4 Minutes with… Dr Marc Sabourin, EVP Business Development Americas, Leaf Resources Limited

July 19, 2015 |

SabourinTell us about your company and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.
Leaf Resources is a process technology company, providing economical biobased solutions for commercial production of cellulosic sugars and other lignocellulosic platforms derived from biomass. Our technology, combines crude glycerine and process integration for improving biomass pretreatment efficiency upstream and opening downstream opportunities

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.
My primary role at Leaf Resources is business development. Over the next 12 months our plan is to continue building and fostering partnerships that demonstrate good synergies with Leaf’s technology base. Leaf is pursuing collaborative ventures geared to facilitate deployment of our Glycell and HybriTech technology platforms. We work collectively with organizations from the bio-space, non-wood and wood based supply and production companies, enzyme suppliers, and companies keenly interested in converting cellulosic sugars and other lignocellulosic derived streams into bioproducts. Leaf’s business model focusses on demonstrating our pretreatment technology on the continuous production scale such that projects can move forward at a faster pace. I will also be actively involved in project and trial work at various pilot and demo facilities, working on joint project activities, evaluating market opportunities and conducting technology assessments.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?
For organizations from front to tail, to work collectively to overcome a lack of knowledge between potential cellulosic sugar producers, technology providers and companies that produce the products, is imperative over the next 5 years.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Advanced Bioeconomy, what would you change?
The Advanced Bioeconomy needs to pursue value proposition from start to finish. Collectively the value chain is strengthened with the right partners. The winning formula marries the right bioproduct pathway to the right lignocellulosic platform. Projects must stand on their own merit. Political and economic instabilities will always exist.

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?
The rewards of helping accelerate the inevitable movement to bioproducts and biochemicals and their related impacts on sustainability and the environment. Of course the challenge of working in a dynamic atmosphere that I enjoy is up there.

Where are you from?
I was born in Ottawa, Ontario. My father was in the Canadian Air Force. This provided an opportunity at a young age to live in Germany and Italy. I spent much of my time in the woods and on snow and ice, yes hockey is in my blood. I have endearing childhood memories visiting the Mediterranean beach and walking through sheep pastures in Sardinia.

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway?
My major was in chemical engineering at the University of Ottawa. When starting my studies in the early 80’s, I thought that I would end up employed in the oil industry in Alberta. You could say my progression into biomass and the forest based Pulp & Paper industry was directly influenced by the 1985 oil bust in Canada, the year I graduated.

Who do you consider your mentors? What have you learned from them?
My parents who instilled in me that knowledge and hard work opens up life’s opportunities. Dr Vladimir Hornof, a professor and role model who exuded a deep respect and liking towards his students. He instilled in me the importance of taking extra time to care and foster strong interpersonal relationships. I have several other family members, friends, colleagues and bosses who provided valuable advice throughout my life and career.

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

Patience and perseverance pays off.

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

My leisure interests include history and most outdoor activities. Hiking, walking, scenic adventures and travel. Dabble in educational content productions for youth using art and animation.

What are 3 books you’d want to have with you, if you were stranded on a desert island.
Guns, Germs and Steel: The fates of human societies
The Odyssey
Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything

What books or articles (excluding The Digest) are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?
A myriad of technical articles and reports that I need to keep up with, too many to mention here. My most recent read was a report describing case studies including value proposition and market outlook using several biochemical pathways to different chemical products.

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?
Any of the Leeward islands in the Caribbean.

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