Jurvetson on nanotechnology startup ecosystem

Our favorite nanotechnology VC is Steve Jurvetson, who is interviewed over at LiveMint.com from India, which is affiliated with The Wall Street Journal. An excerpt:

How are the elements of the nanotech start-up ecosystem different from other sectors?

First, it is hard to find human talent because a lot of the really interesting breakthroughs happen in interdisciplinary areas, such as biology and electronics, for example. So you need people who are either skilled in both or have experience in one but are willing to learn (the other).

For example, Zettacore, one of our investments, is a nanotechnology company focused on semiconductors, but it is also based on principles of organic chemistry, which perhaps has things in common with a bio or life sciences company.

Second, the challenge is what product you ship. If you fundamentally innovate at an atomic level, you might need an entire industry to be built around it, so that the physical world interfaces with the nano world.

Steve mentions the conference at which he first became interested in nanotech:

In 1998-99, a friend invited me to a nanotech conference where people brainstormed about (technologies of) the future. It was one of the most intellectually stimulating conversations I’d had.

That was the spring 1999 Foresight Senior Associate Gathering. If you join Foresight as a Senior Associate, you’ll be invited to our next one! —Christine

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