Monday, August 23, 2021

Charmaine Dean appointed Chair of NSERC Council

Charmaine DeanVice-President, Research and International Charmaine Dean has been elected the Vice-President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Chair of NSERC Council. The roles of Chair of Council and Vice-President of NSERC are concurrent leadership roles at NSERC. NSERC Council is composed of its president and up to 18 other members appointed from the public and private sectors. 

Dean’s appointment was announced in a release by NSERC on August 12, 2021, following the announcement by the Government of Canada’s Orders In Council Division on August 4, 2021.  

NSERC Council Chairs continue in their leadership roles at their organizations while serving as Council Chair. 

NSERC is Canada's federal funding agency for university-based research in the natural sciences and engineering. 

Dean will hold the office of Chair of NSERC Council until April 12, 2024. 

LiftOff incubator for Black entrepreneurs to launch in Waterloo region

Black women with various devices seated at a boardroom table.

The Government of Canada is working to address long-standing barriers with its first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP). Of the $400 million investment, $53 million has been allocated to the National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country

On August 12, 2021, The Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region (CCAWR) announced that, in partnership with local organizations and post-secondary institutions, including Conestoga College, Waterloo Region Small Business Centre, Velocity at the University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Centre, they would receive over $2.9 million in funding from the NEF to develop and deliver a Black-led business accelerator and incubator program for Black early-stage entrepreneurs.

“CCAWR was founded in 1975, and has developed a strong community presence, said Trevor Charles, a board member with the CCAWR and professor of biology at the University of Waterloo. “We are honoured to have been given the opportunity to work to bridge some of the gaps within the entrepreneurial ecosystem that have hindered full participation by Black Canadians. Through the LiftOff program, we will endeavour to develop and offer innovative strategies to stimulate sustainable economic prosperity and wellbeing in the Black communities.”

The LiftOff program will provide access to business advisory services, incubator and accelerator programming, entrepreneurial workshops, and one-on-one mentorship opportunities for Black entrepreneurs to start or develop their business. The incubator ultimately hopes to work with about 40 individuals or teams per year, with a strong focus on supporting female entrepreneurs.

“Today’s investment in the Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region gives Black entrepreneurs in Waterloo Region the support they deserve to start or grow their business, while addressing long-standing economic barriers that Black Canadians face,” said the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, and Member of Parliament for Waterloo.

To apply for LiftOff please contact CCAWR.

Waterloo selects Pivot-RP to help researchers identify funding opportunities

A man stands thinking in front of a wall full of research papers.

It has been an ongoing priority for the Office of Research to find a solution for the research needs of faculty, staff and students on campus. Currently, there is no searchable system available for Waterloo researchers to find funding opportunities and this has been identified as a gap by various research communities on campus, including through the strategic planning process.

Following an extensive evaluation process including small focus groups with members of the research community, Waterloo has selected Pivot-RP, a searchable database that enables researchers to identify funding opportunities that best suit their research needs.

Pivot-RP allows researchers to:

  • create customized searches
  • access curated funding opportunities based on specific research interests
  • receive email alerts based on individually defined criteria

Pivot-RP is recognized as the most comprehensive global source of research funding with over 28,000 active funding opportunities from sponsors across all disciplines. A comparison of Pivot-RP with other systems by Office of Research staff found it also has the most comprehensive collection of Canadian funding organizations, and Waterloo’s research priority areas are included within Pivot-RP’s database. Individual researchers can also customize their own searches, targeting their unique needs.

In the coming months, the Office of Research plans to transition more fully from the current Find funding web page to Pivot-RP as the prime source for research funding opportunities. All Waterloo researchers, as well as any research or departmental staff who search for funding opportunities, are encouraged to set up an account. Staff will also be organizing training workshops for researchers throughout the fall. 

UWaterloo startups rank second in North America for investor ROI

A man sitting at a desk working with a device.

This article was originally published on Waterloo News

Investors looking for higher returns might be wiser to look to Waterloo companies than ventures started by alumni at Stanford, MIT and Harvard.

A new report from a U.S. platform for investors and startups has found that ventures founded by Waterloo alumni produce a higher-than-expected return on investment than their counterparts at the three American institutions.

