Small and medium-sized nanotechnology companies in the United Kingdom have started their own trade association. They feel that academia and large corporations don’t represent their interests.
I’m not surprised. In fact it’s an issue that’s not limited to the nanotechnology industry.
Consider the huge difference in interests between a small 10-employee business and a multi-national 10,000-employee corporation. For instance, small businesses have more sensitivity to regulatory burdens. If a 10-employee firm has to assign one person full-time to complete regulatory paperwork, that’s 10% of its workforce. In the 10,000-employee firm, even a dozen employees handling regulatory compliance would hardly be missed.
Small businesses often feel the pressure to move quickly to introduce new products. Even a delay of a few months could mean having to lay off employees, seeing profits disappear, or, worse, running out of operating cash. Large corporations normally don’t operate on such a thin edge, and are better equipped to deal with delays caused by regulators.
I could go on, but the point should be clear. Smaller businesses have different interests from large corporations. Having different trade associations to represent different interests isn’t such a bad idea. Sometimes, as in the case of the U.K. nanotechnology SMEs, it’s a necessity.[Hat tip to Howard Lovy of the Nanobot blog.]