NanoMaterials Technology builds
tool company around pragmatism

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SINGAPORE, Sept. 30, 2002 — It’s been a cliche since the Internet era that those who became wealthy during the Gold Rush were the ones who sold the picks and shovels. Yet behind every generalization there’s a kernel of truth. At least, that’s what NanoMaterials Technology hopes.

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Based in Singapore, the company develops and commercializes technological “picks and axes” for production of nanosize materials.

The first patented process the company acquired is Nanosized Precipitated Calcium Carbonate (NPCC), a technology to produce nanopowders. A centrifuge-like reactor design called a Rotating Packed Bed, an artificial gravity environment a thousand times higher than the normal level, produces a nanosize precipitate.

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The company says the technology is the first that can produce commercial quantities of NPCC-produced powder with an average grain size of 30 nanometers, at a lower cost than alternative solutions.

NPCCs have wide applications. They can be used as functional fillers for car paint or industrial coatings, or to improve the impact resistance and mechanical properties of plastics and rubber. The market potential is enormous. NanoMaterials estimates the market at $100 million.

Neil Gordon, an expert in nanomaterials at Sygertech Consulting Group Inc., and president of the Canadian NanoBusiness Alliance, agreed that today’s market for PCC is big. “Based on piecing together various sources, it is anywhere between $300 million and $700 million per year,” he said. But it’s hard to say if the nanosized PCCs market will be that big. “The bulk of the PCC market is micronsized products. … I would put the current NPCC at well below NanoMaterials Technology’s claim of $100 million.”

Still, Gordon said, there is great potential for a low cost industrial process that is able to produce nanomaterials. “Cost will be the key,” he said. “PCC is increasingly replacing other materials as a lower cost alternative. One example is replacing pulp as a filler in papermaking by being one-third of the price. With new nano PCC products, the potential for additional substitutions will likely increase.”

But as promising as they are, NPCCs are not a final goal for NanoMaterials. “We consider that we have a technological platform, which can be used for many chemical reactions to produce many kinds of nano products,” said Patrick Chui, the company’s co-founder and chief executive.

So far, the process has been licensed to four companies in China and three plants will be in full production of NPCCs by the end of 2002, each with an output of 10,000 tons a year.

“Our business model is to license the technology to produce these nanomaterials and help companies bring them to the market,” said Chui, adding that he envisions “great opportunities,” especially in the pharmaceutical industry, where this nano-oriented production process could improve existing drugs. “We are not creating new drugs, but try to find existing ones that can benefit” from nanotechnology.

As far as financing is concerned, NanoMaterials intends to go public “later,” Chui said. “We are thinking about expansion, but we may need a second round of funding before the IPO. It will help us and give us an idea of our valuation.”

What is sure is that one of today’s most promising Singaporean nanotech startups wants to base its development on pragmatism. “We are not afraid of the hype around nanotechnology,” Chui said. “It has created an apprehension on the market, but we just have to remain pragmatic. People will not buy a product because it’s related to nanotechnology, but because this product actually delivers value to the customer.”


Company file: NanoMaterials Technology
(last updated Sept. 30, 2002)

NanoMaterials Technology

Block 26, Ayer Rajah Crescent #07-02
Singapore 139944
Wholly owned subsidiary in Beijing:
Suite 3404C, 4th Floor
106 Li Ze Zhong Yuan, ChaoYang District
Beijing, PR China

Founded in April 2000 and incorporated in Singapore in October of the same year. The company closed a round of funding with EDB Ventures and Juniper Capital Ventures (amount undisclosed) in November 2001. In May 2002, the company received another cash infusion of $1.6 million from EDB and Juniper.


Small tech-related products and services
The company develops nanomaterials production technologies. A key process they have developed is called High Gravity Reactive Precipitation (HGRP) for efficient and consistent-quality production of a range of crystalline nanomaterials. The company uses HGRP to develop nanosize precipitated calcium carbonate.


  • Patrick Chui: president and chief executive officer
  • Chen Jiang Feng: director and technical consultant
  • Jimmy Yun: technical director and general manager
  • Danny Tan: director of sales, marketing and business development
  • Employees
    20 total (offices in Singapore and China)

    Selected strategic partners and customers
    Beijing University of Chemical Technology: NanoMaterials Technology’s R&D office in China works in partnership with BUCT


  • 2001: $50,000
  • 2002: $1 million (company forecast)
  • Barriers to market

  • Technical challenges surrounding products’ ease of use
  • Difficulty in keeping up with advancing applications for specialized nanomaterials
  • Competitors
    “We do not see too may competitors, said CEO Patrick Chui. “There are alternative solutions, but not true competitors.”


  • Short range (1-2 years): Achieve a broad acceptance of NPCC in the industry.
  • Long range (3-5 years): Be recognized as a world technology company, providing its processes to several industries.”
  • Why they’re in small tech
    “It’s a kind of coincidence, but we thought we have an interesting opportunity to make far-reaching applications become useful, for the whole industry in general,” Chui said.

    What keeps them up at night

  • “The twists and turns!”
  • “The ‘what if?’ syndrome…”
  • “The difficulty in knowing if the decisions we make in R&D are good and suitable with the business goals…”
  • Contact

  • URL:
  • Phone (headquarters): (65) 6270 0733
  • Fax (headquarters): (65) 6872 3372
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Recent news
    Nano-sized fillers have big impact on PVC pipe
    Low-cost nanoparticles process is commercialized in China

    Research by Gretchen McNeely


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