The data from AngelList Venture show Waterloo startups generate outsized ROI for their investors, with an average excess markup rate 13 per cent higher than the baseline at 12 and 36 months.

Only the University of Washington ranked higher with a rate of 21 per cent, while Brown University came in third with an 11.5 per cent excess markup rate.  Two other Canadian universities made the ranking, with University of Toronto coming in at 16th and McGill University at 19th.

The platform considers an investment on its list to be marked up if it does an equity round at a higher price per share in a future fundraise. The rate is a strong indication of how an investment is performing, the company says.

“This speaks highly of Waterloo founders’ ability to thrive here in southwestern Ontario, well outside of Silicon Valley, New-York or Boston,” said Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University. “Waterloo companies like ApplyBoard, Vidyard and Clearco are paving the way for future founders who want to grow within Canada, helping to increase the prominence of the Toronto-Waterloo tech ecosystem on the global stage.”

The Toronto-Waterloo corridor ranked 18th globally in a Startup Genome’s 2020 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking and first in Canada.

The findings indicate that Waterloo founders are being underestimated or undervalued by investors, said Alex Norman, a partner at N49P and co-founder of TechTO. “As investors see more and more University of Waterloo founders succeed, this may lead to more teams being funded or higher valuations for early-stage companies.”

While Canadian founders might be initially passed over by U.S. investors, great results for Waterloo founders over time are allowing early supporters to reap outsized rewards.

"It is no longer a secret that the University of Waterloo is a top school for innovative talent in North America,” said John Dick, director of Concept, the University’s experiential entrepreneurship program.

Young companies will continue to flourish in Waterloo Region through the University’s Campus Innovation Ecosystem and Velocity Incubator, which offer many problem-solving and venture-building opportunities, he said.

While founders with Waterloo pedigrees might not see the same level of investor demand as those at larger institutions in the U.S. AngelList says that can make them undervalued, "meaning that investors willing to back the founders from these institutions may have an opportunity to capture some excess returns.”

The findings come at an eventful time for Velocity, the University’s flagship entrepreneurial incubator, which announced recently that the total amount of funding raised by Velocity companies surpassed $2.4 billion. The incubator took almost a decade to reach the $1-billion mark but less than two years to reach $2 billion, showing an acceleration in both deal numbers and sizes. Velocity is expecting an alumni company to go through IPO for the first time later this year.

Velocity started its own pre-seed venture fund in 2019, and 18 out of 19 companies they have invested in so far received meaningful follow-on investments, highlighting the program’s ability to support early-stage founders and help them turn ideas and prototypes into marketable, scalable companies.

Upcoming office closures

On Tuesday, August 24, Counselling Services will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and Health Services will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon due to staff meetings.

Link of the day

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

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 continues to offer virtual access to learning and research materials as well as through their book pickup and delivery services. Special Collections & Archives can also be accessed by appointmentDavis Centre study space will not be available between August 17 and September 6 as the Library prepares for the fall term. During this time, Library resources and supports will continue to be accessible virtually and staff available for questions via chat Monday to Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 4:00 p.m. The Library will be closed on September 6 for Labour Day. Full details on current services and hours are available on our Service Update webpage. Library staff are available for questions via Ask Us

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 Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) supports all members of the University of Waterloo campus community who have experienced, or been impacted, by sexual violence. This includes all students, staff, faculty and visitors on the main campus, the satellite campuses, and at the affiliated and federated Waterloo Institutes and Colleges. For support, email: or visit the SVPRO website.

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 – Open via Appointments and Rentals

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)

Fitness Classes (CIF GYM 3). Power Yoga, HIIT and Zumba. Only $4/class. Advanced registration required.

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

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.

Deadline to get "Fees Arranged" for the fall term, Tuesday, August 24.

De-Escalating Difficult Student Situations, Tuesday, August 24, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Engineering Alumni Office Hour: "Alumni Training: How to Make the Most of Ten Thousand Coffees", Tuesday, August 24, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

QPR Mental Health Training for Faculty and Staff, Thursday, August 26, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Fall Orientation, Monday, August 30 to Friday, September 3.

Labour Day holiday, most University operations closed, Monday, September 6.

Fall co-operative work term begins, Tuesday, September 7.

Classes and lectures begin, Wednesday, September 8.