On November 30, twenty University of Waterloo startups pitched at the Velocity Fund Finals, with seven up-and-coming companies walking away with $125K in funding. This was the twentieth edition of a pitch competition that began in 2011, and to date, has awarded more than $2 million in grants, with the total number of companies funded by Velocity now at 122.
Before the 3-minutes pitches began, Jay Shah, the Director of Velocity, reminded the audience of the origins of the Velocity Fund. He credited generous donors Ted Livingston and Mike Stork, whose initial and subsequent donations have made these funding opportunities possible, supporting a plethora of diverse University of Waterloo student and alumni-led companies over the years.
At 11:00am the $5K competition started, where early-stage startups showcased what they were working on, and then at 1:00pm, the $25K competition started, where later stage companies competed for the top prizes. The four companies awarded $25K prizes were Envoi, which offers retailers infrastructure for same day deliveries that is not currently fulfilled by traditional courier services; NanoCnet, which is developing highly flexible, conductive, and cost-effective nanomaterials for use in conductive thin films, a key component of electronics; ShiftRide, with their on-demand mobility platform that gives people access to cars shared by car owners nearby; and Tabnex, which helps businesses make smarter and faster hiring decisions, by providing real-time data and predictive intelligence on candidates. The additional $10K prize was awarded to top hardware company NanoCnet. These startups will also receive $5,000 in IP legal services from PCK and workspace in the Velocity Garage startup incubator.
“The current flexible electronics industry is facing major changes. Traditional conductive materials, which are the building blocks of electronics, have serious problems; they are either expensive, non-flexible, or degrade quickly, which limits the performance and form factors of future electronic devices. We’re developing a fundamentally different approach using nanotechnology to create a new generation of conductive materials that are easy to fabricate, flexible, and 20 times more durable than existing materials on the market.”
– Hadi Hosseinzadeh Khaligh, co-founder and CEO of NanoCnet
Of the three $5K winners, two had an environmental focus. GreenSorbs won with their sorbent booms made from landfill waste, which are used to help clean up oil spills, and QALM with their smart steam tap monitoring solution that makes invisible leaks visible. The final $5K winner, SannTek, won with their nanotechnology-based sensor to quantify marijuana intoxication in real-time.
This term, the pitch competition attracted a high caliber of judges from the Waterloo-Toronto Corridor, including several venture capitalists and senior executives. $25K judges included Eva Lau, Managing Partner of Two Small Fish Ventures; Karamdeep Nijjar, Partner at iNovia Capital; Christopher Reid, CEO & Founder of Sortable; and Jennifer Smith; past Executive Vice President of Product Management & Engineering at Christie Digital Systems.
The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition included Steven Fyke, Creative Director of SnapPea Design; Heather Galt, VP Marketing and Head of Advanced Programs at Communitech; and Zoran Hristov, Quality Manager at AirBoss Rubber Compounding.
“I’m very impressed with the competition, and the markets being pursued. As someone in the industry, I’m excited about what is happening here, and in Canada.” – Zoran Hristov, $5K Judge
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 March 2018 and will see you then as we give away another $125K in seed money to emerging startups!
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.