L. Pierre de Rochemont, GM/Founder: An industrialist focused on developing technologies that solve large macroeconomic problems, Mr. de Rochemont organized a research syndicate involving the NASA Langley Research Center, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory in the early 1990s. This research served as the genesis of Frontier NanoSystems’ technology.
He was given rights to the resultant technology after NASA engineering managers concluded this effort created a manufacturing process to make high-temperature superconducting wires cost-competitive with copper. The company was created to be a principal member of the MagLifter Consortium, formed to advance electromagnetic propulsion as a launch-assist to place the Space Shuttle in low-Earth orbit (LEO) at vastly lower cost. All meaningful economic drivers for superconductors were killed in the mid-1990s, yet Mr. de Rochemont continued to pursue economically meaningful applications of this manufacturing technology.
Mr. de Rochemont is the principal inventor on 29 issued or allowed U.S. patents, with 18+ patents pending, most with patent rights issued or pending in Japan, China, Europe, India, and Brazil. He is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a Member of the American Ceramics Society, and the recipient of the NASA Inventors and Contributors Award.
Klaus Viljanmaa, Senior VP, Business Operations: Mr. Viljanmaa started his professional career in 1994 working for his family’s business Urho Viljanmaa Oy (Finland), a global market leader of work boot, safety, and military footwear. He held positions as the company’s international Quality Manager instituting ISO9001 quality systems, before assuming responsibilities as Sales & Marketing Manager, R&D Manager, and Vice President. Mr. Viljanmaa served as the company’s CEO from 2000-2008, in which capacity he increased its profitability 10-fold and tripled its transaction value. During his tenure as CEO, Urho Viljanmaa Oy was recognized among Finland’s Top 20 “Best Places to Work” and as the leading technology innovator in its field globally. Mr. Viljanmaa holds a BBA in International Business from Helsinki Business School, and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Vaasa University (Finland). In 2006, he received the National Entrepreneurship Award from the Finnish Federation of Enterprises, and was recognized by Ernst & Young as the Challenger Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007. In 2008, the Viljanmaa family sold its business to its largest customer, the Ejendals family in Sweden. Since then, Mr. Viljanmaa has worked as a serial entrepreneur, advisor & board member, and start-up investor to seven ventures. His investments comprise holdings in banking, finance, 3D animation, gaming, hardware and software, and hybrid engine technology. He has set 14 U.S. track records on the Porsche racing circuit, and still holds 12 of them.