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NanoBlog

A blog about anything nanotech

National Innovation Inititive

morreale Friday 04 of February, 2011
A tweet led me to the new Startup America Partnership website, which is a new public/private partnership design to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. This then site led me to National Innovation Initiative. I read the A Strategy for American Innovation: Driving Towards Sustainable Growth and Quality Jobs with great interest, and applauded the efforts in this area. I have a proposal that might improve STEM education and fill a gap that I believe the SBIR grants miss.

The task of getting Research & Development (R&D) to market can be difficult, time consuming, and inefficient. There are many factors impeding innovative ideas from getting to market but a few specific to R&D includes:
  • Present funding of researchers only allows funds to be used on the research generally speaking.
  • Professors are consumed with finding funding, keeping research projects running, keeping grad students working on research, and teaching. This does not allow time or resources for advanced product development.
  • Grad students must do research and can’t do any advanced development of the research into an early product prototype even if they were inclined to do so.
  • The ideas created by researcher are world class but generally require much more work to become a manufacturable product. Many great ideas never make it to market as a result.
  • Venture Capitalists (VCs) are less interested in funding lab or university research due to the high risk and high cost of bring a research idea to market. Show me a prototype and a business plan first they say.
  • The process, thus, has a gap that might be filled to make the process of getting innovative ideas to market more efficiently, and create high tech employment.
I propose that the formation of an Organization to take up the task of taking research and developing it into advanced prototypes that can be used to raise VC funding to start companies. The Organization would be staffed with professionals, students of all ages (high school through graduate level), and teachers. It is important that students and teachers be part of the Organization. Researchers would solicit development teams from the Organization to prototype their ideas. This act gets ride of the unwilling or uninterested researchers and professors from the process. Competition between development teams further spurs innovation. Development teams including teachers and students building research ideas into prototype products will enhance the STEM learning process that is more concrete and hands-on (Mythbusters style with fewer explosions perhaps but almost as fun). There is nothing more satisfying than holding your idea in your hand. It’s very powerful — additive even. The development team and researchers then shop their prototype to Angel investors and VCs for follow on funding would help close the loop in teaching the group the process of getting an idea to market. As more teams become successful, STEM courses may become more fashionable with students and teachers. As a result, new companies get started, innovative ideas get to market faster, and students and teachers learn by doing.

It’s not clear what form the Organization would take or how it would be run (Startup America Partnership, something new like a “Department of Innovation”, something like Sematech, or an organization like the Kauffman Foundation). There are many details to work so that it would be fair to everyone (especially don’t want to see the VC’s taking advantage of something like this). The Organization should leverage government labs and possibly partner with industry.

International Year of Chemistry 2011

morreale Thursday 03 of February, 2011
The US has deemed this the International Year of Chemistry and the opening panel discussion was web cast February 1. You can catch the archive at IYC2011, which was very interesting, thought provoking, and informative. The speakers include:
  • Andrew Liveris, CEO & Chair, The Dow Chemical Company
  • Ellen Kullman, Chair & CEO, DuPont
  • Janet Hering, Director of Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
  • Joshua S. Boger, former Chair & CEO, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Rita Colwell, University of Maryland, College Park, former Director, National Science Foundation
  • Dan Nocera, MIT
The panel discussed chemistry based solutions to global problems. I've been noticing a tend in science and engineering communities for a desire for more science based approaches to problems verses the solutions we get today. This trend appears to be international as well. The opening speaker encouraged audience members to run for office.

Wind, water, & solar power globe by 2030

morreale Saturday 29 of January, 2011
Researchers at Standford and UC Davis report on a blueprint to supply the worlds energy needs using wind, water, and solar power systems by 2030. That's right; A totally sustainable global energy supply by 2030. Part 1 of the report, Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I:
Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure,
and materials
, can be found on a Stanford website.

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos

morreale Saturday 29 of January, 2011
Brian Greene's new book The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos is out. I'm only part way into chapter 3, and my mind has all ready been blown. Appearently, it has been blown an infinite number of times too if we live in an infinite universe. That's because there are an infinite number of me's in the infinite copies of our universe. Check out his interview on the Colbert Report.

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morreale Saturday 29 of January, 2011
NanoTrust and Institute of Technology Assessment have released summary papers (dossiers) on the various topics in nanotechnology associated with environmental and health issues. These papers summarize the technical issues associated with nanotechnology in general terms to educate the reader on the possible risk of the technology. All dossiers are in German and about half are in English.

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EPL special issue on Graphene

morreale Friday 28 of January, 2011
IOP Science European Physics Letters journal has issued a special issue on graphene in honor of the Nobel Prise awarded to Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. Professor Neto has written the introduction. This issue is presently open access.

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