John K. Borchardt (November 2010)
Nanotechnology has the potential to dramatically change American manufacturing. It produces microscopic particles called nanomaterials and assimilates them into a mushrooming list of products. Nanomaterials are used in an array of industrial applications and consumer products. Nanotechnology is responsible for reducing the weight and improving fuel efficiency of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. Automakers are using nanomaterials to cut vehicle weight and reduce fuel consumption.
Manufacturing and utilizing nanomaterials is a nascent technology based on advanced scientific engineering. When particles are shrunk to less than a percent of the width of a human hair, their properties radically change. Copper becomes transparent. Inert materials, such as gold, become powerful catalysts that can be used to promote increased production of gasoline without building new refineries.
The biomedical industry is just one sector diving into nanotechnology. Nanomaterials are used to diagnose diseases and deliver drugs directly to diseased sites, such as cancer cells. This pinpointing reduces the amount of drugs patients must take. The transportation, plastics, and electronics sectors are also adopting nanotechnology. For example, the solar power industry employs nanomaterials to produce more efficient solar cells.
All of these industries require highly skilled workers. But to attract these employees, communities must offer amenities such as excellent schools and cultural institutions. Here are just a few companies that have found their location matches.
International venture capital firm Cody Gate Ventures selected Rochester, New York, as the place to expand three high-tech companies it owns: nanotechnology firm Intrinsiq Materials, Quintel, and Omni-ID. These companies will hire a combined 250 full-time employees for research, development, and manufacturing positions over the next four years. Cody Gate will also make significant capital investments in machinery and equipment.
Despite the recession, Michael Summers, Cody Gate's Managing Partner for the United States, says the three companies will begin operating from Rochester's Eastman Business Park in 2010. It expects to hire most new workers from the local area.
Why Rochester? "We looked globally for the right location to expand Intrinsiq Materials, Quintel Technology, and Omni-ID," Summers says. "Rochester quickly rose to the top of the list because of its highly-skilled work force and quality of life. The number-one factor was the talented, knowledgeable people available in the Rochester region. The work force here has the right technical expertise to support our high-tech businesses."
Infrastructure was an important factor, along with Rochester's history of entrepreneurship and innovation, access to world-class research and development facilities, and renowned colleges and universities. "The Intrinsiq Materials team is starting discussions with a number of area institutions to help us develop products. Nearly all of these shall contain some form of nanotechnology," Summers says. The health, wellness, cosmetics, and printed electronics industries will benefit from the nanotechnology.
Cody Gate will lease space in the business park with the option to buy the building later. "The Eastman Business Park facility is technically strong with an outstanding infrastructure to support our companies. We plan to customize this facility to the specific needs of each of our companies," Summers says. Intrinsiq Materials will create nanomaterials patents and design and manufacture nanomaterials there. Meanwhile, Quintel and Omni-ID will establish research and development operations in the facility.
Government financial incentives also played a part in the decision. "We received a very competitive package of incentives from New York State, Monroe County, and the city of Rochester to help us accelerate the expansion in Rochester," Summers says. Without these incentives, hiring and implementation would have been bogged down.