PBPC Speaker Series: The Next Generation of the Bioeconomy

On June 21, the Plant Based Products Council convened young business leaders from three sustainable startups for its third Speaker Series event “The Next Generation of the Bioeconomy.” Jessica Bowman, Executive Director of PBPC, led the discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing the bioeconomy, tips for young entrepreneurs hoping to break into the industry, and the ways that businesses can center their goals and their mission around sustainability. The virtual event featured the following distinguished speakers:

• Sea Briganti, Founder & CEO, LOLIWARE, Inc.

Sea Briganti
Founder & CEO

Misha Medvedev, Co-Founder, Earth Brands

Misha Medvedev
Earth Brands

Nuha Siddiqui, Co-Founder & CEO, erthos

Nuha Siddiqui
Co-Founder & CEO

Challenges & Opportunities Facing the Bioeconomy

The group kicked off the discussion by diving into the various challenges and opportunities currently facing the bioeconomy and sustainability-focused businesses. While growing infrastructure and access to materials have made it easier for new organizations to enter the bioeconomy, the standards for plant-based and biodegradable products are constantly shifting. Nuha Siddiqui, co-founder and CEO of erthos, a startup focused on developing new plant-based materials for single-use products, discussed the need for clear and open communication with customers. “Calling something recyclable or biodegradable doesn’t hold the same weight that it used to,” said Siddiqui. “And we’re all holding our products, our materials, the food we eat to a much higher standard than ever before. So, it requires us to be a lot more open and transparent, but in a way that really resonates with everyday consumers.”

Critical New Policies for Expanding the Bioeconomy

The panelists also discussed the critical new policies that are allowing the bioeconomy to flourish and expand. Sea Briganti, founder and CEO at LOLIWARE, Inc., an award-winning, seaweed-based materials tech company replacing traditional single-use plastics, cited several recent policy changes that have greatly improved the outlook for the bioeconomy. “Policy is so important, and it’s so inspiring to see the [UN Plastics Pollution Treaty], the Paris Agreement, everything that’s happening on the floor that’s impacting all of us, that’s impacting PBPC and the future of biomaterials,” said Briganti. “I think all of us stand on the shoulders of everyone that came before us, everyone in the environmental movement and the climate movement that are making all of our companies possible.”

Business Advice for Breaking into the Bioeconomy

The panelists also provided advice and insights for other young business leaders hoping to break into the bioeconomy. Misha Medvedev, co-founder of Earth Brands, a next-generation sustainable products company, discussed the ways that small businesses can ensure that sustainability goals remain at the center of their organization’s mission. “A lot of companies have goals, but they don’t really set goals,” said Medvedev. “They have dreams, and they have a vision of where they want to go, but they don’t set concrete goals. So, for us internally, we’re always setting quarterly and monthly goals, yearly goals and tracking our carbon emissions…So doing everything that we can to show internally and externally that we’re truly about sustainability.”

PBPC is grateful to each panelist for joining the event and for sharing their experiences as young business leaders and their visions for the future of the bioeconomy. We look forward to speaking with more industry experts and innovators on future PBPC Speaker Series events. More information on our next event is forthcoming. Sign up for news from PBPC to stay updated.