New players keep industry thriving
George D. Miller
Although well established in many respects, the cleanrooms industry carries much of the excitement of an emerging industry based on the rapid influx of new players and its penetration into new markets. This old-but-new guise betrays a combination of tremendous depth of experience brought to bear on complex problems in a high-energy entrepreneurial setting.
As a newcomer to the field (this is my first issue with CleanRooms and CleanRooms International magazines), I`m struck by how this old-but-new guise plays out in the level of cooperation between this industry, the government and academia. Two of our stories on page 1 concern this topic — one on the Brevard County Community College (Palm Bay, FL), which now houses a three-unit cleanroom facility available for use by industry, and the other on the Arizona State University Del E. Webb School of Construction (Tempe, AZ), which recently opened an advanced technology facilities construction research center. The former makes available three levels of cleanroom space — Class 10 (M2.5), Class 1,000 (M4.5) and Class 10,000 (M5.5) — to local industries in an attempt to stimulate industry growth. The latter is a cooperative research center for improving the design and construction delivery process of advanced technology facilities. Both are marked by a significant number of high-visibility players who contributed large sums of money, time or both to the efforts.
These initiatives represent a level of industry/government/academia cooperation that is not evident in most other fields that I am aware of (I`ve spent the last eight years writing and editing on communications markets). That`s not to say that there are no other examples of such cooperation in other fields, but rather that the process seems somehow more organic here. The Brevard County Community College deal is complex in the number of players involved, the international nature of them, and the ways in which they were brought together. The construction research center boasts a comprehensive charter covering the entire life cycle of a contamination-free manufacturing facility crossing several different disciplines. There is nothing simple about either effort. Both required sustained efforts by individuals who hold both global and future-looking visions of the cleanrooms industry.
These characteristics make the cleanrooms and contamination control industry an important driver of the global economy. This ability to conceive, pursue and then execute cooperative alliances between industry, government and academia demonstrates a business acumen built from the unique strengths of each sector, and it promises a future rich in technical and business accomplishments.