By Karen Lightman, managing director, MEMS Industry Group
There is nothing more magical than seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center at Christmas time. That magic must have worked its way at 30 Rock into the audience of the Seventh Annual Livingston Nanotechnology Conference. There was definitely something in the air (magic nanoparticles?), because there was an amazing energy of optimism and opportunity as nearly 30 nano- and advanced manufacturing startups presented on their companies to an audience of investors.
On December 7, I had the pleasure/honor/delight of presenting to this esteemed audience (of mainly men, I might add, ehem) on behalf of MEMS Industry Group (MIG). I had a ball and plan to come back every year (and yes, to see that gorgeous tree too – queue the photos I took of that world-famous tree).
Scott Livingston was the MC for the day’s event and he did a stellar job of introducing/networking/commenting/digressing/having a good time to promote his investment philosophy of taking back Wall Street and giving it back to the people (the 99% people). Not to get all occupy-Wall Street on you; but Scott has an important message of how the US investment community DOES NOT currently invest and reward advanced manufacturing (yes it will invest in Groupon and Zynga but not real job-creation, wealth generating industries like MEMS, save a few examples like InvenSense). And the reality is that the US has a competitive advantage in advanced manufacturing in nano and to some extent, micro-technology. The time is now and we can’t afford to blow it.
So that’s where I fit in. I gave a brief introduction to MIG and the MEMS market and then Scott and I did a little back and forth interview about the opportunities in MEMS. And he even asked me to list some MEMS startups that I recommend folks check out and invest in (some of you owe me BIG TIME). We also talked about the recent InvenSense IPO.
So what was my main message? I lauded the fact that MEMS is in the mainstream. In other words, I said “MEMS is frickin’ everywhere.” Well, not quite. What I did say, is that the potential is for MEMS is HUGE and that MEMS has the opportunity to be “frickin’ everywhere” and that investors should jump on board the MEMS train and help fund this potential (and make some money, too). MIG members will be able to download the .ppt and if you ask nicely I’ll send you it as well.
You can check out the website to see who also spoke at the conference – it’s an impressive list. Some of my favorite speakers were the ones who spoke on topics relevant to MEMS (not that I have anything against nanoparticles that reflect dirt, mind you). I was WOWED by Jeff Kraws, CEO of Crystal Research Associates. Kraws is an industry expert in healthcare technologies and had just left the set of CBS for an upcoming episode on 60 Minutes to join the conference. While much of his talk was about US healthcare and healthcare spending, my eyes lit up when I heard him talk about the need for medicine/healthcare to improve quality of life and help people live longer. He talked about the need to utilize technology to help people take “back” their healthcare decisions and improve their own quality of life. Yup and guess what? MEMS will make that happen.
I was also uber-impressed by the presentation by Andreas Schierenbeck, President of Siemens Industry, Building Technology Division. I loved the fact that he mentioned MEMS several times in his talk and he also said he saw a need for “MEMS frickin’ everywhere.” Schierenbeck described zero net buildings – yes with MEMS inside! He said Siemens is working on buildings that “could work for you” – smart buildings that could sell, use or store energy. He said what’s missing is MEMS & integrating them with intelligence – the building is the missing link to a smart grid. He gave the example of how to “shift” the energy load of not just buildings, but cities and gave the example of the first zero emissions city – Masdar City, Abu Dhabi. He encouraged the room of investors to consider the market potential for energy efficiency – “it is feasible and it makes sense.” His parting words were that if you don’t measure it (energy usage), you can’t fix the problem, change behavior and save money. And in my opinion, that means MORE MEMS…yes…frickin’ everywhere.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree