Ryan Martin: Spirit of Gainesville nominee

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 4:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 4:40 p.m.

It is with great enthusiasm I nominate Ryan Martin for the Spirit of Gainesville Award for Entrepreneurship. Ryan is the CEO and co-founder of Florida Sustainables (www.floridasustainables.com) a multi-award winning company on the innovative frontier of green plastics worldwide, and he is currently a candidate for NASA’s Astronaut Program. Ryan has a unique and varied set of skills, lives life abundantly, and is deeply committed to innovation and community.


Ryan Martin


Category: Entrepreneurship

About Ryan Martin

Occupation: CEO of Florida Sustainables

Years in Gainesville: 12

Spouse: (Eligible Bachelor)

Ryan came to Gainesville as a UF undergrad, a National Merit Scholar, a Hugh O'Brian Youth Leader, and a Boys State Alumnus. As a Gator, Ryan excelled both in and out of the classroom. Ryan majored in biochemistry and was an honors student who used his knowledge and love of chemistry to help develop and test a highly effective polymeric sensor for chemical weapons of mass destruction. Ryan was the Varsity Men's Captain for the UF Rowing Team, as well as a leader in his church, leading a bible study and several mission trips both in the US and overseas. Ryan was also a frequent volunteer for the University Homeless Council. In addition, Ryan has personally served his community and state by being a volunteer prison minister since 2003. Ryan has counseled countless inmates and encouraged them to be better husbands and fathers and to become productive members of society. Ryan even found time to spend a summer in New York City, studying acting and has landed work on stage, film, and TV, including among other things a few episodes of All My Children.

Ryan's interests and abilities are far-reaching. Ryan is an avid runner, swimmer, surfer, and overall adventurer. A self-taught guitarist, he also occasionally performs on GROW Radio, Gainesville’s premiere internet-based music radio station.

Ryan continued his education at UF as a Ph.D. student in organic chemistry. Ryan became an author of multiple publications in the area of polymer chemistry and innovated a new class of sustainable and degradable plastics. So great was the impact of this invention that Ryan was awarded the 2011 Cade Prize for Innovation and Invention.

With a great appreciation for invention and intellectual property and always eager for new challenges, Ryan enrolled in and excelled at law classes while completing his Ph.D.. Ryan was a standout student in law, and it earned him a position on the professional staff of one of the top intellectual property law firms in the country. While working at the firm, Ryan had the rare experience of being able to work on the prosecution of his own patent on his doctoral work in sustainable and degradable plastics!

Not content simply with success in the science and law realms, Ryan started his company Florida Sustainables in 2011, along with his partner and co-inventor Stephen Miller, to commercialize their green plastics. Within just months of forming the company, Ryan and Florida Sustainables had already received attention and praise from Forbes, Fast Company and MSNBC, along with many other professional, scientific and industrial publications around the globe. Florida Sustainables was even honored with a World Economic Forum Young Scientist/Entrepreneur Partnership Award. Florida Trend magazine selected Florida Sustainables as the 2011 Newsmakers of the Year for Science and Innovation. Ryan also has the honor of being named the 2012 Face of Technology for the Florida High Tech Corridor. Ryan is currently leading Florida Sustainables through scale-up and manufacturing and is committed to creating more jobs specifically in the Gainesville area and North Central Florida. Not only is Ryan's work having a great impact on this community, but also it will have a hugely positive impact worldwide, in helping to mitigate the plastic trash crisis in our oceans and landfills!

Ryan has cast a vision for Florida Sustainables that includes not only creating industry-leading, sustainable and degradable plastics, but also being fully committed to the community and world through pollution clean-up and education. Florida Sustainables recently adopted Kanapaha Park in Gainesville. In addition to responsibilities of maintaining the park’s beauty, Florida Sustainables plans to enhance the fitness trail and create a community organic garden. Ryan is passionately committed to education and spurring on innovation in younger people. Ryan spent several years as a graduate student teaching organic chemistry laboratory classes and consistently received the highest evaluations and appreciation from his students. Ryan can frequently be found encouraging science education in younger students by volunteering for science fairs (including the Alachua County Science Fair), in classrooms, or at the Cade Museum, and has served as a judge and keynote speaker for Florida's Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Ryan also has been an invited guest speaker at UF to teach on innovation and entrepreneurship, and was an invited speaker at the 2011 Global Entrepreneurship Week in Miami as a panelist in the “Energetic Entrepreneurs” forum.

Ryan would be an outstanding choice for the Spirit of Gainesville Award. I can think of no one who better demonstrates a devotion to innovation, creativity, and concern for the community. In fact, Ryan has accomplished all of the above and much more by the young age of 30. We can continue to expect wonderful things to come from him!

Submitted by L.B. Martin

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