Engineers take top pitch prizes at Velocity Fund Finals

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Teams with ties to Waterloo Engineering took six of the eight prizes today at the Velocity Fund Finals for aspiring entrepreneurs, including three of the four $25,000 awards up for grabs.

Held at the Student Life Centre, the pitch competition featured 10 student-run startups vying for three $5,000 prizes and 10 more seasoned companies making cases for four awards in the $25,000 category, plus $10,000 for the top hardware company.

Winners at the Velocity Fund Finals

Winners in the $25K category and the top hardware team pose at the Velocity Fund Finals.

The winning $25,000 teams with Waterloo Engineering connections were:

  • Altius Analytics Labs (Abdelhamid El Bably, master of mechatronics engineering, 2017), a health tech startup that helps occupational groups better manage musculoskeletal injuries. The other team member is Benjamin Lee.
  • EPOCH (Kaivalya Gandhi, software engineering; Sahil Jain, software engineering; Ayush Bhagat, software engineering; Hanumanth Kumar, software engineering), a skills and services marketplace that connects refugees and community members, using time as a means of exchange. The other members are Jade Choy, Keith Choy, Lisa Tran, Jessica Tam, Komal Javed, Angie Kwan and Milly Botes.
  • VivaSpire (John Grousopoulos, nanotechnology engineering, 2017; Chris Hajduk, nanotechnology engineering, 2017), which is making lightweight, wearable machines that purify oxygen from the air without the need for high pressure.

Members of team EPOCH pose with their cheque.

Members of EPOCH with their $25,000 cheque at the Velocity Fund Finals.

The fourth $25,000 winner was Innovative Protein Technologies, a biotechnology company dedicated to developing eco-friendly crop protection products. Its first product, Frost Armour, protects crops from frost damage during the spring growing season.

The $10,000 prize for the top hardware startup went to Vena Medical (Phillip Cooper, mechanical engineering, 2017; Michael Phillips, mechanical engineering, 2017), which is making navigation through arteries faster, easier and safer by providing physicians with a camera that sees through blood.

The winning $5,000 teams with Waterloo Engineering ties were:

  • HALo (Talha Rashid, mechanical engineering, 2017; Samer Nsaif, mechanical engineering), which provides manual wheelchair users with accessible solutions to motorize their wheelchairs.
  • QuantWave Technologies (Alex Chen, PhD, civil and environmental engineering, 2016; Michael Wang, civil and environmental engineering, 2014; Ning Qin, PhD, mechanical and mechatronics engineering, 2017; Xiaoke Yu, environmental engineering), which provides faster, cheaper and simpler pathogen detection for drinking water and food suppliers. The other members are Luqi Cui, John Wen and Sheng Luo.

The third team to win $5,000 was SheLeads, a story-based game that helps girls realize their unlimited leadership potential.

The $125,000 pitch event is staged by Velocity, an entrepreneurship program with both on-campus and off-campus programs, three times a year.

Winners in the $25,000 category also earn workspace at the Velocity Garage in downtown Kitchener. The largest free startup incubator in the world, it has housed over 215 software, hardware, science and social impact businesses since the program began in 2008.

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