Many companies developing nanotechnology products have licensed techniques that were developed at universities or national labs. They take these techniques and work to develop products. They pay to put these products through the phases of development, testing, and marketing, and then share in the profits.

Some companies do their own nanotechnology research. These companies range from ones focused on specific areas of nanotechnology, such as Zyvex, which was formed to focus on molecular nanotechnology, to large companies conducting significant nanotechnology research programs intended to improve their products. In the latter category are companies such as IBM and Hewlett Packard.

Some companies manufacture nanomaterials to sell to other companies to incorporate into their products. These nanomaterial companies range from large, established companies that build plants to supply great quantities of material, to small companies that license techniques developed at universities or national labs to produce specialized nanomaterials.

Several companies pool their resources, spreading the expense of research. For example, a group of oil companies and oil services companies has combined with Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin to form the Advanced Energy Consortium. Each company contributes the funds needed by the consortium to research nanotechniques to improve the discovery and recovery of oil.

Another example of companies being involved with universities and government in nano research is the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology’s Industry Consortium, or ISN. Located at MIT, ISN is funded by the U.S. Army, ISN has 14 partners in the private sector. For example, Raytheon and DuPont formed an industry consortium that focuses on creating products that could benefit the military, such as lighter weight packs for soldiers in the field.