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Velocity Garage celebrates Grand Opening, now the largest free startup incubator in the world

Today, Velocity celebrated the Grand Opening of the Velocity Garage, after completing extensive renovations in the Tannery building in downtown Kitchener. At 37,000 square feet, the facility offers workspace for up to 120 companies to work, as well as business mentorship, equipment, and a vibrant startup community. In addition to workspace, the facility includes a new science lab, assembly space, workshop, and prototyping lab for companies developing hardware and science innovations.

There is much to celebrate; Velocity has facilitated the growth of 175 companies since the program started in 2008 as a dorm for student entrepreneurs. Its companies have raised $425 million in funding and created more than 1,200 jobs. One of the core differentiators between Velocity and other incubators and accelerators, is that we do not charge companies fees or take any equity from startups, meaning that with this expansion, Velocity is now the largest free startup incubator in the world.

“What is happening here is important, not just to our community, but also the world,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “Velocity companies continue to be leaders in solving important, global problems, while building profitable businesses along the way.”

The project came together through a trio of partnerships, including the City of Kitchener, which provided $500,000 in funding to build the new science lab at the Garage, to foster the development of startups commercializing science research. Velocity benefits from co-location in the Tannery alongside Communitech, whose network of industry partners and support services are accessible to its companies. The expansion of Velocity was also enabled by Google’s move into new offices at the nearby Breithaupt Block, and a gift of furniture from the tech company to help get settled in quickly.

The Velocity Garage Grand Opening received a show of support from Daiene Vernile, MPP, Kitchener-Centre; Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor, City of Kitchener; and Feridun Hamdullahpur, President & Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo, who joined Velocity Director Jay Shah in a ribbon cutting ceremony.

“Velocity is a key component of the region’s innovation ecosystem and a symbol that the University of Waterloo is leading in economic growth and job creation through entrepreneurship,” said Jay Shah, director of Velocity.

The Velocity Garage expansion follows a series of major projects for Velocity this year, including the opening of Velocity Start, a 6,000-square-foot entrepreneurship discovery space on campus at the University of Waterloo, offering startup workshops, coaching, and a makerspace. Velocity Science, a partnership with the Faculty of Science, opened a new 2,500-square-foot science lab in the spring to provide entrepreneurs with the lab equipment, resources, and guidance needed to develop world-class science companies. Velocity programs also include the Velocity Residence, a dorm for student entrepreneurs, from which the Velocity program began in 2008, and the Velocity Fund, Canada’s premiere pitch competition, which awards $375,000 in non-equity grants a year.