The Fascinating World of Nanotechnology

(IPRinfo 2/2012)

Soile Manninen

Nanotechnology Commercialization for Managers and Scientists. Edited by Wim Helwegen & Luca Escoffier. Pan Stanford Publishing, 412 p., 2012. ISBN 978-981-4316-22-4.

The word ”nanotechnology” was introduced for the first time in the 1970s and nowadays the nanotechnology industry is one of the fast-growing industries in the world. Universities and different kinds of research centers have played very significant roles in this field in the past two decades, but during the recent years this area has expanded outside academic world.

The new handbook about nanotechnology and commercialization discusses the most relevant issues that a company or university will face when bringing a nanotechnology invention to the market. One of the editors, Wim Helwegen, has prepared his doctoral dissertation at IPR University Center’s INNOCENT graduate school, and now IPRinfo magazine has an opportunity to give you a brief overview of this brand new book.

The structure of the book is very clear and this helps reader to pick out the most relevant chapters and parts. The first chapter gives a technological background about the history and applications from different fields of research. The ”story” continues with an overview of IPRs, in this way the reader gets basic knowledge about nanotechnology and intellectual property rights related to the topic.

Comparisons of the EU and US practices
In the next chapters the EU and US practices in nanotechnology patent procurement and litigation are discussed, which can be very useful for readers who are interested in this specialized field. The same kind of EU and US comparison is also available within the book about the regulation of nanomaterials.

After the basics of nanotechnology and IP, this book introduces how nanotechnology and IP can be combined in business life and management, for example how to set up an effective IP strategy and manage patent portfolio, or how to valuate nanotechnology IP. There is also a chapter which describes economical aspects of the industry, like current state of nanotechnology investments and attracting venture capital.

Nanotechnology research requires interdisciplinary actions and collaboration with different kinds of players, so licensing issues should be considered at the earliest stage of co-operation. Chapter 7 gives a brief guidance into this topic by giving an overview of licensing agreements and best practices. There are also case examples on university-industry collaborations from Netherlands and Sweden.

The legal situation regarding employees’ inventions in universities is not harmonized in Europe which also emphasizes the importance of contractual arrangements, but the situation in the United States is more consistent, as can be seen in chapter 12, which includes a wide summary concerning these differences between Europe and in U.S. and how those differences impact the prevailing practices.

This book is one of the first wide presentations about nanotechnology and those challenges which follow commercialization of inventions. In addition, variety of writers secures that the book brings out diversified views from different areas. According to the editors of this book, some of the subjects at hand are highly complicated, but the authors have written chapters in a way that makes them understandable. So, this handbook is not just for managers and scientist dealing with inventions like the title says, but also for readers who want to understand all these changes around us. Because, in case if you have not noticed, nanotechnology is everywhere.