Archive for March, 2010

NanoBusiness DC Event-NbA Interview: Scott Rickert, CEO, Nanofilm

Posted on March 29th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The NanoBusiness Alliance held their 9th Annual Washington DC Roundtable last week. We had the opportunity to meet with Senator Ron Wyden and members of Senator Kerry’s staff to discuss the reauthorization of the NNI. They are optimistic the legislation will pass in 2010. The NbA also supports:

S. 596: Nanotechnology Innovation and Prize Competition Act of 2009

H.R.4502 – Nanotechnology Education Act

On Tuesday afternoon, 30 NbA Members met with Senator Mark Pryor to discuss the Nanotechnology Safety Act (S.2942)

I have decided to profile the top leaders of the Nanotechnology Community. Today, we have the opportunity to present the thoughts of Scott E. Rickert, PhD, President, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Nanofilm. Steve Waite, Author, conducted the interview.

Dr. Rickert is one of Nanofilm’s original founders. He was responsible for the original concepts that launched Nanofilm into the nanotechnology arena. Dr. Rickert was instrumental in the development of the company’s first coating called “Clarity” and continues to set the vision for the company’s R&D team. Dr. Rickert brings a depth of research expertise to the company from his strong academic background; he was a Professor at Case Western Reserve University from 1980 to 1987. He holds a B.S. from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University. He currently holds positions on a number of key industry groups, including the Global Advisory Board of the NanoBusiness Alliance. Dr. Rickert frequently lectures and writes on topics in the field and is an intelligent voice in the nanotech community. Since 2005, he has written a column for IndustryWeek that we heartily recommend reading and following.

In the interview, we talk to Dr. Rickert about his view of nanotechnology in the coming decade and the role of established companies, start-ups, academia and government. As you will see, Dr. Rickert believes nanotechnology is the software of the 21st century. The interview also explores the evolution of Nanofilm and discusses the company’s prospects in the global marketplace. We appreciate Dr. Rickert’s time and views on nanotechnology and hope readers enjoy the interview.

SW: Hello, Scott! Thanks for taking time to speak with the NanoBusiness Alliance today. I thought I would begin with the big picture by asking you about the Nano Decade, which you wrote about in IndustryWeek earlier this year. Tell us about your vision.

SR: Hi Steve. Glad to be with you today. My vision for nanotech in this new decade is really based on a reexamination of a relatively recent technology commercialization case history. In the 1980’s, there was a tech industry quite similar to ours, and it became known as the software industry. They were selling something you can’t see, smell, or really touch. It was something used in small quantities that had a big impact on the improvement of existing products and the development of new products. Sound familiar?

Nanotechnology, I predict, will follow a similar path of growth and eventual consolidation, with the few resulting merged entities focused on serving all major markets. I also predict that investors will finally appreciate nanotech materials and inventions as components of this new “software” industry that drives so many other industries, and they’ll apply the appropriate growth and ROI metrics.

SW: What kind of role do you see established companies like GE, Intel, Monsanto, and Pfizer playing in the Nano Decade?

SR: The established companies will adopt this new “software” of nanotechnology at an ever-increasing rate. The tipping point may be reached in the decade. That will be the point at which it will no longer be an option to skip the adoption of nanotechnology in business. Most companies using software do not develop their own, but partner with software companies for custom development work. Similarly, I foresee these established companies focusing on external joint development efforts as opposed to trying to do nanotech development themselves.

SW: How do start-ups and small companies fit in the Nano Decade?

SR: A true supply chain for nanotechnology is already evolving, which will mature this decade. Some companies will be content to be small and supply custom materials and instruments. Others will be absorbed into existing companies in the supply chain or will attract appropriate investments and grow into stand-alone comprehensive solution providers. There is a path for all nano-companies, one way or the other, to succeed.

SW: Universities and academic research have played an important role in nanotechnology. Do you see this continuing in decade ahead?

SR: Academics initiated the technology and will continue to explore new materials, measurements, and nano-scale properties. That is their appropriate role. However, their role will now become one of supporting, as opposed to creating, a new industry. The hard work for them has already been done. Good work!

SW: How can government do a better job of fostering the development of nanotechnology in the decade ahead?

SR: The government helped the software industry by being one of the largest customers in the early years. That was particularly true of the military. They should do the same job this time, by purchasing and incorporating nanotech products into their supply chain. The military is already buying nanotech-enabled products, but many involved in government purchasing are not even aware of nanotech companies and their products. SBIR initiatives are fine for product development, but do little, in general, to assist in developing the government purchases of nanotech products for the long term. Simply stated, more government purchases mean more incentive to develop for the industry.

