This high-school dropout is on a mission to supply the world with clean, renewable hydrogen fuel

Simon Pickup built his first hydrogen electrolyzer at age nine. Now he's building a hydrogen service company aimed at the trucking industry

Simon Pickup, 28

Co-founder and CEO, Hydra Energy Corp.

Life Story: Simon Pickup’s obsession to bring clean, renewable hydrogen fuel to the world dominates his life. He built his first hydrogen electrolyzer at age nine for a science-fair project. Pickup, who grew up in North Vancouver, dropped out of high school at 15 to found Youth Hydrogen, a not-for-profit focused on hydrogen energy solutions. He now leads Hydra Energy, the company he co-founded in 2012 to crack the problem that’s long blocked the widespread adoption of hydrogen fuel.

Few hydrogen vehicles means low demand for refuelling infrastructure, and vice versa. Hydra’s “hydrogen-as-a-service” model gives trucking firms a refuelling station at their fleets’ home bases, plus engine technology that lets long-haul vehicles switch between diesel and hydrogen. Trucking companies pay nothing for the equipment when they sign long-term agreements with Vancouver-based Hydra for hydrogen fuel at rates 10 to 30 per cent below diesel, Pickup says. “The best way to get people to say yes is to ensure they never have a chance to say no.”

Hydra, which buys hydrogen from companies that generate it as waste, has lined up a long-term supplier of 12.4 tonnes a day—enough to power 2,000 passenger cars.

The Bottom Line: Hydra has raised some $2 million in equity financing and has grown to 11 from the founding team of three. In February it won a BC Innovation Council award that will help contribute $1 million to R&D. Up next: a deal to convert and supply more than 50 trucks for a firm in northern B.C.