4 Minutes With…Christophe Schilling, CEO, Genomatica

March 22, 2015 |

schillingTell us about your company and its role in the Advanced Bioeconomy. 

Genomatica helps the mainstream chemical industry harness biotechnology to make major chemicals a better way, with better economics and greater sustainability. We develop and license process technologies that give producers optionality via alternative feedstocks; and enable users of chemicals to offer differentiated, more sustainable products.

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

Our focus: more partners; more projects; more commercialization.
We see our role as a key biotechnology innovator and partner for the industry, and keep extending our underlying biotechnology platform in ways that address real industry needs.

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

First: Results need to cascade through complete value chains and get to end-users. Projects must be managed so upstream and downstream pieces develop in synch, provide compelling economics, and fit with customer needs.

Second: Show we can make money for technology firms, partners and investors. Real earnings get the industry past earlier problems.

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

Incumbents often move slowly to embrace new technology, even once it’s been proven. We believe early-movers can gain real market advantages that translate to higher share, revenues and profits. At Genomatica we ease those transitions by showing how readily our process technologies leverage existing infrastructure and capabilities.

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?

We’re genuinely trying to make a difference. That’s why it’s at the heart of our core purpose – ‘to lead the irresistible transition to sustainable materials through our technology, and united with industry leaders, make our world a better place’.

Where are you from?
Detroit, Michigan

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway?
My undergraduate major was in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Genetics from Duke University. It was one of the top programs in the country in that field and blended my interests in engineering and biology. Later, I got my Ph.D. in bioengineering from UC San Diego.

Who do you consider your mentors – could be personal, business, or just people you have read about and admire. What have you learned from them?
My father, who didn’t have anywhere close to the opportunities that I was given but accomplished amazing things against much greater odds!

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?
Believe in yourself, and stay true to your core values as a person.

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

What are 3 books you’d want to have with you, if you were stranded on a desert island.
The Bible
The World Travels of Megan and Christophe (can only find that one on my bookshelf!)
Guns, Germs and Steel

What books or articles (excluding The Digest) are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?
The Genomatica Innovation Center! (in San Diego)

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Category: Million Minds

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