The thin white gauze in Pete Geisen’s hand looks pretty ordinary, but put it under a microscope and you’ll see a technological marvel. The cloth is made of tiny structures, called nanofibers, that will someday be used in thousands of products, from baseball bats to bandages.
They have the potential to improve the efficiency of solar panels, extend the life of oil filters and increase the absorbency of diapers.
“In five years this is going to be a $1.4 billion industry,” Geisen says. “Nanofibers are going to touch everybody’s lives.”
Like a lot of recent graduates with advanced degrees, Geisen feels lucky to have a well-paying job in high-growth field. But his MBA from NC State did more than help him land a job. The university’s focus on entrepreneurship gave him the tools to turn a four-unit course into a for-profit business.
At NC State, Geisen and a small team of students worked with Miles C. Wright and other executives-in-residence in the Technology and Entrepreneurship Commercialization program. The team evaluated the market potential of several patented innovations before focusing on nanofiber technology developed by Dr. Orlin Velev, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.
Today, Geisen is vice president of product development at Xanofi, a company that has licensed Velev’s technology and is marketing innovative custom nanofiber solutions across several industries. Wright, an experienced business executive, serves as CEO.
“Our company has gotten off to a quick start,” Geisen says. “We have those two contradictory characteristics that seem vital when starting a company. We’re very focused and we’re very nimble.”
Geisen’s story was one of six inspirational features in this year’s chancellor’s annual report.