Today’s interview features a special guest: we talk to Alexander Kondrashov, a member of the Management Board of RUSNANO and a member of the Supervisory Board of our holding ItN Nanovation AG, about the challenges Russia faces on its way to becoming a nanotechnology nation and the role of Nanostart.
In September, the 60-watt light bulb was discontinued, as were the 100-watt and 75-watt versions before it. The 25 and 40-watt models will also be consigned to history in 2012. Find out today how nanotechnology is set to light up the future. This topic and others are featured in this newsletter.
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Dr. Hans Joachim Duerr Head of Corporate Communications
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Interview: “We have chosen Nanostart as experienced partner” “In ten years the Russian economy will also have a new and large industry base and many new technology companies. And I am sure that RUSNANO will be co-owner of the most successful of them”, Alexander Kondrashov, Managing Director of RUSNANO, in an interview about RUSNANO’s structure, its investment strategy and where he sees the biggest potential for nanotechnology in Russia >>
What comes after the light bulb? Nanotechnology has the answers Since September, 60 W light bulbs have joined other members of the bulb family, namely 100 W and 75 W bulbs, in no longer being available for sale in stores. What now? The energy-saving bulb does not appear to be the right alternative. The long-term solution will be lighting concepts based on nanotechnology >>
“I am more excited than ever with the opportunity to build BioMers into a world class company.” David Edwards, CEO of Nanostart-holding BioMers Pte Ltd in an interview with genewired.com about the success of the completely translucent orthodontic system SimpliClear, international test markets, and what makes his role at BioMers particularly exciting for him as a leading international manager >>
"Commercialization of future technologies": Nanostart on delegation in Turkey The first official German-Turkish workshop on “Commercialization of Future Technologies” was held in Istanbul on September 8. In addition to the sponsor of the event, former German Economics Minister Michael Glos MdB, the German delegation was made up of high-ranking nanotechnology experts from German research and industry, including Marco Beckmann, CEO of Nanostart AG >>
"Nano makes money": Nanostart as a guest at the Hessian Ministry of Economics “Products based on nanotechnologies are becoming part of everyday life, and advances are being made constantly. There have never been so many answers. But there are always new questions, too,” says Markus Laemmer of the Aktionslinie Hessen-Nanotech, highlighting the major need for communication with regard to nanotechnology. The Aktionslinie Hessen-Nanotech invited decision-makers and interested parties to find out more at the “Nanotechnology in Research and Application” event at Hesse’s Ministry of Economics in Wiesbaden on September 21, 2011 >>
Interview: “We have chosen Nanostart as experienced partner”
Alexander Kondrashov (1981) is Managing Director of RUSNANO, Russia’s largest nanotechnology investor. Prior to this he was senior investment manager at RUSNANO and responsible for investments in foreign nanotechnology projects. Since 2009 Mr. Kondrashov has also been working as advisor of the governor of Perm.
Before joining RUSNANO, Kondrashov worked in leading positions for several private equity funds and banks. In 2004 he founded Leader Invest, an Investment Company that rapidly became one of the M&A market leaders in Belarus.
Alexander Kondrashov graduated from economic faculty of Moscow State University. In 2004 he received his MBA in Strategic Management at Moscow State University.
RUSNANO was founded in 2007 and provided with USD 10 billion in order to make Russia a leading nanotechnology country. This includes informing and enlightening the population about nanotechnology, carrying out market analyses and forecasts, launching training initiatives for appropriately qualified young talent and of course the promotion and commercialization of promising products and methods. How does all this tie up and where do you see the particular advantages of Russia for executing such a mammoth program?
Kondrashov: In 2011 we split our activities into investments and non-profit projects. RUSNANO acts as a typical investment fund. Additionally we have founded a subsidiary called non-profit infrastructural fund RUSNANO. This non-profit fund is responsible for educational programs, changes of legislation, the promotion of new technologies and the establishment of centers of collective use and centers of excellence. The role of the non-profit fund is to facilitate investors and companies to implement new technologies. The fund co-finances educational programs and deals with legislation barriers like e. g. technical regulation issues. RUSNANO is one of the investors who makes joint activities with the non-profit fund. RUSNANO’s main objective is to create a new cross-industrial bunch of companies that make business based on new technologies and invest a lot in R&D.
RUSNANO was founded in 2007 as a state holding company and later converted to a stock corporation. So far the Russian government has been the only shareholder. Are there plans to sell shares on the market? What strategy is RUSNANO pursuing as a company?
