Waterloo is recognized around the world for its accomplished alumni. For its 60th Anniversary Alumni Awards, Waterloo wanted to recognize a few who exemplify extraordinary University citizenship through volunteerism, mentorship, philanthropy and advocacy. They have kept the promise of Waterloo’s founders alive by investing in the next generation.
Electrical and computer engineering recipients of the 60th Anniversary Alumni Awards:
Venture capitalists Chamath Palihapitiya (BASc '99) and Brigette Lau (BASc '99) are deeply committed entrepreneurs and philanthropists whose gaze is firmly fixed on the horizon.
Billions of people, they say, don’t have an equitable path to a purposeful, productive life because they don’t have access to quality education, unbiased financial infrastructure and basic healthcare. And when people are deprived of an opportunity to excel and contribute, everyone loses.
It’s why they’ve created Social Capital, a technology company that aims to solve the world’s greatest problems by investing in incubation breakthrough ideas and companies in healthcare, education, financial services and frontier technologies.
The Silicon Valley-based husband-and-wife team have built Social Capital through a partnership of philanthropists, technologists and capitalists, using venture capital as a way to create change on a global scale. They seek to harness the power of technology to address core human needs, and to drive a bottom-up redistribution of power, capital and opportunity by empowering brilliant entrepreneurs and impactful products.
Even as they maintain this global outlook, Palihapitiya and Lau are ardent supporters of the place where their own partnership began. Among their many contributions to the University of Waterloo is the Palihapitiya/Lau Venture Creation Fund, which provides two $50,000 awards to help students transform design projects into promising startups.
Palihapitiya, founder and CEO of Social Capital, and Lau, Social Capital co-founder and partner, have also launched the Social Capital Fellows, which places Waterloo co-op students into fast-rising startups funded by Social Capital. These students receive mentoring, access to key business minds, and the opportunity to work in leading-edge companies. Palihapitiya also participates in fireside chats with Waterloo students, sharing his unique experiences to inspire them to make their own mark.
“I am overwhelmed by the quality of the engineering talent at Waterloo,” he says. “We are looking for students who want to train to be the next great company founder and we believe there is no better place to find them than here.”