Illinois' nanotech future: growth or implosion?
March 29, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Darrell Dvorak wants
more media outrage. "You might expect a harsh comment about
the state's nano-tech future to trigger alarm bells throughout
Illinois and garner lots of media attention," Dvorak says.
in ePrairie, the online news site covering Chicago's tech scene,
Dvorak laments the absence of editorial angst over the ambivalent
comments made by Small Times magazine regarding the future of
our nanotech industry.
Here's the good news.
For the second straight year, Small Times, the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based
monitor of the burgeoning nanotech industry, ranked Illinois among
its Top 10 Small Tech Hot Spots. More good news: Illinois moved
up to No. 6 this year from No. 8.
The bad news: Small
Times says, "Illinois may be on the brink of explosive growth
or an implosion. Research powerhouses in Chicago and Urbana-Champaign
continued to gain federal research dollars, but that has yet to
evolve into a sizable business cluster."
Says Sean Murdock,
executive director of AtomWorks, which seeks economic development
through science and technology, "They're saying our research
is truly world class. The pump is primed. But they have not seen
the explosive growth in patents and new venture creation.
"Is that because
it takes time or because there is a critical bottleneck? It's
unclear to them."
Murdock thinks it's
But he isn't lashing
out at our political leaders. "Both Mayor Daley and Gov.
Blagojevich expressed interest in nanotech," he says. The
private sector needs to get more involved.
I agree. The Civic
Committee should weigh in visibly on nanotech as it did on O'Hare
expansion. That would be a plus. Lobbying for passage of the Illinois
Opportunity Fund would help.
There is one thing
we've really got to shake in this town. It's not media apathy.
It's that Chicago Cubs, loser mentality. If we're going to get
into nanotechnology, let's beat New York, Massachusetts and California
go for No. 1. No. 6 out of 10 just doesn't cut it.
at the crossroads
forecasting IT spending growth worldwide at 5 percent," says
Kevin White, economist for IDC, the Framingham, Mass., technology
analyst firm. That's on a base of $900 billion in worldwide spending.
The chief information
officers who control corporate tech spending come to Chicago Sept.
12 for SIMposium 2004. It's the annual gathering of the Society
for Information Management.
The theme of the meeting:
"IT Leadership at the Crossroads." The CIOs will be
grappling with the challenges of cost cutting, offshoring and
"We even toyed
with 'IT in the Cross Hairs' as the theme," quips John Moon,
CIO of Deerfield-based Baxter International, who's guiding the
content for this year's conference.
are still investing in IT, but doing it with a lot more caution,"
adds Moon, who controls hundreds of millions of IT-budget dollars.
"There's recognizable potential to deliver growth, but a
lot more scrutiny."
is over, but 18 DePaul University undergraduates are playing electronic
games for academic credit.
Students in "GAM
224: Strategies in Game Design" are learning to build computer
games. The class might even lead to a job in the electronic game
industry, which Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group estimates
to be a $10 billion category.
"This course isn't
all digital art and sound effects," says assistant professor
Gary Novak. "Good script writing is the key. What keeps people
coming back is great game play, not just graphics or sound effects."
While Novak emphasizes
writing, DePaul students have plenty of opportunity to get hands-on
with the latest digital production technology. The university
boasts a digital cinema lab- oratory with state-of-the-art development
and production facilities.
chasing a bullet with a magnet," is how Robert Clyde, CTO
of Symantec Corp., describes attempts to stop computer viruses.
Speaking at the Executives Club computer security conference,
Clyde says, "In 2001, Code Red doubled every 37 minutes.
This past January, the Slammer Worm doubled every 8.5 seconds.
It infected more than 90 percent of vulnerable hosts within 10
minutes." The message: Prepare now before the worms strike.
Krauss is a Chicago based tech-writer and consultant, and senior
vice president for Hostway Corp., Chicago.