Friday, February 9, 2007

Show me the money, Pt. I

Today I would like to cover what’s happening in the nano-investment world.

Here is a list of some of the investments going to "nanotech" companies, universities, and VC funds, for the 2-week period between January 13, 2007 and January 26, 2007.

Why did I put nanotech in quotes? Because the definition of nanotechnology remains elusive at best, and is often purposefully misapplied to fit the self-promotional goals of some companies who may not actually be working with nanoscale materials. The listings below are all "legit" nanotech.

Given the importance of investing, I will revisit this topic at least once a month.

--DayStar Technologies Inc., $5 million. Daystar is a solar cell manufacturer. Investors in this round: Michael Dura of Guilderland/PreX Capital Partners LLC, Millennium Partners LP, and others not announced. Website:

--Medical Academy (AM) in Warsaw, €100m for the construction of a Pre-Clinical Research and Technology Centre (CEPT). The link here is to their research in nanobiotechnology (nanomedicine) applications.

--Dr. Eric Davidson's laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, $255,000 annually for three years by Arrowhead Research Corporation. The link here is to his research in nanobiotechnology (nanomedicine) applications. Website:

--Spacehab Inc. president and CEO Thomas B. Pickens III announced plans for nanotech venture fund, with a goal of raising $100 million in the first phase. Funds will support Texas-based nanotech companies.

--The EU FP7 budget for years 2007 through 2012 is €50bn, with €3.5bn (~$4.5bn) dedicated to nanotechnologies.

--Plextronics, Inc., $750,000. Funds to go towards R&D on Organic solar cells. Investor: Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) of Central Eastern Pennsylvania. Website:

--NanoQuébec will provide $2 million to fund 18 proposals from universities and private companies. Website:

--South Korean Government, 52 bn won (~$520 million) into "nanotechnology sectors."

--Xradia, $4 million. Xradia is a tools manufacturer. Investor: Harris & Harris. Website:

Please contact me at rocky at for detailed reports on this or any other "nanotech" area, including advanced materials, nanomedicine, energy, etc.

Staying with the investing theme, a short interview with Peter Hebert, Lux Capital

RR: When you talk to someone who wants to know about nanotech companies or technologies to invest in, what are some of the things you stress with them?

What makes nanotech unique is that it provides a new scientific toolkit to address industry pain points and develop new commercial applications. Investors are most interested in technologies that solve existing problems or drive new product demand. Because of the differentiated properties at the nanoscale, nanotechnology offers the ability to do both.

RR: Are there any media-hyped or investment guru-hyped technologies or companies that you steer potential investors away from?

We've been wary of any new technologies that appear disconnected from market needs. Without deep knowledge of industry's needs and requirements (e.g. inexpensive volume manufacturing), most of these promising technologies will always loom on the horizon and never on product shelves.

RR: For someone who is looking to invest in the next 2 - 5 years, are there technologies or companies that you suggest are worth watching?

Over the next 2-5 years, I'd look for some big breakthroughs in using nanomaterials for energy, electronics and life sciences applications.

And with Jack Uldrich, NanoVeritas Group

RR: When you talk to someone who wants to know about nanotech companies or technologies to invest in, what are some of the things you stress with them?

Patience. Nanotech is a long-term trend. Don't expect to get rich overnight!

RR: Are there any media-hyped or investment guru-hyped technologies or companies that you steer potential investors away from?

I advise investors not to trust company spokespeople. Their interests are not the same as yours. Do your due diligence and take everything they say with a grain of salt. Altair and NVE are but just two examples of companies that I would encourage investors to be careful of.

RR: For someone who is looking to invest in the next 2 - 5 years, are there technologies or companies that you suggest are worth watching?

Personally, I am excited about Starpharma's dendrimer technology in the next 3 to 5 years. Shorter term, I like Headwaters' nano-catalyst technology.

Nanotech investing events of interest:

Nano Nexus 2007 is a new nanotechnology event with an emphasis on education for all the critical players in nanotechnology commercialization universities, government, industry and the investment community. April 2-4, 2007 Website:

NanoQuebec NANO2007 & US Showcase & VC Coaching Program. February 7, 2007

1 comment:

Jay Draiman said...


In order to insure energy and economic independence as well as better economic growth without being blackmailed by foreign countries, our country, the United States of America’s Utilization of Energy Sources must change.
"Energy drives our entire economy.” We must protect it. "Let's face it, without energy the whole economy and economic society we have set up would come to a halt. So you want to have control over such an important resource that you need for your society and your economy." The American way of life is not negotiable.
Our continued dependence on fossil fuels could and will lead to catastrophic consequences.

