TOTAL DIRECT world funding in nano-activity—in technology and science, both public and private—will likely exceed $5 billion by the end of 2003. Indirect funding will exceed this figure by an order of magnitude. The main reason for this rapid growth lies in a single subsector of nanotech. The life sciences, including genomics and biopharmaceuticals, are the biggest area of nanoscience R&D and the largest single source of nanotech funding. The biosciences are pushing ahead into nanotech faster than any other academic or commercial sector, even IT, and are central to the clear majority of nanotech start-ups.
Bioscience and biopharmaceuticals, it turns out, have one insuperable advantage in understanding the nanocosm: They have been working at the molecular level for a hundred and fifty years. In a sense all biotech is nanotech, and always has been. That gives it a big head start in nearly every subdivision of nanotechnology Dr. Bryan Roberts, a California VC with a doctorate from Harvard, puts it this way: "Bioscience has worked in the nanometer size range for quite some time. It has a history of crossdisciplinary work, and a lot of its customers are cash-rich. Bioscience can readily combine these important advantages with its equally important knowledge and skill sets, and transfer them to nanotechnology."