A Ladner scientist and innovator has been recognized as one of B.C.'s best and brightest young leaders.
Benjamin Britton was recently presented with a Forty under 40 Award from Business in Vancouver. The annual awards pay tribute to budding entrepreneurs, executives and professionals making a name for themselves in the province’s public, private and non-profit sectors.
“It’s very exciting. SFU put me up for it. Quite a few of the innovation community were present at the awards gala,” Britton said. “The recognition is a great honour. It helps serve some validation because we are going out to raise a larger round of funding to really scale up the company in the next year, so it’s nice to be a member of an executive team with a little bit more behind my name than just a scientist out of a lab.”
Britton is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Ionomr Innovations Inc.
The Simon Fraser University 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, two or three per cent 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.
In 2016, Britton was awarded the Hong Kong-Canada Investment Pitch Competition and the Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize, and more recently 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.
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.
“I grew up in Tsawwassen and tutored there for 10 of my 14 years in higher education, so quite a number of your readers are one or two degrees of separation, and have in fact this month moved back to Ladner after seven years living at UBC,” he said.
Britton said he could never have imagined where this company is today when it started.
“I just had no idea it would occur so quickly. We went from a team of four founders to a team of 23 within a year and a half. It was a lot faster growth rate than I could possibly have thought,” he said.
“Our board is very forward-thinking and the engagements we have had have been quite positive, so we have over 75 industrial engagements with recognizable world-leading companies and our technology worked better than I could have felt possible. We envisioned it being a platform technology but we only have proof points in a few areas, and then when we actually got proof back it was better than we thought.”
- with files from Business in Vancouver