The Quantum Nano Centre crackled with politely contained excitement as over 30 burgeoning tech startup students gathered for the Velocity Fund $5K Qualifiers on Wednesday, Nov. 16 and Thursday, Nov. 17.

Students and spectators were welcomed to watch the hopeful startup companies pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. The qualifiers are designed to help give new startups an opportunity to practice their presentation, question answering, and persuasive speaking skills. At the end of the two evenings of pitches, 10 teams were chosen to move on to compete for the three winning spots in the Velocity Fund $5K Finals, to be held Dec. 1.

Each team had exactly three minutes to pitch their solution to a real-world problem to the judges and a packed auditorium of interested students. Afterwards, the judges gave feedback regarding presentation style and the strength of their ideas.

Photo courtesy Velocity
Photo courtesy Velocity

One pitch that had audiences leaning in was from VivaSpire, a group composed of Mostafa Saquib, Chris Hajduck, John Grousopoulos, and Pablo Enrique. Their pitch highlighted their goal to improve oxygen therapy technology: “We are developing a portable oxygen concentrator designed to be half the size of competing devices. Patients using the device will benefit from a smaller profile, lighter weight, and silent operation,” they explained to the judges and audience. “Portable oxygen concentrators have an average battery life of four hours. We aim to provide a full day of oxygen therapy, eliminating the need to carry extra batteries or recharge several times a day.”

Event organizers were pleased with the success of the pitches and proudly announced the winners on their website on Nov 18 in a special post.

They also explained the importance of events like the Fund Finals: “The Velocity Fund Finals $5K competition provides equity-free funding to early-stage startups to help remove some of the barriers that can hinder innovation and entrepreneurial growth … The judges provided feedback to each student on their pitching style, as well as valuable insight to help improve their business idea.”

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Photo courtesy Velocity

Velocity is a unique entrepreneurship program at UW that also funds a gigantic workspace downtown Kitchener called the Velocity Garage. The aim of Velocity is to nurture and assist students from UW to apply their education to real world businesses, services, and innovations. Velocity takes no equity, intellectual property, or cash from the students they incubate. Velocity runs on significant donations and private sponsorship. If a company that donated money to Velocity needs new ideas or employees, they have an entire garage of educated, motivated students to choose from and a previously established relationship with Velocity.

The finals for the Velocity Fund $5K pitch will be held on Dec. 1 in the SLC Great Hall and will be livestreamed online. The first 200 audience members receive a free lunch and each person that watches will be entered to win a pair of Beats headphones. The $5K finals begin at 11:00 a.m. and the $25K competition begins at 1:00 p.m.

Finalists of Velocity Fund $5K

Chasr Athletics aims to use sports analytics to enhance training for athletes and coaches, by developing a system of “smart” athletic cones that can track and time athletes throughout their drills.

DropLab is automating lab work using the power of digital microfluidics.

Eggplantr is making it easier to establish and maintain food gardens by developing a digital tool to generate and print permaculture planting layout plans on biodegradable weed barriers.

Elementary has created an innovative digital solution to the problems bridge inspectors face every day.

Happen is a virtual reality simulation glove for stroke therapy that provides an affordable at-home alternative to physical therapy.

Intelline is working to modernize power distribution infrastructure with an emphasis on integration between the current electrical grid, distributed power generation, and electric vehicles.

Kinetic Imaging is working to reduce the cost of high speed cameras, which typically range in price from $1,000 to upwards of $100,000, by using a novel technique for capturing high speed video.

Sienci Labs is making rapid prototyping faster and more accessible for innovators with its Sienci Mill One, a desktop machine that provides an affordable option for turning designs into real objects.

VivaSpire develops superior portable oxygen delivery systems for patients in need of oxygen therapy, by increasing oxygen output while also providing additional user comfort, and a more compact profile.

ZetoTec is developing a multi-platform application that allows tradespeople to operate their company or crew at maximum efficiency by managing company resources and financial data in real-time.

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