Sector in-depth discussion

A main-stage session dubbed “Phase Two of Nanotechnology & Beyond” explored how today’s corporates are responding to new nano cell technologies.

The session was moderated by Tom Vanhoutte, partner at Belgium-based nano-electronics research institute Imec.Xpand. It featured as speakers Tony Chao, managing director at Applied Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary owned by semiconductor equipment maker Applied Materials, Heejin Chung, head of  venture investment at South Korea-headquartered semiconductor supplier SK Hynix, Dong-Su Kim, head of Samsung Ventures America, the venturing unit of the South Korea-based electronics manufacturing company.

Chao noted on the strange nature of nanotechnology: “Nanotech is everything and nothing at the same time. It is everywhere – in clothes, phones, manufacturing and you don´t even know it’s there. It’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time.”

Kim discussed the intersection of data and hardware, which goes “hand in hand”. He said that with the exponential explosion of “big data” and the corollary need for data storage technology, hardware necessitates staying a step ahead.

The speakers also discussed the challenges for hardware companies, a domain with a high failure rate and a salient absence of large exits. Chung attributed this to the technical complexity involved and the longer time required for a hardware company to mature. “It takes much more time to mature than a web businesses,” he said.

The speakers also discussed how corporate venturers can actually help hardware or advanced material companies employing nanotechnologies overcome these challenges. Kim stated that corporates can provide money and guidance and also customers, pointing out that Samsung often co-invests in such enterprises with semiconductor manufacturers like Intel and Applied Materials that do helps boost such startups. Chao concurred by saying that “deep tech startups require technical expertise to appreciate their potential which CVCs do have. They have not only the money and appetite to invest in them but also see strategic value in their offering.”