Top Interview

Rick Cooper
Rick Cooper has proven expertise in general management, business development, sales, marketing, R&D, and manufacturing, in four Cleantech and other hi-tech start-ups. Mr. Cooper's successes are attributable to his innate effectiveness (getting the right things done), an inherent emphasis on customer focus, building sustainable competitive advantages and resourcefulness.

Mr. Cooper began his career in 1983 as a chemist doing research on rechargeable lithium batteries for Ballard Power Systems in Canada. In the early 1990s, he started up two branch offices: first with Ransco which developed multi-million dollar automotive test facilities, and then with L&F Industries which designed and built the largest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. From 1996 to 2001 Mr. Cooper provided executive leadership at Ballard and Xcellsis. He started up Ballard's US operations and advanced the state of the art in automotive fuel cell technology which supported the creation of Xcellsis, a joint venture with Daimler AG and the Ford Motor Company. He was promoted to CEO of the US division of Xcellsis which he grew into a world-class company with 175 employees. Mr. Cooper raised over $60M for Xcellsis and the enterprise was acquired for over $400M.

From 2002 to 2009 Mr. Cooper served as VP Business Development at PolyFuel which developed fuel cell products to address the battery runtime problem in consumer electronic devices such as cell phones and notebooks. Under Mr. Cooper's direction, PolyFuel achieved design-wins with 45% of the world's leading developers of portable fuel cells. His strong relationships with multinational consumer electronic OEMs and battery companies contributed deal-making validation for investors' due diligence in venture capital financings and PolyFuel's IPO.

At PolyFuel, Ballard and Xcellsis, Mr. Cooper was involved with 13 proposals for government funding. Twelve of those were awarded grants totalling $26M. Mr. Cooper was instrumental in the formation of the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CAFCP), a collaboration between the world's leading automotive OEMs, energy companies, government agencies and fuel cell technology suppliers. Mr. Cooper was a member of the CAFCP steering committee. Technology developed by CAFCP members provided the foundation for President Bush's $1.8B program for a hydrogen and fuel cell economy featured in his 2003 State of the Union address.

Mr. Cooper has two degrees with honours: Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, 1991 (2nd in Class), and a Diploma of Technology, Chemistry, BC Institute of Technology, Vancouver, BC, 1983 (1st in Class). He is a registered professional engineer in California and has completed numerous executive education courses on management, marketing and finance at the Stanford Business School and the Hass Business School at UC Berkeley.

Today Mr. Cooper is an active member of the Tech Coast Angels where he invests in early stage start-ups and advises entrepreneurs. He is a Board Observer at IntraStage, a leading test data software company and his first angel investment. He is passionate about technologies and products that address today's environmental issues and looks forward to adding value in an executive role at a Cleantech start-up.
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