SW: What kinds of innovations are we likely to see over the next 3-5 years that could accelerate the penetration of nanotech in the global economy?

SR: The software industry can provide some guidance on how innovation will develop in the global economy. It is clear that the new properties and cost structures associated with nanotech-infused products will allow product developers to think about entirely new types of products, not just improving what they already make. Those introducing entirely new product categories will have the financial wherewithal to withstand a few launch failures along the way. It will be the creation of new categories, however, that will have the biggest lasting impact for the nanotech industry.

SW: Many people are understandably focused on the potential dangers of nanotechnology. What can we do to help educate the public on the promises and positive effects of nanotechnology?

SR: Any new materials development requires extreme caution during production until experience proves that such caution can be somewhat relaxed. Nanotech is not immune from this general rule. The public should be reminded that nanotech already follows traditional health and safety protocols, and will continue to do so. They can be reassured that the industry is engaged in the health and safety process with the government and is committed to safe production facilities and final products.

SW: Ok, let’s switch gears and talk about your company. Nanofilm has been in business since 1985. What do you view as the company’s major accomplishments over the past 25 years?

SR: Nanofilm has been fortunate in picking markets to serve which are open to new, better, and higher performing optical care formulas and coatings (e.g., the optical and protective lens industry). Our consistent ability to develop nanocoatings and nanocare products, which are enthusiastically accepted by those markets, is a testament to both our innovation and their openness to that innovation.

Today, Nanofilm uses all of that great experience and reputation to help launch new products in other major markets in addition to our long-standing core industries.

SW: Tell us about Nanofilm’s work in the ophthalmic industry. Your nano coatings technology has been well received.

SR: High performing nanoscale coatings did not exist in the optical industry before Nanofilm, with the exception of those produced via vacuum deposition. By serving first as a technical member and then a board member of the AR Council of America (an industry organization of eyecare and technical professionals), I helped the industry develop standardized testing procedures for these new types of coatings and care products. These standards, of course, improved over time, and are now widely used throughout the industry. Other members of the Nanofilm team have stepped in to help all levels of the industry to appreciate what nanoscale films can do for consumer satisfaction and advancement of the industry as well as individual companies. We work hard to continue to educate and inform our audiences as developments occur.

SW: What are some of the major opportunities for Nanofilm with its technology in the marketplace today?

SR: We are convinced that the value propositions we have shown in the optical industry can be expanded to other major markets. Of course, the new markets must also be ready to value higher performing products, and these nano-products must fit their short-term and longer-term needs. Developments in the past few years have highlighted the need for nano-coatings and care products in many areas. Global competition and economic uncertainties have pushed many to look for new nanotechnology, whereas, in the past, they were reluctant to do so. Many of these new markets are highlighted on our website,

SW: What kind of opportunities do you see for Nanofilm outside of North America?

SR: One of Nanofilm’s earliest customer partners was Zeiss Optical in Germany. We’ve simply continued that global strategy over the years, and we sell products around the world – from Germany to Australia, Japan to Finland. Global growth is a key strategy for us and we anticipate that our worldwide reach is just going to continue.

SW: What are some of the key challenges for Nanofilm going forward?

SR: I think Nanofilm’s biggest challenge is the one everyone faces right now – a weak economy. Yes, money is tight, and it’s fueled fear in the marketplace about doing anything new. We also have to continue helping our partners work through changes in their manufacturing processes that come with the inclusion of nanotechnology. It’s not that difficult, but there is a learning curve.

SW: What is your view on strategic partnerships in nanotechnology? Are they important to fostering innovation?

SR: Strategic partnerships are crucial to nanotechnology and innovation. Nanotechnology expertise isn’t mainstream yet, and companies need nanotechnology experts to provide the innovation and assure commercial success. Nanotech isn’t prohibitively complicated to work into a commercial system, but it’s not “plug and play.” On the flip side, as I said earlier, the economy doesn’t favor small companies and start-ups right now. Partnering with a strong company that has a sound commercial infrastructure in place and a developed market is the way to go.

SW: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs wanting to get into nanotechnology today?

SR: My advice to entrepreneurs is to do your business homework. This isn’t the time for blue-sky dreaming or science fair projects. You need to understand the market economy as well as the technology. You need a business plan as much as you need a technology road map. You need to be able to read a balance sheet as well as you read a research report.

SW: One last question. If you could do one thing over again at Nanofilm, what would it be?

