Research-based entrepreneurship shines at the i2I Venture Pitch

Oct 21, 2022

The winners of the 2022 i2I Venture Pitch competition

L to R: Sarah Lubik, Shayeste Vefagh, Amir Abdolahzadeh, Alvin Zhou, Anthony King, Elicia Maine

Environmentally-friendly water-repellent materials and rapid, yet accurate, viral testing took home the top prizes at this year’s invention to Innovation (i2I) Venture Pitch Competition at SFU’s Beedie School of Business. The annual event is a celebration of the scientific entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial scientists graduating from SFU Beedie’s i2I program. The culmination of the program, the event gives six program participants the opportunity to present their strategies for their research-based innovations to a panel of expert judges and an enthusiastic audience of the local science and innovation community.

This year’s event was hosted in person at the Segal Graduate School of Business, with a live stream across the country to engage with the incoming cohort of the national Mitacs i2I program and other members of the Canadian innovation ecosystem.

Based on decades of research and industry expertise specific to deep-tech commercialization, the year-long, i2I program focuses on talent development. Science and engineering researchers learn to navigate between the worlds of research and business, building the mindsets and networks required to take their ground-breaking research to impact.

i2I empowers participants to become scientific entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial scientists or innovation champions, building innovation capacity in industry. Through experiential learning in strategic decision making, opportunity identification, business models, financial literacy, leadership and more, these researchers create compelling commercialization strategies to apply own their research to  many of the world’s most pressing issues.

In the Venture Pitch competition, six finalists were selected from the graduating i2I cohort to compete in two categories, emerging ventures and product-ready ventures, with cash prizes of $3,500 for the winning pitch from each category.

This year’s judges included Dr. Gerri Sinclair (BC’s Innovation Commissioner), Dr. Annett Rozek (Chief Scientific Officer at Terramera), Thealzel Lee (Partner and co-founder of several investment funds) and Dr. Michael Damiani (Partner at Borden Laudner Gervais LLP).

The emerging venture category – sponsored by SFU’s Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship

Prof. Majid Bahrami had been scheduled to present Heatogenics Technologies Ltd., which harvests, upgrades, converts, stores and transports waste-heat to decarbonize energy grids and atmospheric water systems. Unfortunately, Dr. Bahrami was unable compete in the event due to travel required by new opportunities for his venture; however, he sent a recorded presentation, generating significant interest in the community.

Dr. Linh Le presented Flextrapower Technologies Inc, which is developing the MuscularSkeleton Management Platform (MSMP), a versatile wearable system designed to monitor muscular and skeletal health of users.

Winner – Alvin Zhou presented Functional and Versatile Water-repellent Coatings, a robust, environmentally friendly water/ice repellent coating that can be fabricated with a single-step reaction.

The product-ready category – sponsored by SFU Beedie

Shayeste Vefagh presented AI 3D FAB INC, which gives robotic manufacturers one-step autonomous manufacturing by integrating prototyping and final product manufacturing with on-demand scaling capability and zero inventory.

Anthony King presented Fingerprint: A next generation electric bicycle that is produced more sustainably and is personalised to every user.

Winner – Amir Abdolahzadeh presented Aptamer Innovations Corp., a platform technology allowing for rapid mRNA viral detection with high accuracy.

So far, the i2I program has empowered seven cohorts of PhD, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and researchers to have a greater impact on regional, national, and international science innovation ecosystems.

Since fall 2019, aspiring scientist and technology entrepreneurs across Canada have also been able to access the i2I program with the launch of the Mitacs i2I Skills Training. Delivered in partnership with Mitacs, the program now offers East, West, and Atlantic cohorts in partnership with Queen’s, Dalhousie, and Memorial Universities.

The Mitacs i2I Skills Training program won international recognition in 2020 after the pilot offering was highlighted among the annual Innovations That Inspire  by AACSB—the world’s largest business education network.

In 2021, i2I was recognized as a key component of the thriving innovation ecosystem at SFU, which was ranked by the World Universities for Real Impact (WURI) rankings system as being the top innovative university in Canada and the top university in the world for our entrepreneurial spirit.

The next i2I cohort will start recruiting in Spring 2023. If you are interested in joining this uniquely impactful program or would like to join more events with this community, join our mailing list by contacting