Nanotechnology companies aren't like typical tech startups. New nanotech outfits tend to stay small for years because venture capitalists are squeamish about putting money into them. They tend to be run by researchers with years of lab work under their belts, rather than college-dropout whiz kids with a dandy idea.
And, gasp, many of the hottest nanotechnology companies aren't in the usual tech hubs of Silicon Valley, the Route 128 belt around Boston, or the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina.
But venture capitalists aren't the dominant investors when it comes to nanotech. By comparison, the federal government is spending nearly $5 billion per year on nanotechnology research. That's why a company like SouthWest NanoTechnologies calls Norman, Okla., home. It was founded four years ago by the University of Oklahoma with help from energy company ConocoPhillips (COP
), the National Science Foundation, the NASA, the U.S. Energy Dept., and Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology -- nary a venture capitalist from Silicon Valley's famed Sand Hill Road in the bunch.
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