Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Celebrating a Decade of Impact: Entrepreneurship complements learning and research at Waterloo

President Hamdullahpur celebrates with members of ApplyBoard

By Natalie Quinlan. This article was also published on Waterloo News.

The evolution of Waterloo's entrepreneurial ecosystem over the last decade is one of the University's most celebrated achievements.

During his time as President and Vice-Chancellor, Feridun Hamdullahpur has supported the expansion of six entrepreneurship programs on campus, including Waterloo and Stratford’s Accelerator Centre, the Centre for Peace AdvancementSt. Paul’s University College Greenhouse, the Problem Lab and Waterloo’s flagship entrepreneurship program Velocity, which launched its campus focused program Concept in 2019. 

Today, Waterloo is recognized as home to entrepreneurship education in Canada and one of the nation’s top universities for venture capital-backed enterprises. These results have produced a large share of Canada’s tech founders, with 19 per cent having received undergraduate education at Waterloo and 474 University of Waterloo entrepreneurs having raised $12.9B (Pitchbook 2020). 

“The continued investment into Velocity and other entrepreneurship programs under President Hamdullahpur’s leadership has helped pave the way/ to well over one billion dollars invested capital into Velocity companies alone since 2010,” says Adrien Côté, executive director of Velocity. “This has been made possible by Feridun’s ongoing support toward both early-stage and early-scale companies, launch micro-VC funds and enable multiple expansions of the incubator including its new home, the Innovation Arena, on Waterloo’s Health Sciences Campus.” 

Bridging innovation and research 

Under Hamdullahpur’s tenure and encouragement to progress the University’s creator-owned IP policy, Waterloo has continued to attract top researchers at the graduate and faculty levels. Waterloo has also consistently remained Canada’s #1 research university (comprehensive category) during his 10 years at Waterloo (Research Infosource 2020). 

This research, paired with the institution’s strong startup culture, has led to countless national and international ventures in the areas of astrophysics, sustainability, robotics, advanced manufacturing, health technologies, quantum science, artificial intelligence and aging research. 

“Waterloo is internationally recognized for its ability to attract and retain world-renowned researchers,” says Charmaine Dean, vice-president Research and International. “Under Feridun's leadership, University researchers have been supported in the development of ground-breaking technologies, some that have gone on to win prestigious awards and earn international media coverage.” 

Students committed to impact 

At the heart of Hamdullahpur’s time at Waterloo has been the University’s emergence as a community that supports the ideas and inventions of students, who think big and take risks to challenge global industries, create new companies and   thousands of jobs . 

Take ApplyBoard — one of many ground-breaking Waterloo alumnus companies. Founded in 2015 by Martin Basiri (MASc ’13) and brothers, ApplyBoard simplifies the study abroad search, application and acceptance process by connecting international students, recruitment partners and academic institutions on one platform. Today, the company has grown to more than 750+ team members with representatives in more than 20 countries. From celebrating their headquarters’ grand opening in downtown Kitchener, to joining their Canadian advisory board, Hamdullahpur has been a supportive hand behind the company. 

"The encouragement and support we received from the University of Waterloo and President Hamdullahpur has been a powerful catalyst for ApplyBoard," says ApplyBoard Co-Founder and CEO, Martin Basiri. "Feridun's legacy of impact, not only on Canada's but the world's tech ecosystem, has been immense. We are certainly better off for his pioneering work in supporting entrepreneurs." 

Thanks to Hamdullahpur, this past decade has been one of the most impactful for the University yet, positioning the University as an international leader in the area of game-changing entrepreneurship and award-winning research for years to come. 

Join us as we celebrate Feridun Hamdullahpur's Decade of Impact at the University of Waterloo

Benefit changes came into effect May 1

Human Resources has circulated a memo to employees outlining the various benefit changes that went into effect as of May 1, 2021.

"On May 1st of each year, the contracts that cover the University of Waterloo’s extended health, dental, long-term disability, and life insurance benefits are subject to a rate renewal," says the note from Human Resources. "Pension contribution rates are not subject to an annual renewal, but changes are required through time. Where applicable, new rates are applied, and employee deductions processed."

Employees will notice an increase in payroll deductions for the following benefit rate increases, according to HR:

  • Pension (employee contributions) will increase by 6.5 per cent;
  • Long term disability deductions will increase by 50 per cent;
  • Basic life by 14 per cent (only if coverage is in excess of one times earnings);
  • Extended health by 4.7 per cent (only applicable to part-time employees); and
  • Dental by 4.8 per cent (only applicable to part-time employees).

