Velocity Fund awards next generation of startups $125K in seed money
Today we hosted the 16th Velocity Fund Finals, where exceptional startups had just 3 minutes to sell judges and audience members on their business. Held in the Student Life Centre at the University of Waterloo, hundreds of students, faculty, entrepreneurs, and community members joined together for the chance to witness the next generation of innovative startups receive $125,000 in funding, and entry into the Velocity Garage startup incubator.
Associate Director of Velocity and MC, Nancy Heide, shared major milestones the Velocity program has accomplished in its last year, including opening up a new 6,000 sq. ft. space on campus to discover entrepreneurship, the opening of a new science lab, and the expansion of the Velocity Garage, to become the largest free startup incubator in the world. The mic was then handed to Sandra Banks, University Relations at the UWaterloo who introduced a special guest, the Honourable Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier of Ontario, and Minister for Advanced Education and Skills Development. Matthews celebrated the start of the event with a few words about the Waterloo ecosystem:
“When I come to Waterloo I feel like I’m in an oxygen chamber, the energy is so fantastic. You are the future, and what is going to drive Ontario’s economy forward.”
Matthews also acknowledged how the Velocity Fund came to be, when in 2011, Ted Livingston, Kik Founder, and Velocity Residence alumnus, donated $1 million back to the program.
“Ted is super generous and when his company became successful he decided to help the next generation, and reminded us to send the elevator back down.”
As the $5K competition kicked off, participants demonstrated a problem, solution, traction, team fit, and next steps. The competition was on fire and by noon, three teams walked away with a $5K cheque: Gymnatik, The Playful Pixel, and MycoCup, which was voted in as the People’s Choice award winner.
Lunch followed, and those interested had the opportunity to network with the companies that pitched. With $110K on the line, the crowd grew in anticipation of the afternoon’s $25K competition. After the first and second pitch, the panel of esteemed entrepreneurs and venture capital judges sensed the challenging decision ahead of them in selecting four winning teams. In the end, Knote, CubeXLab Technologies, Salient Energy and UpGrain Inc. held up their $25,000 cheques! Salient Energy was also the top hardware or science company, and took home an additional $10,000 prize!
CubeXLab Technologies provides automated vision inspection solutions that are highly affordable, flexible and easy-to-use for part and component manufacturers in automotive, fastener, plastic injection and pharmaceutical industries.
Knote offers a natural language processing platform to help companies leverage the power of artificial intelligence in documents and big data processing. Their tools enable companies to support employees by automating routine, time consuming work, and by improving efficiency.
Salient Energy is commercializing a revolutionary new battery based on research at the University of Waterloo. Their zinc-ion battery is perfectly suited, both technically and economically, for storing electricity in the grid.
UpGrain uses low frequency electro-magnetic field stimulation of seeds to increase overall yield of various crops by 20 percent. They use advanced mathematical algorithms to calculate the most suitable time to maximize treatment effects on seeds.
Congratulations to all of today’s winners, and a job well done to everyone who pitched at the event! It was an impressive showing from all competitors, and worth celebrating. We extend a big thank you to those who came out to watch the competition. If you were unable to witness the event, be sure to check out the livestream recording. We are already planning for the next Velocity Fund Finals in December and will see you then as we give away another $125K in seed money to emerging startups!