Business Case Studies, Innovation and New Product Development Case Study, Carbon Nanotechnologies Incorporated-Gearing up for the Nanomarket

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Innovation and New Product Development Case Study

Case Title:

Carbon Nanotechnologies Incorporated-Gearing up for the Nanomarket

Publication Year : 2005

Authors: Chithra Gopal R.S, Prashant Kulkarni

Industry: Chemicals


Case Code: IPD0041B

Teaching Note: Not Available

Structured Assignment: Not Available

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Carbon Nanotechnologies Incorporated (CNI) is a Texas based nanotechnology company, whose journey begins in 2000, as a spin-off from Rice University. By 2005, with the support of a broad Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio in the areas of production processes, enabling and end-use technologies, CNI has emerged as the world’s leading producer of nanotubes. The case study traces the growth of CNI from a startup to its emergence as a leading supplier of nanotubes. CNI has formed strategic alliances with companies like Sumitomo, 3P, Entegris etc. to reach a wider market. It is also focusing on consolidating its own intellectual property portfolio by way of patent protection and licensing its technical know-how to potential buyers. While future seemed bright, questions were still being asked on how the company would shape up in the emerging nanotech industry.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • Potential benefits of consolidating a broad Intellectual Property portfolio for a nanotech start-up company like CNI
  • Market entry strategies of CNI
  • Market positioning strategies of CNI
  • Strategies to develop end-use market for a relatively new technology.

Keywords : Carbon Nanotechnologies Incorporated (CNI); Nanotechnology; Nanomaterials; Carbon nanotubes; Start up companies; Age funding; Innovation Management Case Study; Richard Smalley; Bob Gower; Business Strategy; Intellectual Property Portfolio; Patents; Strategic alliances; B2B; Market entry strategies; End-use markets


  • Introduction
  • Overview of industry
  • Genesis of CNI
  • Consolidating IP position
  • Strategic Alliances
  • Future outlook

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