If you have questions about the deductions, please visit the Benefits Rates section to understand more about your benefits. For questions regarding these rates, please contact Human Resources at

Professor Kelly Grindrod talks vaccines in special podcast episode

Professor Kelly Grindrod.

The Beyond the Bulletin podcast produced a special bonus episode, released on Monday, May 3, on the topic of vaccinations in the runup to the Return to Campus Town Hall scheduled for Tuesday, May 11.

Professor Kelly Grindrod is a member of the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy, and is the pharmacy lead on the Region of Waterloo COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Taskforce.

Professor Grindrod first spoke with Pamela on the podcast episode April 9, however much has changed on this topic in the span of a few weeks. Professor Grindrod returned for a special interview to keep you updated on what’s happening now, and what’s likely to happen in the fall.

These interviews have been condensed for space and clarity.

April 9 interview

In addition to teaching at the School of Pharmacy, you work at the COVID-19 vaccination centre at the Health Sciences Campus in downtown Kitchener. What is your role there?

I do a lot of different things. My main role when I’m there is as a pharmacist, managing the inventory. When the vaccine arrives, and we get it in the fridge, we start to prepare all the doses for all the vaccinators and we manage the inventory throughout the day. But then I also occasionally vaccinate as well. Sometimes I go in with a different hat and I sit with the vaccinators and I stick needles in arms.

How many jabs a day are you doing?

We can do over 700 a day, the most we've gotten up to is 640 give or take the last couple of weeks. The last week or so we actually haven't had enough vaccine in the region to go to our maximum. So, we've been doing about 450 doses a day. And that more has to do with the fact that we just weren't getting enough vaccine into the region.

And it's a Pfizer location, right? There you only give out the Pfizer vaccine.

That's right. The Pfizer vaccine is really tricky to work with. It's very fragile. It has a bunch of transportation requirements around it. So, the main sites, the large sites, that’s the Boardwalk, the Waterloo campus site, and then the one down in Cambridge, they're all going to be Pfizer vaccines because we need that bigger infrastructure to manage the Pfizer vaccine.

That brings me to the topic of people's misperceptions and things that people really should know about the vaccine and the vaccine administration program or the vaccine rollout. Let's first talk a bit about vaccine hesitancy. So, there are people out there who don't want the vaccine. What are you hearing?

You've got a good chunk of the population, say, 60 per cent, or possibly more, but the majority of the population who are ready to get the vaccine. You know, they just need an appointment. And there’s a lot of the people who are angry right now about how slow the rollout has been. There are people who wanted to be vaccinated three months ago. There's another chunk of the population who need some questions answered. There's something holding them back and so you refer to it as vaccine hesitancy. A lot of people are also talking about the need to build vaccine confidence. These might be people who don't have confidence yet in the vaccine. That's maybe 20, 25 per cent of that remaining population. The people who are truly anti-vaccine are actually a very small portion of the population. So, you might get maybe 5 per cent of the population. They just are a very loud group; they have a very outsized footprint. You see a lot from them on social media. The vast majority of the population is either very willing to get vaccinated or just need some information to make the decision.

But there are also people who are just afraid of needles.

That is so common. The difference is, and I found this very interesting, a number of people have said, “Oh, I haven't gotten a flu shot in 20 years, but I'm here, oh, my doctor’s going to be so happy I actually showed up.” So for those folks, they often have to work up the courage to actually get there to get the needle. But the other part of that is we use very tiny needles. And people don't realize that they keep mentioning on the news, they use such big needles, and it's just so stressful…It's really important that we actually shift away from images of needles going in arms to, you know, like putting a Band-Aid on an arm after it's been done. It's very short. It doesn't have to be these constant images of needles.

Another thing we're hearing is that the vaccine came about so quickly. We're not used to having a vaccine show up so quickly. And now we've got several on the market and available, should that be a concern for people?

That's one of the most common questions I've gotten. And that's one of the most common reasons why people are uncertain. So, for example, they may want to get the vaccine, but they don't feel ready to get the vaccine yet because they feel like it's happened too fast. So they're not anti-vaccine, they're just not sure. The thing to know about this is that the technology that is being used in all the different kinds of vaccines, so the four different vaccines approved for use in Canada, they're either an mRNA vaccine, which is Moderna, and Pfizer, or they're a viral vector vaccine, which is AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson. Each of those were being researched for quite some time over the last decade, especially. But a lot of this research goes back decades. And the researchers who worked on this had a really hard time getting money to fund this vaccine research. It was slow going.

