Trail-blazing innovation in clean tech sparks start-up
By Justin Wong
Growing up in Metro Vancouver, Ben Britton dreamed of one day starting his own business. But he never imagined he would realize his dream by making a breakthrough in renewable energy while working on his SFU PhD project.
This month Britton, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of start-up Ionomr Innovations Inc., graduates with a PhD in chemistry and a wealth of experience in business commercialization garnered during his SFU journey.
Ionomr, a clean-tech, advanced materials company, grew out of Britton’s research in the SFU Holdcroft Lab, where he helped develop what are now the most efficient, durable and scalable systems for hydrogen production and energy consumption. These game-changing innovations hold major promise for the fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) industry, which seeks to improve system durability and deploy a green hydrogen-refuelling network as effectively as possible.
“Our most advanced fuel cells will help build a better system for the FCEV industry that is both more durable and energy efficient,” says Britton. “Our technology also makes the cost of hydrogen affordable at scale.”
To learn how to commercialize his invention Britton enrolled in SFU’s Invention to Innovation (i2I) program, earning an SFU Graduate Certificate in Science and Technology Commercialization while continuing to work on his PhD. This Beedie School of Business program prepares research scientists and engineers to shift from academia and lead new product and business development initiatives in technology industries, and to commercialize their own inventions.
While Britton acknowledges that making the transition from scientist to entrepreneur hasn’t been easy, he credits the i2I program for helping with his early success.
“As a scientist it is very easy for me to get into the weeds about technical jargon when approaching investors. The program taught me how to pitch the big picture to investors, so that they start to believe in my vision.”