Remember when nanotechnology was the next big thing?
A decade ago investors went wild over this emerging field,
which entails playing with matter at the molecular and atomic
levels to make, say, faster semiconductors or targeted drug
treatments. But nanotech outlived the hype, quietly becoming
part of everything from clothing to solar panels.
Nanotech has been subsumed into the fabric of many
technologies in a way thats, frankly, quite invisible to
the end consumer, says Steve Jurvetson, managing director
at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a Menlo Park, Californiabased
venture capital shop with $7 billion under management.
Estimates of the market for nanotech products vary, but
theyre often eye-popping: Farmington,
Connecticutbased Global Information projects that it will
hit $3.3 trillion by 2018.
For investors, though, the journey from lab to marketplace
can be long. Venture capital firm Canaan Partners first
invested in Branford, Connecticuts Marinus
Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a new drug delivered via
nanoparticles, back in 2005. Stephen Bloch, a Westport,
Connecticutbased partner with $3.4 billion Canaan,
notes that this treatment is only now in Phase 2 of clinical
trials. Were going through a period where people
are still figuring out what the best product iterations are,
how to manufacture these things at scale, Bloch says.