Although nanotechnology is concerned with very, very small items, the associated industries are growing very rapidly. Nanotechnology has also been called molecular manufacturing. Canada and Quebec have invested in some good infrastructure for nanotechnology and there are some excellent researchers here. However the international competition is fierce and this investment may not be enough.
Lux Research, which calls itself the World’s Leading Nanotechnology Research and Advisory Firm has a recent study entitled, Ranking the Nations: Nanotech’s Shifting Global Leaders. Apparently the study describes Canada as a “minor player” and is ranked last in the list of 14 nations in the global nano race. China was also deemed a minor player. Canada was thought to be unlikely to move up to “ivory tower”, “niche player” or “dominant player” status.
On its website, Lux Research is not so pessimistic about China’s nanotech growth. It cites the following:
– China’s share of academic publications on nanoscale science and engineering topics rose from 7.5% in 1995 to 18.3% in 2004, taking the country from fifth to second in the world.
– China’s estimated government nanotechnology spending of $250 million in 2005, when adjusted for purchasing-power parity, is second only to the U.S.
– Within its chosen commercial fields, China is a world leader. Nanoparticle-enabled coatings and composite materials are being incorporated into commercial products much more rapidly in China than in Western countries or Japan.
What will it take to get Canada and Quebec into contention? Neil Gordon, President of the Canadian NanoBusiness Alliance, feels that the lack of a federal strategy is a serious hurdle. His organization seeks more government money or support for private companies.
If you want to know more about this industry, then NanoQu?bec is a good source of information on the industry. Here in Montreal, we also have one of the leading nanotechnology companies, Raymor, a public company with stock on the TSX Venture Exchange (Symbol: RAR). It is a producer of Advanced Materials and Nanomaterials. They recently set up a wholly-owned division, AP&C Advanced Powders and Coatings, which is a joint venture with PyroGenesis to market the PyroGenesis products. Both are located on the banks of the Lachine Canal in Montreal. Since China seems to have targeted the same field, we wish them well.