Robert Roche, co-founder of IS Seafood, is an American business leader and investor who has lived and worked in Asia for more than 30 years. Recognizing the need for high-quality imported food in China, he founded IS Seafood, along with Birgir Stefansson and Benjamin Johnson.
Roche is also the co-founder and Executive Chairman of Acorn International, a leading direct marketing and branding company in China, and the Executive Chairman and founder of Oak Lawn Marketing, an omni-channel brand response company in Japan. He also serves as the President of Roche Enterprises, a company that invests in a broad range of industry sectors, including consumer products, hospitality, real estate, financial, and logistics.
As one of China’s leading ex-pat investors, Roche helped finance and launch the award-winning URBN Hotel in Shanghai in 2004. URBN is China’s first carbon-neutral hotel and was built using recycled materials from 1920s Shanghai buildings. The hotel has since expanded and earned multiple awards including “Hotel with Lowest Carbon Theme Design” by <T+> Magazine and “China Best Environmental Hotel” by Voyage magazine. In 2013, Robert Roche co-founded Cachet Hotel Group, an international hospitality management company with offices in China and the U.S.
Roche has served as a civic and business representative for the U.S. in Japan and China, and is involved as a donor and advisor in many nonprofits that promote international cooperation and education. In 2010, President Obama named him to the USTR’s advisory committee for trade policy and negotiation, a committee he served on until 2014. He supports U.S.-China Strong, an organization that works to strengthen U.S.-China relations by providing study abroad, language-learning and other opportunities for American students and young professionals. Roche also served as the Chair of the American Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors in Shanghai and co-founded Business Forward, an organization that helps business leaders work with policymakers to enhance economic growth.
As a philanthropist, Robert Roche funded the Roche Family Foundation which supports causes in the U.S. and internationally. Through the foundation and personal donations, he has endowed a Chair for Interreligious Research at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, and provided funding to establish a Master of Laws in International Business Transactions at his alma mater, the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law.
Robert Roche, who is fluent in Japanese and proficient in Mandarin Chinese, is married with three children and spends his time in China, Japan, and the U.S.
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