The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects with the use of energy efficient material, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, etc. The source of energy must be by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, Ocean-Tidal, Hydrogen-Fuel Cell etc. This includes the utilizing of water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption. (Sales tax on renewable energy products and energy efficiency should be reduced or eliminated)

The implementation of mandatory renewable energy could be done on a gradual scale over the next 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period all construction and energy use in the structures throughout the United States must be 100% powered by renewable energy. (This can be done by amending building code)

In addition, the governments must impose laws, rules and regulations whereby the utility companies must comply with a fair “NET METERING” (the buying of excess generation from the consumer at market price), including the promotion of research and production of “renewable energy technology” with various long term incentives and grants. The various foundations in existence should be used to contribute to this cause.

A mandatory time table should also be established for the automobile industry to gradually produce an automobile powered by renewable energy. The American automobile industry is surely capable of accomplishing this task. As an inducement to buy hybrid automobiles (sales tax should be reduced or eliminated on American manufactured automobiles).

This is a way to expedite our energy independence and economic growth. (This will also create a substantial amount of new jobs). It will take maximum effort and a relentless pursuit of the private, commercial and industrial government sectors’ commitment to renewable energy – energy generation (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, energy storage (fuel cells, advance batteries), energy infrastructure (management, transmission) and energy efficiency (lighting, sensors, automation, conservation) (rainwater harvesting, water conservation) (energy and natural resources conservation) in order to achieve our energy independence.

"To succeed, you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality."

Jay Draiman, Energy Consultant
Northridge, CA. 91325
Feb. 11, 2007

P.S. I have a very deep belief in America's capabilities. Within the next 10 years we can accomplish our energy independence, if we as a nation truly set our goals to accomplish this.
I happen to believe that we can do it. In another crisis--the one in 1942--President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this country would build 60,000 [50,000] military aircraft. By 1943, production in that program had reached 125,000 aircraft annually. They did it then. We can do it now.
The American people resilience and determination to retain the way of life is unconquerable and we as a nation will succeed in this endeavor of Energy Independence.

The Oil Companies should be required to invest a substantial percentage of their profit in renewable energy R&D and implementation. Those who do not will be panelized by the public at large by boy cutting their products.

Solar energy is the source of all energy on the earth (excepting volcanic geothermal). Wind, wave and fossil fuels all get their energy from the sun. Fossil fuels are only a battery which will eventually run out. The sooner we can exploit all forms of Solar energy (cost effectively or not against dubiously cheap FFs) the better off we will all be. If the battery runs out first, the survivors will all be living like in the 18th century again.

Every new home built should come with a solar package. A 1.5 kW per bedroom is a good rule of thumb. The formula 1.5 X's 5 hrs per day X's 30 days will produce about 225 kWh per bedroom monthly. This peak production period will offset 17 to 2

4 cents per kWh with a potential of $160 per month or about $60,000 over the 30-year mortgage period for a three-bedroom home. It is economically feasible at the current energy price and the interest portion of the loan is deductible. Why not?

Title 24 has been mandated forcing developers to build energy efficient homes. Their bull-headedness put them in that position and now they see that Title 24 works with little added cost. Solar should also be mandated and if the developer designs a home that solar is impossible to do then they should pay an equivalent mitigation fee allowing others to put solar on in place of their negligence. (Installation should be paid “performance based”).

Installation of renewable energy and its performance should be paid to the installer and manufacturer based on "performance based" (that means they are held accountable for the performance of the product - that includes the automobile industry). This will gain the trust and confidence of the end-user to proceed with such a project; it will also prove to the public that it is a viable avenue of energy conservation.

Installing a renewable energy system on your home or business increases the value of the property and provides a marketing advantage.

Nations of the world should unite and join together in a cohesive effort to develop and implement MANDATORY RENEWABLE ENERGY for the sake of humankind and future generations.
The head of the U.S. government's renewable energy lab said Monday (Feb. 5) that the federal government is doing "embarrassingly few things" to foster renewable energy, leaving leadership to the states at a time of opportunity to change the nation's energy future. "I see little happening at the federal level. Much more needs to happen." What's needed, he said, is a change of our national mind set. Instead of viewing the hurdles that still face renewable sources and setting national energy goals with those hurdles in mind, we should set ambitious national renewable energy goals and set about overcoming the hurdles to meet them. We have an opportunity, an opportunity we can take advantage of or an opportunity we can squander and let go,"
solar energy - the direct conversion of sunlight with solar cells, either into electricity or hydrogen, faces cost hurdles independent of their intrinsic efficiency. Ways must be found to lower production costs and design better conversion and storage systems.

Jay Draiman
Northridge, CA 91325