The mRNA vaccine, the Moderna and Pfizer, this is the first mRNA vaccine that we've had on the market. This is huge. I mean, this is monumental. What happened, the world all of a sudden got together, put so many resources into it, they ran these trials together, and it was transparent. Governments worked together, and drug companies worked together. And we have we put so many resources into this, that it sped up the research, they were able to overlap trials, no one was begging for money, no one was asking for money. They designed these things to be done quickly…It was upside of the pandemic with unprecedented organization, cooperation and funding for science.

Bonus episode interview

Kelly, one of the key take-aways from that interview is we did not have enough vaccine in the Region of Waterloo to get everyone vaccinated when it’s their time.

It is. It's the case this week. It's the case right now in some of the clinics. We're not actually vaccinating each day, we're opting to, you know, as soon as we get a shipment, get as much of it out as we can the first few days of the clinic. But the great news is, there's an awful lot of Pfizer that's slated to start coming in in the month of May. And so, we're actually going to start seeing things really pick up probably about the middle of May…our supply is almost going to double in the region.

We know about blood clots that can result from getting the vaccine. In particular, it's been in the news about AstraZeneca. And we know that somebody in Quebec recently unfortunately did pass away from getting a blood clot after getting the vaccine. What do you want people to know, despite all this?

This is probably one of the most challenging conversations to have around vaccines. Because when we think of a medication and having a risk, it's often you know, you can really weigh the risks and the benefits and things are clear, whereas this one is still emerging. It's still evolving. We're still learning about it. But the part that's changing, is the fact that the virus is really bad right now. And when the virus is really bad, the risk of the virus is really high, and the risk of complications from the virus is really high. It's called vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT. What the risk is the vaccine triggers this kind of immune reaction with your platelets that causes a lot of

clots at the same time as depleting the platelets, and so you also get bleeding with it. It's not the same as getting like a single clot in your calf.

Now the rate of them, early on they said it might be one in a million. And then the rate went to about, say, four in a million. Where we seem to be at right now, based on data coming out of Norway and the UK, is somewhere around one in 100,000. It could be as high as one in 50,000. What we're also seeing, though, is we are learning how to diagnose it and recognize it to treat it. It can be managed. All of this is always in the context of the fact that COVID, we have a lot of COVID right now, and one of the ways people get really sick from COVID or die from COVID, is blood clots. So, one in 100 people who get COVID get a blood clot. One in five people who are hospitalized with COVID develop a blood clot. So COVID in and of itself is a very clotty infection. It causes a lot of clots. And that's why it's very unusual. People might say, “I don't want that.” But you know, COVID itself is extremely dangerous.

So let's say we all have our first shot by the end of the summer, what can we do then?

That's the million-dollar question. Everybody wants to know that. So right now, things are trending in the right way. If they keep going in the same way we might find that we actually get to have a good summer virus-wise, numbers-wise. So that's the first question. It's not even about vaccines, it's about virus. By the summer do we have the community spread controlled enough that we don't have a ton of people out in workplaces for example, you know, family gatherings likely to have COVID? Separate from that you've got all your first dose people in my mind. What that means it's probably not as much as what people think. So it probably it might mean comfortable gatherings outdoors. We might start to see gatherings, you know, slightly larger gatherings allowed. So, I think we should expect a very gradual opening up, probably not unlike what we've seen previously. The problem was when they opened up previously, that often led us into the next wave. The hope would be as they do that over the summer, and we've got large portions of people at least partially vaccinated, that it doesn't trigger another wave. That's what we're waiting to see. When we're really looking at not having these restrictions anymore, is probably in the new year. Probably, once we get through December 2021. After the new year, into 2022, that's probably when we're going to start. I'm hoping things will start to feel more normal again.

Listen to the entire interview on the Beyond the Bulletin Podcast SoundCloud page.

Link of the day

International Day of the Midwife

When and Where to get support

Students can visit the Student Success Office online for supports including academic development, international student resources, leadership development, exchange and study abroad, and opportunities to get involved.

Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment.

Course templates are available within your course in LEARN to help you build and edit your content and assignment pages quickly.

The following workshops, webinars, and events are offered by the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

Employees can access resources to help them work remotely, including managing University records and privacy of personal information. Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

Stay informed about COVID cases on campus by consulting the COVID case tracker.

The Writing and Communication Centre has virtual services and programs to help undergrads, grad students, postdocs and faculty members with academic writing.

Co-op students can get help finding a job and find supports to successfully work remotely, develop new skills, access wellness and career information, and contact a co-op or career advisor.

