Velocity companies secure more than $2B in funding
This article was originally published on Waterloo News.
Companies at the University of Waterloo’s flagship entrepreneurial incubator have broken through a major funding milestone.
The total amount of funding raised by Velocity companies surpassed $2.4 billion in recent weeks, less than two years after the program announced it had reached the $1 billion mark over the previous decade.
The news comes at a busy time for Velocity and its founders. In June, the educational technology company ApplyBoard was valued at $4 billion after raising $375 million. And the retail-tech company Faire secured a round of financing that valued the company at $7 billion—nearly triple the firm’s valuation last October.
Together, the financing rounds marked a 40 per cent increase in total funding raised by alumni and residents of the University’s incubator since November 2019.
“We are proud of Velocity’s founders and employees and the incredible contributions the incubator has made to our regional and national tech ecosystems,” said Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University. “This is an exciting milestone for these companies as the University and our regional partners come together to support entrepreneurs by helping them grow talented and innovative companies, solving real-world problems and affecting global change.”
Over the past decade, Velocity has played a key role in the journeys of many influential companies in Canada’s tech ecosystem, including unicorn companies Faire, Kik and ApplyBoard, as well as other tech heavyweights like Embark, Bridgit, Vidyard and OpenPhone.
“We continue to see Velocity alumni scale companies that can reshape entire industries,” said Adrien Côté, executive director of Velocity. “We are focused on supporting the next generation of founders to build the next billion-dollar Canadian companies.”
Velocity is one of the most successful pre-seed and seed incubators in Canada and its current companies represent an important early indicator of which world-changing technologies will become commonplace in the near future. Recent growth in funding is moving towards the health, CleanTech and food and agriculture companies, Côté said.
“At Velocity, we are expanding programing that accelerates the ability for the de-risking of technologies, leading to a surge in a more diversified ecosystem of companies including those focused on ‘deep tech” in the areas of engineering innovations and scientific advances,” Côté said. “We are working to help founders validate the technologies and providing these companies with access to resources to turn deep technologies into products, speeding up their time to market.”
In 2023, the University will launch the Innovation Arena, a 90,000-square-foot space in the heart of the Kitchener-Waterloo Innovation District, with Velocity at the core of the new facility. The Innovation Arena at the University’s Health Sciences Campus will connect researchers and emerging talent with community, business and health partners to advance innovation and technology solutions, and help drive Canada’s next wave of economic growth.
Velocity is still accepting applications from new start-ups for 2021. Companies selected will be invited to join the incubator, get access to their world-class lab space, mentors, and programs, and are eligible to receive $50,000 to $100,000 in investment from the Velocity Fund.
Read more about the $2.4-billion funding milestone on the Velocity blog.
CIHR Project Grant Reviewer Panel Session coming on August 11
University of Waterloo researchers who are interested in submitting a project grant application to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are invited to attend a virtual grant reviewer panel session on August 11.
The panelists, who have served on a broad range of grant review panels, will share insights from their experiences and insider tips on how to give an application a competitive edge.
The panelists are:
- Tom Willett (Biomedical Engineering)
- Carrie McAiney (Health Services and Interventions)
- Emmanuel Ho (Pharmaceutical Sciences)
- David Rose (Biochemistry/Molecular Biology; University Delegate to CIHR)
Each panelist will present for about 10 minutes and then answer questions from attendees.
Winning Olympic medals associated with increased physical activity in hometown youth
This article was originally published on Waterloo News.
Olympic medals are not only good for the country and athletes who win them, but they can also have trickle-down effects on youth sports participation and leisure-time physical activity, a new study has found.
“Winning medals of any colour had a positive association with physical activity among youth in the medal winners’ hometowns,” said Luke Potwarka, a professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of Waterloo. “This association was particularly prominent among male-identified youth and those living in less densely populated regions of the country.”
The researchers analyzed youth leisure-time physical activity rates in the hometown regions of Canadian athletes who won a medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Data were extracted from the Canadian Community Health Survey and spanned the years leading up to the games, 2009 to 2010 to post-Olympic years, 2013 to 2014.
“Winning medals often creates athletic role models and celebrities, which may help explain trickle-down effects observed in hometown communities,” Potwarka said. “Olympic and Paralympic medal winners may become personally relevant to local youth because of shared connections that exist within hometown areas, such as access to community sports programs, coaches and facilities.”
