Theory behind Nanotechnology Trade Shows and a Nanotechnology Industry

Nanotechnology over the last seven years since the inception of the NNI in 2001 has had more than its share of conferences, seminars and other assorted meetings. These are usually informational or provide some kind of networking that could lead to some kind of transactions.

But one incarnation of event that there has not been a lot of is expos or tradeshows. Nonetheless, they do exist and the two largest events of this type of are the nano tech event held each year in Japan and the NSTI Nanotech event held each year in the US. With the latter US event, a large component of the meeting is that of the presentations, or the conference element.

Nonetheless there is some expo element, and I became intrigued to see what was being exhibited at a nanotech trade show seven years on from the launching of the NNI when I saw this blog entry from Information Week. I did a little research and discovered by my unofficial count that exhibitors for this yearâ''s NSTI event that concluded on June 5th reached about 221. Okay itâ''s not the nearly 3,000 exhibitors at CES last January, but no one was expecting it to be.

However, it is not exactly heartening to see what makes up a large portion of the list of exhibitors: regional economic development groups, university and national labs, a number of microscopy tool companies, and a few companies focusing on nanomaterials. There are no Intels, IBMs or AMDs, or large players in any of the market sectors nanotech is supposed to be impacting: pharmaceuticals, automotive, and the like.

This is not a knock against the organizers, who have annually put on the largest nanotech event in the US for years now, but is rather an observation that strengthens the argument that nanotechnology is not an industry but an enabling technology.

Think of nanotechnology, or specifically a nanotechnology trade show, in the terms of a trade show for gold during the great Gold Rush. Who would be your exhibitors? Certainly, your pick and shovel suppliers (read, microscopy tool companies), real estate brokers for the areas around the best gold sites (read, your regional economic development boards), etc.

On the other hand, if you had a tradeshow for one of the market sectors gold would impact, say jewelry, you could easily imagine a large number of jewelers and all the elements in the supply chain from gold to the final jewelry product wanting to exhibit.

Itâ''s the same for nanotech. There are huge trade show and exhibitions for electronics, pharmaceuticals, automotive, etc. Whatâ''s the difference? These are industries, nanotech is a technology.

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