Liquidia CEO: Nanotech will outpace biotech

Nanotechnology's applications in drug formulation and delivery are well-established, but what about in consumer products? That's where the industry is headed, and that's why it'll eventually eclipse biotech in size and profitability, according to Liquidia Technologies CEO Neal Fowler.

Speaking at last week's Nanotech Commercialization Conference in North Carolina, Fowler said his company's proprietary nanoparticle manufacturing tech has applications far beyond medicine. The company has a partnership with Procter & Gamble ($PG), aiming to branch out into consumer products. Fowler said a huge market is waiting for nanotech companies; it's just a matter of harnessing the field's potential into practical uses.

"Our challenge going forward is, our opportunity will be, how to pace those events to get the technology (going) faster and faster," Fowler said at the conference, as quoted by The Herald-Sun of Durham, NC. "(We) had to go through three or four years of understanding what we have on our hands. (We're) now figuring out how to unleash it."  

Charles Hamner, chairman of the nonprofit research outfit Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, said new applications for nanotech are in their infancy. However, with some goading and incentivizing from the government, the field can move from the innovation stage to the growth stage. Then there's nothing to stop nanotechnology from outpacing biotechnology, Hamner said.

Liquidia's bread and butter is in next-gen vaccine formulation, and the company got $10 million in backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund that work. Fowler said the company remains focused on vaccine development, but the possibilities are endless with its nanotech platform, including diagnostics, solar panels, building materials and consumer products. "The world is full of particles," he pointed out.

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