Nanotechnology, the Internet of Nano-Things And Its Promises for Jobs Creation

Research in nano-microfabricated systems: Micro-chip with tweezers, Zulf Ali, Enterprise magazine

One disruptive technology that promises to radically transform the world and bring with it new business possibilities is Nanotechnology. The concept of Nanotechnology was first introduced by Richard Feyman in 1959, to name the possibility of manipulating matter on the atomic or molecular scale.

Lately, nanotechnology has been subject to a lot of attention due to its advances in its three main areas ( which are nanomaterials, nanophotonics and nanoelectronics) and its massive potential for economic growth. As Javier Garcia-Martinez (2015) for the World Economic Forum argues, nanotechnology has enormous potential for job creation and entrepreneurs. At first glance it may be difficult to draw the link between the two, but Garcia-Martinez provides a compelling case that helps to see how this is so.

One of the challenges we currently face in societies, according to Garcia-Martinez is the fact that while economic growth is often sought and encouraged, with a view to creating jobs, this latter part of job creation does not always occur. There have also been accusations made against technology which suggest that this is responsible for reducing the number of jobs available. However, as argued:

 “While technology lowers the number of repetitive and physically intense jobs, it creates others that didn’t exist before. This is particularly true in the area of nanotechnology, an emerging technology that is already transforming our world.”

This leads to the argument that nanotechnology can be useful in creating jobs and providing opportunities for entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneurial opportunities brought by Nanotechnology

There are a number of ways in which it is argued that nanotechnology should be pursued by entrepreneurs, and certain approaches need to be followed to achieve success. One is that nanotechnology can be helpful in breaking down the potential of different materials, which in turn can be beneficial in creating big business opportunities. Entrepreneurs can patent such technologies and review how they can help to create revenues.

A challenge for entrepreneurs in this area is that it may be hard to get financing for nanotechnology activities, as the funding needed is usually very large and there are no quick results, so money can be tied up for a long time. Consequently it is recommended that entrepreneurs go after a number of small rounds of financing to achieve success.

Nanotechnology endeavours require that entrepreneurs do their research to make sure that they know what other entrepreneurs are doing and do not duplicate. There are opportunities for entrepreneurs to work with larger partners to accelerate business success, and this is an excellent opportunity to scale a nanotechnology business quickly without funding.

The Internet of NanoThings (IoNT)

Nanotechnology has led to the development of the Internet of NanoThings (IoNT). The IoNT is a nano scale network of physical objects that can interact with each other by Nano communication.  According to a research paper done in 2010 by Ian F. Akyildiz and Josep Miquel Jornet, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the IoNT corresponds to a new networking paradigm:

“ The interconnection of nanoscale devices with existing communication networks and ultimately the Internet, defines a new networking paradigm that is further referred as the Internet of Nano-Things.

The IoNT operates through two broad areas of communication: electromagnetic nano-communications and molecular communications. An example of molecular communication, are Nano machines that function as senders. These can encode information into information molecules (for example, DNA, proteins or peptides) that can be transmitted within a DNA component. This enables the creation of communication systems and networks, using biological components and processes that are found in nature. Its possibilities are tremendous particularly to the healthcare sector.

Network architecture for the IoNT. Image source: The Internet of Nano-Things (2010) by Ian F. Akyildiz and Josep Miquel Jornet

The IoNT leads us to a whole new level of information and data that can be captured about what people do and what goes on around us. This means that the Big Data that organisations have still barely got used to at this point could become what is described as “huge data” as a result of nanotechnology. This may occur through activities such as nanotechnology devices capturing information inside the human body and outside of it. There are argued to be endless opportunities that could come about from linking communications and nanotechnology together.

The Promises of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology provides the promise of being able to make massive advances in a very large variety of areas. In big business this includes helping to use better sources of energy that are sustainable, the use of personalised medicine through nanotechnology, and the creation of materials that have been produced using nano-engineering. Nanotechnology is also tipped to be able to help social entrepreneurs to be able to succeed by offering opportunities to be able to develop cheap diagnosis in the health arena, as well as better fertilisers and pesticides. All of this could be used to improve societies and reduce poverty. According to a Research & Markets forecast, there is a compound annual growth rate of 16.5 up until 2019 in the market for nanotechnology.  An entrepreneurial mindset is needed to see the possibilities and to develop these effectively for sale, and this is clearly where entrepreneurs come in.

With all of this potential it can be seen how nanotechnology can lead to a greater number of entrepreneurial businesses starting out, all of which will need employees to work to help these to become a success. To be able to succeed with all of these potential nanotechnology businesses, entrepreneurs will need staff for marketing and operations roles. They will need project managers that can lead exciting new projects to develop new nanotech products and services to sell.

As we can see, nanotechnology increases technology and business opportunities extend from that. All of this can lead to economic growth, which in turn will provide additional opportunities. While nanotechnology will not solve all of the world’s problems, it surely has the potential to solve the problem of a lack of job opportunities – contrary to some technological developments that have been seen in the past.