KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Dr. Vanessa Z. ChanChief Commercialization Officer, Director, Office of Technology Transitions, U.S. Department of Energy
Dr. Vanessa Z. Chan is the Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of the Office of Technology Transitions for the U.S Department of Energy. In this role, she is responsible for all commercialization activities across DOE, the 17 National Laboratories, and the Department’s other research and production facilities across the country. This includes advocating and advancing clear pathways for the commercialization of innovative technologies, ensuring that the discoveries happening at DOE’s world-class facilities make their way out of the labs and into the commercial marketplace. Dr. Chan is an innovator who has worked across a wide range of ecosystems, from academia to Fortune 1000 companies to startups. She has two decades of experience helping organizations grow at the interface of technology and business across a diverse set of industries. She is a former McKinsey & Company partner, experienced Venture Board Director for Vanguard and United Technology Corporation, and a former board member at multiple startups. Chan comes to DOE on a leave of absence from her position as Undergraduate Chair of the Materials Science & Engineering department at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She earned her Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her B.S.E. in Materials Science & Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

SESSION CHAIRS & PANEL SPEAKERS

Clifford BrechnerVP, Life Science Group Colliers
Clifford Brechner joined Colliers in 2019 to focus his talents on business development within the fast-growing Philadelphia Life Sciences division. In the past year, Clifford has led strategic relationship building and brand building initiatives including the creation of LabNotes, a weekly newsletter and video interview series that has quickly become a must-read publication within the Philadelphia Life Sciences cluster. Clifford came to Colliers with more than 35 years of experience leading companies with revenues > $10 million. For the past 20 years, he has led ventures within the analytical laboratory and quality assurance industry, making him exceptionally suited to help laboratory clients navigate their complicated real estate needs in an ever-changing market. Clifford has been at the forefront and growth of multiple companies. As Founder and CEO of Insight Laboratories, a consumer products safety testing lab, Clifford built and managed facilities in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Canada and California, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. With rapid growth and ISO17025 and Consumer Product Safety Commission approval, Insight was acquired by a strategic partner. As Co-Founder and CEO of Actus Analytical, Clifford also managed the instrument platform and algorithm development, marketing, and sales of instruments for consumer safety compliance screening. Under Clifford’s leadership, Actus Analytical was awarded a research grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Consumer Product Safety Commission and partnered with Agilent Technologies to develop a portable analytical instrument for the screening of toxins in consumer products. Clifford also founded a 501c3 called The Center For Advanced Public Awareness, primarily concerned with issues relating to consumer safety. The group’s current focus is on Proposition 65 violations and Clean Water Act violations where consumers face significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.
Eric BreeseInvestment Manager, Evonik Ventures
Eric Breese is an Investment Manager at Evonik Venture Capital. His responsibilities include deal sourcing, investment due diligence, strategy development, and portfolio company support. He serves as a Board Observer for a portfolio company. He brings a strong financial foundation to evaluating opportunities with strategic relevance to Evonik. Eric joined Evonik in 2006 and has held various corporate and business positions in Germany and the U.S. Eric worked held various positions including Chief Administrative Officer (legal), Vice President of Operations/Controller (high-tech & services) and consulting. Eric has a BA in accounting, is a Certified Public Accountant (WI) and an MBA.
Dr. Neil CameronInvestment Manager, Emerald Technology Ventures
Based in Emerald’s Toronto office, Neil Cameron’s sector expertise is in the field of advanced materials. With Frederic Petit, he is a co-lead of Emerald’s Sustainable Packaging Innovation initiative and in the Emerald Portfolio, Neil has Board and committee responsibilities at Phase Change Energy Solutions, actnano, Tropic Biosciences, and Lucintech. He also takes an active role in bespoke open innovation support for many of Emerald’s Global Strategic Limited Partners. Prior to joining Emerald in 2006, Neil was a project leader and staff scientist with the National Research Council of Canada (Industrial Materials Institute), was a Research Associate at McGill University and has consulted on technical and IP issues. Projects have included work in nanotechnology, high-fidelity micro- & nanofabrication, polymer synthesis & applications, industrial biotechnology, petrochemistry, interfacial interactions, supramolecular chemistry, composite materials and he is the co-inventor of a patented water-purification resin. Neil holds a Doctorate in Chemistry from McGill University and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of King’s College (Dalhousie University). Neil is fluent in English and French.