Kondrashov: The government plans to sell 10 per cent of RUSNANO shares next year. Whether this will be pursued via an IPO or a private placement has not yet been decided. RUSNANO’s main strategy is to hold all non-profit development activities in the non-profit fund which will be kept state-owned. RUSNANO as investment fund should have private investors and private money.
In your view what are the greatest challenges that RUSNANO and Russia must face in order to become the leading nanotechnology country?
Kondrashov: In my view, the greatest challenge is to create a business-friendly environment. For companies, the access to capital is quite easy. The challenge is to find a smart money provider. RUSNANO is a smart money provider. We open the doors to the Russian market and its opportunities and bring strong business strategy experience on the table. But our goal is to bring all these competences together with international opportunities. We invest globally, we think globally and at the end we want to build multi-market business opportunities for new technological companies.
You are cooperating with partners from throughout the world in implementing the program. What are the benefits for foreign partners of working with RUSNANO? What makes it attractive for them to become active in Russia?
Kondrashov: Russia is a large country, not only from a geographical point of view, but also with regard to its business opportunities. RUSNANO brings smart money and in addition offers great market opportunities. The Russian market needs new technologies and new tech-companies and products are welcome and actively supported.
The US is very probably still the world leader in nanotechnology. The principle of venture capital, something that is of major importance for young technology companies, also has a long tradition there.Where can the US serve as a role model for the development of nanotechnology in Russia? What is or should be done better in Russia than in the US?
Kondrashov: I see two key success reasons in the US: the access to capital and the access to the market. These are exactly the things that we want to build as well. In Russia, venture capital is offered by a bunch of seed and venture capital funds. Additionally R&D grants are made available by Skolkovo and other governmental institutions and the president’s modernization approach stimulates leading national corporations to be innovative. We already have the financing in Russia. Now we are bringing the market. You will see that today you will meet much less barriers and less regulations, but instead a more comfortable environment in Russia than anywhere else.
Today nanotechnology can already be found in virtually every industry and forms the basis of innovation. In which areas/sectors do you see the greatest need for Russia to produce innovations? Are there fields of nanotechnology applications that RUSNANO is focusing particularly on – maybe in connection with the immense crude oil and natural gas reserves?
Kondrashov: Indeed the Russian oil and gas market is huge and it is not a secret that every new product that is accepted by the big players in this market is very likely to achieve high sales volumes. But with our investments we do not concentrate on one singly industry. We target various industries such as e. g. consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electronics and machinery. We are looking at every opportunity while trying to find synergies with our current portfolio.
Where do you see the Russian economy in ten years’ time?
Kondrashov: I am quite optimistic about Russia’s future economic development. The country has a large domestic market that will for sure become larger and larger, and I am not only talking about the retail market. Of course, Russia has a strong need for investments and the country currently puts a great focus on investing, especially in infrastructure projects like transport, roads, stadiums and power grids.
I think that apart from the huge domestic market, in ten years the Russian economy will also have a new and large industry base and many new technology companies. And I am sure that RUSNANO will be co-owner of the most successful of them.
One German company RUSNANO is holding a stake of is ItN Nanovation AG where you are a member of the Supervisory Board. The company’s patented nanoceramics make innovative applications possible in the form of coatings for power stations and foundries as well as for water filtration. Could you say something about the strategic reasons for your investment in ItN?
Kondrashov: ItN Nanovation AG is holding a world class new material technology. We see a huge potential to convert patents and IP into breakthrough products in the fields of water purification, metals and power plant industries. ItN already started JDW and tests with RUSAL – the biggest Russian aluminum player – and several energy companies. We see great market opportunities for ItN’s products in Russia.
Since 2009 you have been counsel to the Governor of Perm, where a fund is to be launched that will invest in regional nanotechnology enterprises. The Governor of Perm and Nanostart AG are partners of RUSNANO. Why do you consider Perm to be a very well suited region for such a fund? Why did you select Nanostart from the pool of applicants as partner and fund manager?
Kondrashov: Perm offers a great combination of large companies from industries like oil & gas, metals, mining and chemicals and well recognized R&D centers. Two federal universities and a huge amount of state-owned and corporate R&D centers and centers of excellence are located in Perm. Governor Oleg Chirkunov and the regional government actively support companies that implement new technologies in order to establish a working mechanism of innovation commercialization that ranges from R&D in the laboratory to market entry and international expansion. Financial sources like public funding, venture capital and corporate financing are needed to pursue this strategy. Additionally an experienced partner is needed to make the investment decisions and to manage the venture fund. Therefore we have chosen Nanostart AG.
