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Investor Forum 2019

June 11, 2019
Schmidt Marine, The Embarcadero, San Francisco 
3 - 8 pm

The transition towards a circular economy for plastics is generating numerous innovation and investor opportunities in multiple markets including packaging, food services, agriculture, apparel, textile and others. These innovations range from new product delivery systems to smart packaging, and integrate bio-benign materials, green chemistry and smart technologies. They are essential to advance the plastics circular economy and may lead to a cascade of innovations in hardware, software and sustainable chemistry.

This forum explores the innovations and the role of frontier capital and blended financing mechanisms to secure the innovation pipeline.


Daniella Russo, Think Beyond Plastic, Mark Schrope, Schmidt Marine, Friedrich Barth, ISC3 


Keynote Address: The Transformative Power of Innovation

Sharon Chiarella, Vice-President Community Shopping, Amazon

“Untapped Innovation Opportunities – Preliminary Insights from a Global Economic Analysis to Prevent Ocean Plastic Pollution”
Winnie Lau, Pew Charitable Trusts

New Product Delivery Systems and Bio-benign Materials

Exploring the transition: opportunities, drivers and directions
Stephen Mayfield, Algenesys | Scott Komar, Driscoll’s | Sara Wingstrand, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation |

Martin Mulvihill, Safer Made

Securing the Pipeline - Philanthropeneurs, Impact Investors and Venture Capital

Exploring frontier capital and blended capital to support hi-risk early stage innovations
Alex Lazarow, Cathay Private Equity | Ellie Moss, Encourage Capital | Janice-Renee Yoshioka, Conservation

International Ocean Finance Initiatives | Stephan Nicoleau, Full Cycle Investment Fund 


Disrupting the Status-quo: Algenesys, Apparent Ventures, Cruz Foam, Replenish, Nut Jobs 



Reception Hosted by Schmidt Marine



Mark Schrope, Schmidt Marine, is the founder of Open Water Media. He holds a bachelor’s in biology from Wake Forest University, and a master’s in chemical oceanography from Florida State University. After three years working at the College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science with a group studying carbon cycling in the deep sea, he entered the Science Writing graduate program at the University of California, Santa Cruz circa 1998. As a scientist, journalist, public information officer, and photographer, he has been to sea on over a dozen UNOLS, private, and NOAA ships.

As a freelance journalist, his assignments have taken him on a flight into the eye of a hurricane; to the seafloor multiple times by submersible; and around the world–from a remote Colombian island to the Egyptian desert to the coral reefs of Indonesia and Fiji. His work has appeared in publications such as Nature, The Washington Post, Scientific American, Popular Science, and Scuba Diving, and he is a contributor to The Science Writer’s Handbook.


Friedrich Barth, ISC3, is the Managing Director of the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Center ISC3 in Bonn. He describes Sustainable Chemistry as a process that supports the implementation of the sound management of chemicals and at the same time creates innovative solutions and new business models for a better world! New solutions and business models should be environmentally sound, socially inclusive and economically viable. ISC3 will promote and develop a new systems thinking where the whole lifecycle of products and processes are designed and implemented according to clear sustainability criteria. Sustainable Chemistry is a key driver for the transformation of our societies towards a circular economy and the implementation of the Sustainable Development goals. With ISC3, he wants to shape this transformation. 

Friedrich Barth studied Physics, Geo-ecology and Hydrology at the Universities of Heidelberg, Bayreuth, Freiburg and Galway. He has more than 25 years of management experience in the areas of Environment, Climate, Energy and Water both in the public as well as in the private sector on international, national and local level. He contributed to the development of the international sustainability agenda at his various management posts at the German Government, the European Commission, the United Nations Development Programme, and as International Consultant. 

Key Note Address:

The Transformative Power of Innovation


Sharon Chiarella, Amazon, is the Vice president of Community Shopping at Amazon and a seasoned executive with 20 years of experience developing and managing innovative high-technology products and businesses with the over 10 years focused on Internet software, systems and services. Her expertise includes identifying new, innovative product categories, defining products, building creative and efficient cross-functional teams, evangelizing products to the press and business partners, managing and improving financial performance of business operations. Sharon holds a Bachelor of science in computer science and an MBA in General Management from Harvard Business School.

Untapped Opportunities: Preliminary Insights from a Global Economic Analysis to Prevent Ocean Plastic Pollution


Winnie Lau, Pew Charitable Trusts, is a senior officer with Pew’s preventing ocean plastics project, which aims to propose economically and politically feasible strategies to reduce the global ocean plastic pollution problem. She has also worked on Pew’s international conservation unit, developing strategies, new projects, and partnerships in Asia. Before joining Pew, she was the climate change science and technology adviser for the United States Agency for International Development’s mission to Sri Lanka and Maldives. She also served as manager of the Marine Ecosystem Services Program at Forest Trends, as well as a science and technology policy fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science at the U.S. State Department. Lau holds a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology and environmental sciences from the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate in oceanography from the University of Washington.

