By Maarten den Dekker
As part of CHInano, the Netherlands participated in the International Roundtable on Nanotechnology (IRN 2014). The second IRN highlighted the business side of nanotechnology around the world. How can science and technology be translated in business and ‘global synergy’ and collaboration help to commercialize nanotechnology? Professor Dave Blank, Scientific Director of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology and member of the Topteam High Tech Systems and Materials, officially represented the Netherlands during this event.
Doctor Xijun Zhang elucidated China’s ambitions in the field of nanotechnology. Suzhou, a city close to Shanghai, is the first and only city in China that considers nanotechnology as its strategically emerging industry to strengthen and develop the regional economy. With considerable support of the government the Suzhou Industry Park is building a remarkable nanotech ecosystem. A major initiative is Nanopolis: a nanotechnology park of 1 km2 equipped with integrated services for R&D, technology incubation, pilot production, mass production, conference/exhibition facilities, etc. Despite of these kind of support and facilities the nanotech universities and institutes struggle to create business out of research and technology.
Professor Dave Blank mentioned nanotechnology as a breeding ground for SME’s. One of the largest institutes on nanotechnology in the Netherlands, MESA+, is known because of its entrepreneurial culture. It encourages entrepreneurship among its employees and gives them support in starting up a business. Therefore the institute became the birthplace of as many as 50 high-tech spin-off companies.
Combining China’s ambitions with the Dutch entrepreneurial approach, there are opportunities for international collaboration. Until now only 20% of the Nanopolis area is developed and the Chinese government is looking for foreign business partners. The Holland High Tech Center China, located at Nanopolis, is ready to assist Dutch nanotech companies to set up business in Suzhou.