Thank you Mr. Kondrashov.
What comes after the light bulb? Nanotechnology has the answers
Since September, 60 W light bulbs have joined other members of the bulb family, namely 100 W and 75 W bulbs, in no longer being available for sale in stores. What now? The energy-saving bulb does not appear to be the right alternative. The long-term solution will be lighting concepts based on nanotechnology.
Barely on the market but already the talk of the town: After conventional light bulbs were officially banished from households, energy-saving lamps are now also increasingly falling out favor. Their most serious disadvantage being that they contain highly toxic mercury – the heavy metal vaporizes at room temperature when such a bulb breaks. Building biologists also hold that this type of bulb emits strong electromagnetic fields. The energy-saving effects also appear to be significantly lower than originally expected.
Extremely thin layers
The good news in this situation is that an alternative already exists. It is based on nanotechnology and has none of the disadvantages of the energy-saving bulb. Light emitting diodes (commonly known as LEDs) have a chip structure, which consists of two semiconductors with differing properties. Light is emitted when current flows between the two semiconductors. The color of the light varies depending on the doping. The production of LEDs is based on a nanotechnological process (epitaxy), with which extremely thin layers can be applied. A conductive reflector is located on the lower side of the chip, while a gold wire on the upper side serves as a contact. The entire structure is enclosed by a lens made from plastic or glass.
Good news for the environment
Because the maximum temperature of a LEDs lies between 40 and 50 °C, they are not considered a fire hazard (unlike conventional light bulbs, which can have temperatures up to 300 °C). High-performance LEDs have a service life of between 20 and 25 years, while that of light bulbs is only 800 hours on the average. Experts agree that warm-white LEDs will replace both halogen and energy-saving bulbs because of their many advantages. The consulting firm McKinsey estimates that the potential annual savings achieved through the use of LEDs in Europe alone could be up to 15 billion euros, with about 63% being allotted to households, 15% each to offices and industry, and a good 6% to public lighting.
At the same time, the use of LEDs throughout the European Union would benefit the environment, as it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 42 million tons. This is why this technology is also known as "green lighting". Against this backdrop, it is easy to understand why Nanosys Inc., a Nanostart-holding headquartered in Palo Alto – the "capital" of Silicon Valley – is also active in the LED sector. Nanosys is one of the leading architects for electronic nanostructures, which are also the basis for ever brighter and more energy-efficient LEDs. "Our Quantum Dot Enhancement Film is also playing a decisive role in improving LEDs, as this film, which is based on quantum dots, enhances LEDs and their color spectrum so that it more closely corresponds with that of the human eye", explains Jason Hartlove, CEO of Nanosys.
Thanks to these successes, it is no surprise that growth rates of over 20% are expected in the LED sector. The consultancy firm McKinsey has forecast that sales of LEDs will increase from 100 million euros in 2008 to 1.9 billion euros in 2015. Forecast sales for 2011 are 700 million euros. This will be further boosted, according to the experts, by organic LEDs, which are also known as OLEDs. These can be produced at even lower costs than inorganic LEDs. They consist of several organic layers, which are extremely thin. Completely new lighting concepts, such as "illuminated wallpaper", can thus be achieved. OLEDs convert electrical energy into light very efficiently. 50 lumens per watt have already been achieved in research projects. They can also be touched without problem, as hardly any heat is generated.
“I am more excited than ever with the opportunity to build BioMers into a world class company.”
David Edwards, CEO of Nanostart-holding BioMers Pte Ltd in an interview with genewired.com about the success of the completely translucent orthodontic system SimpliClear, international test markets, and what makes his role at BioMers particularly exciting for him as a leading international manager.
BioMers is cited as an example of a successful local technology start-up by Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong in the National Day Rally Speech. Outline the key points and significant progress.
Edwards: BioMers has made a great deal of progress since GeneWired last spoke to the company in March 2010. The team has made significant leaps forward in important areas such as product development, clinical and in-market validation of the flagship product SimpliClear.
Regarding SimpliClear development, the team has completed a number of developments that led to test marketing of SimpliClear. During 2010, the team has succeeded in building a clear rectangular wire and a customisation process. Together with our previous clear wires, we have achieved a ‘next-generation’ aesthetic orthodontic brace system that is designed to deliver not only a clear aesthetic benefit, but more importantly a high performing clear orthodontic appliance that is effective in treating a broad range of patient cases – from simple to complex. In our opinion, the combination of performance and clear aesthetics is an exciting breakthrough in orthodontics, and has the potential to change the way doctors and patients alike think about cosmetic orthodontic appliances.
