Vilsack heads “Top 125 People in the Advanced Bioeconomy” poll for 2015

January 29, 2015 |

Hot125-2015In the annual rankings, voters reward commercial deployments at scale, key figures in deployment of alternative fuels, and pioneers in renewable chemicals. International leaders gain.

In Florida, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack headed the “Top 125 People in the Advanced Bioeconomy” rankings as nominated and voted by the readers of The Digest and the publication’s editorial board.

Vilsack was followed in the top 10 by Beta Renewables CEO Guido Ghisolfi; POET’s Jeff Broin and Jeff Lautt;  US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz; Advanced Biofuels Association president Mike McAdams; BIO’s Industrial & Environmental section head Brent Erickson; REG CEO Dan Oh; GranBio CEO Bernardo Gradin; Luciano Coutinho, president of BNDES (Brazilian Development Bank) and Julio Cesar Maciel Ramundo, BNDES’ Industrial Director; and Ray Mabus, US Secretary of the Navy.

This year, the Digest recognized a complete Top 125 for the first time, in recognition of the large number of write-in votes and the distributed nature of the voting, in which more than 350 individuals received votes in the poll.

READ MORE: The Complete Top 125 Poll.

“For the fifth year in a row, readers overwhelmingly identified US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as the most significant personality in the bioeconomy,” commented Digest editor & publisher Jim Lane. “But key US Senators and members of Congress, and key US trade group leaders were high on the list — a clear recognition of how critical the fight for the Renewable Fuel Standard remains in the eyes of the voters.”

“The voters increasingly cared less about boundaries between countries and boundaries between first-gen and second-gen. Biodiesel leaders moved up, as did ethanol executives who have deployed advanced technologies and strategies; 40% of the top 15 were non-US and more than a third of the top 30, and overall, 33 leaders from organizations based in 15 different countries were recognized in the poll.

“Most importantly, it is coming down to deployment. Gallons count, hard dollars count; the voters increasingly turned to actual production and actual nameplate capacity, and the political and financial leaders associated with deployment.”


Among top company CEOs were Beta Renewable’s Ghisolfi; POET’s Lautt; GranBio’s Gradin; REG’s Oh; Raizen CEO Vasco Dias; Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson,  LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren, Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling; Abengoa CEO Manuel Sanchez Ortega; Enerkem CEO Vincent Chornet; Algenol CEO Paul Woods; Green Plains CEO Todd Becker; Iogen CEo Brian Foody; Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO, Novozymes; and DSM CEO Feike Sijbesma, CEO.

Association executives

Among association executives leading the poll were ABFA’s Mike McAdams, BIO’s Brent Erickson, the NBB’s Joe Jobe, the RFA’s Bob Dinneen, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis and co-chair Wes Clark, AEC chief Brooke Coleman, UNICE chief Elzabeth Farina, Algae Biomass Organization Executive Director Matt Carr, re:chem alliance’s Corinne Young; and German Bioeconomy Council head Christine Lang.


Among scientists, Michigan State’s Bruce Dale once again led the poll, followed by Berkeley’s Jay Keasling, Iowa State’s Robert Brown, U Wisconsin’s George Huber, with a number of newcomers in the poll including Aston University’s Tony Bridgewater and PNNL’s Douglas Elliott.

Policy leaders

Joining Tom Vilsack at the top among policy leaders were US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Washington state governor Jay Inslee, Oregon Governor  John Kitzhaber, California Governor Jerry Brown and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, and a trio of US Senators in Debbie Stabenow, Amy Klobuchar and Patty Murray.

Pairing leaders in the poll

In numerous cases, voters paired or split votes for key industry executives and other stakeholders; these were correspondingly paired in the rankings by the Digest. In addition, the editorial board took into consideration management or leadership changes, or similar functions that led to vote-splitting.

READ MORE: The Complete Top 125 People in the Advanced Bioeconomy

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