UW CONCEPT $5K SEMI-FINALS ARE UNDERWAY The combination of funding with supportive and collaborative environments helps propel business ideas into reality. 

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The Concept $5K pitch competition is officially underway, with 21 teams in pursuit of grant funding for their business ventures. 

The competition, which is hosted by Concept by Velocity at the University of Waterloo, provides students with opportunities to showcase their potentially innovative business ideas to a panel of judges and win $5K in grant funding. Concept is Velocity’s experiential innovation hub at the University of Waterloo that fosters entrepreneurship and innovation through online coaching resources, networking opportunity events, and collaboration spaces. By participating in the Concept $5K pitch competition, teams can gain valuable feedback from experienced entrepreneurs and earn pitching experience. 

OrientaMed, one of the teams in the semi-finals, is a team of six people – three founders and three partners. The core team includes Júllia Nascimento, Rheyller Vargas and Nathalia Moraes do Nascimento as the main founders of the breath-based glucometer to replace blood tests. They are supported by a doctor, lawyer and businessman to further guide their research.

OrientaMed’s journey to the $5K pitch competition began with their original product development, which was intended to predict fruit spoilage but was later reimagined into a solution within healthcare. 

The team began their preparation for the Concept $5K pitch competition by researching the field of medical technology devices in Canada that are used for disease diagnosis and envisioned how their device could be implemented in medical diagnosis processes. Through collaboration and support from friends and colleagues, the OrientaMed team honed the future of their device.

“Someone gave me very good advice that I never forget – and that is if someone is nervous about what they are doing, it is an indication that they are doing something extraordinary,” Moraes do Nascimento said. 

Moraes do Nascimiento provided some tips for students who wish to pursue their own business or entrepreneurship ideas through their experience as a startup and the $5K pitching competition. Top of mind for her was the importance of ethical considerations when starting a business, especially in the healthcare field. As a medical-based startup, the necessity to maintain integrity in developing a useful and beneficial product will be a salient pursuit for students who wish to develop a product that delivers value to the market. 

Lastly, Moraes do Nascimiento recounted that when their idea was first presented, it was not well-received. However, Moraes de Nascimiento stated that “instead of being discouraged by the idea, we realised that we had something really different and valuable.” 

The Concept’s $5K pitch competition semi-final pitches will be hosted on Tuesday, June 28th and Wednesday, June 29th.