Cerion Nanomaterials CEO, Landon Mertz, delivered the plenary keynote at the 2021 TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo, discussing how the current global economic environment and policies are affecting US-based nanotechnology companies.

October 18, 2021 | Landon Mertz, TechConnect World Innovation Conference & Expo

What if a country other than the United States dominates the nanomaterial market?

For centuries, materials have been the foundation of all innovations – Damascus steel was a key enabler for warfare, modern day steel ushered in the second industrial revolution, and silica brought us the computing age. Important to note, the countries that had first mover advantage with materials, equally had advantages on economic, military, and societal matters. What if silica and the age of computing wasn’t driven by the United States? What would be the impact on the U.S. industrial base, GDP, employment, economy, national security, and America’s place in the international order?

The race is on now…

While the United States has dominated previous innovation cycles, that does not guarantee future outcomes. There is fierce national and industrial level competition as countries compete across a wide range of new frontiers, like communications, semi-conductors, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and advanced materials. We find, just like centuries before, materials are the foundation of innovation with nanomaterials touching virtually every industrial sector and a countless number of products. Nanomaterials have become a focus area for governments in the last 10 years because of their intrinsic ability to shape the future of economies. While the United States currently leads the national competition for the nanomaterials industry, our competitors are catching up with the rapid exchange of scientific information that is expediating research and innovation globally as well as a trend where governments are now intervening in ways that are antithetical to free market principles. Some of those activities are disadvantaging U.S. makers and users of nanomaterials. In this presentation, Cerion Nanomaterial’s CEO, Landon Mertz, identifies the problem, provides a strong step in the right direction, and addresses how the U.S. nanomaterial industry can help secure U.S. dominance going forward.

Highlights

  • United States is still the incumbent force in the industry
  • China, Europe and Russia are making plays for supremacy – bolstered by varying degrees of direct government intervention in the market
  • Arguably China is the largest competitive threat – both in terms of innate competitive advantage (intellectual, economic), and the willingness and resources to tip the scales of competition through various means to achieve market dominance
  • The United States can’t compete on commodity cost – it needs to be the fastest to market in order to create value and hold ‘first mover advantage’
  • There is a road-map of short-term, medium-term, and long term activities to maintain U.S. dominance.

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