Etosha Cave Co-founder, Opus 12
Etosha (Eee-tah-sha) Cave is co-founder of Opus 12 and has a background in the electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide into fuels and high-value chemicals. Opus 12 has developed a device that recycles CO₂ into cost-competitive chemicals and fuels. Their technology bolts onto any source of CO₂ emissions, and with only water and electricity as inputs, transforms that CO₂ into some of the world's most critical chemical products. They can reduce the carbon footprint of the world’s heaviest emitters while creating a new revenue stream from what is discarded today as a waste product. Etosha earned a B.S. in engineering from Franklin W. Olin College. She subsequently worked at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, where she tested a spectroscopy system that was being designed for a NASA Rover mission. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. Since then, an Accel Innovation Scholar, an Echoing Green Fellow, and a Smithsonian Institution Innovators to Watch. Opus 12 was supported in their seed stage by Activate with an entrepreneurial fellowship at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and by Elemental Execelerator.
Shreya Dave Co-founder and CEO, Via Separations
Shreya Dave is the cofounder and CEO of Via Separations, a startup that works to intensify manufacturing and eliminate the energy used in industry. Via was recognized as one of Chemical & Engineering News’s 10 Startups to Watch in 2019 and has received awards from ARPA-E, NSF, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Dave was named one of MIT Technology Review's 35 Innovators under 35 in 2018. She serves on MIT's Corporation Development Committee and the board of directors for Greentown Labs. She also is a mentor for Course 2.009, MIT's product design and development course. Dave earned an SB, SM, and PhD in mechanical engineering and technology and policy from MIT.
Alexa Dembek Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer, DuPont
Alexa Dembek is the Chief Technology & Sustainability Officer for DuPont. A 30-year DuPont veteran, Alexa is a born problem-solver, innovator, and education advocate. She champions the company’s entrepreneurial mindset to spur growth while fostering close collaboration with customers and strategic partners alike. The business success Alexa has achieved is emblematic of her passion for enabling innovation to flourish, a consistent theme spanning her career at DuPont. Among her many accomplishments, she played a pivotal role in transforming the company’s centralized R&D model to a more responsive, market-oriented innovation machine embedded within each of the company’s businesses. Today, Alexa leads business and innovation strategy alignment to make the most impactful portfolio choices for DuPont. Her goal is to make every investment dollar count to quickly drive innovation to market. She is passionate about elevating the role sustainability plays in these investment decisions and how DuPont can help customers achieve their own sustainability ambitions with our solutions. Alexa joined DuPont as a research chemist and a technical manager, and she has experience in supply chain, operations, sales and marketing. By way of background, she held leadership positions in Advanced Fibers Systems, Building Innovations and Performance Polymers, and served as Global Business Director for the corporate new business development venture in Energy Storage. Prior to assuming her current role in 2017, Alexa led DuPont Central Research and Development. This wide range of experiences, coupled with her commitment to talent development and inclusion has prepared her to serve as Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer for the new DuPont. Both in her work for DuPont and her personal endeavors, Alexa is an ardent champion of the next generation of innovators. She serves on the dean’s advisory board for Penn State’s Eberly College of Science and is active with the Delaware Innovation Space, a partnership between the University of Delaware and the state that incubates startups.
Judy Giordan Co-Founder; Vice President and Managing Director, Chemical Angel Network; ecosVC
Judy Giordan is the co-founder of the Chemical Angels Network, Managing Director of ecosVC, Inc., venture founder, former Fortune 100 executive and candidate for ACS PRES-Elect for 2022. Judy serves as board member, co-founder, advisor and investor in seed and early-stage start-ups. Her previous executive positions include Corporate Vice President and Global Director of Research and Development at International Flavors and Fragrances, Inc.; Vice-President Worldwide Research and Development for the Pepsi-Cola Company, the global beverage arm of PepsiCo, Inc.; Vice President Research and Development, Henkel Corporation, the North American operating unit of the Henkel Group; co-founder of ventures in areas including biofuels and executive search, she has also held management and technical contributor positions at Polaroid and ALCOA and has served with the National Science Foundation as Program Director for the IGERT Program. Judy has a BS in Environmental Science and VoTech Ag from Rutgers University; PhD in Chemistry from the University of Maryland; and was an Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellow at the University of Frankfurt, Germany.
Stefan Haver Head of Corporate Responsibility, Evonik Industries, AG
Stefan Haver is head of the Function Sustainability at the Essen-based specialty chemicals company Evonik Industries AG. After joining Evonik he was initially responsible for the Internal Communications & Group Media department, and later for the Corporate Communications & Board Office Division. During this time, he supported the integration of Degussa AG into the former RAG Aktiengesellschaft as well as the realignment and IPO of the resulting Evonik Industries AG. Currently he is also member of the advisory council Sustainable Finance of the German Government and member of the Board of the German Global Compact Network.
