4 Minutes with….Charlotte Mace, Executive Director of Biobased Maine

February 13, 2018 |

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

Biobased Maine is active in Maine’s efforts to diversify its forest-based economy through biobased manufacturing. We know that Maine’s abundance of second-generation feedstock is an attractive asset to many investors. Our strong history of pulp and paper manufacturing continues, with permitted mills available to co-locate with new technologies.

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

Biobased Maine’s focus over the next 12 months is to connect technology companies and investors with Maine’s industrial assets, landowners, and other key links in the biobased manufacturing value chain. Maine forest residuals have been successfully converted to cellulosic sugars, platform chemicals such as levulinic acid, and advanced biofuels/jet fuel. Our role is as matchmaker, convener, policy advocate, and champion for Maine’s growing bioeconomy.

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

Commercialization of technologies to convert second generation forest residuals and agricultural waste into higher value biobased chemicals and biopolymers is an absolute must. We know there isn’t enough first-generation crops to displace all of the fossil carbon that threatens our climate daily.

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

I wish that the word “biobased” immediately resonated with consumers and investors. I also wish it was easier to convince consumers of the value of replacing unsustainable raw materials in their products to those of renewable origin. This would enable big brands to increase the prevalence of biobased materials in their supply chains.

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 creation of good manufacturing jobs in rural areas of America. As Ronald Reagan said, “the best social program is a job.”

Where are you from?

Rural Maine

What was your subject focus (e.g. major) in university (undergraduate and/or graduate, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway?

B.A. in Biochemistry from Bowdoin College. MBA from the University of Southern Maine. I’m glad to have an undergraduate degree in hard science – it means I can draw benzene. The MBA is necessary for everything else.

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?  

One of my best mentors is Alan Brigham, the Economic Development Representative for the Northeast for the United States Economic Development Administration (part of the Department of Commerce). I have learned important economic development skills from him, as well as how to persevere through a long, difficult project.

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

Just put your head down and do your work. It’s not going to do itself.

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

I have children – they are my hobby!

What books or articles (excluding The Digest) are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?   

I am re-reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In Maine we need this sort of uplifting winter story.

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

Oh, Manhattan. What other city is there?

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Category: Million Minds

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