

PS: Well, just last December, Virgin Galactic sent its first commercial astronauts to space as part of its test program getting ready to fly paying customers into space. They were awarded astronaut wings by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. The engine that powered them into space is now on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Virgin Galactic followed this up last month with a second test flight in which they had a third person in the cabin who became the first female commercial astronaut to go to space on a commercial vehicle.

When Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin and the other launch vehicles come on line in the next year or so, we are going to start having people going to space in large numbers. A suborbital trip to space on Virgin Galactic will cost $250,000. Blue Origin has not listed a price but it is expected to be somewhere in that neighborhood. Already, Virgin Galactic has signed up and taken deposits from more people than have ever been to space in human history. Just on the strength of their backlog, they are already set to more than double the number of people that have been to space. 

SW: Fascinating stuff, Paul! We could talk all day about this, but unfortunately, we don’t have time. In the remaining time we have today, I wanted to have you tell us about K&L Gates and the types of services it provides to entrepreneurs of emerging technology companies. You have a heritage of helping disruptive technology companies. 

PS: Yes, the Gates in our name is that Gates. We are tremendously honored by that heritage with Microsoft and the Gates family. Our firm is a global law firm with offices across five continents with just under 2,000 lawyers on staff. We pride ourselves on being extremely friendly to emerging companies, both in terms of growing early stage companies and in terms of helping disruptive companies and companies that are creating disruptive industries. That means everything from having one of the world’s leading IP practices with more engineers and scientists than you can shake a stick at on staff, to having people who focus on VC funding and other ways of raising capital, to corporate lawyers who deal with mergers and acquisitions and so forth.

My own aspect of the practice is focused on the policy side and advocating for disruptive technologies in Washington, D.C. The policy environment is created for and by incumbents, by the industries that are being disrupted or that other companies want to disrupt. Therefore, finding ways to make the policy environment safe for, if not helpful to, those disruptors is challenging. That is what I try to do.

SW: What are some of the main lessons you have learned in working with emerging technology companies during your career?

PS: I think the main thing I see is that when you have a new, disruptive technology and you are excited about it, you see its value. You are committed to it. It is validated and so forth. There are all sorts of opportunities that you can pursue with that technology. Time after time, we see executives want to try to do all of it, because it is all exciting. There is money associated with all of it. We counsel our clients to make and stick with a plan and focus on one or two things that are right on your development path, and not to get sidetracked by all of these interesting opportunities. If you chase the whole school of fish, you are unlikely to catch any of them.

Our experience is very useful to our emerging company clients. We help them stay laser focused on what they are doing. We will show them the opportunities and then we will help them work through the process of deciding, “Is this really the thing that I should focus on or not?” It is those companies that have stuck with a focus and only worked with the government or taken advantage of a government opportunity when it really dovetails with what they want to do and had planned to do – it is those companies that have the most long-term success. Our fondest hope is that our emerging company clients will be successful over the long term and will grow into the kind of company that our namesake helped found all those years ago.

SW: Right on, Paul! That is terrific advice. Thank you for it and for all of your time today. We really appreciate it. The NanoBCA thanks you for your excellent work over the years in the nanotechnology community. We look forward to the collaborations ahead.


Steve Waite is a member of the NanoBCA Advisory Board and author of several books including Quantum Investing and Venture Investing in Science.


I hope you enjoyed this month’s interview. Looking forward to seeing you on June 4th in DC!

NanoBCA Interview: Greg Schmergel, Co-founder, Chairman & CEO, Nantero, Inc

Posted on March 12th, 2019 | No Comments »

The NanoBusiness Commercialization Association (NanoBCA) is excited to announce the return of our NanoBCA Interview Series. Through this series we offer in-depth interviews with some of the key stakeholders influencing our nanotechnology community today. Many of these dynamic professionals will be participants at our:


18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
K&L Gates Washington DC

REGISTER HERE $250

This month the NanoBCA is pleased to share the following interview with Greg Schmergel, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Nantero Inc.

Steve Waite: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, Greg. We are coming up on a major milestone for Nantero later this year. Tell us about it.

Greg Schmergel:  Yes, that’s right. Fujitsu announced that they will be bringing NRAM to market in late 2019 so it looks like they will indeed be the first to market with an NRAM product. We are very excited about that especially because Fujitsu is a very experienced company with bringing new memories to market. They brought FRAM to market many years ago and have sold very high volumes of it. They probably have the most experience of any company in the world at bringing a new memory to market. Certainly, in terms of number of units shipped of a memory that isn’t DRAM or Flash, the two mainstream memories. They are a great partner for Nantero.