SR: Every business has growing pains, and we’ve had our ups and downs. Still, we’ve had remarkable success and I’m incredibly proud of this company and its people. Maybe my only advice from 2010 Scott to 1985 Scott would be exactly the same counsel I’m giving today’s entrepreneurs. I was a scientist and researcher who had to learn to be a business person, too. I brought in smart business people to help me and teach me, and that’s been a keystone in the growth of Nanofilm.

SW: Thanks for your time today, Scott. We wish you and your colleagues at Nanofilm all the best in the future. Here’s to the Nano Decade!

SR: Thanks, Steve. It has been my pleasure.

Thanks to Steve and Scott for taking the time to share their thoughts.


Vincent Caprio “It”s Green, It’s Clean, It’s Never Seen – That’s Nanotechnology”
Executive Director
NanoBusiness Alliance

Nanotechnology’s DC Week – President Obama’s PCAST Meeting

Posted on March 23rd, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I and the NanoBusiness Alliance have returned from our 9th Annual Washington DC Roundtable Event. We had the opportunity to meet with Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) to discuss Nanotechnology legislation. While DC debated the state of Healthcare Reform, one issue that Democrats and Republicans agree on is U.S. funding of Nanotechnology R&D

We hear that President Obama was impressed with the nanotechnology information during a March 12th meeting ( ) with his Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Thanks to all the NanoBusiness Alliance members who contributed products!

Earlier that day, PCAST discussed the progress of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. In a highly favorable overall report, they recommended five steps for strengthening the initiative in order to maintain U.S. leadership in nanotechnology research:

1. Increase NNI funding for nanomanufacturing research while maintaining support for basic research
2. Strengthen the NNCO, the NNI coordinating entity, with additional funds, and a broader mandate
3. Require that metrics be developed to track benefits of nanotechnology, such as job creation
4. Develop a cross agency strategy plan that links environment, health, and safety research with knowledge gaps and decision-making needs
5. Expedite the citizenship review process for those receiving advanced degrees in science and engineering

The full NNI review, prepared by a working group of three PCAST members joined by a dozen expert advisors, is slated for release on March 25th through the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy ( The report with summary recommendations, including a list of the PCAST NNI Working Group members, is online at .

Since I just returned from DC, I will present my analysis of our DC Event next week. I would like to thank all the members of our Nanotechnology Community who took the time from their busy schedules to participate.


Vincent Caprio “It’s Green, It’s Clean, It’s Never Seen – That’s Nanotechnology”
Executive Director
NanoBusiness Alliance


NanoBusiness Alliance DC Roundtable, March 15-17th

Posted on March 17th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

ppt10-wyden_vinceVincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBusiness Alliance and Senator Ron Wyden (left)

Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBusiness Alliance and Governor Howard Dean (below)


NanoBusiness DC Event Updated Agenda – Nano News

Posted on March 14th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I am looking forward to our 9th Annual DC Roundtable starting Monday evening, March 15th. We will be meeting with legislative, executive branch and agency leaders on Tuesday March 16th and Wednesday March 17th. Our updated agenda is below.

As Washington debates Healthcare reform, I would like to share with you a few positive news stories in our Nanotechnology Community.

A123 Systems Under Way With Construction of $600 Million Battery Plant in Michigan, an Industrial Info News Alert

SouthWest NanoTechnologies Receives Frost Sullivan 2010 North American Technology Innovation Award in Carbon Nanotubes

mPower Emergency Illuminator Featured in March 2010 Issue of Popular Mechanics Magazine

Scott Rickert, CEO, Nanofilm
Taking the NanoPulse – Nanotechnology: A Not-Ready-For-Primetime Player?–_nanotechnology_a_not-ready-for-primetime_player_21153.aspx?Page=2

Our DC event begins on Monday evening, March 15th with our Opening Dinner, hosted by K&L Gates, at Lima at 6:30 pm.

1401 K Street, NW (next door to DC Coast)
Washington DC 20005

Tuesday, March 16th
8:30am – 10:30am Breakfast with Senator Ron Wyden at the Dirksen Building, Room 562

2:00pm Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus, Co-Chaired by Joel Shapiro, Office of Senator Ron Wyden and Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBusiness Alliance. The Caucus will be held at the Dirksen Building, Room 562
Moderator: Senator Ron Wyden, (D-OR)

4:30pm Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)

Dinner is from 6:00pm-8:30pm hosted by the Law Firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge. Governor, Howard Dean, will be our Guest Speaker.

