Bolsen departs Coskata, joins Codexis as vice president

By Bryan Sims | December 06, 2011

After nearly five years with cellulosic ethanol developer Coskata Inc., Wes Bolsen has left to serve as vice president and chief marketing officer for biotech outfit Codexis Inc. In his new role, Bolsen is responsible for the Redwood City, Calif.-based company’s corporate marketing and communications, reporting to Codexis President and CEO Alan Shaw.

Bolsen joins Codexis where he most recently served as chief marketing officer for Coskata. While with Coskata from 2007-‘11, he also held senior management positions serving as vice president of government affairs and vice president of business development. Prior to his roles at Coskata, Bolsen held the position of chief financial officer for ICM Inc. and was a senior consultant for McKinsey & Co.

The decision to depart Coskata for the new position at Codexis “was kind of the perfect time for me,” Bolsen told Biorefining Magazine. “There were hardly any companies that I would even want to work for. Codexis was really one of the only companies in the industry that I believe had an amazing team that has been assembled and had strength of technology.”

Bolsen emphasized that his decision to leave Coskata for the new position at Codexis was not a signal that Coskata may not be doing well as a business, or based purely on competitive reasons.

“Sometimes people leave when things aren’t going well within a company, which cause some to jump off ship,” he said. “This is simply not the case at all. Coskata is doing extremely well.”

The new position at Codexis represents a unique opportunity, Bolsen said, because it “keeps me plugged into the biorefining industry,” adding that serving in the new role will allow him to relay the company’s story to the industry, as well as promote the company’s services, products and novel technologies by fostering collaborative avenues where Codexis can establish mutually beneficial partnerships, not competition, among existing participants in this sector.

“That’s what I get passionate about,” Bolsen said, “to be able to tell the market a story of how this Codexis technology is going to be able to change everything from pharmaceuticals and chemicals to advanced biofuels. I want to get out the story that we’re open for business and we’re open for partnerships, and don’t look at Codexis as a competitor. Look at it as a future partner. We want to work with you.”

At the core of Codexis’ novel technology is the company’s proprietary and trademarked CodeEvolver direct evolution enzyme technology platform, which can genetically engineer specific microorganisms tailored to deconstructing a range of biomass into fermentable-ready soluble sugars for conversion to biobased chemicals, pharmaceuticals and advanced biofuels. In August, Codexis and global technology and engineering firm Chemtex, a subsidiary owned by Italy’s Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi (M&G), forged a broad collaboration to develop and produce biobased alcohols derived from cellulosic biomass for use in the household products market. In September, Codexis and Raizen Energia S.A., a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and Brazilian ethanol giant Cosan, signed a joint development agreement to craft improved first-gen ethanol processes, with the potential of expanding the relationship to include production of biobased chemicals.

In addition to his new role at Codexis, Bolsen said he intends to maintain his current position as executive board member at the Renewable Fuels Association. Bolsen, former member of the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) when he was with Coskata and a founding member of the Advanced Ethanol Council, plans to rejoin the ABFA through his role at Codexis in a continued effort of supporting federal policy measures that benefit the burgeoning biorefining sector.

“Where it makes sense to support Codexis in moving policy forward,” Bolsen said, “I would be happy to bring that expertise to bear, given what I did for Coskata for the past five years.”