SW: That is all very exciting, indeed. What are Fujitsu’s initial target applications for NRAM?

GS: Fujitsu plans to use NRAM for a wide variety of applications and sell it to their customers who will also use it for a wide variety of applications. It will take a couple of years to ramp up to high volumes, but that is the direction things are moving in today.

SW: Sounds like Nantero will begin to see meaningful top line growth in the years ahead as Fujitsu’s NRAM commercialization efforts ramp up.

GS: Yes. I would clarify that we have already brought in substantial revenue, in excess of$80 million cumulatively, from license fees and engineering fees. Nantero is not a pre-revenue company. But in terms of royalty revenue from products, yes, that’s when it will start. Overall, what is happening with Fujitsu this year is a huge milestone for us, and for the field of carbon nanotubes (CNT) in general. It is a field that has had a tremendous amount of promise for a long time. We made the transition years ago from the laboratory to fab and started developing this product in the fab. And now the next step is to transition from the fab into the customer’s hands. We are very close to that milestone.

SW: It is noteworthy that Fujitsu is leading the charge on CNT memory devices, given that CNTs were discovered in Japan back in the early 1990s.

GS: That’s correct. It makes sense and is very appropriate that the first CNT memories would come out of Japan.

SW: Tell us about the major benefits of Nantero’s CNT-based NRAM versus conventional non-volatile memory devices.

GS: Compared to Flash, which is the dominant non-volatile memory in the market today, NRAM has far higher performance. The performance of NRAM is actually more DRAM-like, both in terms of speed and endurance, so you get much, much better performance. Compared to DRAM, NRAM is non-volatile whereas DRAM is volatile. While you have similar performance to DRAM, you get the non-volatility of Flash, which dramatically reduces your power consumption. On top of that, we can achieve lower price per bit for the customer than DRAM, as well as higher densities.

As you know, just about every memory application out there is now hungry for more memory storage. Every trend out there – Big Data, Cloud Storage, AR, VR – all demand more and more memory. Providing more, fast memory at a lower cost per bit is something very valuable for a whole range of applications. Depending on what type of device you are putting NRAM into you get substantial speed increases, reductions in power consumption and also higher robustness.

For example, Schlumberger invested in us because they wanted a memory that would survive under high temperatures. Lockheed Martin purchased our government business unit in part because of the ability of our memory to survive under heat, radiation and vibration. That was demonstrated in the launch of our memory on the Space ShuttleAtlantis and its excellent performance through the whole mission, despite the high radiation in space.

Depending on the application, there are a lot of major benefits of NRAM. And, of course, if you own a data center, our memory is extremely valuable to help reduce and deal with the problems of heat generation and power consumption that data centers struggle with, in addition to making them faster so they can handle more transactions or searches or whatever the datacenter is handling.

SW: You highlighted a few application areas of NRAM. It would seem as though a great deal of the emerging technology areas such AI, IoT, 5G and Blockchain-based applications would all benefit from NRAM. Is that correct?

GS: That is absolutely right. All of these trends accelerate and accentuate the demand for more and more memory, and for more, fast memory, as well as for lowering power consumption. Power consumption is actually one of the biggest issues facing just about every category in the electronics industry. Data centers are consuming a measurable percentage of the world’s power now. For AI, trying to make something perform like a brain but doing that without exceeding the heat tolerances and melting the system is a challenge. It is not a problem with brains, but with chips it is a problem. 

With smartphones, of course, power consumption which ties to the battery life is one of the major issues. As you add more and more features, like AR and VR, you start to eat up the battery faster and faster. Consumers today expect ten hours or so of battery life. If you are selling a smartphone with only three hours of battery life nobody wants it anymore, even if it has lots of cool features. We need to find a way to incorporate all of these new features into a phone while maintaining the same or hopefully even a longer battery life.

SW: Given the major benefits of NRAM, I would imagine that you are seeing greater interest these days from large, established companies who are investing heavily in these emerging technologies?

GS: Yes. Fujitsu Semiconductor is planning its own product family for NRAM that will target a host of applications. And Fujitsu Foundry, which is the manufacturing part, can run both designs made by Fujitsu Semiconductor, but also designs made by Nantero as well as designs made by other customers. The fact that the manufacturing process for NRAM is available at Fujitsu Foundry will support a wide range of customers and designs.

SW: Are there other foundries interested in NRAM?

GS: Yes, there is absolutely interest from other foundries. We are talking to other foundries and are engaged with other foundries, but we can’t talk publicly about this activity at the present time.

