Every day at Velocity is filled with energy and new breakthrough ideas. But today was more exciting than usual because Velocity received a visit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains. Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Bains visited the Velocity Science lab at the University of Waterloo and met Velocity Science startups, in addition to making an announcement about an investment of $12 Million in funding to bring industry and academic researchers together to build the next generation of water technologies.
The visit comes during a key phase of growth for Velocity. The startup program at the University of Waterloo is opening new facilities to drive innovation, including a new on-campus science lab, an entrepreneurship discovery space, and the expansion of the Velocity Garage startup incubator.
Students from all six of Waterloo’s faculties participate in Velocity Science, a partnership between Velocity and the Faculty of Science. Velocity Science helps students discover science-based entrepreneurship through community events, and provides new startups with the mentorship, lab space, and support needed to validate their ideas. In February, Velocity Science is tripling its on-campus lab to more than 2,600 square feet, which will house the program until it moves into a new 7,000 square foot home in the Faculty of Science’s upcoming state of the art Science Complex, announced last year.
“It’s always a pleasure to see so many innovative, enthusiastic young people and extraordinarily inspiring Faculty. Thank you so much for showing me some of the great work that’s being done here at this amazing institution.”
– Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
This week, Velocity also announced that it has opened the doors to Velocity Start, a new 6,000 square foot space at the University of Waterloo, for people who want to learn about entrepreneurship and develop the skills, networks, and mentors to grow a business. This facility is located on the second floor of South Campus Hall, and in addition to lounge and workspace, it offers a 650 square foot maker space with 3D printers and hand tools, startup coaching, weekly workshops, and panel discussions.
“Velocity Start is the entry point for any students who want to explore entrepreneurship, ” said Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity. “We want to equip prospective entrepreneurs with the mentorship, tools, and collaborative environment needed to develop their ideas, in order to inspire and support the next wave of world-class startups out of Waterloo.”
In November, Velocity announced that it will expand its Velocity Garage startup incubator in downtown Kitchener by more than 29,000 square feet to provide space for up to 120 startups to work and collaborate. This expansion will include a wet lab for science startups to commercialize research, a dedicated workshop for assembling hardware prototypes, and expanded facilities for startup mentorship. Many of the companies in this expanded facility have emerged from the Velocity Science program.
Velocity does not charge companies or students fees to participate and it does not take any equity from startups, part of the University of Waterloo’s commitment to innovation. More than 160 companies have emerged from the program since its inception in 2008, raising in excess of $250 million in venture capital, and creating over 800 jobs. This places Velocity and the University at the heart of the Waterloo regional innovation ecosystem, providing the foundation for the region’s economic growth and job creation.
In addition to the Velocity Garage at the Lang Tannery in Kitchener, Velocity programming includes Velocity Residence, a residence for people interested in entrepreneurship on Waterloo’s main campus, and the Velocity Fund, a pitch competition that awards $375,000 in non-equity grants a year. Applications for the next Velocity Fund will open on February 8.