Last night, ten University of Waterloo teams competed head-to-head at the Problem Pitch Competition. Each team presented a 5-minute pitch on an important industry problem, providing research that focused on its history, scope, and impact, rather than any solutions. At stake was a share of $7,500 in grants for R&D to develop a solution to the problem identified.

Teams of up to four students put everything on the line with their pitch to an audience of 100+ students, faculty, and community members. Co-hosting the event was Crista Renner, Business Advisor at Velocity, and Ben Graham, Problem Lab Researcher. Kicking off the event was Larry Smith, legendary Economics Professor, and the mastermind behind the Problem Lab.

Problem Pitch Audience

After each pitch, teams answered questions from a panel of judges including Joel Blit, Professor of Economics at the University of Waterloo; Laura Allan, Executive Director of the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation at Wilfrid Laurier University; and Mike Kirkup, CTO of Encircle, and former Director of Velocity. They made the tough decision to pick the night’s winners:

SannTek won the first place prize of $5,000 for their pitch on the lack of THC detection methods that accurately quantify marijuana intoxication in real-time.

Winning the second place prize of $2,500 prize was PolyGone, with their pitch on how microfibers from synthetic materials in the textile industry are increasingly deposited in water supplies and food sources.

The audience had their say in selecting the People’s Choice Winner, voting Sec-Int as the winner, including Kobo Auras for everyone on the team. Sec-Int’s pitch identified how smart devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) do not employ adequate security.

Well done to all the teams who competed and thank-you to the audience who came out to watch!

Now, an update from last term’s first place winner, Intelline. With their winnings from the Problem Pitch Competition, Kyle Faller, Ankil Patel, and Chris Mathew were able to greatly advance their research into cost-effective cryocooling systems. They have designed and built their first functional cryocooler, and are in the development phase of a new modular prototype.

Love pitch competitions? Check out these upcoming events at Velocity:
Velocity Fund $5K Qualifiers: Early-stage startup pitches | November 15 and November 16
Velocity Fund Finals: Twenty startups pitch for $125K in funding | November 30