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Consortium to push biotech, nanotech collaboration

Joint Venture: Silicon Valley forms a consortium of businesses, government and education to promote nanotechnology and biotechnology by uniting the San Francisco Bay Area's many assets.

Joint Venture: Silicon Valley announced Thursday it had formed a consortium of business, government and educational leaders to address the convergence of nanotechnology and biotechnology.

The Technology Convergence Consortium is designed to connect entrepreneurs with resources, bring San Francisco Bay Area universities and national labs together, create jobs, locate federal and state financial support, and serve as a political advocate for the industry.

"We already have the highest concentration of information technology...We also have the highest concentration of biotechnology and biomedical firms," said Russell Hancock, chief executive of Joint Venture. "But what's been missing so far is any strong connection linking all of these assets together, and a unified strategy to capture the economic benefits of convergence for our region."

The group's creation comes as the tech industry begins to show signs of a recovery, with nanotechnology and biotechnology strongly interesting observers and investors. The consortium includes representatives from businesses, universities, national laboratories and government, such as Genencor International, the University of California at Berkeley and Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif. Its operations will be funded by the Joint Venture: Silicon Valley, as well as membership dues and events it will hold.

Formation of the coalition was one of four initiatives the Joint Venture began in 2001, following the meltdown of the industry. Some of its efforts will mirror those of other technology organizations, such as TechNet, a Silicon Valley technology lobbying group.