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German micro- and nanotechnology industry sees economic trend reversed

After the years of the economic crisis, 2008 and 2009, the microtechnology, nanotechnology and advanced materials industries in Germany are now confirming a reversal of the economic trend. More than half of the companies say that business in the first half of 2010 fared better than expected. The companies are positive about the second half of the year and look forward to the year 2011. More than 100 company representatives have expressed their current mood in a survey conducted by the IVAM Microtechnology Network.

Level of 2008 partly regained

After one and a half years that were flawed by lost revenue, drops in orders and production, expectations for 2010 were quite restrained at the beginning of the year. Now quite a few managers have expressed their surprise at how well business has run in the first half of 2010. Individual companies have reported that sales have risen up to 15 percent. In some micro- and nanotechnology companies, sales and incoming orders have regained or even exceed the level of the first half of 2008.

"Former customers are now returning of their own accord", a company representative comments on his experience. The demand for equipment for the semiconductor industry is particularly strong at present. Especially producers who bring new devices on the market now benefit from that demand.

According to the survey, business operations in the first half of 2010 ran better than expected for just over half of the companies (52 percent), just as expected for a third (33 percent) and worse than expected for 15 percent. When asked to review individual business areas and compare them to the first half of 2009, the respondents said that incoming orders have developed particularly well: 62.9 percent of the companies have improved in this area. Production and sales has also improved for more than half of respondents. Corporate financing is still a weak point: more than half of the companies (58.8 percent) have been able to keep the financing level stable, but the situation got even worse for 14.4 percent.

Foreign demand will continue to grow

Some companies are foreseeing "a very positive development" in the second half of 2010. For this period, 53 percent are expecting a stable business situation and 40 percent are anticipating further improvement. Specifically, the companies have reported an increase in foreign demand - particularly in Asia export opportunities are being expected to rise again.

The genuine revival is being supposed to happen in 2011: 59 percent of the respondents are anticipating an improvement of their business, only 7 percent fear that things might run worse for them than in 2010.

In spite of the general positive mood, some respondents remain reserved: some developments, they say, are hard to predict and there is still room for surprises. Risks that might delay the economic recovery include cash-outs and unsolved political issues that might lower the purchasing power and slow down the sales of products.

For the odd company the economic recovery came just too late to save it from insolvency. But for other companies the crisis has even opened new market opportunities: some technologies that help customers save costs sold particularly well during the crisis.

The IVAM survey was conducted in July 2010 and addressed to 1125 mostly small and medium-sized enterprises dealing with microtechnology, nanotechnology, or advanced materials in Germany. The answers of 115 managing directors or project managers haven been evaluated.

Figures are available for download at <www.ivam-research.com.>

idw :: 20.07.2010