Nanotech's here, but do biz leaders know it?
October 4, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Sounds like a guy who pitches for the Cubs or plays wide receiver
for the Bears. Ever heard of Sean? He could be more important
to Chicago than Greg Maddux or Brian Urlacher.
to playing frosh-soph basketball at Evanston high school in the
mid-1980s and point guard on a powerhouse youth league team.
from Notre Dame and Northwestern, but his Triple-A squad was the
global powerhouse consultancy McKinsey & Co. Murdock studied
economics at the golden dome and business strategy at Kellogg.
At McKinsey he gained a passion for innovation and an understanding
of the potential of nanotechnology.
33, is executive director of the NanoBusiness Alliance, the national
organization that guided Congress on the $3.7 billion 21st Century
Nanotechology Research & Development Act. This week, Murdock
and Steve Crosby, president of Small Times Media,
the top nanotech trade publication, bring NanoCommerce 2004
to McCormick Place.
the show will attract big firms like DuPont and General
Electric as well as leading nanotech startups like Chicago's
NanoInk, Nanophase and Arryx. Top researchers
from Argonne National Labs and Northwestern will
be there as will the money guys from places like Merrill Lynch.
a good opportunity to come and learn what all the excitement's
about," says Crosby who expects deals to get done.
and Murdock's behind-the-scenes efforts could mean more to Chicago's
future than a Cubs World Series victory, a Bear's Super Bowl win
and Michael Jordan's six NBA championships.
I grew up
five blocks from Wrigley. I like to see the Cubs win, but Murdock
and nanotech could create new companies and new jobs for a new
generation of sports fans. It's hard to support winning sports
franchises or even losing ones without jobs.
is one of the best things to happen to this region," says
Matt McCall, managing director at Portage Ventures,
a respected local venture capitalist. "Sean has enormous
drive and energy. He loves this region and sees the opportunity.
He's the glue."
Glue" Murdock. I like it. Why can't world class innovators
have nicknames like star athletes? How about Bill "The Man"
Gates or Michael "On-Line" Dell. You get the idea.
My only question
is whether our local business leaders will show up at NanoCommerce
2004. This isn't the National Restaurant Show, the Hardware Show,
the Auto Show or the Flower Show. Nanotech is still in its infancy
like the Internet was in the early 1990s. Crosby calls Chicago
"the long winded city" because there's so much talk
about our nanotech research at Argonne, University of Illinois
and Northwestern, and too few companies commercializing the technology.
improved thanks to Murdock's advocacy, but we still have a long
way to go to catch California. "California is just a (nanotech)
monster," adds Crosby. "It's going to be years before
anybody challenges them." Thanks to Sean "The Glue"
Murdock, maybe some of the nanotech opportunity will stick here
in Chicago. I hope so. My Bulls tickets aren't getting any cheaper.
one of the top events for women in technology Thursday when the
Anita Borg Institute convenes the Grace Hopper Celebration
of Women in Computing conference at the Sheraton Chicago.
It's the first time Chicago plays host to the event, and it's
a sell out.
thrilled with the response," says Telle Whitney, CEO
of the Anita Borg Institute who credits Chicago for the 20 percent
boost in attendance. "Chicago is a great location,"
coordinator for the London-based APC Women's Networking Support
Program will be honored for her social impact. Fran Allen,
IBM fellow emeriti, will be honored for her technology leadership.
Over 800 of the leading lights in technology are expected.
Innovation Awards will be announced tomorrow. Watch for several
top Chicago technology companies to be named. The awards were
created by the Chicago Sun-Times and Kuczmarski &
Associates. Northwestern University nanotech professor Mark
Ratner and CDW CEO John Edwardson will keynote. The
awards take place Thursday at IIT.
Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant.