As analysts for Motley Fool Rule Breakers, we're constantly watching the nanotech landscape for those companies with the right stuff. But as investors, we have little choice but to pick and choose among the public companies. That takes some patience.

While there are a number of promising private companies moving toward an initial public offering, the markets have shown they want only mature companies with sustainable businesses. Great businesses take time to build.

Last week, we saw a sign that we may not have to wait much longer for one of our favorite private companies. Nanosys formed a collaborative relationship with Sharp of Japan that should attract the attention of investors interested in the nano sector. The deal not only is good for Nanosys but also should make Harris & Harris (NASDAQ:TINY), one of the backers of Nanosys, a happy venture capital firm, since one of its investments continues to build a business before moving to that IPO.

This agreement expands Nanosys Inc.'s roster of proprietary fuel cell technology partnerships. Over the life of the agreement, the two companies will develop their fuel cell technology for the portable power market.

Remember to think small. These aren't the kind of fuel cells that might one day power your car but rather replace the batteries in portable electronic products. Such nano-batteries could meet the power demands of the next generation of products while giving them longer operating life.

Nanosys was already working with Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Dupont (NYSE:DD), and Matsushita Electric Works. Now add Sharp to that cast of characters. All these industry leaders are attracted to the company's intellectual property estate of almost 300 patents, covering innovations to improve life sciences, electronics, communications, energy, and defense.

And Nanosys is just getting started. It was founded in 2001 with a strong management team and an impressive scientific staff. Its last attempt at going public didn't meet with an enthusiastic crowd of investors, but will the next attempt encounter the same skepticism? What story could you put forward for a company that has publicly announced it wouldn't have a commercial product of its own on the market until 2006?

In the meantime, the company is enhancing its business while waiting for the right moment to enter the public marketplace. When that happens, the net asset value (NAV) will increase for Harris & Harris, in all likelihood, making its return on investment greater than if Nanosys had gone public prematurely.

Nanosys has had the benefit of all these months to create more collaborations, strengthen its business, and perhaps improve its cash position. We're expecting the second time to be the charm for Nanosys and are looking forward to a powerful initial public offering.

If you're looking for the next growth company in groundbreaking fields such as nanotechnology, try our ultimate growth service, Motley Fool Rule Breakers.

Share your views with Carl (TMFBreakerCarl) and John (TMFBreakerJohn) on the Nanotechnology discussion board.

Carl Wherrett owns shares of Harris & Harris, and so does John Yelovich. You can reach Carl and John via email. The Fool has a disclosure policy.