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Science Heats up at the Velocity Fund Finals

University of Waterloo companies have won big today, receiving $125,000 in funding to build their ventures, but the real winners may be the future recipients of health technologies developed by Velocity Fund Finals (VFF) winners. Of the eight winning companies at the 19th VFF, three companies came from Velocity Science, a partnership with the university’s Faculty of Science, which helps incubate and develop science startups.

The competition began in the morning with the $5K event, where early stage startups showcased what they were working on, and ran into the afternoon with the $25K event, where later stage companies competed for the top prizes. The four companies awarded $25K prizes were VivaSpire, with their lightweight wearable machines that purify oxygen from the air; Altius Analytics Labs which helps occupational groups better manage musculoskeletal injuries; Innovative Protein Technologies, with their eco-friendly crop protection products; and EPOCH, a skills and services marketplace that connects refugees and community members, using time as a means of exchange. These startups will also receive $5,000 in IP legal services from PCK and workspace in the Velocity Garage.

This term, in a first, the additional $10K prize that is typically awarded to one of the four winning $25K hardware or science companies, was separated and awarded to a different company. The $10K winner was Vena Medical for their camera that will allow physicians to see through blood.

The three winners of the $5K competition were HALo, which won with their solution that provides manual wheelchair users with the ability to motorize; QuantWave Technologies won with their faster, cheaper, and simpler pathogen detection system for drinking water and food suppliers; SheLeads is developing games for girls aged 6-10 to encourage leadership skills, offering cost-effective, and scalable solution for schools and education centres to help build the next generation of female leaders.

“Girls aren’t falling behind in curriculum, but they are falling behind in leadership.” – Cassandra Myers, Co-founder of SheLeads

The University of Waterloo student and alumni competitors had just three minutes to demonstrate a solution to a problem, market opportunity, traction, and the ability of their team to succeed. 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).

This term, the event attracted a high caliber of judges from the investment and business community, with judges travelling from Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Toronto, among other places. The $25K judges included Seth Bannon, founding partner, Fifty Years; Dianne Carmichael, chief advisor of health tech, Council of Canadian Innovators; Eric Migicovsky, visiting partner, Y Combinator; Tomi Poutanen, co-CEO, Layer 6 AI. The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Kane Hsieh, investor, Root Ventures; Tobiasz Dankiewicz, co-founder, Reebee; Karen Webb, principal, KWebb Solutions. The judges themselves thought the caliber of competitors was next-level:

“You all explained your traction really well, there is a ton of work ahead of you but really cool visions for the future.” – Eric Migicovsky, $25K judge and visiting partner at Y Combinator

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

The Spring 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.