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Learning from Shared Experiences: Success Stories and Resources for Start-Ups at the GC&E

Valued Contributor III
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Contributed by Paul D. Thornton, Development Scientist, GreenCentre Canada, and Laura M. Reyes, Career Development Leader, Chemical Institute of Canada

We have organized a full-day session at this year’s GC&E conference called "Accelerating Development of Sustainable Products and Processes Through Start-Ups and SMEs," which will bring together entrepreneurs from various sectors and stages of company growth to share their stories, focusing on successes and turning points, expected and unexpected challenges, and lessons learned along the way. We will also hear about existing resources that can be creatively leveraged for maximum impact toward a growing company’s commercialization goals. While there is no easy roadmap for a green chemistry start-up to follow, there are valuable lessons to be learned from these shared experiences, and it is our hope that this session will help enable entrepreneurship in green chemistry and the resulting market adoption of innovative products and processes.

This session, which will take place all day on Wednesday, June 20, will greatly benefit anyone who is involved in, or interested in, start-ups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) based in green chemistry. All conference delegates are highly encouraged to attend and join us in learning different perspectives of what is needed to bring a green product or process to market.

We will feature presentations from nine entrepreneurs and company founders, from fields as diverse as waste recycling, to safer consumer products, to naturally sourced ingredients. The talks will include two keynote speakers. In the morning, Lauren Zarama, the CEO of InKemia Green Chemicals, will discuss her company’s approach to innovating and commercializing greener and safer chemistry solutions. In the afternoon, Richard Blackburn, the co-founder and director of Keracol and a professor at the University of Leeds, will discuss commercializing natural products for use in the cosmetics industry and how he balances academia and entrepreneurship. The other companies featured are: framergy, Grow Bioplastics, Newreka Green Synth Technologies, RAPID Manufacturing USA Institute, remooble, and Sironix Renewables.

Following the start-up presentations, we will shift focus towards available resources, including the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council’s Green & Bio-Based Chemistry Startup Network, and considerations to keep in mind when turning a technology into a business. A series of short talks will cover the importance of market focus (by Diatomix), the most critical intellectual property tips (by Finnegan LLP), and the due diligence process behind investing in new ventures (by Chemical Angel Network). An interactive discussion will close off the day, highlighting the technical and business needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses in green chemistry, and what resources are available to address those gaps. We look forward to continuing these lively conversations shortly after our session at the GC&E’s Green Chemistry on Tap social!