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Midwest gaining stature in nanotech research

Although the Midwest is not conventionally known as one of the leading biotechnology clusters in the U.S., it appears to be gaining attention and stature in a related field: nanotechnology!

Granted, there is overlap between biotech and nanotech, but certainly not all nanotech is biotech and vice-versa.

I am hoping to chronicle at some point the number of nanotech companies in the region, but in the meantime, a recent national survey might throw a little light on the Midwest's growing role!

According to Small Times Magazine's annual survey on nanotechnology and microtechnology in the U.S., in its November/December edition (granted this is a Midwest-based publication), the Midwest fared pretty well in the ranking of this industry in the U.S.

The Small Times' 2006 survey has focused on five key areas:
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• Venture capital.

• Industry.

Research.

• Innovation.

• Workforce.

Now, I haven't been following the results of other parts of the survey, but this month's edition focuses on the Research component of nanotech development in the U.S.

The survey for nanotech research used four major parameters to rank states. These parameters were based on a comparison of:

• The number of micro-nano grants to a state's overall grants.

• The number of micro-nano grants to total U.S. micro-nano grants.

• The state's dollars from the micro-nano grants to total U.S. dollars.

• The state's number of research centers to total U.S. centers.

Additionally, the survey included data on overall academic, federal, and industrial R&D expenditures, and a comparison to a state's gross state product.

Let's take a look at the results for the rankings of the top 10 states:


Leading U.S. Nanotech Research States
Rank State Score
1. California 100
2. Illinois 59.1
3. Massachusetts 59.0
4. New York 55.2
5. Pennsylvania 54.6
6. Texas 52.3
7. Maryland 51.1
8. Michigan 48.3
9. Ohio 46.2
10. Virginia 43.3
Source: Small Times Magazine, November/December 2006

The good news is that the Midwest has three states in the top 10 for nanotech research, with Illinois at number two in the country, surpassing important research states such as Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. The bad news is that the number one state, California, is far ahead of the other states.

Illinois moved up from 3rd place to second place this year, passing over Massachusetts by a nose!

In the prior month's edition, Small Times ranked the states in terms of development of its industry. The parameters being measured were a comparison of:

• State's micro-nano density to its overall density.

• State's micro-nano density to national micro-nano density.

Leading Nanotech Industry Density States
Rank State Score
1. California 100.1
2. Massachusetts 84.1
3. New York 57.6
4. New Mexico 53.8
5. Connecticut 51.7
6. Michigan 44.8
7. Delaware 41.5
8. New Jersey 39.8
9. Pennsylvania 38.2
10. Texas 37.9
Source: Small Times Magazine: Sept./Oct. 2006

Once again, California shines with Massachusetts following - a much closer second this time. The only Midwestern state in the top 10 is Michigan.

The venture capital portion of the survey took place earlier this year and measures six different parameters of venture capital. Let's take a look at the results:

Rank State Score
1. California 100.0
2. Massachusetts 29.1
3. Texas 8.1
4. Missouri 7.5
5. Michigan 6.6
6. North Carolina 6.4
7. Wisconsin 6.2
8. Arizona 5.7
9. Rhode Island 5.4
10. Maryland 4.9
Source: Small Times Magazine, July 2006

Once again, California blows all the other states away in its resounding first place position. The Midwest once again has three states in the ranking. Note that of the Midwest states, only Michigan figures in all three of these survey rankings.

Having said that, there have been some important venture capital nanotech financings this year in the Midwest:

• Nanosphere (Illinois): $57 million.

• NanoBio (Michigan): $30 million.

• NanoInk (Illinois): $20 million.

• Nanotope (Illinois): $3.5 million.

Three out of the four companies above are spinouts from Northwestern University's Nanotechnology Institute.

There are still 3 parts of the survey which haven't been revealed yet by Small Times, so stay tuned in the coming months. But it is obvious that while California and Massachusetts are lead nanotech states, the Midwest plays an important role in this ever-important industry.

See you soon!

Recent articles by Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen: Midwest colleges strong contenders for NIH funds

Michael Rosen: Japan on the rebound: Implications for Midwest

NIH '05 funding: Midwest has two states in Top 10

Michael Rosen: Doing the pharmaceutical tango

Michael S. Rosen is president of Rosen Bioscience Management, a company that provides CEO services, including financing and business and corporate development to start-up and early-stage life science companies such as Renovar and Immune Cell Therapy. Rosen also is a founder and board member of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization. He can be reached at rosenmichaels@aol.com.

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

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