4 minutes with… Richard Palmer, President & CEO, Global Clean Energy Holdings

April 7, 2015 |

353d5faTell us about your company and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

We develop non-food based oil seed crops to be used as a feedstock for biofuels and renewable chemicals. Our crops do not take away from food land and when grown at scale can compete with fossil based fuels without government subsidies. Our crops are primarily grown on fallow land or intercropped with other crops during their dormancy period

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

My role as the chief executive is to drive strategy and keep the company keenly focused on its goals. I am responsible for obtaining resources including capital and human resources to achieve those goals, while keeping everyone motivated. With a strong focus we can keep our business moving and expanding. The challenge in the development of novel energy crops is properly combining strong science,regulatory requirements, new supply chain development and real world business economics. We need to get our crops and commercial products to the point of economic viability quickly or we lose the attention of the market. We also need to be realistic that in this market you need enough scale to move the needle, or you won’t make a difference and will not be considered relevant. We struggle with the lack of urgency from regulatory agencies who have a mandate to approve, but not enough resources or any motivation to deliver. This makes them a barrier to entry and hurts the market.

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

In my view the industry needs to focus on finding ways to survive without the on-going requirement of government subsidies to fund its business. Subsidies should be used to assist in demand generation, help capitalize the high costs for first movers and then they need to get out of the way and allow the free market to drive the best solutions.

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

I would change the legislative agenda that has been too focused on trying to pick specific technology winners and less focused on the environmental impact it is trying to achieve. The inability to be consistent has caused a lot of confidence problems in the market which has had a negative effect on access to capital and the inability to do planning

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?  

To have an impact on improving the environmental and social effects of a petroleum based economy. To do something that has not been done before and to be an innovator and a leader.

Where are you from? 

Born in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. Lived here until college.

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

My education is in Mechanical Engineering and then Business.

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 mentors are a combination of the great explorers who just set out to discover new lands and the captains of new industries who created incredible new businesses and markets and products that changed the world.

I am motivated by the success they had and the ability to look at failures along the way as necessary in the journey to achieve great things, and not an indication of their ability to achieve. I admire their focus and determination to not be deterred or discouraged by the many people that tried to change their mind, and change their course by insisting that their dreams could not be achieved, or that they were wrong.

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

No matter how bad it is, there are others that have it worse…and you need to put it into perspective and keep a positive attitude, no matter what. You need to enjoy life, be grateful and find a way to give back.

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

My biggest hobby is spending time with my wife and children. I am an avid skier and competitive sailor and I love to travel to new places and meet new people

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?  

My favorite city/place is the one I have not yet visited, because I am curious. For places I have visited, it depends what I plan to do…for skiing it is probably the Canadian Rockies around Calgary and for general travel it is Europe. I really enjoyed Italy, but look forward to sailing in Greece and the Mediterranean and skiing the Alps.

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Category: Million Minds

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