About the Velocity program

What would happen if we took the University of Waterloo’s brightest students and gave them access to a learning-focused community of mentors and like-minded peers, the latest equipment, and the resources to turn their business ideas into successful startups? What better place to build such a unique community than University of Waterloo, which Maclean’s Magazine has named “Canada’s most innovative university” 21 years running.

With these questions in mind, the University of Waterloo’s Velocity program was born. Drawing on the Region of Waterloo’s thriving startup community and the University of Waterloo’s most ambitious, entrepreneurial students, Velocity’s first program — the Velocity Residence — was created in 2008. In the years since, Velocity has grown into a set of four interlinked entrepreneurial initiatives: Velocity Residence, Velocity Garage, Velocity Alpha, and the Velocity Fund Finals (VFF).

Each of these unique initiatives supports Velocity’s vision of developing an engaging community that fosters creativity and entrepreneurship while turning students’ ideas into sustainable businesses. They also form the perfect complement to the environment at uWaterloo — a university that holds entrepreneurship as one of its key pillars — by equipping students with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the entrepreneurial space, supporting knowledge sharing among peers, providing access to a diverse network of mentors, and allowing students to maintain ownership of their intellectual property.

Velocity’s commitment to education, idea sharing and the creation of support systems has allowed it to become a highly successful startup community, which contributed to the success of companies like Kik, Thalmic Labs, BufferBox, Vidyard and MappedIn.

Mike Kirkup


Mike Kirkup is Director at Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s startup incubator. Mike joined the Velocity team in 2012 to help foster entrepreneurship throughout the University of Waterloo and the startup community of Kitchener-Waterloo. During his time at Velocity, he has mentored such startup successes as BufferBox, MappedIn and Thalmic Labs, to name a few.

Mike understands both the creative and commercial paths to building successful businesses. For over a decade, he mentored hundreds of startups focused on developing mobile applications. His approachable demeanor and deep understanding of entrepreneurial culture has made him a notable influencer across the Velocity community, Kitchener-Waterloo.

As a student, Mike spent several years at the University of Waterloo, completing an undergraduate degree in Math and a Masters in Management of Technology.

+ 1 226 338 4046

Nancy Heide

Manager, Operations

As our Operations Manager, Nancy makes sure everything at Velocity runs smoothly. Immersed in an energetic atmosphere, she finds it inspiring to be around passionate students who are working hard to make their entrepreneurship dreams a reality. To her, success means finding your passion; something Velocity students do every day. Nancy has been part of Waterloo for 20 years, both as a student and a staff member in Development & Alumni Affairs, Communications & Public Affairs and Marketing & Undergraduate Recruitment.

+ 1 519 404 5596

Hope McCallum

Manager, Marketing & Communications

Hope has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm for taking on any challenge. Hope has also started her own marketing firm, Bee2Bee. She brings over ten years of marketing experience to Velocity, having started with one of the top smartphone manufacturers globally. She has been a Director at one of the top ranked marketing agencies in Chicago and completed her MBA. The ability to choose the best professionals in the industry to support her business endeavours as well as her experience partnering with various clients has motivated her to continue her dream.

+ 1 519 590 9011

Erika Ellacott

Manager, Velocity Programs

As manager of Velocity Programs, Erika enjoys planning and attending all sorts of events, from dinners to Velocity Fund Finals! In fact, as a fourth year French & Business student at University of Waterloo, she spent 8 months studying in France, planning her travels to neighbouring countries, and to various cafés for coffee and baked goods. Erika also loves to bake, often sending emails around the Garage to spread the word on delicious treats at her desk. Erika’s favourite thing about working at Velocity is meeting tons of new people and hearing about innovative startup ideas!

+1 519 573 1799

Annette Van Gerwen

Manager, Public Relations

Annette is the Velocity Public Relations expert. Her job is to let the world know about all of the amazing entrepreneurs and innovative ideas that make up the thriving startup community that is Velocity. Annette is inspired everyday by the many ways that her Velocitizens are changing the world, one innovation at a time.  She’s also more than happy to show off the promising entrepreneurs that emerge from the University of Waterloo into the Velocity program and springboard into greatness in the marketplace.


Peter Heuss

Manager, Velocity Foundry

Peter provides design, manufacturing, and process support to companies involved with the brand new Foundry program. Gained from a long and diverse career in mechanical engineering and manufacturing, Peter specializes in supporting the teams with the expertise needed to develop physical product. Peter’s favourite thing about Velocity is working with the incredible array of companies and entrepreneurs involved with the program. He is incredibly happy to be able to share everything he has done in his career to help teams develop their ideas. Their intelligence, enthusiasm, and spirit is awe inspiring to see and keeps Peter’s love of engineering alive.



Janelle Santi

Programs Assistant

As Programs Assistant, Janelle is very involved in community building events at Velocity. She helps out with weekly workshops, the Velocity Fund Finals and other fun and innovative activities. Janelle is in her second year at the University of Waterloo studying Music and Business, and is very excited for her first coop experience at Velocity. She is very active in basketball and volleyball intramurals on campus, is a Student Ambassador, a basketball referee and enjoys singing in choral ensembles in the city and on campus.



Harkaran Grewal

Facilities Assistant

Hark is the facilities assistant at the Velocity Garage and manages the smooth operation of companies into and out of the space. Hark enjoys the entrepreneurial culture at Velocity and learning new things everyday on the job! He recently finished his 3B term in Biology at the University of Waterloo. He is a sports enthusiast that enjoys working out and watching sports during spare time.