4 Minutes with…Jim Colthart, Chairman & COO, EnerSysNet Canada

February 13, 2018 |

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

We will “take the factory to the forest” to transform woody biomass from harvest and mill waste into renewable liquid hydrocarbons by integrating proven technologies in the field, and deliver these to refineries to yield gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels, displacing crude oil and reducing greenhouse gases.
EnerSysNet Canada Inc. (ESN) has developed a technology and a business plan ideally suited to the current needs for alternative energy.

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

We are embarking on a ‘proof of concept’ demonstration to validate our IP, establish the performance characteristics of our system, document the design and operating requirements to augment our patent protection, and deliver product for independent analysis and real-world testing by our refinery partners. To do so, we need to:

*raise sufficient capital to fund the effort;

*engage with and execute grant support agreements with one or more public sector sources;

*contract with strategic partners to procure and design our equipment;

*complete the development of a first article system capable of continuous operation;and

*undertake a life cycle modeling approach to evaluate the manufacturability and technical and sustainability performance of ESN’s novel biorefining process.

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

We need to demonstrate the value and benefits of displacing fossil fuels needed to sustain global transportation with a cost-competitive alternative that works within the existing infrastructure. Over time, this will transform our petroleum-driven economy. ESN’s 5-year plan will deliver 1% of that.

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

We need to find a way to cross Geoffrey Moore’s chasm – funding for pre-revenue startups to demonstrate their technology is painfully absent, especially in the US. Risk/reward expectations cannot be met within the short time frames VCs and institutional investors demand.

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 believe we can both do good and do well with a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Creating a successful business delivering even modest quantities of renewable fuels achieves both goals.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Toronto, but have enjoyed multiple opportunities in both Canada and the United States – I hold dual citizenship and have spent half my career in each country.

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?

I focused on history and international relations at Denison and Princeton Universities. This paved the way for my first two careers: as a scholar/teacher and then diplomat. I moved to the private sector and became a serial entrepreneur with an emphasis on advanced technologies.

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 mother and father, several academic colleagues, my first Ambassador and his wife, and technology pioneers in various fields. At the core, they all helped me to understand the importance of pursuing goals that challenge my thinking and drive me forward.

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

Never give up! Pessimism is a waste of time, so pick yourself up and keep going.

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

Personal and family growth, reading, canoe tripping and golf.

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

Canoe Country, by Roy McGregor; Canoe Lake, also by Roy McGregor

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

Algonquin Park, Ontario

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Category: Million Minds

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