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Tech Innovators Pitch for $125,000 at the Velocity Fund Finals

Entrepreneurs took to the stage today to pitch their startups to a panel of venture capitalists and experienced businesspeople at the 18th Velocity Fund Finals. University of Waterloo students and alumni had just three minutes to demonstrate a solution to a problem, market opportunity, traction, and ability of their team to succeed. With a shot at winning their share of $125,000 in seed money, and workspace in the Velocity Garage, many of the competitors had the judges on the edge of their seats.

Taking place in the Student Life Centre at UWaterloo, hundreds of students, faculty, entrepreneurs, investors, and community leaders gathered to witness the startups pitch. The Velocity Fund enables founders to build their business faster, and provides a vehicle for startups to get much needed funding and exposure to industry investors. Jay Shah, Director of Velocity, kicked-off the $25K portion of the competition by announcing a huge milestone for the comprehensive entrepreneurship program:

“I am pleased to announce that companies we have supported, many of which received financial support here at the Velocity Fund Finals, have now collectively raised over $500 million dollars in funding. This is a clear signal that investors – people whose jobs are to identify promising businesses – are putting their money into companies born right here at the University of Waterloo.”
– Jay Shah, director of Velocity.

This high caliber of companies was apparent with the winners of this term’s Velocity Fund Finals. The companies awarded $25K prizes were: EMAGINGamelynxMarlena Books, and Serenity Bioworks, with Serenity Bioworks receiving an additional $10K in funding for the additional costs associated with building a science-based startup. These startups will also receive $5,000 in IP legal services from PCK.

EMAGIN leverages artificial intelligence to help water utilities proactively manage their infrastructure.

Gamelynx uses cutting-edge web app technology to create games and interactive experiences that bring people together for face-to-face play. Gamelynx combines the fun and social interaction of party and board games, with the convenience and power of mobile web gaming.

Marlena Books creates therapeutic recreation products for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia, specializing in hardcopy books that make reading enjoyable and dignifying. Marlena Books is expanding into the tech space with e-books and a recreation app for individuals with more advanced dementia.

Serenity Bioworks is developing novel medicine formulasto improve the long-term effectiveness and safety of anti- inflammatory medication.

The three winners of the $5K competition were more early-stage startups that will use the funding to grow their businesses. Para won with their cloud-based application that guides adults in creating a comprehensive estate and end-of-life plan, Rugelach, Roswell and Rufus won with their novel EMS spine board to more accurately weigh children in paediatric emergencies, and ShiftRide won with their car sharing platform that allows people to rent a car from other people nearby.

Each year, we are more and more impressed with the quality of pitches, and are always ecstatic to see new students exposed to entrepreneurship (even by just being in the audience).

“You may not self-identify as an entrepreneur, but the idea to problem-solve is inherent in all of us”, said Jay Shah. “If there is one thing to take away from this event, it is that you don’t need a formalized idea to take part in entrepreneurship. We have workshops, startup coaching, and programs available to help you get there.”

Thank you to everyone who participated and congratulations to the winners! If you were unable to watch the event, check out our livestream recording. We are already planning the next Velocity Fund Finals in July and will see you then as we give away another $125K in seed money to emerging startups!

The Winter 2017 Velocity Fund Finals is sponsored by Thomson Reuters and Sequoia

Thomson Reuters provides professionals with the intelligence, technology and human expertise they need to find trusted answers in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, and media markets. The new Thomson Reuters Toronto Technology Centre will create 1,500 high-quality technology jobs in Canada and accelerate research for cognitive computing, visualization, UX, and cloud development.