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Sykué Bioenergya

Company name
Sykué Bioenergya 

Shon R. Hiatt

Harvard Business School

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Sykué Bioenergya

Year published 

Last year covered in case 

It was a hot, fall day in May 2011. The three founders of Sykué Bioenergya had traveled 1500 kilometers from São Paulo, Brazil to inspect their company's 30-megawatt biomass power plant, which had become operational six months earlier. While they had experienced a number of problems in starting their company, they had addressed many of them. However, they had now reached a crossroads. 

Sykué Bioenergya was the brainchild of Paulo Puterman, an entrepreneur and social scientist from São Paulo, Brazil. His interest in sustainable energy began in the 1990s when he was a Ph.D. student in the sociology of technology. "I was very worried about the impact of innovation on society--how innovation creates jobs and ushers in different perspectives, leading to creative destruction of important practices and sectors," he explained. Puterman had taken a break from his studies to form an Internet consultancy company based on his research that explored the effect of the Internet on the music industry. Of the experience, he said, "You cannot have innovation if you don't use the entrepreneurial side of the society. I decided to leave the university and start a company to have an entrepreneurial experience, because at that point, my life was all theory and no practice." 

Teaching note

  • N/A 

Key Management Reading

  • Ambec, S. & Lanoie, P. (2008). Does it pay to be green? A systematic overview. Academy of Management Perspectives. 45-62
  • Reinhardt, F. (1999). Bringing the Environment Down to Earth. Harvard Business Review. July; 149-157 

Other Readings

  • Wilson M, Schwarzman M, Malloy T, Fanning E, Sinsheimer P. (2008) Green Chemistry: Cornerstone to a Sustainable California. Special Report to the California Environmental Protection Agency. University of California Centers for Occupational and Environmental Health 
  • Poliakoff, M., & Anastas, P. (2001). A principled stance. Nature, 413(6853), 257.
  • Hjeresen, D.L., Kirchoff, M.M., Lankley, R.L. (2002) Green Chemistry: Environment, economics and competitiveness. Corporate Environmental Strategy, 9(3). 259-266
  • Manley, Anastas, Cue. (2008) Frontiers in Green Chemistry: meeting the grand challenges for sustainability in R&D and manufacturing. Journal of cleaner production. 16:743-750
  • Larson, A. (2006) Illustrating the Finanical Benefits of Green Chemistry. Darden Business Publishing. Case #: UVA-ENT-0076

Audio/Visual Material

Discussion Questions

  • Which principles of green chemistry are used in this case?
  • How do the principles of green chemistry translate into business benefits? (E.g. Reduced toxic waste = managing environmental risk; Less toxic end product = product differentiation)
  • Are there tradeoffs between the different principles? (E.g. Waste is reduced (Principle 1), but process used more energy (Principle 6); End product is less hazardous (Principle 4) but process to make it is less green (Principle 3); Uses a renewable feedstock (Principle 7) but the new process uses toxic solvents (Principle 5))

Green Chemistry Principle

  • Principle 7 Use of Renewable Feedstocks 

Fuels and Biofuels 

Teaching Topic
Business-Government relations
Community Development/Economic Development
Environmental issues
Stakeholder relationships
Workforce Management/Employment relationships

Management Discipline
Business, Government and Society
Human Resource Management

Business Logic
Relations with external stakeholders
Redefining markets

Environmental Issue
Climate change

Latin America

Self Identified as Green Chemistry?

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