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Just One Word--Nanotech

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted March 27, 2007

 

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you--just one word.
Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: "Plastics."
Ben: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Ben: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.

 

In the 1967 film "The Graduate," it may have been the shapely legs of Mrs. Robinson that caught the eye of young Ben Braddock, but it was Mr. McGuire's sage advice that captured the ears of the investment world.

Cliché or not, old man McGuire was definitely on to something. Plastics, after all, were still relatively new and hardly as ingrained and ordinary as they are today. In those days, products made of glass, metal and wood still dominated.

But as history would later prove, his advice was both prophetic and wise. Plastics, as Mr. McGuire suggested, would changed everything.

Since then, of course, investors everywhere have been looking for that same type of sage advice--expressed in single word--hoping to find riches by being ahead of the curve.

Of course, in the 80s and 90s they managed to find it. First it was "computers" and then it was the "Internet." But ever since those days, the markets have been all ears, hoping to hear the next big thing--that game changer that could be expressed in a single word.

So, in essence, they've all been left wondering: Where have you gone, Mr. McGuire?

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Well, my guess is that if Mr. McGuire were to offer his advice today, his one word wouldn't be plastics, it would be nanotech.

Like plastics, computers and the Internet before it, nanotechnology will change the world in ways that we can't even imagine now. That's how powerful the nano-world will become. And like the paths of those earlier "big ideas," nanotech is just beginning to roil the surface--giving investors another chance to beat crowd.

But what exactly is "nanotech"?

On the face of it, it is simple, but in actuality it is complicated to the point of being breathtaking. In short, though, it is the ability to create structures and materials at the atomic level, one molecule at a time.

That means that in the near future we will be able to custom design structures literally from the ground up, molecule by molecule, creating a quantum leaps forward in medicines, materials, electronics, foods and fuels--which is practically everything that we know of! That's how big it is.

In fact, nanotechnology will be to the 21st century what plastics, the PC and the Internet were to the 20th century, combined!

And all the big players know this.

According to a report by Lux Research, nanotechnology is quickly becoming the "holy grail" among industrialized and developing nations. As a result, investments in nanotechnology R&D grew to $12.4 billion worldwide in 2006, while over $50 billion worth of nano-based products were sold.

The study also found that:

  • Government spending on nanotechnology grew to $6.4 billion in 2006, up 10% from $5.9 million in 2005. The U.S. has the lead, with $1.78 billion from federal and state governments, followed by Japan with $975 million and Germany with $563 million.
  • Corporations spent $5.3 billion on nanotech R&D in 2006, a 19% increase over 2005, with the U.S. leading the way at $1.93 billion, followed by Japan with $1.70 billion.

That type of massive spending, naturally, has already managed to find its way into the marketplace. In fact, the nanotech industry is now growing so fast that a shortage of employees with the right skills to grow the business is quickly becoming a concern for the nascent industry.

In fact, while the industry now directly employs some 5,300 "white-coat" nanotech developers, the Lux report projects that number to grow to over 30,000 in the next two years!

But that's not all. A study by the U.S. National Science Foundation estimates that an additional 2 million new "blue collar" jobs will also end up being created by nanotech.

All of which, of course, will create an environment of opportunity for both workers and investors alike in the near future and beyond. Sort of like plastics.

Mr. McGuire, of course, would have seen it from a mile away.

In part two on Thursday, we'll explore nanotech even further.

Wishing you happiness, health, and wealth,

 

Steve Christ, Editor

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