Global warming. Oceans suffocating from eutrophication. The urgent need for renewable energy. Our generation is facing some of the hardest and most complex challenges in the history of mankind. Modern technology is one part of the solution. The other one is billions of years old: algae.
Algae belong to the earth’s most ancient organisms. They are nature’s way of harnessing solar energy. Algae can grow on CO2 emissions and wastewater, and produce crude oil for drop-in fuels. Today, algae farming has developed into a frontier engineering science at the intersection of biotech and agribusiness, and the budding algae industry resembles what it was like in IT in the early nineties. Algae have become the green darlings of thought leaders such as president Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Branson, but also global corporations such as Exxon and Unilever.
Coming from biotech, this was the most exciting field I had heard about since the discovery of DNA. In a post-runner’s high bliss after a long run, I scrabbled a simple goal on a piece of paper: ”Build Sweden’s first algae plant for oil production”. This was in 2009. In October last year, Simris proudly presented the first commercial batch of algae oil made in Sweden.
In this session, I will share what it’s like to build a new industry from scratch (hint: play the startup game in hard mode), how market-pull really drives innovation, why environmental capitalism is a great thing, and why you shouldn’t invest in algae for fuels.
Be prepared to fall in love with algae.