The dinner will be held at the Law Offices of McKenna Long & Aldridge:
1900 K Street NW
Washington DC 20006

Wednesday, March 17th – NanoBusiness Alliance Federal Roundtable
Offices of Foley & Lardner Conference Center
3000 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

– Stimulate dialogue between NanoBusiness Alliance Members and Federal Agencies
– Find out the latest on regulatory policy/impending regulatory actions and federal research
– Familiarize NanoBusiness Alliance members with federal product approval authorities and
processes and innovation strategies, with an emphasis on pending developments

8:00am – 8:30am Coffee/Registration

8:30am – 8:45am Welcoming Remarks – Purpose of Meeting
Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBusiness Alliance

8:45am – 9:45am Regulatory policy movement for nano – Cross-agency and international perspectives
Moderator: Richard A. Canady, PhD DABT, Senior Advisor, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

Travis Earles, Assistant Director for Nanotechnology, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President

Geoff Holdridge, Policy Analyst, National Nanotechnology Coordinating Office, Executive Office of the President

Shaun Clancy, PhD, Director of Product Regulatory Services, Evonik, Chairman of ACC Nanotechnology Panel

9:45am – 10:15am
Celia Merzbacher, PhD, Vice President – Innovative Partnerships, Semiconductor Research Corporation
– The Nanoelectronics Research Initiative: How Industry Gets Value from the NNI through Public-Private Partnership

10:15am – 11:15am Chemical and consumer product risk management policy and regulatory actions
Moderator: Charlie Auer, Charles Auer & Associates, LLC

Lynn L. Bergeson, Founder, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

Jeff Morris, National Program Director for Nanotechnology, EPA/ORD
– Sustainable development and EHS research priorities supporting risk management

11:15am – 12:15pm Policy and guidance developments for FDA
Moderator: David Rosen, Partner and Co-chair of the Life Sciences Industry Team, Foley & Lardner LLP. Member of the firm’s Government & Public Policy, and Corporate Compliance & Enforcement Practices and the Health Care, Nanotechnology and Food Industry Teams.

Mitchell Cheeseman, Deputy Director of the Office of Food Additive Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA
– Food additive and cosmetics guidance

Subhas Malghan, Deputy Director for Program Policy and Evaluation, Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories FDA/CDRH
– Science and regulatory issues relevant to review of products containing nanoscale materials

12:15pm – 1:15pm Lunch

1:15pm – 2:00pm Workplace and Worker Protection Issues
Moderator: Phil Lippel, PhD

David O’Connor, Director, Office of Chemical Hazards (Non-metals) presenting for OSHA

Chuck Geraci, PhD, Coordinator, Nanotechnology Research Center, NIOSH

Kristen M. Kulinowski, PhD, Dept of Chemistry, Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology International Council on Nanotechnology, Rice University

2:00pm – 2:20pm
Lynn L. Bergeson, Founder, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.
– Effectively Navigating Your Business around Uncertainties: Making the most from careful planning, regulatory awareness, and smart planning.

2:20pm – 2:40pm
Richard A. Canady, PhD DABT, Senior Advisor, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP
– What did we hear today and what does it mean for business? – Views on compliance, liability and investment based on the regulatory policy movements, from a former insider.

2:40pm – 3:00pm BREAK

3:00pm – 4:00pm Panel Discussion, NNI EHS Research Priorities and their relationship to risk management decision support: Taking a look at the PCAST Working Group on Nanotechnology and National Research Council’s Advisory Committee on “A Research Strategy for Environmental, Health, and Safety Aspects of Engineered Nanomaterials.”
Moderator: Vincent Caprio, Executive Director, NanoBusiness Alliance

Terry Medley, Chair, Expert Group on Nanotechnology, The Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (and Global Director, Corporate Regulatory Affairs DuPont), and Member of the PCAST Nanotechnology Working Group

Jenifer Sass, Senior Scientist, National Resources Defense Council and member of the PCAST Nanotechnology Working Group

Ray Wassel, Senior Program Officer, Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, National Research Council

4:00pm – 4:30pm Lloyd Whitman, Deputy Director of the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, “Supporting the Nanotechnology Enterprise from Discovery to Production”

4:30pm – 4:45pm Jim Murday, Director of Physical Sciences, University of Southern California, Washington Office, Industry involvement in nanotechnology workforce and education efforts, science standards

4:45 TBD Wrap up from Administration perspective, relation to innovation focus at the Obama Administration

I hope to see you in DC next week.


Vincent Caprio “It’s Green, It’s Clean, It’s Never Seen – That’s Nanotechnology”
Executive Director
NanoBusiness Alliance

The National Nanotechnology Initiative 2011 Budget

Posted on March 1st, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

In two weeks I will be leading a delegation of Nanotechnology Leaders to Washington DC for our 9th Annual NanoBusiness Alliance DC Roundtable, March 15-17th. We are planning a very busy schedule of DC meetings. Please review our Program and get ready to speak with Legislative and Agency Officials.