The Centre for Career Action assists undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, staff, faculty, and alumni through navigating career services that are right for them. You can attend a one-on-one appointment or same day drop-in session at the CCA for assistance with cover letter writing, career planning and much more. You can also book an appointment online or visit our Live Chat to connect with our Client Support Team. The CCA is here to help you.

If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health Services or  Counselling Services. You can also contact the University's Centre for Mental Health Research and TreatmentGood2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline available to all students.

The Library has published a resource guide on how to avoid information overload.

The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the FAUW blog for more information.

The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the UWSA blog for more information.

The Indigenous Initiatives Office is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the university Indigenization strategy.

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, based at St. Paul’s University College, provides support and resources for Indigenous students, and educational outreach programs for the broader community, including lectures, and events.

WUSA supports for students:

Peer support  - MATES, Glow Centre, RAISE, Women’s Centre - Visit to book an appointment

Bike Centre – Will be reopening soon

Campus Response Team, ICSN, Off Campus Community and Co-op Connection all available online. Check for more details.

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. If you have any questions please email us at

Centre for Academic Policy Support - CAPS is here to assist Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. Please contact them at caps@wusa.caMore information is available.

WUSA Commissioners who can help in a variety of areas that students may be experiencing during this time:

WUSA Student Legal Protection Program - Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time facing a legal issue. The legal assistance helpline provides quick access to legal advice in any area of law, including criminal. Just call 1-833-202-4571

Empower Me is a confidential mental health and wellness service that connects students with qualified counsellors 24/7. They can be reached at 1-833-628-5589.

When and Where (but mostly when)

Healthy Warriors at Home (Online Fitness)

Drop-in to Warrior Virtual Study Halls on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Come together in this virtual space to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

Renison English Language Institute continues to offer virtual events and workshops to help students practice their English language skills.

Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle. Join your fellow Warriors, donate blood and help us win the Blood Battle against Laurier for a second year in a row. Set up a profile or add the PFL code: UNIV960995 to your account if you have a account already. Questions? Contact

Dissertation Boot Camp, Friday, May 7.

NEW - IT Seminar: MS Power BI Analytics at UW, Friday May 7, 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Join online.

NEW - Virtual Writing Café, Tuesday, May 11, 9:00 a.m.

Return to Campus Virtual Town Hall, Tuesday, May 11, 1:30 p.m.

Breaking Free From Low Mood, Tuesday, May 11, 2:30 p.m.

NEW - PJ-Friendly Writing Groups, Wednesday, May 12, 10:00 a.m.

36th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Biomaterials Society, Thursday, May 13 to Saturday, May 15. Hosted by the University of Waterloo.

Indigenous-Mennonite Encounters: Conference Preview, Thursday, May 13, 10:00 a.m.

NEW - Engineering Term Olympics, Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15.

Lectures in Catholic Experience presents The Black Church in Canada featuring Carol Duncan, PhD, professor, Department of Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University, Friday, May 14, 7:30 p.m., online.

NEW - Centering Indigenous engagement in the work of wellbeing and health promotion, Monday, May 17, 1:00 p.m.

NEW - Ballet After Dark: Strength & Healing Through the Arts, Tuesday, May 18, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

NEW - Health Challenges Forum, Tuesday, May 18, 2:00 p.m.

NEW - Warriors Athletics and Recreation Spring Virtual Open House. Tuesday, May 18, 4:00 p.m. Learn about how to stay active and engaged this spring term. Register now.

NEW - How faculty members can counter anti-Black racism in universities, Wednesday, May 19, 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable on the UWaterloo Talent Acquisition System (iCIMS):

  • Job ID# 2021-6468 - Senior Construction Coordinator - Plant Operations, USG 8 - 9
  • Job ID# 2021-6303 - Social Media Manager - Marketing & Strategic Initiatives, University Relations, USG 10
  • Job ID# 2021-6490 - Software Technical Support Specialist - Office of Advancement, USG 10

Secondments/Internal temporary opportunities 

  • Job ID# 2021-6406 - Communications Officer, New Student Transition - Student Success Office, USG 7
  • Job ID# 2021-6370 - Data Analyst and Evaluation Specialist - Student Success Office, USG 8
  • Job ID# 2021-6256 - Instructional Support Coordinator - Math Undergraduate Office, USG 9 - 10
  • Job ID# 2021-6531 - Manager, Marketing and Brand - Marketing and Strategic Initiatives, USG 11
  • Job ID# 2021-6530 - Web Developer - Marketing and Strategic Initiatives, USG 9
  • Job ID# 2021-6464 - Co-op Student Experience Manager - CEE - Cooperative Education, USG 10