SW: Nantero has patented a fabrication process involving CNTs and conventional semiconductor fabrication equipment. That intellectual property seems valuable in this day and age.

GS: Yes, exactly. Fabs do not need to buy new types of equipment that they have never bought before. They can use the same types of equipment that they buy from their current vendors, so there is no need for any special type of CNT equipment.

I would also point out that CNTs add tremendous value for devices that are made at larger nodes than the 7 nm level that is posing a challenge for some foundries today. For example, our memory technology can be stacked in multiple layers in the same die. At older nodes greater than 7 nm, we can achieve higher and higher densities of memory. Those older nodes can be utilized, while adding additional value for customers. It is true that only a very small number of fabs can scale silicon processes beyond the 7 nm level. But there is still a huge amount of fab capacity above 7 nm, and new materials such as CNTs can help continue to increase value for customers at those nodes in coming years.

SW: How does the competitive landscape look for Nantero at the present time?

GS:  The competitive landscape is pretty broad because Nantero’s NRAM is suited for both standalone memory as well as embedded memory, and for both low and high- density memory. For example, we have already done a multi-gigabyte product design for one customer. For some companies like Fujitsu they have announced that their products will be in the megabits range, up to very high megabits.  For other customers, they want products in the gigabit or even gigabyte range, and we are supporting them on that as well.

NRAM can operate across a wide range of densities. I think the key is that, as far as we know, there is only one memory device – Nantero’s NRAM – that has both non-volatility and DRAM-like speed and performance while being at a lower price per bit. That is a unique combination and value proposition for customers, whether they are used it for embedded memory or as a standalone memory. What’s exciting is that NRAM can enable new devices that were not possible before with today’s memory.

SW: That is exciting.

GS: It is, indeed. I think the analogous situation you can look to is Flash memory. When Flash was introduced in the 1980s it offered the feature of non-volatility which DRAM did not offer, and then people figured out that they could make a smartphone and they can make an SSD using that feature. And those were very exciting and influential products that could not be made practically without Flash memory. And similarly, with NRAM memory we think there are a lot of exciting, new products that people can come up with that just would not be practical otherwise.

SW: I know Nantero has been focused on NRAM, but there is also a role for CNTs in microprocessors, GPUs and the like? Do you see an opportunity to leverage Nantero’s expertise beyond NRAM into other types of devices?

GS: Yes, we do. There are a lot of applications in addition to CNT memory. In fact, because we had to become the first company in the world to get CNTs into mass production CMOS fabs, in order to make our memory, that forms the foundation to use CNTs to mass produce, in a CMOS fab, any other CNT device. For example, CNT transistors, CNT sensors, CNT interconnects. The mass production of all of these devices can be enabled with our intellectual property as well. We have 185 patents granted in the U.S. alone and more around the world, as well as more pending. We do have a very large and consequential and I believe unrivaled IP portfolio in the CNT electronics space. And those other applications are quite exciting for the future.

SW: You have spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley as well as Asia. What are the major differences you see between the regions in terms of investor interest in Nantero?

GS:  There is a lot of interest in Silicon Valley but even more in Asia where there is a lot more recognition of the value of semiconductors as the foundation of the electronics industry and much more willingness to invest in it. Additionally, investors in Asia have a longer time horizon.  Developing a chip is not a one or two-year project. It is a long-term project. Especially developing a new memory chip, which is one of the most complex and difficult pursuits you can undertake. As evidenced by the fact that there have been only two mass production memory chips developed in the last 80 years – DRAM, which was invented in the 1960s, and then Flash in the 1980s.

Developing a new memory chip is an event that happens only once every few human generations. In Asia, they do have a longer-term perspective. We have spent a lot of time there building up relationships and view that as a critical region for Nantero. Unfortunately, in Silicon Valley, it is often harder to find those types of perspectives.

SW: Silicon Valley seems to have migrated away from investing in silicon, which seems a bit ironic.

GS: Exactly. The number of investors in Silicon Valley investing in silicon is getting closer to zero than one would like to see.

SW: At a time when we appear to be hitting a wall with silicon at sub-7 nm levels.

GS: Right.

SW: The commercialization of NRAM has been a long time coming – almost two decades. What are some of the major lessons you have learned as an entrepreneur working with an emerging nanotechnology?

GS: Well, for starters, it hasn’t been an easy sell with investors. It requires a tremendous amount of persistence. In terms of lessons learned, the sooner and more deeply integrated you can get with the end customer the better, so that everything you do is driven by the needs of the end customer. That is opposed to just developing a technology in a vacuum.