According to Potwarka, inspiration from watching medal performances may be heightened when local youth audiences feel connected to athletes and when their achievements appear attainable.
The trends observed in the study were more prominent among male-identified youth. Potwarka said this shows there is still work to be done to ensure equity and inclusion in sports— including female-identified youth, who often face greater barriers to sports participation than male-identified youth.
“Our study’s findings reflect the reality that inspiration can be gendered and inequitable,” Potwarka said. “The tendency to trivialize the sporting achievements of female-identified athletes is still very much present in society”
Potwarka noted that prior to this study, most research examining sports participation impacts of mega-sports events were limited to those that could be observed within the host country. However, the study showed that the inspirational effects of major sports events can be a global phenomenon, which is especially important considering that many events attract online and television audiences from all over the world.
The paper, Beyond the host nation: an investigation of trickle-down effects in the Hometowns’ of Canadian athletes who competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games, was co-authored by Potwarka, Girish Ramchandani, Pablo Castellanos-Garcia, Themistocles Kokolakakis, Georgia Teare and Kai Jiang. It was published in European Sport Management Quarterly.
forWater Network addresses key challenges for drinking water security
Screen capture of the final discussion session at the AGM.
This article originally appeared on the Water Institute's website.
The forWater Network, a pan-Canadian collaboration of researchers and industry partners, gathered for their annual general meeting (AGM) to discuss research progress after the fourth year of working together. There was a lot to discuss. Over the course of two days, the Network shared 22 research presentations, 26 student posters, 5 interactive discussions, and one collaborative brainstorming session.
The Network is unique as it is the only one of its kind with a focus on society’s most critical water needs: drinking water. It is the only research Network that distinctively bridges the knowledge gap between water treatment and forestry research—linking ecosystem research from five vastly different forested ecozones found across Canada. The culmination of this effort results in dynamic research of innovative approaches that integrate water treatment and land management to ensure safe, reliable drinking water for all communities now and in the future.
The forWater Network is asking the complex question of how to ensure safe, reliable drinking water in a future with increasingly common, severe climate change-associated disturbances (wildfires, hurricanes, floods).
In 2020, the world witnessed unprecedented wildfire seasons across the globe. These and other landscape disturbances can alter the quality of water in impacted rivers, lakes, and reservoirs by increasing the delivery of sediments, nutrients, and both natural and anthropogenic chemicals not usually found in our water sources. Millions of people rely on these forested landscapes for the provision of water. Rapid fluctuations in source water quality can impact water treatment plants, potentially leading to service disruptions to households and businesses. These disturbances can even impact water quality decades after the event takes place, causing challenges and costs to communities entrusted to provide safe, reliable drinking water.
The forWater Network seeks to uncover new knowledge and develop new tools to manage forests and water supplies so that drinking water treatment is not compromised. By doing so, the Network can help communities adapt to changing climate. In Canada, forested watersheds must be prioritized because that is where most urban, rural, and Indigenous drinking water originates. The Network shared key findings that better equip communities to manage water treatment challenges at this year’s AGM.
- Algal blooms that cause many challenges and potential risk to consumers by challenge treatment processes and producing toxins in source waters can be better predicted by using fine sediment tracing which helps track the nutrients that contribute to the blooms.
- Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) which is present after significant rainfall on British Columbia’s coast can impact taste and odour in drinking water and cause challenges for water treatment. Using alkalinity of source water to assess the DOC present can help water treatment plants anticipate and remove this problematic nutrient.
- Interestingly, in the Boreal Plains in Alberta, water hydrology runs counter to widely held beliefs in regard to where recharge areas are located. Recharge areas are where water flows from, providing water to rivers and wetlands. This new understanding has implications for land management and water treatment.
Researchers in the Network will continue to bring new insights to the impacts different forest management have on water quality and treatment challenges. This ground breaking research will bring new foundational knowledge about each forested ecozone in Canada helping understand the distinct chemical composition in each area and thereby helping water treatment specialists better anticipate changes within their system.
To follow along with research updates from the forWater Network, please follow them on Twitter (@forWaterNetwork) or read their latest research report.