As Velocity culminates its tenth year igniting the entrepreneurial spirit, a diverse range of new startup stories were front and centre at the 23rd Velocity Fund Finals. Twenty startups pitched their ventures to a crowd of spectators for a chance to win a share of $130,000 in funding. This fall, 100% of the winning $5K teams were founded or co-founded by women, and seven of the nine winners pitched science-based startups.
The event kicked off with the $5K competition at 11 am, where ten early-stage startups showcased what they were working on, and at 1 pm the event continued with the $25K competition, where ten later stage companies competed for the top prizes. Before the twenty University of Waterloo students and alumni began their 3-minutes pitches, Jay Shah, the Director of Velocity, highlighted the impact of its 315 company portfolio, many of which received seed funding through the Velocity Fund.
The four companies awarded $25K prizes were Brink Bionics, which is developing bionic arms for amputees that use machine learning to seamlessly integrate with the human body; CataLight, which is making safe drinking water accessible for all with a new water treatment solution; Pulse Industrial, which is developing a smart monitoring system for steam traps to improve safety and reduce CO2 emissions and Membio, which is developing a scalable biological manufacturing platform. The $10K prize was awarded to startup Intelline, to help with the additional hardware costs associated with the development of their scalable cryocoolers. These startups will also receive $5,000 in IP legal services from PCK, mentorship, coaching, and workspace in the Velocity Garage, Canada’s most productive startup incubator.
The teams awarded $5K in seed money were Material Futures Lab, which uses bacteria to create natural eco-friendly pigments for textile dyeing; Oleotech, which uses oleophilic properties of fiber from waste tires to remove hydrocarbons in stormwater runoff; FEM in STEM, which is empowering young women to develop careers in underrepresented industries through programming and resources; and PriveHealth, which is developing a gamified cybersecurity training platform for healthcare professionals. Three of the four winning teams are part of Velocity Science, a program in partnership with the Faculty of Science that offers a science lab, community and mentorship program to help students initiate and develop science-based startups. Each of the $5K winners also receives an offer to live in a residence at a discounted rate, offered in partnership with Waterloo Residences.
The judges that decided the fate of the companies pitching were a diverse group of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and senior executives from the Waterloo-Toronto Corridor. The $25K judges included Ted Hastings, Business Advisor; Caitlin MacGregor, CEO of Plum and Jillian Watson, Associate at Golden Ventures. The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition included Daniela Roeper, Founder of Borealis Wind; Kimberly Yeung; Principal at BDC Capital and Ali Zahid, Investor at Ramen Ventures. The judges praised the pitches today and shared many words of encouragement:
“I was really impressed by the quality of the pitches – we could have easily chosen way more than the five winners chosen. I’ve been running my business for seven years now, and it’s hard to encourage others to go down that long, hard path, but I genuinely believe you all deserve to be in businesses long-term.” – $25K judge Caitlin MacGregor, CEO of Plum
This Velocity Fund pitch competition provides nearly $400K in funding a year to foster the startup ambitions of students and alumni, and this program was made possible through donors Ted Livingston and Mike Stork, whose initial and subsequent donations have played a key role in the growth of nearly 100 companies.
Thank you to everyone who participated and congratulations to the winners! If you were unable to watch the event, check out our Facebook live stream recording.
The 23rd (Fall 2018) Velocity Fund Finals is sponsored by Thomson Reuters.
Thomson Reuters provides professionals with the intelligence, technology and human expertise they need to find trusted answers in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, and media markets. The new Thomson Reuters Toronto Technology Centre will create 1,500 high-quality technology jobs in Canada and accelerate research for cognitive computing, visualization, UX, and cloud development.