In its third study for Tekes, Spinverse Ltd studied the operations, challenges, and funding of companies developing and utilising nanotechnology. The study concludes that there are currently 202 active Finnish nanotechnology companies compared to the 61 that existed at the time of the first study, which was conducted in 2004. Of the companies operating currently, 65 had commercial products or processes in 2008 (compared to 27 in 2004).
Most of the companies utilising nanotechnology operate in the chemical industry, information and communications technology, or the health and wellbeing sector. The number of companies utilising nanotechnology has increased in all of the key sectors of Finnish industry.
According to the study, nanotechnology has had a positive economic impact in these key sectors. Nanotechnology revenue exceeded 300 million euros in 2008. Exports accounted for 60 per cent of the industry's revenue. The industry employs almost 3,000 people (compared to 300-400 in 2004). By 2013, it is estimated that the industry will grow to 1.2 billion euros and will employ 11,000-12,000 people.
Internationalisation requires continued investments
In 2008, private investments in nanotechnology were for the first time greater than public investments. The industry received public funding worth 38 million euros, industry investments were 56.6 million euros and venture capital funding 9.5 million euros. Total investments increased by 33.6 per cent compared to 2006. Nanotechnology investments were focused on the chemical industry and materials, information and communications technology, and the forest industry.
According to the companies researched, the challenges for growing the industry are securing the continuity of funding, recruiting competent staff, and managing intellectual property rights.
"The internationalisation of nanotechnology companies requires ongoing improvement of the funding opportunities. According to the study, exporting products to international markets requires dozens of million euros within the next two years. Both public and private funding are required," says Markku Lämsä, the FinNano Programme Manager at Tekes.
The nanotechnology industry's shift from research to commercialization is giving a boost to Finnish industry during the current economic downturn.
"Many key sectors of Finnish industry have, after years of determined work, shifted from developing nanotechnology to commercialisation of products. Utilising the large research and development network creates new conditions for growth in the middle of a global downturn or structural change, which is already happening in the forest industry. Companies developing and utilising nanotechnology are a significant source of economic growth both during the current recession and in the long run," says Pekka Koponen, CEO of Spinverse Ltd.