Impossible Metals is an innovative start-up company founded in 2020 with a mission to deliver responsible seabed mining and refining of critical battery metals, enabling the world’s transition to sustainable energy. As mining continues to play a vital role in a circular economy, the transition to green energy demands more minerals. In the face of this demand, responsible seabed mining will contribute to a truly sustainable transition to circularity.

Impossible Metals was co-founded by Oliver Gunasekara, an entrepreneur with 30-plus years of experience, and Jason Gillham, a subsea technology entrepreneur with 18 years of experience in the subsea robotics industry. The company is developing technology in two key areas: Selective harvesting of marine minerals and mineral processing using bacterial respiration. Impossible Metals is building underwater robotics vehicles which collect polymetallic nodules from the seabed while protecting the seafloor ecosystem. The polymetallic nodules are rocks that are rich in critical battery metals, such as nickel, cobalt, manganese and copper, which are the most expensive parts of electric vehicles.

Impossible Metals began work on its engineering architecture in 2020, with the first patents filed about a year later. In 2021, the company also closed its first funding round, enabling it to begin working on proof-of-concept for both deep sea polymetallic nodule harvesting and bio-extraction technologies. The company’s first autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Eureka 1 successfully completed its proof-of-concept trial by selectively harvesting rocks in an underwater environment in December 2022.

Jason Gillham of Impossible Metals

Since its founding, the company’s innovative technology has been recognized in the industry. Impossible Metals was selected in the Winter 2022 batch of the prestigious Y Combinator start-up accelerator program, and it has recently been recognized as one of America’s top Greentech companies of 2024 by TIME magazine and Statista. The company’s mission supports seven United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Life Below Water, Climate Action as well as Affordable and Clean Energy. Impossible Metals is currently operating out of two offices in North America – Pasadena, California and Collingwood, Ontario.

Jason Gillham, the chief technology officer and a co-founder of Impossible Metals, went to the University of Waterloo for his Bachelor’s and Master of Applied Science degrees, and it is there he founded his first company, 2G Robotics, and became part of the Communitech network. Over the years, 2G Robotics became a leader in mobile scanning and imaging technologies that improve the speed and accuracy of subsea inspection using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and manned submersibles. 2G Robotics reached over $10M in revenue, and it was acquired by Covelya Group in January 2020. Jason recalls that when the opportunity to join Impossible Metals as a co-founder came up, it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime chance he could not pass up.

Eureka II


 Benefits of being in Collingwood

As a Collingwood local who grew up in the area, Jason enjoys the healthy lifestyle afforded by the Georgian Bay, but for his company, Impossible Metals, the clear water of the Bay is more than just a recreational destination. As the company is building underwater robotics vehicles that collect battery metals from the seabed, the Georgian Bay water provides an accessible option for testing the robots the company has developed. “The clear water of Georgian Bay allows us to test the robots’ vision system because the clarity of the water is comparable to that of the deep ocean,” says Jason.

In May 2023, the Impossible Metals team conducted a successful demonstration of Eureka 1, their Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). The event marked a key milestone on the road to developing a full-scale, artificially intelligent deep-sea mineral harvesting system that can pick up mineral-rich deep-sea nodules while avoiding target macrofauna, with an aim of preserving biodiversity and habitat function. In November 2023, the company completed the initial development of the much larger second prototype, Eureka II, and demonstrated successful performance in shallow water.

Eureka II heading into the water


 Talented workforce

In addition to the benefits of being close to the Georgian Bay, Jason notes that the area’s large talent base is also a major reason why the company has chosen to operate out of Collingwood. “One of the biggest benefits of being in this area is the access to the talent and the ability to draw great talent into the business and the community because of the lifestyle here that makes life well rounded,” says Jason.

Impossible Metals currently has a team of 15-20 employees, third of whom are working remotely. The company follows a hybrid working policy which allows employees to do their most effective work while also providing them with a degree of flexibility. Due to the physical nature of the robots they are building, Jason notes that the team has an in-person, on-site week about every month.

Eureka II heading to work


 Collaboration with Georgian Bay Accelerator

Impossible Metals is currently a client of Georgian Bay (GB) Accelerator, a partner organization of the Collingwood Business Development Centre. For Jason, his involvement with the GB Accelerator goes back to its earliest days when he worked as its founding executive director. In his current capacity as a client, Jason states that he continues to remain an active member of the GB Accelerator network by receiving helpful mentorship and community engagement opportunities for the company.

The GB Accelerator was established in 2021 to advance high-growth companies in the Georgian Bay area by providing ideas, momentum, and a supportive community. The Accelerator’s network of executives, founders, and seasoned entrepreneurs are dedicated to seeing Georgian Bay businesses thrive, and they offer navigation and connections that can fast-track growth.

Eureka II in Collingwood's Georgian Bay



Looking to the future

Impossible Metals has many exciting plans for the future. This year, the team is working on creating its first production-sized harvesting system for nodule collection. Jason notes that the business will eventually become increasingly international as there are nodules to be harvested in many parts of the world. In addition to the technical development, the company will also be progressing to its next round of fundraising throughout the year.

Learn more about the exciting innovations at Impossible Metals at https://impossiblemetals.com/

Impossible Metals achieving the impossible


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Photo Credits: Dave West Photography