Jason leads Zea2’s business development and technology outreach to partners. He is a polymath and has worked in venture capital and entrepreneurship since 2005. He brings in-depth technological and financial knowledge to the firm, spanning a variety of engineering disciplines. Jason has conducted research for both the Department of Energy and NASA. His previous experience includes plasma research at the Fusion Studies Laboratory, propulsion research at Moscow Aviation Institute, time at an Illinois-based venture capital firm and founding of a Fin-Tech startup and the ignition of SC Ventures. More recently he has shifted to operations, leading capital upgrade projects at Zea2 and the downstream process development and purification for amino acids. He is also a U.S. veteran, volunteering for multiple tours in the Middle East, as well as deployments to Bosnia (under NATO) and Peru (for drug interdiction). He holds an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering, a B.S. in Engineering Physics, a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA all from the University of Illinois.
Michael began at ZeaChem as a process engineer and played a critical role in the successful completion of ZeaChem’s $12M AFRI grant from the USDA for cellulosic feedstock analysis. As a Production Engineer he was instrumental to the success of all areas of the L-alanine pilot process development at the Zea2 facility focusing on chromatography and crystallization. Michael has a B.S. in Bioresource Science & Engineering from the University of Washington.
Brent is a highly experienced plant commissioning leader having spent 25 years in the manufacturing, construction, and engineering fields. He oversaw all construction activities for a greenfield $210MM oilseeds plant including engineering, procurement, construction, staffing, training, commissioning, startup, and subsequent operation. Post-startup, he led all facility activities including operations, EHS, HR, and continuing site project management and engineering. Brent German currently serves as Zea2’s Plant Manager pro tempore. Brent’s expertise hails from 25+ years of engineering and industrial project management with Cargill Inc., Louis-Dreyfus, and Ag Processing. Brent holds a B.S. in Agricultural Economics and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Kansas State University.
Bill Aimutis is currently Executive Director for the North Carolina Food Innovation Lab managed by North Carolina State University on the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. Bill’s team works with entrepreneurial and multi-national companies on plant-based product development and scale-up in a pilot plant operating under cGMP standards.
“The food industry is in an interesting evolution as consumers seek less processing, cleaner labels, and more localized production of their food.” Prior to his current position, Aimutis was a Research Fellow and Global Director of External Innovation for Cargill, Inc.where he developed the External Innovation program for Cargill’s core businesses, including interaction with global venture capital groups. Bill retired from Cargill in September, 2018. An Indiana native, Bill received a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science at Purdue University and graduate degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the Food Science Department.
Bill has held several research and operations leadership and management positions in his career. Bill is a Certified Food Scientist, Fellow of the American Dairy Science Association, and a Distinguished Agricultural Alumnus from both Purdue University and Virginia Tech. Additionally, he was awarded an Outstanding Food Science Award from the Food Science Department at Purdue University. Aimutis has been invited to speak at numerous meetings about innovation and investments in the agricultural and food industries.
Aimutis also serves on industry advisory committees for Food Science (Virginia Tech University), the Agriculture Innovation Forum (Larta), and the University of Illinois’ Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory. Additionally, Bill is on several corporate scientific advisory boards.
Mr. Baum has served as a director of Gevo since January 2016 and serves on the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. Since January 2015, he has operated a consulting business advising small biofuel and renewable chemical companies on a variety of commercial matters.
"Bill has great relationships with major players in the chemicals and fuels industry. He brings significant expertise in the areas of chemicals, strategic alliances, M&A, and bio-based products that is highly relevant..."
- Pat Gruber, CEO GEVO.
Mr. Baum served as Chief Business Development Officer of Genomatica, Inc. from September 2010 until April 2014. From August 1997 to September 2010, Mr. Baum served in various roles at Diversa Corporation (now known as Verenium Corporation), a biotechnology company focused on the development of biofuels, including Vice President Sales and Marketing from August 1997 to November 1999, Senior Vice President, Business Development from November 1999 to July 2002 and Executive Vice President, Business Development from July 2002 to August 2010.
Prior to joining Diversa, Mr. Baum served as the Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at International Specialty Products, Inc., a specialty chemicals company, and held a variety of executive positions, both in the United States and internationally, at Betz Laboratories, Inc., a specialty chemicals company.
Mr. Baum currently serves as a director on the board of directors for Watt Companies, Inc., Leaf Resources Limited and Arzeda Corporation.
Don DiMasi has been an Industrial Bioprocessing professional for 30 years, and is currently SVP of Process R&D and Operations at Brightseed, Inc., an AI-powered nutritional ingredient start-up. He recently served as SVP of Engineering and Process Development for Impossible Foods, Inc., where he was responsible for the design, build, and deployment of novel fermentation and food manufacturing facilities.
"Crucial for scale-up and Bio-Business success is a tight, collaborative, transparent, and trusting relationship between the bio-business owner’s key stakeholders and process development staff, the engaged professional engineering firm, and the host contract manufacturer. Critical, but often neglected areas of focus include risk analysis, contingency planning, robust commissioning, and start-up and shut-down procedures. As these areas often influence process design, they need to be considered as early in the process as possible."
Previously, Don was VP of Process Development at Solazyme (now Corbion) developing products and processes for biofuels, triglyceride oils, food ingredients, and cosmetics made from algae. Prior to relocating to the Bay Area, Don was VP of Process R&D at Mascoma Corporation, working on consolidated bioprocessing of cellulosic biomass, Director of Process R&D at CP Kelco, developing new products and manufacturing processes for microbial polysaccharides, Associate Director at Diversa, developing novel thermostable enzymes, and Senior Engineer at American Cyanamid, developing fermentation processes for animal health products.
Don received his B.S. from M.I.T., M.S. from the University of Virginia, and Ph.D. from Tufts University, all in Chemical Engineering, and also an M.S. in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego School of Business Administration.