In preparation of our DC event I would like to share with you The National Nanotechnology Initiative 2011 Budget as submitted to President Obama.

The National Nanotechnology Initiative has released its 2011 Supplement to the President’s Budget. In his introductory letter, Presidential Science and Technology Advisor John Holdren notes that “Nanotechnology R&D constitutes a core building block of innovation that will ultimately accelerate job creation and transform many sectors of our economy through commercialization.”

The document gives final tallies for Federal agency investments in nanotechnology fiscal year 2009, estimates of current year investments, and budget requests for FY 2011. It includes descriptions of the current R&D interests of individual agencies as well as some hints of new programs we may see as the NNI enters its second decade.

The NNI budget continues to grow, with $1,701 M reported in 2009 and $1.781 M estimated for 2010. The 2011 request is slightly less – $1,762 M – but is likely to be exceeded when next year’s estimates appear. Well over $500 M in extra allocations through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were also distributed in 2009.

The Department of Energy tops the budget tables for the first time, with a $424 M request for 2011. With Recovery Act funding included, it is also easily first in actual expenditures reported for 2009, at $626 M. The Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation still top the estimated 2010 expenditures, with DOE in third place. Two agencies – the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Products Safety Commission – appear in the budget tables for the first time as part of the continuing build-up in R&D related to environmental, health, and safety matters. Both agencies have been active NNI participants for several years.

The identification of three signature initiatives in areas that are “ripe for significant advances through close … interagency collaboration” gives us a glimpse of future plans, although few program details are presently available. The topics are nanoelectronics, sustainable nanomanufacturing, and solar energy.

Six agencies have committed a total of $51 M to the Nanotechnology Applications for Solar Energy Initiative, in support of the Administration goal of generating 10% of our nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025. As NanoBusiness Alliance members well know, nanotechnology is expected to be a major factor in the widespread commercialization of solar energy, with great prospects for cost reduction, efficiency improvements, and optimizing use of precious materials. It will be interesting to see how this initiative encourages the incorporation of nanoscale materials and devices in both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power systems – the stated goals run the full gamut from improved understanding of the underlying science, through characterization of prototypes, and on to economical manufacturing.

Sustainable Nanomanufacturing gets an initiative of its own, with five participating agencies and $23 M committed to date. The emphasis is on self-assembled systems, a.k.a. the bottom-up approach to nanotechnology. This is a long-term initiative, with a first-decade goal to manufacture, on the industrial scale, systems of “relatively limited complexity” from engineered nanoparticles. A whole host of high-impact applications are mentioned – high-speed communication and computation, solar energy harvesting, waste heat management and recovery, energy storage – but the real emphasis is on developing general manufacturing techniques and then applying them to increasingly complex systems. The inclusion of “sustainable” in the title and the participation of the Environmental Protection Agency tips us off that lifecycle analysis of the materials and processes, up to and including recycling or reclamation, will be expected.

The final signature initiative, Nanoelectronics for 2020 and Beyond, starts with a $55 M commitment from five agencies. This effort shares the basic goals of the Nanoelectronics Research Institute (the current NNI partnership with the Semiconductor Research Corporation) to develop robust U.S. capabilities for manufacturing novel electronic technologies which will take the computing and communications industries beyond the end of the CMOS roadmap. It will expand ongoing NNI R&D in several areas: alternatives to charge-based information processing, combined nanophotonic/nanoelectronic systems, nanotech approaches to quantum information science, and carbon-based electronics devices such as nanotube transistors or this year’s coolest material, graphene. A new university-based facilities network, the National Nanoelectronics Research and Manufacturing Infrastructure, is also planned as part of this initiative.

Finally, the budget supplement notes that an update to the NNI strategic plan is due to Congress in December 2010. The Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology Subcommittee, which oversees the NNI, is open to input from all stakeholders. As the participating agencies consider how nanotechnology stimulates the commercialization and job creation opportunities Dr. Holdren mentioned, let’s make sure the voice of the innovation experts from the nanotechnology business community are heard. One great chance is coming up soon – come to our DC Roundtable on March 16th and 17th. You’ll also find contact information for representatives of all the NNI agencies at the back of the budget supplement, which you can download in its entirety from the homepage or directly from this link

We look forward to seeing you in Washington for our DC Roundtable March 15-17th. To attend, email


Vincent Caprio “It’s Green, It’s Clean, It’s Never Seen – That’s Nanotechnology”
Executive Director
NanoBusiness Alliance