Leaders in Functional Nanomaterials Manufacturing Target Southeast for Economic Growth

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Top industry, academic, and government representatives from Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas convened for a 1-day executive roundtable discussion on November 6, 2015 in the Marcus Nanotechnology Building on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. The diverse group gathered to develop a plan to establish the Southeastern region of the United States as a global hub for the large-scale manufacturing of functional nanomaterials and the advanced products made from them.

Today, the Southeast is benefiting from the same recipe that created California’s Silicon Valley. The cost of doing business is low; the talent pool is top-notch, large, and diverse; key infrastructure is in place; the quality of life is high; and, special to this region, there is a rich cross-cultural history and tradition of hospitality. This potent mixture, combined with Georgia Tech’s track record of producing the nation’s top engineers and its research leadership in functional nanomaterials, ideally positions the Southeast to be a world leader in nanomanufacturing. Dr. Oliver Brand, the Executive Director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology that hosted the roundtable said, “The timing is right and the Southeast region, for several reasons, is poised to take advantage of this new frontier of global innovation and economic growth.”

In the words of U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), Former Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, “We stand at the threshold of an age in which materials and devices can be fashioned atom-by-atom to satisfy specified design requirements. Nanotechnology-based applications are arising that were not even imagined a decade ago. The range of potential applications is broad, and will have enormous consequences for electronics, energy transformation and storage, materials, and medicine and health, to name a few examples. Indeed, the scope of this technology is so broad as to leave virtually no product untouched.” The roundtable participants identified key assets and infrastructure, much of it already in place in the Southeast, necessary to build a fertile ecosystem and most fully develop the promise of nanotechnology.

“Nano will allow us to create value and wealth for the U.S. to continue our growth. Nanotechnology represents two things: first, a very distinct possibility of creating cures and treatments for all the terrible ailments that people are facing because they are living longer, and secondly, it's creating an environment where the U.S. can maintain its lead in the world in innovation, creating new jobs so citizens can feed their families, and having higher standards of living and a stable economy,” said Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, community champion, and philanthropist for nanotechnology. 

The vision of the roundtable was inspired by the words of Bernie Marcus when referring to the public-private partnership he supported to construct the building that bears his name, “They want to develop products they can sell. That is what America is all about. This collaboration will be great for the state of Georgia, great for the region by creating jobs, and will serve as a magnet for new companies. It will have a very strong effect on the free enterprise system within the United States.”

"This was a watershed meeting focused on breakthrough nanomanufacturing technologies that offer a broad range of high value market opportunities,” said Jim Phillips, CEO of Arkansas based NanoMech, a globally leading nanomanufacturing company. “The operating vision is to spur nanomanufacturing innovation with swift product development and an emphasis on platform technologies that are scalable for efficient mass production of "must have" novel products ushering in tens of thousands of knowledge jobs into this dynamic region."

The team is now planning strategic initiatives and a larger workshop in 2016 to begin taking action on this vision for the Southeast region.

Executive roundtable “Manufacturing of Functional Nanomaterials” participants included:

  • Dr. Oliver Brand, Executive Director Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech
  • Dr. Baratunde Cola, Founder and CEO Carbice Nanotechnologies (Georgia) and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Georgia Tech
  • Dr. Panos Datskos, Group Leader of Nanosystems and Structures at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Professor at University of Tennessee
  • Dr. Michael A. Filler, Associate Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech
  • Mr. Jonathan Goldman, Principal in VentureLab at Georgia Tech and Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the Georgia Research Alliance
  • Dr. David Gottfried, National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure Program Coordinator and Principal Research Scientist at Georgia Tech
  • Dr. Daniel J. C. Herr, Director of Nanomanufacturing Innovation Consortium (NIC) and Professor and Nanoscience Department Chair at The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (North Carolina)
  • Mr. Greg King, Associate Vice President for Economic Development at Georgia Tech and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Economic Development & Industry Engagement for Board of Regents University System of Georgia
  • Dr. Jason Locklin, Director of Integrated Bioscience and Nanotechnology Cleanroom (iBioNC) and Associate Professor Chemistry and BioChemical Engineering at University of Georgia
  • Dr. Ajay Malshe, Founder and CTO NanoMech (Arkansas)
  • Mr. Jim Phillips, CEO NanoMech (Arkansas)
  • Mr. Suresh Sharma, Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Georgia Tech and Industry Fellow for the Georgia Research Alliance
  • Dr. Eric Vogel, Deputy Director of the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN), Associate Director for Shared Resources of the Institute for Materials (IMat), and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech

Writer: Roundtable Team (Lead writer and editor: Baratunde Cola)




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