Velocity expands to become largest free start-up incubator
Stephen LawElectronics Engineering
Tech giant Google partners with Waterloo program
The University of Waterloo’s Velocity startup program will become North America’s largest free business incubator thanks to a new partnership with tech giant, Google, and the industry-led innovation centre, Communitech.
Occupying space in the Lang Tannery building currently used by Google, Velocity will expand by more than 29,000-square-feet to provide space for up to 120 startups to work and collaborate and benefit from co-location with Communitech’s network of industry partners and supports.
“Startup companies emerging from the University of Waterloo’s entrepreneurship programs are fuelling the growth of the Waterloo Region innovation ecosystem,” says Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. “The expanded facilities will allow our Velocity program’s software, hardware, and life-sciences startups, currently housed in separate buildings, to grow as a community under one roof, and share insights through peer mentorship.”
Velocity’s space in the Tannery will include space for science startups to commercialize research, a dedicated workshop for assembling hardware prototypes, and expanded facilities for startup mentorship.
Velocity and the University are the heart of the dynamic Waterloo regional innovation ecosystem providing the foundation for the region’s economic growth and job creation. Velocity-founded companies have raised in excess of $250 million in venture capital and have created more than 800 jobs since the program started in 2008. PitchBook ranks the University the top school in Canada for venture capital-backed entrepreneurs.
Velocity has created more than 160 companies that are built to last and succeed. Velocity companies have a four-year survival rate of 66 per cent, outperforming the US-average of 48 per cent.
“We know that the Canadian and Ontario economies will continue to depend on new technologies and emerging companies to keep pace with the rest of the world,” said Mike Kirkup, director of the Velocity program at Waterloo. “By providing crucial resources to startups at an early stage – without charge and without taking an equity stake – Velocity is providing a model for cost effective and scalable startup growth across the country and around the world.”
Velocity runs programs on the University campus and in the community. Velocity does not charge companies or students fees to participate and it does not take any equity from startups. In addition to the Velocity Garage at the Lang Tannery in Kitchener, Velocity programming includes a residence for entrepreneurs on Waterloo’s main campus, a dedicated science lab, and a pitch competition that awards $375,000 in non-equity grants a year.
“Velocity sits in Waterloo’s innovation pipeline, allowing students to take knowledge gained from their studies and on co-op work terms to tackle problems with innovative solutions and with support from an expert network,” said Kirkup. “Thanks to our ongoing partnership with Google and Communitech, the Velocity startup community will benefit from more space, equipment, and opportunities for mentorship.”
The expansion of Velocity is enabled by Google’s move into new, larger offices at the nearby Breithaupt Block and a gift of furniture and equipment from the tech company.