Almost half of the nano- and microtechnology companies in Europe responded to falls in business in 2009 by developing new products or entering new markets, according to the trade association IVAM. Half the companies surveyed said their funding had remained stable but IVAM says difficulty raising loans and investment could inhibit their growth in 2010.

€44 billion turn-over masks slower growth

In 2009, European micro- and nano-technology companies had a combined turnover of €44 billion ($61 billion). More than a quarter (27%) of companies reported a fall in turnover of more than 10%, while 12% of companies said their turnover increased by more than 10% in 2009, that was a significant drop from the previous year’s figure of 30%.

Launches continue while R&D is cut

Orders and production volumes also fell in 2009. Three quarters (76%) of companies said orders had fallen in 2009 and 63% cut production. R&D budgets were cut in 30% of companies, compared to 14% in 2008 but 82% of companies had launched new products and half (49%) had moved into new markets.

Germans losing ground in export race

Germany’s success in exporting nanotechnology is dwindling, according to IVAM. While German nanotech firms gained half their income from exports in 2004, by 2009 that had fallen to one third. Elsewhere in Europe exports account for more than half of the turnover of  58% of nanotech firms.

Medical market looks rosier than cars

Half (51%) of German nanotech companies supply the auto industry and they have received a measure of protection from the country’s car scrappage scheme but Germany is itself a target market for experts within Europe. Medical technology looks more likely to provide the sector with growth in Germany in 2010.


IVAM is an international association of 266 member companies and institutes from 20 countries in the field of microtechnology, nanotechnology and advanced materials.