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MIT Technology Review

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  • Stephen Empedocles

    Age:
    34

    Stephen Empdocles wasn’t looking for a career in business developmet, But in helping transform nanotechnology from a largely academic exercise into a fledgling industry, he found one. After earning a PhD in physical chemistry from MIT and joining Quantum Dot of Hayward, CA, and early nanotech startup, Empdocles realized there was a critical lack of people with both business and technical expertise in the nanotech world. The consequence was a gap between scientific realities and market expectations, and Empdocles stepped in to develop the business strategies to bridge the gap. He helped devise novel ways to use nanocrystals for biological testing and played an important role in finding Quantum Dot more than $37 million in venture financing. In 2001 he lfeft Quantum Dot and cofounded Nanosys in Palo Alto, CA. The company’s goal, says Empdocles, director of business development, is to commercialize nanotech’s first blockbuster products within three years. Combining his technical insight and business savvy, Empdocles has identified several candidates, such as building materials impregnated with nano solar cells. Recently, Nanosys signed a deal with Matsushita Electric Works to develop the nano solar-cell technology. Overall, Nanosys has raised $55 million in investments. If Empdocles can pull off that first big product, his transformation from scientist to entrepreneur will be complete.