John Waite joins Breakthrough Energy’s Innovator Fellows program from Phycobloom in London, United Kingdom. With a background in business development and materials science, he is driven to create a more sustainable world and bridge the gap between economic and technological problems to drive forward a just energy transition. John and his team at Phycobloom are working on engineering algae that can continuously produce biofuels and capture carbon.
Phycobloom has genetically engineered algae that continuously captures carbondioxide while secreting an oil that can be used in sustainable biofuels. Phycobloom’s process eliminates the traditional carbon-intensive harvesting process that can damage algae and will reduce costs by up to 70%. During the Fellows program, they hope to demonstrate their algae performance at scale.
John completed both his Master of Engineering in Materials Science and his Doctor of Philosophy in Energy Materials from the University of Oxford. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from the Quantic School of Business and Technology.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
When you’re trying to build something ambitious you have to bring people with you. The best way to do that is to make sure every response surprises and delights them. Surprise communicates the novelty and excitement of your idea, and demonstrates that despite the risks, the upside is worth the investment of time or money. It sounds simple, but it’s hard to get it right.
What beliefs drive you?
My value that I always try to emphasize is fairness. Injustice and imbalance are some of the hardest things for us to put up with, and in all my actions I always try to ensure that I’m being as fair to everyone as I can, whether they’re directly involved or not.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m a keen Formula 1 fan, so weekends will often see me glued to the TV screen watching cars go round and round. Now that F1 has committed to switching to 100% biofuels by 2026 I can pretend that this is actually work-related research.
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