Jennifer HolmgrenCEO, LanzaTech
Dr. Jennifer Holmgren is CEO of revolutionary carbon recycling company, LanzaTech. Prior to LanzaTech, Jennifer was VP and General Manager of the Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit at UOP LLC, a Honeywell Company. Under her management, UOP technology became instrumental in producing nearly all of the initial fuels used by commercial airlines and the military for testing and certification of alternative aviation fuel. Today, under Jennifer’s guidance, LanzaTech is working towards deploying carbon capture and reuse facilities globally to make fuels and chemicals from waste carbon. In 2015, Jennifer and her team at LanzaTech were awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Presidential Green Chemistry Award and she received the BIO Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology and the Outstanding Leader Award in Corporate Social Innovation from the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. She was named most influential leader in the Bioeconomy by Biofuels Digest in 2017 and received the Digest Global Bioenergy Leadership Award in 2018. She was also the recipient of the 2020 William C. Holmberg Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Advanced Bioeconomy from the Digest, the most widely read online bioeconomy journal. She is also on the External Advisory Council for the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, a dog lover and committed greyhound rescuer, Jennifer holds a B.Sc. degree from Harvey Mudd College, a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Jennifer is also the Director and Chair of the LanzaJet Board of Directors. LanzaJet, Inc., is a new company that will produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for a sector requiring climate friendly fuel options.
Dawn Lippert CEO, Elemental Excelerator
Dawn Lippert is CEO of Elemental Excelerator, a non-profit investor on a mission to redesign the systems at the root of climate change. Since 2009, Elemental has invested in over 100 companies and Elemental portfolio companies have gone on to raise over $2B in funding. Dawn also serves as the Director of Innovation and Community at Emerson Collective, the investment and philanthropic platform led by Laurene Powell Jobs. She is a recipient of the 2020 UN Global Climate Action Award, the 2015 C3E Award from the US Department of Energy, and is a 2019 Grist 50 Fixer. She is also a board member of Climate Real Impact Solutions II, a climate-focused special-purpose acquisition company.
Coppelia MarincovicInvestment Manager, Solvay Ventures
Coppelia Marincovic is an Investment Manager North America at Solvay Ventures, the venture capital fund of Solvay. She invests in start-ups in the advanced materials space, with application in energy transition, health & wellbeing, industry 4.0 and sustainable resources. Her prior experience in VC was at Sofinnova Partners, where she specialized in cleantech and industrial biology. Before joining Solvay Ventures, Coppelia was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company. Coppelia holds a MBA from INSEAD, MSc. in Environmental Sciences from Harvard University and MSc. in Chemistry from Chimie ParisTech.
Cheryl MartinFounder and Principal at Harwich Partners, Board Member, Queen's Gambit Growth Capital
Dr. Cheryl Martin founded her consulting firm, Harwich Partners, to engage public and private sector entities in designing and implementing solutions for complex problems, especially those related to energy, sustainability, urban development and technology adoption. Previously she was a member of the Managing Board at the World Economic Forum where she was responsible for a range of business and innovation initiatives. Before this, Cheryl had served as the Acting Director of the US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E). She was also the Deputy Director for Commercialization at the agency where she developed the Technology-to-Market program, which helps breakthrough energy technologies succeed in the marketplace. Prior to joining ARPA-E, Cheryl was an Executive in Residence with Kleiner Perkins after a career with Rohm and Haas Company in roles ranging from technology development to finance and business management. Cheryl serves as the chair of the Board for Sound Agriculture, an early-stage sustainable agriculture technology company, as well as on the Boards for the Clean Energy Trust (Chicago) and Elemental Excelerator (HI and CA). Cheryl has recently joined the Board of Queens Gambit Growth Corporation (GMBT), an ESG-focused SPAC.
Tim Mueller VP of Operations and Technology, Delaware Innovation Space
Tim Mueller was appointed VP of Science & Technology at the Delaware Innovation Space in 2017 after developing the business and entrepreneurial support model for the 90+ lab facility, 150k ft2 facility. In addition to managing the operational and technology strategy, he works closely with several regional start-up communities to identify clients and help support their growth. He was appointed the North American Research Director for DuPont in 2016 focused on open innovation and was a principal in the design effort to deliver business aligned facility consolidation (>$ 400M investment) for DowDuPont. Prior to that, he held the chief information officer for DuPont’s Central Research & Development organization driving broad computational and informatics approaches to augment traditional research methodologies. During this period, he also helped to lead the development and integration of DuPont’s cyber security practices. Before joining DuPont, Mueller had several academic appointments and was CEO of several start-up companies focused on clean water, laboratory automation and IT consulting. Tim received his PhD from Texas A&M University under Al Cotton and has expertise in materials science, high-performance computing, computational modeling, and cyber security.
