Gas is selling for more than $4 a gallon, and consumers are hopping mad. Even though we’ve all seen this movie before, nobody has yet made a serious impact with alternatives that power motor vehicles with something other than fossil fuels. Finding various clean, renewable, and cost-competitive sources of energy is one of the big challenges for science and business in the decades to come.
That’s why I’m fired up about the big Xconomy event tomorrow night, titled “Separating Hype from Reality in Alternative Fuels.” This will be a unique gathering of people and ideas, including some that have earned the backing of Boeing, Bill Gates, Waste Management, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as well as startups that are little more than two guys and a dog. We are bringing all these people together, banning PowerPoint, and will let the sparks fly.
Some of you veterans of Xconomy events may know what to expect, but for everyone else, I figure it’s worthwhile to post the agenda for tomorrow night’s gathering in advance. So here goes, along with a little note on what to expect.
5:15 pm. Registration and networking
6 pm. Welcome. Nitin Baliga, a professor at the Institute for Systems Biology, will provide some opening welcome remarks as the host. Baliga is one of the people at ISB who’s seeking to use systems biology approaches—which seeks to understand whole organisms or ecosystems instead of one gene at a time—as a way to grapple with environmental health problems.
6:05 pm. Introductory remarks. Tom Ranken, the president of the Washington Clean Technology Alliance, will say a few words about this budding trade association, which is seeking to herd all kinds of cats from the Northwest who have an interest in cleantech, but don’t mingle as much as they could.
6:10 pm. Feature panel. We have three awesome speakers who will talk about the big challenges with building alternative fuel businesses. Kristina Burow, a partner at Arch Venture Partners, can speak to her experience as a co-founder of San Diego-based Sapphire Energy, an algae biofuel company that has raised more than $300 million. She will be joined by her fellow Sapphire co-founder Ned David, who has now moved on to another big project, San Francisco-based Kilimanjaro Energy, which seeks to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to pump underground and pop loose oil that’s trapped in rocks. Margaret McCormick, the founding CEO of Seattle-based Matrix Genetics, will share her perspective on why this latest venture thinks it has found a secret sauce in modifying single-cell algae to become mini factories of oil.
7 pm. Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest. John Gardner, the incoming dean of academic affairs at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, will provide a quick overview of a big effort that Boeing, Alaska Airlines and about 40 other stakeholder organizations have worked on behind the scenes to set up a regional network for growing oil crops, refining the oil, and consuming it all here. This big project, which I reported on last month, is getting close to issuing its final recommendations, and Gardner can share more of what’s going on here.
7:10 pm. Burst presentations. This is the fun, fast-paced part of the evening where entrepreneurs get to step to the microphone, and say who they are, what their company does, and why it has potential to disrupt their industries—all in four minutes or less, and with no PowerPoint. We have a great lineup of cleantech entrepreneurs who have accepted this challenge, knowing of course, that this is really just a segue to more detailed questions people will have during the networking portion of the evening. Here’s who you can expect to hear from:
Kelly Ogilvie, Blue Marble
Jan Allen, Harvest Power
Jeff Surma, S4 Energy Solutions
Michael Ramage, Asemblon
Hoby Douglass, General Biodiesel
7:30 pm. End. This is where I’ll wrap things up, invite everyone to hit the bar and carry on with networking. Those who are interested are welcome to take short tours of the new Institute for Systems Biology headquarters.
There are still tickets available for tomorrow night’s gathering, including discounts for students and employees of startup companies. I look forward to seeing you there tomorrow night.
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