Insider Perspective: Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference

ABLC Next, San Francisco 16-18 October 2017
Nov 13, 2017 9:20 AM ET

WBCSD | News & Insights

The event was called ABLC ‘Next’ because it offers participants a snapshot of the up-and-coming companies, technologies, projects and initiatives that are making waves in the bioeconomy throughout North America.

This event brought together application and platform developers, investors, policymakers, end-use customers and development partners for three days of fresh updates and rich insights into the latest technologies of the advanced bioeconomy in health, nutrition, ‘AgTech’, genetics, big data, robotics, fuels, chemicals and materials.

As an event consisting of five conferences within a conference, the Advanced Bioeconony Leadership Conference Next (ABLC Next) featured:

  1. The Advanced Fuels Summit
  2. The Renewable Chemicals and Biomaterials Summit
  3. The Sustainable Brands Summit
  4. The Advanced Nutrition Summit
  5. The BioFrontiers Summit

Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, the CEO of Lanzatech, an active below50 member, was a guest speaker at ABLC Next and spoke candidly about the challenges of scaling up pilot projects. She said there’s a real need for time, patience and a strong, committed team when scaling up operations.

Dr. Holmgren also expressed gratitude to her investors who shared her vision of a low-carbon future and who had the patience to help bring Lanzatech to its current commercialization phase.

Indeed, many speakers at ABLC Next focused bioeconomy enablers and the need for investors to help scale up projects all along the bioeconomy value chain.

Others focused their remarks on other key players in the bioeconomy.

Roger Wyse, Managing Director of Sprice Capital Partners, underlined the importance of primary producers, saying that farmers are “sharp business people who operate on relationships and trust.”

Representing the scientific research community, Jay Kiesling, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Synthetic Metabolic Pathways at the Joint BioEnergy Institute in San Francisco, spoke of the considerable scientific and practical challenges associated with turning feedstocks into drop-in fuels. In doing so, he emphasized the need to train and work with the science community in overcoming these challenges.

WBCSD’s below50 also featured in the Biofrontiers portion of the ABLC Next Summit.

Dr. Gerard Ostheimer, Senior Advisor to below50, spoke of the evolving global policy environment for low-carbon fuels post-COP21 and summarized the emergence of new actors in this space. Dr. Ostheimer then introduced the audience to below50 and its mission to strive beyond the challenging policy debates to recruit consumer-facing companies to engage directly with the producers of low-carbon fuels.

Building on Dr. Ostheimer’s presentation, Tanya Strevens, Transport Manager for WBCSD, explained the significant expansion of the below50 project to include regional hubs, where below50 partners are working to grow the market for low-carbon fuels at the local scale in a way that considers regional policy and economic contexts.

Looking towards the future, Ms. Strevens spoke of the collaborative projects in scoping within the below50 program that will offer companies practical ways to help grow the market for low-carbon fuels.

Despite the array of technologies that were presented and discussed at ABLC Next, Denis Lucquin, Managing Partner at Sofinnova urged that, “We desperately need innovation to replace fossil technologies” and called on those in this space to redouble their efforts to grow and boost the bioeconomy.

That same week in San Francisco, WBCSD’s below50, United Airlines, San Francisco International Airport and the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition (LCFC) hosted an invitation-only event for investors.

The event brought together several leading biojet companies and a small group of financiers and strategic investors. Through the presentations and the lively discussion that followed, participants gained a picture of the current biojet fuel market, the leading technologies and feedstocks and the opportunities for investment in the sector.

Hosting events such as this is a critical part of the below50 program of advocating the benefits of low-carbon fuels and highlighting the business opportunities that the sector offers.

The next below50 event will take place during COP23 in Bonn.