4 minutes with… Dr. Kaspar Evertz, Executive VP, Commercial, Genomatica

May 19, 2015 |

3cc9991Tell us about your company and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

My team works to bring the benefits of biotech to the mainstream chemical industry. We work to understand market needs; identify potential licensees; provide services from technology introduction to performance tests; and ensure smooth rollout and profitable use of our technologies. Genomatica develops bio-based processes with better economics and greater sustainability. Our first process, for BDO, is commercial; we have three more underway; and we apply our bioengineering platform to provide custom solutions.

We help producers gain new business flexibility; and enable differentiated, more sustainable products.

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

Our role, near-term: help our partners, like BASF, Novamont, Braskem and ENI Versalis, realize concrete business results from our biotechnology; and sign up more.

We a™re looking forward to a great year, with our BDO process extending further into everyday products via current and coming-soon licensees; strong progress in our other programs, including butadiene and polyamide intermediates; and more customers securing rights to new technologies under development with our platform.

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

The chemical industry can take concrete steps to lead a transition to more sustainable products, made from sustainable chemicals. They can take advantage of the technologies that have shown they work at commercial scale and deliver economic benefits. Steel in the ground based on biotech can deliver on the bottom line as well as environmentally.

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

I would campaign for the irresistible force of market pull.

When end-users speak, and brands see the opportunity for differentiation, they can propel rapid change throughout a supply chain. That is what you see with Invista making bio-based spandex; Novamont supplying better plastic packaging; or Coca-Cola driving adoption of PlantBottles.

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?  

I want to bridge two worlds.

I come from the mainstream chemical industry. They ha™ve done a great job delivering customer solutions and adopting new paradigms (e.g. catalysis).

Now, biotech is poised to enable another transformation. I joined Genomatica so I could ‘speak both biotech and chemical-industry’, and help with that transformation.

Where are you from? 

I was born in a small village in Germany. It is in the Rhineland area between Aachen and Duesseldorf. I grew up on my parent’s farm, which provided an early introduction to bio-based feedstocks (especially sugar beets), which grow there very well!

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

I earned a Diplom Chemiker (Masters in chemistry) from RWTH Aachen. I studied for my doctorate with Professor Gottfried Huttner at the University of Constance, focused on organo-metallic chemistry and x-ray analysis. Before joining BASF, I was a post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology.

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?

I have admired and learned from many people of conviction, from all walks of life. They can be courageous, politically active, and take risks in pursuing their dreams. I try to follow their example, perhaps on a smaller scale, by staying true to my convictions and saying what I think in my daily life, both personal and professional.

On a more specific level, my PhD professor was a source of inspiration to me. He encouraged me to think outside the box and gave me the freedom to explore new ideas.

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

While things can sometimes get worse before they get better, if you believe in yourself you can find a path forward. And, be sure to take advice from people you trust.

I also believe that with many things, you should be prepared to change it, love it, or leave it!

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

Now that I a™m living in San Diego, I love to take advantage of Mission Bay and the Pacific for water sports, including stand-up paddle boarding. I also love opera and literature.

What are 3 books you’d want to have with you, if you were stranded on a desert island

Thomas Mann, Die Buddenbrocks is one of the best novels I have ever read

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, Demons: I tried to learn Russian (unsuccessfully!) to read the original

Douglas Hofstadter, Goedel, Escher, Bach: to finally get through to the end of it

What books or articles are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?  

Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century, and Harry Mulisch, The Discovery of Heaven

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

I am always happy to visit Frankfurt and Hamburg to see my kids.

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Category: Million Minds

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