Similarly, the sooner you can get can get integrated with the mass production facility that you would like to use, the better. We did some work in the laboratory early on and then later on had to rethink all of that work once we got into a mass production fab. Overall, the sooner you can get into the mass production facility, learn what the rules and requirements are for mass producing the device, the better.

SW:  Nantero has a number of prominent strategic investors. What can you tell us about them?

GS:  Nantero has worked hard to bring on numerous strategic investors over the years. We have nine strategic investors currently, only four of which we are allowed to disclose at the present time. Those four are Schlumberger, Dell, Cisco and Kingston.

SW: That’s a pretty distinguished group. Given where Nantero is right now on the verge of hitting a major milestone, what are company’s current needs? Are you still open to new investors, strategic and otherwise?

GS: Yes, we are. Investors interested in Nantero can feel free to contact me. I would be happy to talk with them.  

SW: Very good. One last question for you today, Greg. Nantero has a licensing model similar to ARM Holdings, PLC, which was acquired by Softbank for over $30 billion a couple of years ago. When you look out over the next several years, do you see an opportunity for Nantero to go public as commercial revenues begin to ramp?

GS: Sure. That is a possibility. We could certainly envision following a path similar to ARM and doing an IPO.

SW: Well, that certainly would be an event worthy of celebration by all in the nanotechnology community. We all know how hard you and your team have worked over the past eighteen years. Thanks again for your time, Greg. We wish you and Nantero all the best in the future.

For more information about Nantero, visit nantero.com.


Steve Waite is a member of the NanoBCA Advisory Board and author of several books including Quantum Investing and Venture Investing in Science.

I hope you enjoyed this month’s interview. Looking forward to seeing you on June 4th in DC!

Speaker Announcement: 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference 6/4 DC

Posted on March 12th, 2019 | No Comments »

The NanoBusiness Commercialization Association (NanoBCA) is excited to share a Speaker Announcement for our 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference.

18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference
Tuesday, June 4, 2019

REGISTER HERE $250

CONFERENCE LOCATION

K&L Gates
1601 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006-1600

This year’s event will feature experts from private industry, representatives from government agencies, and public policy leaders who will address the opportunities and challenges in the ongoing commercialization of nanotechnology-based products and nanomaterials.

Speakers for our 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference include:

Arpana Verma, PhD, Chief Science Officer, NanoMech Industries, Inc.
Doyle Edwards, Director, Government Programs, Brewer Science
Penelope Salmons, President, Fibrtec Inc
Marco Curreli, PhD, Executive Director and Founder, Omni Nano
Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Director, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.
Paul Stimers, Partner, K&L Gates
Samuel Brauer, PhD, Principal, Nanotech Plus, LLC
Jim Phillips, Chairman & CEO, Covenant Ventures
Anis Rahman, PhD, President/CTO, Applied Research & Photonics, Inc
Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBCA

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18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference Media Partner

Precision Nanomedicine

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Questions in regard to the event may be directed to:
Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBCA
vincent@nanobca.org

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Our 18th Annual NanoBusiness Conference offers outstanding opportunities to connect with a diverse nanotechnology-related group of professionals in the heart of Washington DC.  We hope you will be able to join us!

Save the Date: Water 2.0 Conference 6/5 DC

Posted on March 12th, 2019 | No Comments »

We are excited to announce our return to Washington DC for our next Water 2.0 Conference!

Water 2.0 Conference: Advancing Water Infrastructure Repair
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

CONFERENCE LOCATION
K&L Gates
1601 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006-1600

The Water 2.0 Conference: Advancing Water Infrastructure Repair will focus on the use of data analytics, software, cyber security for water utilities and industrial water users. Participants will include water and energy industry authorities, utilities professionals and representatives from the EPA.

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Questions in regard to the event may be directed to:
Vincent Caprio vincent@water2.org
Click here to see completed Water 2.0 events

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WATER NEWS

Congressional Hearing On Water Infrastructure Investment: NACWA Proposes Solutions That Would Protect Public Health And Create Jobs
Water Online

Michigan Gov. Proposes Spending $120M to Improve Drinking Water Infrastructure
WaterWorld

Water additive recalled over potentially deadly bacterial contamination
Fox News

Sneak Peek: An investigation into the troubled small water systems of South Carolina
The State

EPA Releases Plan to Regulate Harmful Chemicals in Drinking Water
US News

K Street takes aim at Dems ethics reform bill
The Hill

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The Water 2.0 Conference Series offers outstanding opportunities to connect with a diverse water-related group of professionals in the heart of Washington DC.  We hope you will be able to join us!