At the beginning of 2011, we launched test markets of the SimpliClear clear brace system in Singapore and the United States. After which, we gained more experience with the product’s performance and acceptability of product in changing market conditions, thereby extracting real business value. The results that we achieved have been very encouraging in terms of product’s performance in-clinic and patient satisfaction.
Personally, I shared a vagrant optimism that the some of us were making real progress as a team. In the last few months, we sat down and understood on how opportunities and markets react into our initial plans. So, building on the experience gained over the months, we have now directed our focus to allow for the commercial expansion of our flagship SimpliClear brand and product. We feel strongly that the cosmetic orthodontic market remains under-penetrated. As such, we are currently building our commercial and manufacturing capacity and the business process capabilities required to support rapid sales expansion. Our first objective is to expand our test markets in Singapore and the U.S., followed by expansion to other geographical markets.
From a funding standpoint, we are working with our Venture Capital partner Nanostart Asia (the subsidiary of Nanostart AG, a publicly traded German VC firm specialised in investments in nanotechnologies) to close the Series-A Funding and subsequently, secure a Series-B investment. In fact, we are very pleased by the strong interest generated by our Series-B offering.
You have extensive experience in global roles in U.S., Europe and Asia, what led you to BioMers (and Singapore)?
Edwards: At the end of last year, I was approached by one of the investors in the business. I was intrigued by the opportunity, from the very first conversation. I had spent the last 12 years of my career in a number of leadership roles in large multinational healthcare companies like Johnson & Johnson and Bausch & Lomb. When I looked back on my experience, I realised that some of the most exciting and satisfying roles had been those that involved breakthrough technologies, new innovations and high growth opportunities.
One of my first roles in Johnson & Johnson was to lead a ‘start-up like’ of Consumer Nutritionals business in Europe, which was a new business at the time. We had the opportunity to create a business from its very inception. Though we were part of a larger multinational corporation, we were treated very much as a start-up. We were created as an entirely new business unit, focused on introducing a revolutionary new bio-active that would ultimately create an entirely new category of cholesterol lowering food under the Benecol brand. It was an exciting role and one in which I gained my first taste of a start-up environment. I also had the opportunity to lead J&J’s Asia Pacific Vision Care business which at the time was setting the pace for technological and marketing innovation, and growth, in its industry. Looking back on those experiences and how much I enjoyed leading those businesses, it was obvious to me that the convergence of healthcare technology, innovation, growth, global scope and the early stage nature of the business offered by the BioMers opportunity represented an interesting proposition.
Do you have any thoughts or other considerations?
Edwards: Yes, and certainly. I performed my own due diligence on the company and the opportunity. Firstly, the category in which BioMers’ flagship product SimpliClear competes is one of the most dynamic categories in orthodontics with strong fundamentals for continued growth and innovation. From a technology standpoint, the platform technology underpinning SimpliClear represents a remarkable breakthrough in material science that delivers a unique benefit – the combination of clear aesthetics and excellent performance – with the potential to postively impact the standard of care in the category. The technology was also supported by strong IPs which help to ensure the competitive advantage of our product into the future.
The quality of the team was also an important consideration. When I met the team, I was impressed by not only the domain knowledge, know-how and competence they had, but also by their vision for the company and the business, their passion and their resilience. It was easy to recognize the potential of the company with such a strong team at its core. Our lead investor, Nanostart, also impressed me by their passion and commitment to the business. From the very start, I felt a good chemistry with both the management team and the investors and knew that this was a team that I could work with successfully.
Finally, the fact that the business was Singapore-based was a plus as well. Firstly, I was already located in Singapore at the time which made the personal transition easier. I also had spent a number of years working in Medtech in Singapore and understood the benefits that Medtech companies in Singapore enjoy – access to research and talent, a business friendly environment, excellent infrastructure, support by the government in developing Singapore as a world class Life Sciences / BioTech / Medtech centres in general, and more specifically the government’s support in developing home-grown high-technology companies in that space. In addition, being based in Singapore provides the company with close proximity to the large and rapidly developing markets in Asia.
As I look back on the last five months, I am pleased with the progress that we have made and are making. More importantly, I remain more excited than ever with the opportunity that we have to build BioMers into a world class company at the forefront of innovation in material science applied to medical technology. We are very focused on building SimpliClear as the first important step in that direction.
