Studying the rise of the cochlear implant industry, Garud and Van de Ven’s (1988) model of new industry emergence focuses on the iterative cycles during which new technologies are developed, legitimized and extended to form a new industry. Viewing emerging industry boundaries as blurry--at best--for radical technologies, this research aims to map the multi-industry terrain of industry emergence for nano entrepreneurs.

If it is possible to speak of an emerging nanotechnology industry, the industry is interweaving with-- or has the potential to affect--industries as varied as Energy, Electronics, Imaging, Biotechnology and Information Technology, among others. A particular challenge with radical technologies is that the industry contexts where a technology may create its greatest value and spawn successful ventures may not be known initially, particularly until critical business models are discovered to complement new technological advances. This suggests entrepreneurs focusing on radical technologies may straddle various market spaces in an attempt peer into and develop inter-linkages among different entrepreneurial opportunities and industry contexts.

Asking what is the terrain of industry emergence for nano entrepreneurs, this research provides direct contrast to Garud and Van de Ven’s single-industry framework of new industry creation. The empirical study examines messy boundaries and what is best characterized as varying multi-industry participation by nano entrepreneurs in a forming nanotechnology arena.