One of Waterloo’s most loyal donors and volunteers is helping to launch a new phase of the Velocity program for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Mike Stork — an esteemed business founder, angel investor and community leader — has committed $1.5 million to Waterloo’s Innovation Arena. The $35 million capital project will restore a University-owned warehouse in Downtown Kitchener’s Innovation District. Located at the corner of Victoria and Joseph Streets, the 90,000-square-foot building will become Velocity’s new home.

Mike StorkMike Stork

“I’m very excited by this project,” Mike says. “Velocity is a key differentiator for the University of Waterloo, and it’s an important driver of entrepreneurship in our community. Expanding the program will increase its impact on local founders and amplify the growth we’ve seen in the Innovation District over the last decade.”

 

The City of Kitchener has also committed $8.5 million to the project as part of their Make It Kitchener 2.0 plan. Currently, the University is seeking investments from the federal and provincial governments as well as additional philanthropic support.

A gateway to venture creation

The Innovation Arena will provide enhanced business support for founders, state-of-the-art product development labs, manufacturing equipment and collaboration space. With resources for advanced technology startups and access to partners in the health care sector, as well as other organizations located at the University of Waterloo’s Health Sciences Campus including the School of Pharmacy and McMaster’s DeGroote School of Medicine, the facility will also serve as a regional nexus of health innovation.

“Partnerships with the community play an important role in Velocity’s next era,” said Adrien Côté, Executive Director of Velocity. “This expansion will enable us to respond to demand for our programs while accelerating solutions in health care and other sectors. We’re grateful to have champions like Mike involved in this initiative.”


Line rendering of the Innovation Arena

Line rendering of the Innovation Arena (concept).


A respected leader in Waterloo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, Mike supports local organizations by giving his time as well as financial resources. Among other roles, he has volunteered as a member of the University’s Board of Governors and as chair of the Accelerator Centre. He also invests in companies founded by Waterloo alumni, providing funds and serving as an advisor or board member. He made his first major gift to the Velocity program in 2014 to help it flourish in its early years.

“Entrepreneurship is deeply ingrained into the University of Waterloo’s DNA in large part because of Velocity’s growth and dedication to our entrepreneurs,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor. “Mike Stork’s visionary support of the program will enable Waterloo to rapidly support top innovators as they deliver technologies and services that will improve human life in Canada and around the world. We cannot thank Mike enough for seeing and contributing to what the Innovation Arena can and will do for society.”