New association to promote nanotech

April saw the launch of the European NanoBusiness Association (ENA), a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting European nanotechnology. Based in Brussels the organisation’s goal is to ensure the smooth and successful transfer of European nanotech science and research into commercial businesses.

The association will provide a platform for business, academic and financial interests to work together promoting the fledgling nanotech industry in Europe. Other aims include building a forum to share information between members and the public; promoting the development of promising technologies; connecting its members with the wider nanotechnology community and monitoring Europe’s position in relation to the commercialisation of nanotechnology.

Simon Waddington, a partner at Munich-based venture capital firm PolyTechnos Venture Partners, is one of the association’s founding members and sits on its board. He provides the ENA with a VC’s view and makes sure those who are developing nanotechnology projects are aware of the VCs that are active in the sector. Waddington also represents the venture capital industry’s interest in nanotech, a sector he believes will take-off in the next three to five years. He says: “I always warn people that nanotechnology is a very fertile research area but it’s not so fertile for venture capital in the short term. Investors shouldn’t hype it but they should prepare for its arrival.” He believes there is a danger that nanotechnology may be pushed too early into the “next big thing” gap left by the previously popular TMT sector.

Terje Berg, a member of ENA’s advisory board and chairman of the Norwegian NanoBusiness Network, said: “Nanotechnology is already having a tremendous effect, both locally and globally, and there is a growing need to look at this on a European level.” The association’s executive director is Tim Harper, the founder of CMP Cientifica, a nanotechnology information company, and co-author of the Nanotechnology Opportunity Report?.

The association hopes to build on the success of commercialising micro-electromechanical systems (MEMs) technology. European MEMs success stories include Colibrys, a spin off from CSEM (Centre Suisse d’ Electronique et de Microtechnique), which raised $12 million in its first funding round last year. So far PHS MEMS, a French microsystems company, has raised three rounds of venture funding totalling €45 million. Also this month German financial services firm Capital Stage launched Nanotech Invest, Europe’s first investment company dedicated to nanotechnology investments – see Venture Capital News this issue.