NRI Papers
No.74   March 1, 2004
  The Role of Venture Businesses in Supporting the Commercialization of Nanotechnology  
Naoki IKEZAWA
       In the United States where start-ups by venture businesses are being vigorously pursued, many venture firms have already started business in the field of nanotechnology (nanotech) as well. In Japan, although sluggish trends have been seen in overall venture business activities, nanotech is an exceptional area in which business creation is fairly active.
       We have made a comparative analysis between Japan and the United State based on a list of nanotech ventures that have made their appearance in major conferences and the media in the United States and Japan. Although the number of the newly created business ventures is still larger in the United States, the difference between the two countries is small--actually coming down to fewer than 10 companies.
       However, a comparison of the characteristics of newly inaugurated ventures reveals some major differences in the United States and Japan. These gaps essentially involve differences in terms of the innovative aspects of the core technologies underlying the business, the technological fields of their activities, and the format of business creation, i.e., whether spun off from a private corporate or established from university basis.
       As the United States is some 15 to 20 years ahead of Japan with respect to the various policies targeted at encouraging venture start-ups, considerable progress has been made in accumulating know-how and fostering human resources related to the creation of venture firms. Moreover, a phenomenon in which venture businesses themselves lead to the creation of even newer ventures has also started to emerge.
       As there are a number of differences in the environment surrounding business creation between Japan and the United States, cases developed along the US model should not necessarily be viewed as precedents to be followed. However, a further vitalization of venture creation (start-ups) is necessary in order for Japan to prevent nanotech developments from ending up as mere technology. Furthermore, the goal should be to commercialize and create businesses out of nanotechnology by overcoming the Valley of Death and the Darwinian Sea syndromes that typically must be crossed in the course of high-tech business creation.
Contents
I Towards the Commercialization of Nanotechnology
II Comparison of Nanotech Ventures in the United States and Japan
  1 Japan Lags Behind the United States in Terms of the Innovative Aspects of Core Technology
  2 Expectations Focused on the Future with Respect to Business Creation in Japan
  3 Fewer Ventures in Biotechnology and Healthcare in Japan but Many Ventures in Measuring Technology and Equipment
  4 Synergies Between Biotechnology and Nanotech Are Emerging in the United States
  5 Small-Scale Starts Leading to Gradually Expanding Companies in Japan
  6 Many Company-Originated Ventures in the United States vs. Large Number of University-Originated Ventures in Japan
III Selected Nanotech Ventures in the United States
  1 QUANTUM DOT CORPORATION: Procuring Basic Patents From the Outside and Doing Business Under Applied Patents
  2 NANOSYS, INC: Focusing on the Latest in Quantum Dot Technology
  3 CARBON NANOTECHNOLOGIES, INC: Representative Example of a University-Originated Venture
  4 NANOSPHERE, INC: Including a Partnership with a Japanese Company in DNA Detection Applications
IV Identifying Japan's Tasks in Reference to Nanotech Ventures in the United States
  1 Active Challenge of Business Creation From Leading-Edge Technology and Strong Relationships with Universities
  2 Existence of Superior Venture Management Based on Experience
  3 The Self-Proliferation Mechanism of Venture Companies
V Suggestions for Nanotech Business Creation
  1 Comprehensive Vision and Concentrated Input of Resources
  2 Creation and Cultivation of Competitive Seeds
  3 Providing Ample Venues to Match Seeds with Needs

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