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March 4th, 2009

Follow the money – to nanointermediates

Published on March 4th, 2009 | By: pwray@ceramics.org
Nanotube filaments on a battery electrode. Credit: MIT/Riccardo Signorelli

Nanotube filaments on a battery electrode. Credit: MIT/Riccardo Signorelli

If you want to make money in nanomaterials, the place to invest is in nano-improved intermediary products, such as coatings, memory chips, catalysts and batteries, according to a new report from Lux Research. “The real opportunities for nanomaterials have become clearer,” says Jurron Bradley, senior analyst and head of the consulting firm’s Nanomaterials Intelligence Service. “Nanotech’s winners focus on nanointermediates in the key industries we’ve identified. The fact is that other nano-enabled products offer only incremental improvements with small premiums.” The report is based on 1,000 interviews with technology developers. Findings include these highlights:

  • In 2007, nanointermediate products earned an aggregate net profit margin of nine percent – almost twice that of nanomaterials and other nano-enabled products – and a figure that’s expected to grow to 15 percent in 2015.
  • In 2008, nanotech funding reached $18.2 billion. Government spending accounted for $8.4 billion of this total, corporate funding contributed $8.6 billion and $1.2 billion came from venture capitalists.
  • The U.S., Japan, Germany and South Korea are leading international nanotech activity, but Russia and China also are making gains.
  • Nanotech’s energy-and-environment sector is “hot.” In 2008, it accounted for 29 percent of all nanotech government spending, 13 percent of corporate spending and 41 percent of venture-capital funding.

Results from the energy-and-environment sector, however, barely register in the total of emerging nanotech revenue, according to Lux. The report indicates the sector accounted for just 0.6 percent or $876 million of 2007’s total revenue, and two percent or $57 billion of the total Lux projects for revenue for 2015. Bradley believes activity in this sector may be “disproportionate” to its profit potential.

“Still, while these applications account for only a small percentage of the revenues from nano-enabled products, energy-based nanointermediates – such as batteries, capacitors, and solar cells – can still be a smart bet.”

Available for purchase on Lux Research’s website, the 102-page report, entitled, “Nanomaterials State-of-the-Market Q1 2009: Cleantech’s Dollar Investments, Penny Returns,” includes profit projections for nanotech products in eight markets: aerospace; automotive; construction; electronics; energy and environment; manufacturing; medical and pharmaceutical; and oil and gas.


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