The CIA's private venture-capital firm, In-Q-Tel, has investments recognized on Red Herring's list of top 100 innovative companies. Does that mean the U.S. intelligence agency has reclaimed its edge in technology? Fellow Fool contributor Rich Duprey offered a great overview of In-Q-Tel in August.

Dust Networks, Fluidigm, Language Weaver, MetaCarta, Traction Software, and Nanosys all made the Red Herring list -- and all have a spot in In-Q-Tel's portfolio. Maybe we should invite the national intelligence bigwigs to coffee with the Motley Fool Rule Breakers.

The CIA pick that really stands out is Nanosys, which almost went public in July. Nanosys is a premier nanotechnology company with more than 250 patents and applications to its name. It has partnered with giants such as DuPont (NYSE:DD) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), working on thin-film technology for electronics and memory systems enhanced by the company's nanotech solutions.

The past year has been a good one for Nanosys in terms of revenue generation. Numerous government contracts will provide about $5 million in the next 12 months and $18 million in the next five years. The company will be working on a range of systems, from low-cost solar cells to solid-state lighting, medical coatings, electronic displays, and radio frequency identification tags. All will take advantage of Nanosys' patented nanotechnology solutions.

For a company that doesn't expect to have an in-house, developed product on the market until 2006, its plate appears to be filling with partnerships and government contracts seeking use of its intellectual property.

A great innovator, a strong intellectual property portfolio, an impressive staff of scientists, a strong management team, and a cash pile that's growing from big contracts -- wow, has the CIA uncovered a secret!

Nanosys failed to go public once, citing market conditions. The question remains: When will that IPO happen?

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

Do you have high hopes for the nanotech sector? Share your views with Carl (TMFBreakerCarl) and John (TMFBreakerJohn) on the Nanotechnology discussion board.

Carl Wherrett doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article, and neither does John Yelovich. You can reach them both by email. The Fool has a disclosure policy.