Darren Anderson thought he was destined for a career in academics, not business. After earning his doctorate in chemistry in 2006, Anderson briefly took a job as the academic program co-ordinator at U of T’s Institute for Optical Sciences. Anderson enjoyed the work, but his stint at the institute confirmed that a bureaucratic life wasn’t for him.
By the fall of 2006, Anderson had left his job and the world of academia and with five U of T faculty and grad students, formed a company to commercialize ultra-small scale (nano) materials that one of them had researched during a graduate course.
Anderson and his partners found that the nanomaterials could be applied in “clean” industries such as wastewater treatment and fuel and solar cells to make the industries more efficient and environmentally friendly.
In 2008, Anderson and his co-founders changed the firm’s name from Northern Nanotechnologies to Vive Nano. Anderson, 31, is Vive Nano’s chief technology officer, largely responsible for research and development and technical sales.
Business is booming. The firm has 18 employees, and the federal and provincial governments recently awarded the company $7.8 million because of its potential to create jobs and to further develop, manufacture and sell its nanomaterials worldwide. Indeed, Vive Nano’s partners include one of the world’s large crop protection firms and a leading Canadian chemical company. (Anderson declined to name the companies.)
While his firm’s technology is small, Anderson thinks big. “There are going to be companies that will be the next global chemical giants,” he says. “I want Vive Nano to be one of them.”