Nanogap is the only company in the world that is capable of producing particles of less than a nanometre at an industrial level, that is, ten raised to minus nine metres or one millimillionth part of a metre. The business idea surfaced in 2005 after the research group at the University of Santiago de Compostela called ‘NanoMag’ registered a revolutionary patent for atomic quantum clusters that involve a scale of less than a nanometre.


of the Council of Administration of Nanogap, Tatiana López, emphasised that this deals with particles that “allow us to work on very small scales. These are materials that present new properties due to the fact that they are of very reduced sizes.” The two tenured professors responsible for the finding, Arturo López Quintela and José Rivas Rey (the second person is the current Director of the International Iberian Laboratory of Nanotechnology), thought from a business perspective and presented the opportunity to the members of the research group: adjunct professors, assistants, and doctoral students that participate in the company. Since its initiation, Nanogap has had 23 partners although five of them are strategic promoters that are in charge of defining the path that the company should take. From the beginning, capital has been increased three times and they permitted entry to financing from Unirisco and Uninvest.

Among the multiple applications of the atomic quantum clusters, the company have developed a raw material marketed to companies in the chemical industry in order to obtain antimicrobial products adequate for achieving extremely hygienic surfaces. They have collaborated in the fabrication of biosanitary materials for hospitals where an inadequate material may suppose an infectious focal point, the instrumentation of the surgery rooms, or the touch panels of the equipment for which reason they are searching for materials of low toxicity. “We do not sell to the final consumer, rather we sell to companies that are going to make these panels for the surgery equipment, plastics to use to make temperature probes or catheters, etc.”, López explained.

The applications of the clusters is not the only line of business which Nanogap is considering. The Managing Director recalled that the research group “has more than 25 years of experience working in nanotechnology and the know how is enormous,” which suggests a great potential for the knowledge being generated in the laboratory to be valued in the market.

In more conventional areas, they have accomplished developments with applications in the world of electronics, the most attractive market and one in which the company has focused for the short term. The challenge consists of giving conductor properties to different materials, such as ink. The new generation of electronic circuits will be based on business technology which allow for a circuit to be designed from a computer and printed later. To that end, Nanogap are developing a conductor ink. “It is a dispersion of liquid that, among other things, contains nanoparticles of silver that melt when printed and generate those electronic contacts,” López added in order to clarify the process.

Other current products which they are developing are nanofibres such as a substitute for ITO, a scarce natural resource that is very fragile, the market of which is dominated by China. Nanogap offer an alternative that is “more ecological and whose performance is similar but has the advantage of being a flexible material with less risk of breakage which permits its utilisation in applications where the ITO is not appropriate as is the case with the flexible substrates of a cloth. In addition, the aeronautical industry can also use these nanofibres, as this sector is trying to substitute metals with plastic polymers with anti-static properties.

Continuous development and the capacity to generate products that are unique in the market have situated Nanogap in the international market since its inception. Europe was the first objective of the company although the frontier soon became small and they began contacting R&D&I departments of very large multinationals and small businesses which they help to create new products based on their technology. The company’s expansion led the partners to open an affliate in San Francisco from where they carry out the commercial development to the United States as well as contacting clients in Japan and Korea.

Investment in innovation signifies generating a sustainable company and economy. Today I have a product that is unique in the world but I know that if I do not continue innovating, the U.S.A. or Japan will have the same product in four years and it may be better than mine. Innovation is the way to compete and di!erentiate oneself in the market.”. Tatiana López


López highlighted the merit of a company closely related with the University of Santiago which has nourished it in order to occupy a void in the market where it can be competitive. In fact, Nanogap continue to externalise the initial phases of its developments with nanoparticles to USC. “We are trying to develop products with our clients but that which has to do with production and R&D is maintained in O Milladoiro and it will continue to be that way,” she emphasised with reference to that A Coruña locality which is contiguous to Santiago and is where they have their installations.

Prior numerous public assistance agreements allowed them to begin various negotiation processes regarding the provision of materials such as nanofibres to use instead of ITO and the conductive inks for electronic circuits. To that end, they have initiated a project to capture funding that will permit them to increase today’s production capacity, for example, thereby permitting them to have two reactors of 50 litres each housed in the O Milladoiro plant.

Billing has doubled since 2008, reaching 200,000 Euros in 2010. The incorporation of a Manager of Innovation financed by the Regional Government of Galicia within the frame of the Network of Managers of Innovation of Galicia (XIGA), has permitted them to “maintain a most proactive attitude, to consider in which projects we want to participate, and with which companies,” the Managing Director remarked. Conscious that in Nanogap “innovation is everything,” they have opted for the situation in which the Manager forms a part of the area of business development, “from where that person is able to carry out technological vigilance and participate in all of our new products.”

López is clear about the future of the company: “We are positioning ourselves as leaders at the global level in sub-nanometric particles as well as a reference in terms of nanoparticles and that requires innovation and continuous development of products that are unique in the market.” The growth plan implicates a doubling of the actual staff which today consist of twelve persons, all of them with University degrees.