Abstract for the Fourth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology

Entrepreneuring in Molecular Manufacturing: Lessons from the Computer Industry

Neil Jacobstein
President & COO, Teknowledge Corp
Chairman, Institute for Molecular Manufacturing

Molecular manufacturing is destined to become one of the great economic opportunities of the 21st Century. Entrepreneurs who want to seize this opportunity will face technical and business challenges not unlike those faced by early computer hardware and software pioneers. Key technical parameters in turning eventual molecular manufacturing innovations into economic value include: technology maturity and strategy, innovation rates, barriers to entry, machine architecture, systems integration, standardization, and applications. In addition, entrepreneurs will also have to deal with capitalization, management, marketing, product development, distribution, sales, service, environmental controls, and intellectual property. The radical nature of molecular manufacturing technology will alter many of the traditional manufacturing business models. However, the current situation in molecular manufacturing is that the technology has not yet arrived in industrial form, and when it does arrive, we will still be a long way from being able to throw a molecular switch and produce instant economic value. These points will be illustrated by examples from the computer hardware and software industry. In spite of the difficulties and uncertainties ahead, the long term prospects of the forthcoming molecular manufacturing industry are excellent.