He's built an award-winning software company and invented a life-saving water purification device, not to mention being a champion polo player, a world-class skier and a judo black belt. Now he's hoping to break the world record for the fastest speed in a three-wheeled vehicle. Is there any limit to the ambition of Melchester entrepreneur James Benson?
To call James Benson a high achiever is something of an understatement. When he dropped out of university in his first year to focus on developing a ride-sharing app for festival goers, his parents were justifiably a tad concerned about his future.
However, they needn't have worried. In just 15 years, the Melchester-born son of schoolteachers John and Vickie Benson has become one of the UK's top innovators and technology business leaders. His AIM-listed company, Benson Technology (headquartered just outside Melchester on the Nexus business park) is a world leader in smart navigation and control systems for the marine industry. It now employs over 100 people and exports to countries all over the globe, from the Middle East to the Antipodes.
In 2016 Benson himself won a UK Innovation Award for his revolutionary Puremax 750, a solar-powered portable water purification device that's now widely used by the military and NGOs operating in isolated environments. And in 2018 his company won a prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise for its Steersure Intelligent Bridge Control System, now a standard feature in many of the world's superyachts.
You'd think that, being one of the UK's most successful tech entrepreneurs, Benson would struggle to find time for other activities. But you'd be wrong. When it comes to his personal life, he loves to challenge himself and push the boundaries just as much as he has in his career. He plays a mind-boggling range of sports at super-high levels and is also one of the UK's most accomplished amateur winter sports enthusiasts. At the age of 25 he became the first British man to fly solo in a balloon across the Great Australian Bite from Tasmania to Perth.
So, what's next for this multi-talented man of the moment? Well, he's currently working with the Red Max Racing Team and a group of sponsors to target the world speed record for a three-wheeled vehicle. They've recently been putting their streamlined motor-tricycle, the Red Devil, through its paces, in preparation for next year's official attempt on the record at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.