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Unsettled economic situation leaves mark on microtechnology industry

IVAM Research : 03 April, 2013  (Special Report)
A year ago, the microtechnology, nanotechnology, and advanced materials industry looked out on the year 2012 with quite positive expectations. As it turned out, the unstable economic situation has left its mark on these industries, too. For 2013, at least, the companies expect a slight upwards trend.

IVAM Research, the economic research division of the IVAM Microtechnology Network, collects economic data in the fields of microtechnology, nanotechnology and advanced materials once a year. The survey in February 2013 has been addressed to 2,734 companies and research institutions throughout Europe, 117 (4.28%) of which took part in the survey. Regional distribution of participants: 55% of respondents are based in Germany, 11.8% in Switzerland, 6.4% in the United Kingdom, 5.5% in the Netherlands, 3.6% in France and Italy respectively, 2.7% in Austria, and 10.9% in several other countries mostly in Central, Western and Northern Europe.

At present, the mood of the industry is quite subdued, as the economic data survey of the IVAM Microtechnology Network confirms. In 2012, the business situation has been worse than expected in a third of companies. While orders and staff numbers have slightly risen and production has remained stable for a large proportion of companies, sales figures have dropped. The lack of funding for the strategic business development, expansion or investment in innovation is still an essential problem. Only 7% of companies had more funds available for corporate financing in 2012 than in the year before, only 16% have been able to invest more than in 2011.

Foreign trade has developed modestly in the last business year, thus continuing the trend of previous years. Throughout Europe, the export rates of the microtechnology, nanotechnology and advanced materials industry have remained rather stable in 2012.

In order to be able to compete the companies will attempt to enter the markets also via subsidiaries or cooperation. Markets of particular interest are the BRIC countries as well as countries that have recently been reclassified from emerging markets to industrial nations. Brazil, Russia, India and China as well as Israel, Taiwan and South Korea are countries which the companies want to enter in the short and medium term, for example by cooperative ventures or setting up branches.

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