4 minutes with… Barry Farquharson, CEO, Nova Green

December 30, 2014 |

1af38a5Tell us about your organization and it’s role in the advanced bioeconomy.

Our proprietary technology sequentially transforms agricultural and forestry biomass into a series of high value end products. The products feed in to both food & nutrition, and clean tech. Nutrition products are edible, functional fibre, and diabetic safe sugars. Remnant becomes activated biochar, ultimately for super-capacitors.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.

We are still optimizing and proving out our technology at pilot scale, prior to commercialization. So the next 12 months will really focus on getting the pilot underway and through the critical first milestone. In parallel we are:

– building the upstream supply chain (both agriculture and forestry) to be ready for commercialization in the 24 to 30 month time frame, and

– solidifying relationships with the downstream product user community.

As a pre-revenue organization, those key tasks are overshadowed by the need to find more private equity. We have done a great job of aligning with government agencies and project funders, but have greater challenges on the private side. Ideally, we need one or two industry champions to step up, and step out of the traditional industry ‘box’. I spend most of my cycles trying to find creative ways to fill the private equity gap.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?

The industry needs to spawn a diverse combination of large volume solutions, AND successful boutique solutions such as ours, to be healthy and sustainable. Our model is small scale in comparison to the massive scale required to make alternate fuel oriented solutions commercially viable. We believe industry diversification equals ultimate success.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Advanced Bioeconomy, what would you change?

Improved private investor participation is the big roadblock. Established, profitable industries that don’t need incentives (such as oil/gas, which was built in large part on early incentives) have way more advantage than we do. Truly leveling the playing field via better investor incentives (tax or otherwise)is a key to market success.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the Advanced Bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you.

Taking low value remnant products and adding a solid combination financial, personal health, and environmental value is a compelling reason to be in this business.

Where are you from? 

I am from Edmonton, Alberta, and have lived in the area my entire life.

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway? 

I went to the University of Alberta, and have a commerce degree, with a major in marketing. I loved the dynamic aura of marketing. The combination of school and major led to some great positions with big companies such as Honeywell, IBM, and Bell.

Who do you consider your mentors. What have you learned from them?

Personally, I have had the great fortune to be ‘book-ended’ by some great people. Terrific parents and a sibling that provided a safe and loving place to grow up, and terrific kids that display outstanding patience, understanding, and compassion for their wacky dad pursuing his business dream!

Having gone through the trials and tribulations of a start up business, I have great admiration for all of my compatriots that struggle to achieve business success, usually at great personal and financial cost. Pioneers pay a heavy price.

And I have great admiration for high profile heroes including Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., and Canada’s Rick Hanson. They represent perseverance, inner strength and conviction, and willpower.

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison

What hobbies do you pursue, away from your work in the industry? 

Over the past year I replaced recreational running with cycling, and it has been great. It stretches out your back instead of compressing it! Will see if I can get to the next level on this.

What 3 books would you take to read, if stranded on a desert island?

I read a lot of books, but never the same one twice (at least for a very long time – until I forget it!). How do I answer this?

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Category: Million Minds

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