New Product Delivery Systems and Bio-benign Materials


Stephen Mayfield, Algenesys, is director of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology (Cal-CAB), director of Food & Fuel for the 21st Century (FF21), and professor of molecular biology at UC San Diego. His research focuses on the molecular genetics of green algae, algae as food and feed and renewable polymers from algae including surfboards and flip flops. He also studies recombinant production of therapeutic proteins and biofuel molecules using algae as a production platform. First to achieve transformation of the C. reinhardtii nuclear genome, Mayfield's work allowed this algae to become the dominant genetic organisms for studying photosynthesis and gene function. Mayfield's lab identified mechanisms of chloroplast gene expression allowing for development of recombinant protein expression in algal chloroplast and was first to show high levels of recombinant protein expression in algae. He is the principal investigator for the DOE funded Center for Algae Biotechnology Commercialization (CAB-Comm) and CEC funded California Initiative for Large Molecule Sustainable Fuels (CILMSF). Mayfield was also a scientific founder of Rincon Pharmaceutical, Sapphire Energy and Triton Algae Innovations, and is the head of Sapphire’s Scientific Advisory Board and the Chief Science Officer at Triton.


Scott Komar, Driscoll’s, has had a versatile career of executive leadership roles, delivered on business start-up, growth, innovation, and ultimately strategic transformation initiatives. He advanced the Driscoll’s Supply Chain from a transaction based function to a strategic asset, delivering industry leading cold chain performance, quality assurance that promotes our brand pledge of Only the Finest Berries, network optimization that delivers the freshest berries to the market every day, and over $100M in enterprise savings in five years.

He launched Alacrity Financial Systems, and as President, led the business to develop a suite of profitability measurement software solutions for financial institutions. Alacrity became the market share leader in customer profitability measurement and was successfully acquired in 1995. He currently leads the Global R&D group at Driscoll’s, having been promoted into that role in July 2017. For the prior six years he led Supply Chain Operations for Driscoll’s across North and South America.


Sara L. Wingstrand, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is a plastics expert working for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) within its New Plastics Economy initiative. Sara works with stakeholders from across industry to rethink and redesign the future of plastics. Prior to joining the EMF in March 2018, Sara obtained her PhD in Polymer Physics at the Technical University of Denmark, where she worked on connecting the micro-structure of solid and liquid polymers to the macroscopic mechanical properties. She has a background in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and has studied in Denmark, Zürich, Canada, and Belgium.


Martin Mulvihill, Safer Made, is the co-founder and a partner in Safer Made, a mission-driven venture capital fund investing companies and technologies that reduce human exposure to harmful chemicals. Marty is also a researcher and advisor at the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry, which he helped create and where he served as the founding initial Executive Director from 2010-2015. He received his Ph.D. in 2009 from the University of California, Berkeley in Chemistry and Nanoscience. Marty’s research and work have focused on developing technologies that help provide access to clean drinking water and the creation of safer chemicals and materials based on biological feedstocks. He has a number of publications and patents related to the detection of arsenic in drinking water, and he has developed safer chemicals and materials for the personal care, construction, electronics, and textile industries.

Securing the Pipeline: Philantropreneurs, Impact Investors and Venture Capital


Alexandre Lazarow, Cathay Private Equity, is a Director with Cathay Innovation, a global venture capital firm based in San Francisco. Previously, Alexandre was a Principal with Omidyar Network, focusing on fintech investments across US, Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. This includes investments in a number of innovative companies including GuiaBolso, Offgrid: Electric, Kin, Chime, Juntos, Cignifi, Entrepreneurial Finance Lab, Lenddo, MicroEnsure, Pagatech, RUMA, and Zoona. Prior to joining Omidyar Network, Alexandre was a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Co.’s Brussels and Washington D.C. offices, where he served clients across Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and North America, across the private, public, and social sectors. Previously, Alexandre has worked in financial regulation with the Bank of Canada’s Financial Stability Department, investing with Bridges Ventures and M&A investment banking with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is a Kauffman Fellow, earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder. He has a Bachelor of Commerce in international business and finance from the University of Manitoba. He is a Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations.


Ellie Moss, Encourage Capital, is a Senior Advisor at Encourage Capital and has extensive experience developing environmental and social impact strategies for investors, corporations and nonprofit organizations. Ellie was the lead author for the “Sea of Opportunity” report which detailed impact investment opportunities to address the issue of marine plastic pollution across the value chain. Other recent projects include the Encourage Capital report “NRCS and Investment Capital: Investing in America Together” for the Natural Resources Conservation Service and advisory support for Encourage projects focused on sustainable aquaculture and sustainable fisheries. Ellie began her work as a strategy consultant with The Boston Consulting Group in 2005, and then went on to spend six years with Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting working with companies like Walmart, Microsoft, Nestle Purina, Energizer, and Tesoro Corporation (now Andeavor).


Janice Yoshioka, Conservation International Ventures, has held three positions at Conservation International Ventures and currently leads their Blue Economy investing strategies for a conservation impact-oriented investment vehicle that invests in seed and early growth-stage companies generating positive, quantifiable, environmental and social outcomes alongside financial returns. Her extensive experience in the marine industry has been demonstrated through multiple positions, such as a Lead for the Sustainable Fisheries Group and six years as an investment advisor for the U.S. Agriculture & Seafood department. In 2017, she became a Kinship Conservation Fellow.


Stephan Nicoleau, Full Cycle, has over a decade of investing and advisory experience and currently contributes to Full Cycle’s mission to invest in the clean technology of tomorrow. Prior to joining Full Cycle, Stephan founded Critical Value Advisors in 2009 where he served as an advisor to US $50 billion of Family Office advisory wealth. In his work as an infrastructure investor, Stephan successfully structured and led the effort to bring local co-investment capital to the public-private partnership to redevelop La Guardia Airport, a $4.5 billion project. Stephan was also part of the founding team that grew Coalition Development from a startup to a $50 million firm in 4 years, growing staff from 8 to 400 in that same time period. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics and was a member of the Onyx Honor Society.

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