Thursday, May 12, 2005

Old-school networking at NSTI

Blogger's Note: Alan Rae, vice president for market and business development at Nanodynamics Inc. (they do the nano golf balls), must have decided it's time to end his career and pursue his dream of becoming a chicken rancher far, far away. Why else would such a sober businessman volunteer to guest blog on NanoBot? So, before he realizes what he has done, I'd better go ahead and run this. Thank you, Alan, for offering your impressions of NSTI 2005. -- Howard

By Alan Rae
VP for Market and Business Development
Nanodynamics Inc.
NanoBot Correspondent

Well, I just finished three days at the NSTI Nanotech 2005 show in Anaheim. It was held in the conference center in the Marriott, notable for being a Faraday cage (intended or unintended) that prevents cellphones and BlackBerries from working except in the areas where people are operating lawnmowers and leaf blowers…

This was my second NSTI, the first I attended and enjoyed was in Boston last year. The reason I came this year was to see how it had grown. Boy has it grown!

The booth area was much bigger than last year. The biggest booths were the national “pavilions” for Ireland and Australia, most companies were in 10x10 booths. Still not a lot of real “stuff” for sale and a lot of great concepts -- some way from commercialization.

The conference was the main event here and was very busy. Up to nine concurrent sessions! A mixture of science projects, shameless self-promotion and really good stuff. Great receptions, plenty of networking and inventors, VCs, startups and big companies mixing it up. The networking at this show is unparalleled.

Does it pay to go there? Well we gave two papers and had a booth. The papers were well attended by big audiences (standing at the back several deep in some), feedback was good and they generated serious booth traffic. We were totally swamped at the booth for the two full days, so I struggled to attend technical sessions and side meetings.

Part of the attraction was the diversity. This nano thing really works the linkages between chemistry, physics and the life sciences. I came away with more than 100 cards and talked real applications for our products in areas as diverse as cosmetics, building products, composites, space flight and electronics ranging from TVs to cellphones. For us it was great. I actually got a bruised hand from handshaking.

Boston next year should be even better. I’ll wear more comfortable shoes. And I know I can get my BlackBerry to work there!



Jack Stilgoe said...

Good to hear positive comments from the conference. I went along and was similarly amazed at the size of the thing.

In addition to the business and hard science talk going on at the conference, we held a really interesting day of talks and panel discussions about the social dimensions of nanotechnology.

I presented the work we are doing at Demos on public engagementwith nano, and others talked about risk, trust, standards and the lessons from previous issues (GM in particular).

I can't help but think it would have been good to have had more scientists along to talk about the wider aspects of nano. But it's a start...

Anonymous said...

CBEN sponsored the Nano and Society session that Jack mentioned. I concur that it was a great networking venue. I gave a talk in our session and was swarmed at the next break. Almost missed lunch. Now that's a good meeting!