Joint press conference of GTAI and Tüsiad in Istanbul
"Commercialization of future technologies": Nanostart on delegation in Turkey
The first official German-Turkish workshop on “Commercialization of Future Technologies” was held in Istanbul on September 8. In addition to the sponsor of the event, former German Economics Minister Michael Glos MdB, the German delegation was made up of high-ranking nanotechnology experts from German research and industry, including Marco Beckmann, CEO of Nanostart AG.
The purpose of the workshop was to explore possibilities for collaboration between Turkish partners from industry and German nanotechnology players and institutions and to pave the way for future German-Turkish cooperation.
At the workshop, Dr. Karl-Heinz Haas, spokesperson for the Fraunhofer Nanotechnology Alliance, gave an overview of the current situation of nanotechnology at the Fraunhofer Institutes and in Germany as a whole. He highlighted the possibilities for cooperation between Turkish industry and the Fraunhofer Society as its R&D partner.
German chemicals giant Bayer AG was represented by Dr. Péter Krueger, head of its “Nanotechnology Working Group”. Dr. Krueger gave an overview of German nanotechnology from the viewpoint of a global market leader and presented the initiative to promote industrial application of carbon nanotubes to the workshop participants.
Finally, Marco Beckmann, CEO of Nanostart AG, explained the need for secure financing and pointed out what international investors who invest in a nanotechnology company look for. The session was chaired by Mehmet Kirca from the Enterprise Europe Network of Sabanci University, Istanbul, a renowned expert on the Turkish and European nanotech scene (see also the brief interview in this newsletter).
With firm government backing, Turkey now has 16 nanotech research centers, and the trend is rising. According to the Turkish government’s 2023 strategic report, the key application areas for nanotechnology are textiles, industrial chemicals, construction and automotive engineering.
Germany is already one of Turkey’s key trading partners. With estimated growth of 5.5% in 2011, Turkey is one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies.
Guests invited to the workshop included Sabanci Holding and the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (AIFD), which was set up in 2003 and consists of the 39 most innovative research pharmaceutical companies active in Turkey.
The workshop was organized by Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), the foreign trade and inward investment agency of the Federal Republic of Germany, and Tüsiad, the leading association of Turkish industrialists and one of the most important business federations in Turkey.
GTAI and Tüsiad held a joint press conference prior to the workshop in which Ümit Boyner, President of Tüsiad, stressed the importance of collaboration with technology leaders like Germany in the leading-edge technology sector.
"Nano makes money": Nanostart as a guest at the Hessian Ministry of Economics
“Products based on nanotechnologies are becoming part of everyday life, and advances are being made constantly. There have never been so many answers. But there are always new questions, too,” says Markus Laemmer of the Aktionslinie Hessen-Nanotech, highlighting the major need for communication with regard to nanotechnology. The Aktionslinie Hessen-Nanotech invited decision-makers and interested parties to find out more at the “Nanotechnology in Research and Application” event at Hesse’s Ministry of Economics in Wiesbaden on September 21, 2011.
In particular, the event featured professors from Hessian universities and representatives from industries in Hesse. They presented their areas of research and latest results and gave insights into promising areas of application for nanotechnology. In his speech “Nano Makes Money?”, Nanostart CEO Marco Beckmann explained what investors look for, when investing in nanotechnology, and how he is working successfully with companies to enhance nanotechnology products. He summarized the activities of Hesse’s nanotechnology scene with these words: “As an international financier of nanotechnology growth, we regard Hesse as a highly active and attractive nanotechnology location whose innovation and exemplary infrastructure make it one of the best in the world.” Science and technology journalist Niels Boeing chaired the event, which was received enthusiastically.
September 07, 2011 “In the next 3-5 years I see Nanosys-enabled products in the hands of hundreds of millions of consumers”: Jason Hartlove, CEO of Nanostart-holding Nanosys, in an interview with Vincent Caprio >>
September 21, 2011 Growing Big Ideas: Dr. Vivien Tan, Senior Consultant Orthodontics at Tan Tock Seng Hospital bonds SimpliClear braces on a patient. VIDEO >>
September 01, 2011 Nanostart AG welcomes social discourse and transparency >>
September 12, 2011 Nanostart increases stake in Singapore-based optical sensor technology firm Microlight Sensors >>
September 19, 2011 Nanostart-holding MagForce AG completes share placement >>
Upcoming events in October
October 05, 2011 2. Augsburger capital market conference; Augsburg >>