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IMAGR Ltd. of New Zealand Wins First Prize at
Asian Entrepreneurship Award
20 Asian startups showcase innovative AI, IoT, healthcare and medical-related technologies at Japan’s Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City

November 6, 2018
Asian Entrepreneurship Award Steering Committee
Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd.,
The University of Tokyo, Division of University Corporate Relations
TX Entrepreneur Partners General Incorporated Association
The Japan Academic Society for Ventures and Entrepreneurs

The Asian Entrepreneurship Award Steering Committee announced today that IMAGR Ltd. of New Zealand won first prize at the Asian Entrepreneurship Awards 2018 (“AEA 2018”), a three-day business pitch contest for Asian startups held from October 31st to November 2nd at Kashiwa-no-ha campus city in Chiba prefecture, Japan. This year, 20 technology startups from 13 countries and regions across Asia specializing in the AI & IoT and medical & healthcare fields showcased their innovations, the commercial viability and social impact of their products and services, as well as the future potential of their solutions and the potential for collaboration with major Japanese corporations.

IMAGR, Ltd., the winner of AEA 2018

AEA 2018 winners

Initiated in 2012, the AEA program aims to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship across Asia and has brought together 154 companies from over 16 countries and regions to date. It constitutes a collaborative effort across industry, government and academia and is co-hosted by Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd., the University of Tokyo’s Corporate Relations Division, TX Entrepreneur Partners General Incorporated Association, and The Japan Academic Society for Ventures and Entrepreneurs.

This year, the AEA focused on AI and IoT and on the medical and healthcare sectors - key business fields Kashiwa-no-ha campus city is focusing on in its quest to spur the creation of new industries that will help address a variety of social issues in Japan and Asia, such as declining birthrates and aging societies. This year’s winner, IMAGR Ltd, a New Zealand-based startup that develops the innovative AI/computer vision shopping cart SMARTCART, was evaluated highly in terms of their business scalability, with a number of Japanese companies already showing interest in potential collaboration. The company also won the Audience Award, attracting the most votes by the audience at the final session.

Last year, the AEA newly established the “Kashiwa-no-ha Award”, designed to recognize a technology, product or service that will enhance the development of the Kashiwa-no-ha campus, the host city of AEA - a “smart city” initiative aiming to develop a next-generation urban environment through collaboration between the public, private and academic sectors. Located about 40 minutes from Tokyo by train, Kashiwa-no-ha campus city aims to establish an open platform that will accelerate the creation of new industries. This year, the award was presented to Girasol Energy Inc., a spin-off from the University of Tokyo that leverages its patented power line communication technology to develop IoT platforms for solar power plants. The company also won third prize in the overall competition, being rated highly on their practical application of IoT and their potential to reach diverse customer sectors.

To further accelerate collaboration between Asian startups and major Japanese corporations, the AEA added a new judging criterion evaluating the startups’ potential to collaborate with Japanese companies on business deployment in Japan. To illustrate such potential, Singapore-based startup ViSenze, runner-up at last year’s AEA, shared details of their recent collaboration with Mitsui Fudosan, one of the co-hosts of the AEA. Following AEA 2017, Mitsui Fudosan adopted ViSenze’s intelligent image recognition solution and deployed it at their e-commerce shopping mall “&mall”.
For more information, visit

About AEA

The Asian Entrepreneurship Award (AEA) is an annual international business pitch event for startups across Asia, aiming at forming an “ecosystem” that generates innovation through collaboration among industry, government and academia. Since 2012, young entrepreneurs from over 16 countries and regions in Asia have gathered in Japan to present their innovative ideas to leverage knowledge and technology to tackle challenges in the fast-growing Asia region. AEA is hosted at Kashiwa-no-ha Campus in Japan’s Chiba prefecture, a rapidly globalizing smart city that attracts people from around the world to pursue the creation of a new industrial culture.

