Lobbying for a nationwide industry from a Midwest perch


Go to any meeting sponsored by the NanoBusiness Alliance and you’ll see Sean Murdock in half a dozen places at once - introducing speakers, making sure things are running smoothly, and furiously hobnobbing in the hallways. His ubiquity is matched only by his enthusiasm and focus, both in conveying the commercial potential of nanotechnology and identifying the best ways to develop it. He does this all over the country, but particularly in Washington, D.C., where he has been the face of nanotechnology this year, as in recent ones.

Sean Murdock, executive director of the NBA, has been a ubiquitous force behind nano industry development. Photo courtesy of NanoBusiness Alliance
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Murdock has been immersed in the small tech world since 2000. That’s when he left consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where he spent the first seven years of his business career, to found AtomWorks, an advocacy group devoted to developing micro and nanotechnology ventures in Illinois and the Midwest. In those early days it was a gamble compared to the security of a corporate gig, particularly for a dad of small children. But Murdock clearly thought it was a gamble worth taking.

He took the helm of the NanoBusiness Alliance, a national organization, in 2004. Since then he’s made it his business to educate representatives and senators about the importance of developing commercial nanotechnology in order to maintain U.S. competitiveness and to grow jobs. In February he took 50 of his organization’s members, many of them CEOs, to meet with legislators and to address the House Committee on Science. His activities have helped push forward at least two bills promoting nanotech investment. He also reached out to representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Murdock served on the nanotechnology working group of PECSEA, a subcommittee of the President’s Export Council, where he advocated for secure but trade-friendly export policies. As an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and as an advisory board member of Purdue University’s Discovery Park, he introduces the next generation of scientific and business leaders to the potential of nanotech.

Roger Grace

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Roger Grace, president of Roger Grace Associates, has been evangelizing for MEMS for decades and recently added nanotech to his portfolio. His strategic marketing firm has promoted work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Sandia, Jenoptik, Seagate, HP and Zyvex, among others. He has served on many advisory boards and co-founded the Micro and Nanotechnology Commercialization Education Foundation (MANCEF).
Photo courtesy of Roger Grace Associates

Matthew Laudon

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Matthew Laudon, founder and executive director of the Nano Science and Technology Institute, specializes in academic-to-business relations. His organization’s efforts and shows have helped crystallize the nanotech sector on both the business and technical side, bringing together scientists, students, executives, engineers and more.
Photo courtesy of Nano Science and Technology Institute

Ellen McDevitt

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Ellen McDevitt, executive director, MEMS Industry Group (MIG), has grown her organization’s membership to more than 60 companies, from small start-ups to large corporations. She is also the organizing force behind the annual METRIC conference and the MEMS Executive Forum.
Photo by Roberto Borea

Skip Rung

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Robert D. “Skip” Rung, president and executive director of the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), is largely responsible for Oregon’s lively micro and nano scene. ONAMI has pulled together research efforts at universities and government labs throughout the state and successfully marketed those shared R&D capabilities to organizations outside Oregon.
Photo courtesy of ONAMI