That (I posted a very quick notice earlier today) was a pretty interesting live chat at the Globe and Mail with Dr. Cal Stiller about commercializing science research in Canada. The transcript is here.
Quick comments: Stiller draws on his experience in the life sciences plus most of the questions were about venture capital and other matters pertinent to founding a start-up company. There was a comment about the recent Liberal Party convention (Canada at 150) and some discussion about innovation and business issues in a more general sense. It was probably more relevant if you live in or near Toronto as one major resource he mentioned was the MaRS Discovery District for budding entrepreneurs. There was also mention of Natalie Dakers (bio found on Canada Foundation for Innovation site) in BC who runs programs. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to track down much more than some biographical information.
The experience was entirely serendipitous. I just happened to click on the Canadian Science Policy website and found out about this live chat, which joined at about 1/2 way through. Thanks to Masoud Yeganegi for providing the link. The funny thing is I was planning to write on this topic today.
There’s been some talk about commercializing the nanotechnology research that’s taking place. The US National Nanotechnology Initiative mentioned it in their report to the President’s Council of Science and Technology Advisors. (see my March 15, 2010 posting about it and there’s a link in my April 5, 2010 posting with more about commercializing academic research in the US).
This morning there was a news item on Nanowerk about a survey project in Europe on the topic of commercializing nanotechnology research,
The EC NanoCom project has opened a web based industrial consultation to discover the key success factors in exploiting pre-competitive research. We are encouraging all nanotech companies to contribute to this study, which will help to influence the debate on the best mechanisms of commercialisation for nanotechnologies.
NanoCom is a coordinated action funded by the European Commission [EC] under the FP7 NMP programme. The NanoCom coordinated action aims to contribute towards bridging the gap between lab based and industrial applications in nanotechnology.
The objective of this questionnaire is to identify and rank both the success factors for commercialisation and the main barriers to commercialisation within the nanotechnology field. The resulting outcomes will be used to create a European wide approach and mechanisms for lowering the barriers and contributing towards the rapid commercialisation of innovative nanotechnology driven products.
You can read more about the survey on Nanowerk or go to the NanoCom questionnaire site.
As for the Canadian nanotechnology scene, there’s that OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) report from the Working Party on Nanomaterials no. 20, Feb. 2010, I’ve posted about recently. From the report, p. 35,
Canada, under the leadership of Industry Canada, remains an active participant and bureau member of the OECD’s Working Party on Nanotechnology (WPN). In 2007-2009, Industry Canada and Switzerland co-led WPN work on “business environments” which examined challenges for business investment in innovation and the responsible commercialization of nanotechnologies and the extent to which these might present unique policy challenges. The final project report has been completed and will be released by the OECD shortly. [good to hear] Statistics Canada has collaborated with the OECD Secretariat in leading WPN work on developing indicators and statistics for nanotechnology, one early result of which was the publication this year of an OECD overview of nanotechnology, drawing on available patent data and statistics. Industry Canada, Health Canada, and other departments also contributed to development of a WPN inventory of national science, technology, and innovation policies for nanotechnology, completion of a listing of national facilities for international R&D collaboration, and work on public outreach/engagement. [emphasis mine]
I look forward to finding out more about nanotechnology in Canada even if it does have to come out of an OECD report rather than information intended for the Canadian public. As for the public outreach/engagement, how is anyone to interpret this on the next page of the same report, p. 36,
6. Information on any public/ stakeholder consultation
None to report. [emphasis mine]
Interestingly they also mention the Canadian Council of Academies and a report they produced,
The Council of Canadian Academies is a non-profit organization which acts as a source of independent, expert assessment of the science underlying pressing issues and matters of public interest. The Council has completed their assessment [almost 2 years ago! the report is available here] of the current state of knowledge regarding the health and environmental risks potentially associated with nanotechnology.
Getting back to commercialization, I’m not sure I can be confident about what they’re doing with regards to this matter. If they can’t keep track of whether or not they will be doing some sort of public engagement how are they going to be able determine policies for commercializing nanotechnology, a more complex endeavour.
Nanoclast (Dexter Johnson) has posted on a topic that caught my eye earlier this week. From the post,
Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara have reported that they have developed a glue that can be activated and deactivated by magnetism, a sort of on/off switch for the material’s adhesiveness, that mimics the adhesive characteristics of a gecko’s foot.
Dexter provides links and more information about this particular research project. I am mostly interested in the metaphors and analogies (gecko’s foot/toe and/or Spiderman) used to describe the work on exploiting the adhesive forces which are substantive at the nanoscale but negligible (until nanotech) at the macroscale.
The Pasco Phronesis blog (Dave Bruggeman) has some information about the US National Archives and its online efforts. Dave points to a blog by one of the archivists. From the AOTUS: Collector in Chief blog,
What types of citizen archivist projects are possible?
We don’t completely know yet. We need to articulate projects and narratives that will speak to those already interested in specific records and reach those who have a more general interest. Let’s start thinking outside the box and let our creativity spur innovation to help us achieve our mission. We have a lot of exciting work ahead of us.
The blogger goes on to ask for suggestions on how to proceed with citizen archivists. As last week’s memristor story illustrates, there’s a lot of history behind any achievement and it’s important to keep track of the processes and materials used as it may (and often does) prove helpful in very practical terms.
National Poetry Month
April 2010 is half-way through but it’s not to late to check out Canada’s National Film Board tribute to poetess PK Page or to find some other way to commemorate the month.