Neal OkarterBASF Management Consultant, Venture Group BASF
Neal Okarter joined BASF Venture Capital in 2021. Neal spent more than six years with BASF Management Consulting, the internal management consultancy of the BASF Group. At BASF Management Consulting, Neal led several projects related to Marketing & Sales, Growth & Innovation, Transformational Change, Organizational Restructuring, and Mergers & Acquisition (Post-Merger Integration & Carve Out). Prior to BASF, Neal worked as a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. Neal earned his BS in Nutrition, Food, and Agriculture, and PhD in Molecular Nutrition and Cell Biology from Cornell University, and his MBA from Rutgers Business School.
Anna RathCEO, Vestaron
With more than 15 years of experience across multiple venture-backed ag-tech companies, Anna joined Vestaron as President & CEO in April 2018 to help lead the transformation of Vestaron from the R&D phase of its development through its commercial phase. Before Vestaron, Anna was founder and CEO of NexSteppe, a company focused on the development and commercialization of optimized crops for the biobased economy. Prior to this, Anna led commercial and business development at Ceres, an agricultural biotechnology company. Anna started her professional career at McKinsey & Co, focused on corporate strategy, assessment of new business initiatives, and business building in various technology sectors. Anna holds a JD from Yale Law School and a Master’s Degree in Genetics from the University of Michigan. In 2016, she was awarded BIO's Rosalind Franklin award for female leadership in industrial biotechnology.
Purnesh SeegopaulCo-Founder, Pangaea Ventures
Purnesh is a co-founder of Pangaea Ventures, the world leader in advanced materials venture capital. He has held leadership positions in both large enterprises and startup companies commercializing transformative materials technologies. Purnesh continues to apply his entrepreneurial passion and expertise to support innovative companies leveraging advanced materials innovation to make the world better by addressing global challenges, such as, climate change, energy, food, water, and health. He received his B.Sc.(chemistry/biology), with distinction, from the University of Guyana, Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia where he was a Commonwealth Scholar and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Delaware.
David Sudolsky President & CEO, Annelotech
David Sudolsky is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Anellotech, which is developing the Bio-TCat™ process to produce cost-competitive renewable aromatic chemicals (benzene, toluene and xylenes, "BTX") from non-food biomass for use in making plastics such as polyester, nylon, polycarbonate, polystyrene, or for renewable transportation fuels. Anellotech is currently evaluating loblolly pine and eventually other sustainable bio-feedstocks at its seven-story tall TCat-8® pilot plant. Anellotech complements its world-class R&D team with in-depth, long-term alliances with leaders to leverage decades of successful experience in developing and commercializing process technology. IFPEN is Anellotech's process development and scale-up partner, Johnson Matthey is the company's catalyst development partner, and Axens is Anellotech's partner for commercialization, global licensing and technical support. Industry-leading strategic partners in the BTX supply chain, including Suntory and Toyota Tsusho, as well as other confidential strategic investors, have provided funding to Anellotech. Prior to founding Anellotech, Sudolsky was a business officer or CEO of five biotechnology, specialty pharmaceutical and bioprocessing start-ups, one of which (Dura Pharmaceuticals) was sold for $1.8 billion. Sudolsky has hands-on chemical engineering experience in process design and refinery plant startups with Union Carbide, and work at Booz, Allen & Hamilton. He is a firm believer in environmental education and co-led a successful five-year effort ending in 2011 to build a multi-faceted Eco Center on the roof of a public school in the middle of New York City. David attended Columbia University where he earned an MBA in Marketing and Finance from the University's Business School and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering.
Jeff UhrigCEO, Novomer
Jeff is President and CEO of Novomer. Jeff most recently served as President and CEO for Sirrus, Inc., the leading developer of methylene malonate technology. At Sirrus, he led a successful sale process to Nippon Shokubai and managed engineering, intellectual property, and commercial activities. Uhrig also served as vice president of corporate development at Elevance Renewable Sciences and was vice president in the clean technology investment banking group at Piper Jaffray & Co. Jeff holds a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and an MBA and Master of Engineering Management with Distinction from the Kellogg School of Management and the McCormick School of Applied Sciences at Northwestern University, respectively.