Benjamin Britton can trace his science credentials through his own DNA.
His father had a math degree, while his paternal grandfather was an inventor. His maternal grandfather was a geologist.
It’s a lineage that left Britton debating whether to pursue a career as an engineer or as a chemist when he was younger.
“I was very convinced that the 21st century was going to be the century of chemistry solving the major problems that existed in the world,” said the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Ionomr Innovations Inc.
The Simon Fraser University (SFU) spinoff specializes in the development of ion exchange membranes and coatings for energy storage, clean energy generation and water treatment applications.
“This would drive, say, 2% or 3% of the world’s energy use down, in addition to scaling something that isn’t going to be toxic and bioaccumulative on the planet,” Britton said.
“It’s hard to describe how impactful this is but the more that I see it, the more passionate I get about it.”
Since Ionomr was founded in 2015, Britton has helped the company raise $3.2 million in private investment and $2.6 million in grant commitments.
It’s helped Ionomr grow to a team of 15 workers in its first year.
In 2016 Britton was awarded the Hong Kong-Canada Investment Pitch Competition and the Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize, and earlier this year won the Startup Energy Transition Award for Low-Carbon Energy Production from the World Energy Council.
While his educational background is steeped in science, including a PhD in chemistry from SFU, he’s also focused his brain power on the humanities over the years.
He boasts a graduate diploma in theology from Vancouver’s Regent College as well as a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Trinity Western University.
But that pull towards engineering still persists.
“I really enjoy fixing my cars,” said Britton, who owns two 1980s Porsches.
Birthplace: White Rock
Where you live now: University of British Columbia
Highest level of education: PhD, chemistry, Simon Fraser University
Currently reading: Truth and Method by Hans-Georg Gadamer
Currently listening to: Romantic-era classical (Rachmaninoff, Dvořák, Brahms)
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: Astronaut
Profession you would most like to try: Definitely still astronaut
Toughest business or professional decision: Switching from an academic to business focus by starting the company
Advice you would give the younger you: Write your thesis first
What’s left to do: Shift the world energy and chemical economies to sustainable, low-cost solutions
Join us to celebrate the 2018 Forty under 40 Awards January 24, 2019, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit https://www.biv.com/forty-under-40