SFU Venture Connection client Ionomr wins Hong Kong-Canada pitch competition

SFU PhD student Benjamin Britton delivered the winning pitch at the Hong Kong­–Canada Investment Pitch Competition, held earlier this month in Calgary as part of the 2016 Hong Kong-Canada Business Association (HKCBA) National Conference.

The win netted Britton a $12,500 cash prize, $14,000 in legal assistance and $2,250 in consulting and advertising services from FrontFundr to bring his company Ionomrto market. He also won a trip for two to Hong Kong to attend HKCBA’s annual flagship event this November.

Britton, a student in SFU chemistry professor Steven Holdcroft’s research group, is the CEO of Ionomr. Earlier this year, the company won the Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize Competition.

Ionomr, an SFU Venture Connection-affiliated company, locally manufactures Aemion—the most durable high-performance anion-exchange membrane in the world. Anion-exchange membranes drive the performance of many clean technology innovations in the energy storage and water treatment sectors.

“I think the biggest win from this competition is the contacts made as we prepare to enter the market,” Britton says.

“The legal help to file another patent internationally, and the know-how to take advantage of free-trade agreements with China and unlock the distribution channels for the Asia-Pacific region will be invaluable.”

SFU was among 14 universities in Canada participating in the competition, which only featured ventures that emphasized trade between Canada and Hong Kong, or Hong Kong and the rest of Asia.

Switchboard Logistics, a company specializing in an end-to-end freight management platform co-founded by SFU Beedie business student Gursher Sidhu, was also among the top six finalists.

Ionomr sources the materials needed to create Aemion from chemical suppliers in China, and is aiming to establish a presence in Hong Kong to take advantage of their trade agreements.

“Many international companies are incorporated in Hong Kong and each year, $500 billion CAD in goods are imported to Hong Kong and re-exported,” Britton says.

“Companies do this to take advantage of the robust China–Hong Kong one-nation, two-systems free trade agreement, and the favourable trade agreements that Hong Kong maintains globally.”

Ionomr recently completed its business plan and is currently raising seed funding. The team's eyes are set on beginning on-the-ground operations in November. 

Benjamin Britton holds a sample of his anion-exchange membrane. (Photo: SFU's Faculty of Science)