Palihapitiya/Lau Venture Creation Fund provides two $50,000 awards to University-selected Capstone Design teams whose intention is to transform their Capstone Design project into a promising startup post-graduation.
In 2018, the winning project was SannTek from Nanotechnology Engineering. They have developed a “marijuana breathalyser” that is capable of determining the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana, present within a breath sample. Essentially, it is a breathalyzer equivalent for marijuana detection. The two-part device which features a single-use disposable cartridge and a portable analyzer has undergone user testing at the law enforcement level to establish ease of use and accuracy. Competitive products have proven too fragile or complicated to ensure proper usage and readings, making SannTek’s device a front runner.
The Palihapitiya/Lau Venture Creation Fund, which began in 2014 (then limited to ECE students) is a gift from Chamath Palihapitiya and Brigette Lau, founders of Social Capital, a venture capital fund that aims to solve the world’s hardest problems by starting and investing in breakthrough companies in healthcare, education, financial services , consumer and enterprise.
With the support of Chamath and Brigette, both of these entrepreneurial student teams will be able to expand the potential of their ideas, further expanding the capabilities of their working prototypes and through mentorship explore future business opportunities for Vena Medical and VivaSpire.
Your project could be the next one to benefit from the Palihapitiya/Lau Venture Creation Fund.
Eligible teams must have at least two Waterloo Engineering graduating students. It is recommended that the students take at least one BET course (at the 300 and/or 400 level) by the end of 4B to prepare for this unique support. Winning teams (all members) must NOT have accepted job offers after 4B, and are expected to work on their projects in Kitchener-Waterloo for at least four months after graduation.
Two student teams will be funded with awards valued at $50,000 each, to be divided equally among team members.The teams will also receive mentorship, training, and advice from successful entrepreneurs.
Application deadlines and selection process
Student teams interested in applying must complete and submit the application by February 15, 2019. Selected student teams will be invited to present their project idea to an interview panel between March 4-8, 2019 during the 4B term.
The interview panel, comprised primarily of faculty members from the Faculty of Engineering and the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre, will select two teams based on project innovation and market viability to each receive an award to support their project.
About Chamath Palihapitiya and Brigette Lau
Chamath Palihapitiya and his wife Brigette Lau are both successful graduates of Waterloo Engineering. Chamath received hisBASc in Electrical Engineering in 1999 and Brigette received her BASc in Computer Engineering in 1999.
Chamath Palihapitiya is Founder and CEO of Social Capital, whose mission is to advance humanity by solving the world's hardest problems. Social Capital invests in and starts breakthrough companies in areas including healthcare, education, financial services, and enterprise.
Before founding Social Capital, Chamath was a member of the senior executive team at Facebook and a key driver behind its rise to become one of the most important and impactful companies in the world. Prior to Facebook, Chamath held leadership roles at Mayfield Fund, AOL and Winamp. His many ventures include the hot NBA property the Golden State Warriors, both as an investor and a member of the executive board.
Brigette Lau is Founder and Managing Partner of Hello Warrior Ventures and a Board Partner at Social Capital. Through Hello Warrior Ventures she focuses on investing in entrepreneurs attempting to improve the state of education all around the world. As a Board Partner at Social Capital, Brigette led the Series A and is Director of Descomplica, one of the fastest growing education companies in the world, based in Brazil, as well as led investments in companies such as FreshGrade, Newsela, and Levo League. She has been in Silicon Valley since 1999 and held numerous roles in startups as well as large corporations, including IBM.
The endoscope – called SWIRVE, an acronym for ‘short wave infrared vascular endoscope’ – is the brainchild of mechanical engineering students Michael Phillips, 22, of Sussex, New Brunswick, and Phil Cooper, 22, of Pembroke, Ontario, who plan to call their startup Vena Medical.
VivaSpire is the second team made up of nanotechnology engineering students John Grousopoulos, 22, of Kitchener, Mostafa Saquib, 21, of Kitchener, and Chris Hajduk, 22, of Guelph.