Media Contact

Rutsuko Nakajima, Story Design house
Tel: +81-80-7962-4457

AEA2018 Winners

First Prize IMAGR Ltd. (New Zealand) / Founder & CEO: William Chomley
Second Prize Brain Beat, Ltd (Russia) / CEO: Edward Kryzhanovskii
Third Prize Girasol Energy Inc. (Japan) / CEO: Li Min
Kashiwa-no-ha Award Girasol Energy Inc. (Japan) / CEO: Li Min
The Japan Academic Society for Ventures and Entrepreneurs Award Value and Trust Co., Ltd. (Korea) / CEO: Paul Roe
IP Bridge Award PLIMES Inc. (Japan) / CEO & Co-founder: Kenji Suzuki
Audience Award IMAGR Ltd. (New Zealand) / CEO: William Chomley

For a list of startup entrants and their businesses, visit


  • First Prize: 1 million JPY
  • Second Prize: 500,000 JPY
  • Third Prize: 300,000 JPY
  • Kashiwa-no-ha Award: 150,000 JPY
    Recognizing the suitability and ease of implementation of the technology, product or service evaluated in terms of the concept behind Kashiwa-no-ha smart city development.
  • The Japan Academic Society for Ventures and Entrepreneurs (JASVE) Award: 50,000 JPY
    Recognizing the team embracing the most challenges and demonstrating the most entrepreneurship.
  • IP Bridge Award:
    The winner of this award will be provided with strategic support for intellectual property.
  • 31 VENTURES Award
    All award winners will additionally be provided with two years? free use of co-working space at 31 VENTURES offices operated by Mitsui Fudosan (for up to 3 employees per company).
  • Audience Award: Voted by the audience in the final session; no additional prize.

Event highlights

November 1st, 2018

Nominating committee members from China, Korea, Taiwan and Thailand introduced their country's start-up macro environment. Start-up company entrants also participated in mentoring sessions and a Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City tour, followed by a special session by ViSenze of Singapore, the second prize winner at AEA 2017, during which CEO Oliver Tan summarized the progress of his company's advance into the Japanese market.

Mentoring sessions
Special session
Networking party

November 2nd, 2018

Following the semi-final session, only six out of 20 companies advanced to the final session. Nominating committee members gave talk sessions providing updates on past AEA winners and participants. A special session speech was given by Mr. Kenji Tsunoda, CEO of iHeart Japan, the recipient of the “Japan Academic Society for Ventures and Entrepreneurs President Award” at the Awards for Academic Startups 2018.

Entrants giving speeches at the semi-final session, which were followed by Q&A sessions

The six finalists gave passionate presentations which were judged by four global startup business experts. Finalists included Ningbo Gexin New Energy Technology Co., Ltd. (China), Onward Health (India), Girasol Energy Inc. (Japan), IMAGR Ltd. (New Zealand), Value and Trust Co., Ltd. (Korea), and Brain Beat, Ltd. (Russia).

Speeches and the announcement of the winners at the farewell reception.

AEA 2018 Winner: IMAGAR Ltd.
Second Prize: Brain Beat
Third Prize: Girasol Energy Inc.

Kashiwa-no-ha award winner: Girasol Energy Inc.

Sponsors and partners

Platinum Sponsors Global Brain Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd.
Gold Sponsors Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC, The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Co. Ltd.
Silver Sponsors DENTSU INC., IP Bridge Inc., Mori Hamada & Matsumoto, Nippon Venture Capital Co., Ltd., Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Limited, UTokyo Innovation Platform Co., Ltd.,
Partners Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Cabinet Office, Government of Japan, CHIBA prefecture, Kashiwa city, Chiba Convention Bureau and International Center, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japan Institute of Design Promotion, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Venture Capital Association, KEIDANREN, Licensing Executives Society Japan, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), Venture Enterprise Center, Embassy of India, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, Trade Representation of the Russian Federation in Japan, University of Sydney, Innospace, Innoway, Tsinghua University, PSG College of Technology, Science & Technology Entrepreneurial Park, Kyungpook National University, Putra Business School, Skolkovo Foundation, NUS Enterprise, Graduate Institute of Technology, Innovation & Intellectual Property Management, National Chengchi University, Foreign Trade University