pureNANO Technologies will be ‘the Intel of nanotechnology,’ power flat-screens and solar panels of future: CEO Lev Davidson

It's a big claim for a competitive space. Their cofounders say Philly is the place to do it.

pureNANO leaders: CEO Lev Davidson and Eric Borguet

(Courtesy Photo)

If you want to talk about the Philadelphia region’s distinction for startups, it lies in the slice of life sciences called nanotechnology, says Lev Davidson.

Davidson is the CEO and co-founder of pureNANO Technologies, which produces proprietary, ultra-pure carbon nanotubes said to be some 50,000 times narrower than a human hair and 100 times stronger than steel.

How do you make money on really tiny tubes?: by producing “the world’s most energy efficient flat-panel displays, high-performance flexible thin-film solar cells and advanced mobile water filtration systems,” boasts the company’s promotional materials.

“pureNANO will be the Intel of nanotechnology by providing the material that will enable technologies which will fundamentally disrupt innumerable industries,” said Davidson, 28, who lives in Center City and grew up in Lafayette Hill, Montgomery County. “We will do for nanotech what the Intels of the world did for computing.”

To start, in May, the company took top honors and $125,000 in cash, prizes and services at Temple University’s Fox School of Business 13th annual Be Your Own Boss Bowl. With co-founder, chief scientist and Dublin-native Eric Borguet, 48, pureNANO was also a standout in the last GoodCompany Ventures incubation class.

That’s a good start but not yet the global disruption that Davidson is seeking. So what’s next?

The problems that pureNANO’s technology is said to answer are what has prohibited the industrial scale of top level nanotubes on today’s market: purity, cost and production time.

“There is a timely, critical need for ultra-pure nanotubes to enable the next wave of disruptive innovation,” Davidson said. “We have it.”

In the spirit of nanotechnology, watch a portion of this TED talk about the impact of working on the nano scale.


The company’s next three milestones are familiar ones: technology, funding and users.

“Because the development work was done and the purification process was invented at Temple, for which a full U.S. patent was filed based on provisional and PCT applications, the university owns the IP, and we are currently negotiating with their Office of Technology Transfer for exclusive global rights to it,” Davidson said.

Davidson, a former JP Morgan analyst, is the business side to chemistry professor Borguet’s science side. So, while Borguet makes the process sing, Davidson is beginning conversations with investors and early customers, expecting 2012 to be an explosive year for the company.

Davidson said his company has no intentions of leaving Philadelphia, largely because he says the mix of life sciences, top talent and an improving true city is a bet worth making.

Drexel, Penn and Temple have all proven invaluable resources for the company in its early stages, he said, adding that the University City Science Center could be a sensible next step for the company, which is currently being incubated on Temple’s Main Campus.

“On the investment side, both Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ Nanotechnology Institute and the state’s PA Nano Center demonstrate regional long-term commitment to investing in and supporting nano-based business,” he said. “Additionally, there are several local angel and VC groups interested in socially-focused ventures — cleantech in particular — from which nano-based startups can absolutely benefit.”

That’s good for the region and for pureNANO, Davidson said.

“Nanotech is the next great wave of technological innovation, and what is so exciting is that it can happen right here in Philadelphia, not California or New York. And it’s already happening here,” he said. “We have the technical, business and investment resources right here in our backyard to develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem that catalyzes a nanotech revolution.”

Companies: pureNano
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