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Sunday, April 22, 2012

All-star biofuels panel May 8

On May 8, I will be emcee for an all-star biofuels panel that I’ve been working for the past 5 months to organize. We will have under one roof the top execs of four of the Bay Area’s leading biofuels companies, at a panel discussion sponsored by the MIT Club of Northern California and its “Energy & Clean Tech Series.”

In alphabetical order, we have confirmed:
  • Noubar Afeyan – Chairman and co-founder, LS9
  • Bob Mayer – CEO and Chairman, Cobalt Technologies
  • John Melo – CEO, Amyris
  • Jonathan Wolfson - CEO and co-founder, Solazyme
These represent three of the five top companies in the Biofuels Digest Top 50 list of US biofuels companies: Solazyme (#1), Amyris (#2), LS9 (#5). The first two of these companies are among 13 publicly traded firms in the Biofuels Digest Index.

Meanwhile, Wolfson, Melo and Mayer are among the Biofuels Digest “Top 100 People in Bioenergy.” Wolfson and Melo are #5 and #6 on the list, after the secretary of agriculture, two BP execs, a Brazilian CEO and the CEO of Sioux Falls-based Poet. Both Melo and Mayer have decades of oil and chemical industry experience, with BP (Melo) and Danisco (Mayer).

Noubary Afeyan is different from the others: rather than an operating role at LS9, he is the managing partner (and founder) of Flagship Ventures. Based in Boston, he lists co-founding roles for 24 life science and technology startups.

I had lots of help from Jim Lane, editor of Biofuels Digest, who thought it an impressive panel when we only had three names. This will be the first opportunity for most Bay Area cleantech investors, employees and aficionados to see all these executives under one roof. Given the technology overlaps between biotech and biofuels, we’re also hoping to attract employees (and MIT alumni) from local biotech firms.

The event is hosted by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and our moderator is Don Keller, a senior partner and a member of the firm’s board of directors. As organizer, I will provide a brief background on the industry and then turn it over to Don to introduce our panelists and moderate the discussion and audience Q&A.

The event (which includes dinner and networking) runs from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Orrick’s Silicon Valley offices in Menlo Park. Advance registration is requested.

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