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Inventory of nanotechnology companies in Mexico


This study presents an inventory of 139 nanotechnology companies in Mexico, identifying their geographic distribution, economic sector classification, and position in the nanotechnology value chain. We find that the principal economic sector of nanotechnology-engaged firms involves the manufacture of chemical products, which largely serve as means of production (primary or intermediate materials; instruments and equipment) for industrial processes. The methodology used in this analysis could be replicated in other countries without major modifications.

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  1. Lux Research (a private firm that tracks nanotechnology) offers a more succinct definition: “the purposeful engineering of matter at scales of less than 100 nm to achieve size-dependent properties and functions” (Holman et al. 2007, Fig. 1.2). A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Human hair averages roughly 100,000 nanometers thick, while a DNA molecule is 2–3 nanometers in width.

  2. The 2016 budget request from the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative was $1.5 billion, down from a peak of $1.9 billion in 2010, which would bring total U.S. since the inception of the NNI in 2001 to $22 billion (US NNI 2015b).

  3. These figures are cited uncritically in the 2014 report of the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST 2014, pp. 23 and 41).

  4. See

  5. See

  6. See

  7. See, for example,

  8. See

  9. See

  10. Encuesta sobre Investigación y Desarrollo Tecnológico y Módulo sobre Actividades de Biotecnología y Nanotecnología (ESIDET).

  11. The quantity of products and nanotechnology companies with a presence in the market can change daily; hence it is important to be specific about the time period covered.

  12. Three methods were used to find information on the company's webpage: (1) a Google search using keywords (nanotechnology, nano, nano-particles, nano-material; example nano site: www.(nombre/ruta).com; (2) a search on the website when it was available; and (3) a manual search in the catalogs of products online or from a downloadable format.

  13. There was no technical information concerning the actual nano-particles or nanotechnological components of the products provided in any of the sources available to us for our product inventory. The procedure used to register a product is explained in the "Methodology" section.

  14. The criteria used was based on the number of employees: micro (1–9), small (10–49), medium (50–249) and large (250+).

  15. The source of the information is accessible on the webpage of the Latinoamericana de Nanoteócnología y Sociedad (ReLANS).

  16. For example, the INEGI (2014) study came up with an estimate of 188 firms in 2012.

  17. Companies that launch a products could be conducting R&D, but this information was not possible to corroborate.

  18. In Spanish, Clasificación Industrial Internacional Uniforme de todas las actividades económicas (CIIU). See

  19. The search is available online at:

  20. Companies engaged in nanotechnology-related research and development, but lacking registered products, were classified as belong to Section M (“professional and scientific activities”). Institutions of education and public labs were not included, only private companies.

  21. This class includes (among many others) beauty and makeup preparations. (

  22. As noted previously, in the case of those firms that lacked an identifiable product, we also registered available information on the firm’s nanotech R&D, which is useful for understanding the future trajectory of nanotechnology in Mexico.

  23. In some cases, it is possible that the center of production is at a different address that the headquarters; but in general, the principal office coincides with that of production.

  24. It must be emphasized that since the classification was based exclusively on the nanotechnology-related product, the economic classification does not necessarily reflect that of the company itself, since a company may have other products (with different classifications) that are not related to nanotechnology.

  25. This grouping does not indicate a clear inclination toward a determined type of nano-material or of intermediary products and will have to wait for an increase of production with nanotechnology to determine the degree of specialization.


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Project “Nanotechnology in the Mexican industrial policy. A comparative methodological framework” UC MEXUS-CONACYT Collaborative Grant, 2014–2015. Edgar Zayago Lau would like to thank PRODEP (Red Internacional de Desarrollo, sustentabilidad y seguridad humana) for the support provided.

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Correspondence to Richard Appelbaum.

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Appelbaum, R., Zayago Lau, E., Foladori, G. et al. Inventory of nanotechnology companies in Mexico. J Nanopart Res 18, 43 (2016).

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  • Production networks
  • Technology
  • Technological change
  • Developing countries
  • Innovation
  • Nanotechnology
  • Mexico
  • Value chain