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Funding of Innovative Startups

Clearwire, Nanomix, and more

Company Spotlight
Clearwire As wireless-communications entrepreneurs go, few can claim more distinguished records than Craig McCaw. His biggest coup came in 1994, when he sold McCaw Cellular Communications to AT&T for $11.5 billion. Now, as CEO and chairman of Clearwire, McCaw is challenging cable and DSL service providers with wireless broadband service.

Last year, Clearwire bought NextNet Wireless, which supplies it with wireless equipment. Also last year, McCaw made a large investment in Microcell Telecommunications, a Montreal-based provider that could provide a foothold in the Canadian market. Currently, Clearwire offers its wireless broadband service in Daytona Beach, FL, Jacksonville, FL, Abilene, TX, and St. Cloud, MN.

The scope of McCaw’s project is daunting. Not only is Clearwire acting as service provider, but it is also making hardware. And rollouts in relatively small cities might not prove to be the wisest strategy. Meanwhile, incumbent DSL and cable providers have spent millions to market their broadband services. Is Clearwire up to the challenge?

Nanomix When Technology Review profiled Nanomix in September 2002, the company was more of a promising R&D operation based on strong academic research and prestigious founders than a viable commercial concern. However, with a fresh $16 million infusion of cash, the company is now poised to introduce its first commercial products.

Nanomix plans to begin selling its nanotube-based sensors by the end of this year. The company has indicated that its first products will include hydrogen sensors, which typically detect explosive conditions, and a carbon dioxide sensor for respiratory monitoring.

To initiate the transition to its commercial phase, the company hired David Macdonald as CEO in March 2004. Previously, Macdonald was senior vice president for global operations at Nanogen, a San Diego, CA-based supplier of molecular-diagnostic-testing equipment.

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