Velocity is an entrepreneurship program at the University of Waterloo and the largest free start-up incubator in the world. Velocity constantly encourages a collaborative environment. Their participants are expected to share ideas and contribute to the start-up community. Velocity’s importance is uncontested as they support start-up companies through their incubator, grants and extensive network.
The Velocity Garage is based in downtown Kitchener in the Tannery building. They expanded last year and moved to that area. They provide free space for start-up companies. In addition to a workspace, companies accepted to Velocity are given access to mentors, and introduced to potential investors for their company. The space is nearly 37,000 square feet and offers a science lab, assembly space, workshop, prototyping lab, a small fitness room and a basketball court. Velocity provides this space for free and does not take equity from the start-ups operating in its Garage.
Their target audience remains students from the University of Waterloo; however, they do consider applicants of different backgrounds. The requirements to qualify for a space include: less than 10 people on the team and an annual revenue of less than $250,000. In addition to this criteria, start-ups must also contribute to the start-up community, be making progress and have an understanding of business concepts and opportunities.
The Velocity Fund
Velocity also runs a grant program for start-ups that offers $375,000 in total to local start-ups. At their quarterly Velocity Fund Finals, they award four out of ten companies a $25,000 prize fund and three out of ten companies are awarded $5,000 prizes. An additional $10,000 is awarded to the most innovative hardware winner at Velocity Fund Finals. A total of $125,000 in prizes are handed out at Velocity Fund Finals.
To qualify to compete for $25,000 at the competition, teams must submit a written proposal, after which they are interviewed and then ten teams are selected for the Velocity Fund Finals. On the other hand, to qualify to compete for $5,000 at the Velocity Fund Finals, a University of Waterloo student makes a three-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges on one of two night. The top five team from each night is selected to compete at the Velocity Fund Finals and 3 out of ten teams is awarded $5,000.
Notable past winners of the $25,000 prize include: Lumos, MappedIn, Maluuba, Chalk.com, Thalmic Labs, Eyecheck, Salient Energy, Mirage VR and GameLynx.
More information regarding the funding can be found at http://velocity.uwaterloo.ca/funding/velocity-fund/
Further support for the start-up community is demonstrated through the Velocity residence. The Velocity Residence is located in the Minota Hagey Residence on the University of Waterloo campus. The residence provides an innovative and entrepreneurial environment. Most students living on the residence are still in school and work on projects on the side.
The residence is equipped the latest technology which include, Thalmic Labs Myo, Oculus Rift, 3D printer, tablets and smartphone devices. Velocity Bootcamp program is also provided to residents; it is intended to help individuals find a teams and/or projects to work on. Furthermore, a weekly dinner opportunity with a start-up founder is provided. The residence provides a great opportunity to build and develop peer, mentor and professional networks.