Continuing the founder journey from student to full-time
Velocity welcomes six new companies to its downtown Kitchener innovation hub
Velocity welcomes six new companies to its downtown Kitchener innovation hubBy Naomi Grosman Velocity
With technology ranging from saltwater batteries, autonomous on-wire robots, and voice-activated monitoring devices, six early-stage companies are joining Velocity full-time through Venture Ready, a program for full-time founders to assess their company’s market preparedness.
A day where a veterinary professional can spend two fewer hours on administrative work means more meaningful care for pets. Risk assessment engines powered by robots translate to a future without power outages.
A monitoring device that detects voice and movement transforms a caregiver’s worry into peace of mind. These companies will potentially have wide-reaching and positive economic, environmental and social impacts in the healthtech, agritech and cleantech industries.
Being a part of the Velocity ecosystem, these startups will connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, have access to state-of-the-art facilities and receive advice from expert mentors.
Chirp, which is developing a non-wearable, privacy-preserving device that remotely monitors aging adults, joins Velocity to fulfill the distinct needs of a company developing new technology.
Chirp straddles hardware and medtech disciplines, a dichotomy that Velocity is uniquely positioned to support facilities designed for both fields.
Justin Schorn, Chirp co-founder and CEO, said being at Velocity allows them to tap into the knowledge of other founders and advisers as it continues its path to market.
“Caregiving can be extremely stressful, and it gets worse as people age — their care needs, which can often be financially out of reach, are increasing and with Chirp’s device families get peace of mind, and the care recipient may feel safer,” said Schorn. “There is nothing proactive being developed right now and we want to be proactive.”
For Scribenote co-founders Ryan Gallagher and Alina Pavel, being at Velocity means expanding the scale and scope of their company through collaboration with business advisers, and other startups.
The company is working on automating workflows for veterinary professionals. Its customers are already using two of its products, and it will soon launch a third.
“At Velocity, we can nail down the technology and fulfill all the regulatory requirements, and after that we can make lateral moves into other healthcare fields by specializing first for allied health professionals, like dentists, chiropractors et cetera,” Gallagher said. “Our North Star has always been to bring relief to overburdened professionals whose level of burnout is at all-time highs.”
Take a closer look at the Venture Ready companies:
Enerza is the first company of its kind to bring to market predictive risk assessment engines for electrical distributors — powered by a swarm of autonomous on-wire robots. Using novel predictive technologies enabled by sensors, robotics and AI, grid reliability and power outage recovery can be significantly enhanced. Founded by Anson Maitland, who holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Systems Engineering from the University of Waterloo, and James Aein, the company envisions a sustainable future free of power outages.
Aqua-Cell Energy is building saltwater batteries for businesses to store solar power and save on electricity bills. Its battery technology is based on a commercial water treatment technology, giving the company an opportunity to scale quickly. Aqua-Cell Energy’s product can be used on commercial properties, small industrial facilities, and grid operators. The company's technology will have world-changing effects — an economic shift away from fossil fuels and towards energy security. Founder Keith Cleland, holds a Master of Applied Science in Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Aqua-Cell Energy was a Velocity $5K winner in 2020, went on to participate in Cornerstone and eventually won the winter term 2021 Problem Pitch.
Maesos, featured in Waterloo News earlier this year, is developing smart sensor solutions for the agricultural industry that will help farmers detect and manage crop fungal disease, enabling them to operate more efficiently and sustainably. Brandon Chan (BASc ‘22), Jack Paduchowski (BASc ‘22), and Kurtis Eisler (BASc ‘22) founded Maesos Technologies while pursuing their undergraduate degrees in Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Working with Velocity’s Problem Lab, the founders homed in on a major problem confronting the agricultural industry — the overuse of pesticides — and found a tech solution that could save operations millions annually. The team got into the Problem Pitch finals in summer 2021 and won in winter 2022. They also took home $5,000 in the Velocity $5K pitch competition in 2021 summer term, after reaching the semi-finals the year prior.
Chirp is building a non-wearable device to remotely monitor the wellbeing of aging adults. Its unobtrusive technology tracks mobility, detects visitors and looks for emergency events such as calls for help. Co-Founders are Dr. Parthipan Siva, University of Waterloo professor, Shannon White, MMath, and Justin Schorn, MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Scribenote is developing software aimed at saving veterinary professionals hours a day they usually spend on documentation work. The technology will be optimized for web and mobile-apps and is expected to eliminate the burden of medical documentation by using smart workflows and automated classification. Co-founders Alina Pavel and Ryan Gallagher, BASc ‘21, started working on Scribenote as a part of their fourth-year product design project, along with two others. The team won the Velocity $5K pitch competition during the winter 2021 term.
Middleman Verification Project (MVP)
MVP detects and prevents online advertising fraud in a decentralized manner. Its software solution aims to replace existing solutions that are primarily manual, labour intensive, and wasteful in terms of resources. MVPs solution can bring transparency, automation and trust to the world of online advertising — an industry projected to reach $650BN by 2024. Co-founders are Waterloo graduate Behkish Nassirzadeh, MASc, and Vijay Ganesh, University of Waterloo professor and PhD from Stanford University. MVP participated in Velocity’s Cornerstone program summer 2022 term.
*Chirp and Scribenote join the Velocity ecosystem thanks to the Southwestern Ontario Health Innovation Partnership (SOHIP), a program funded through a $10-million investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). SOHIP is opening pathways to support the strong pipeline of healthtech companies that is emerging in southwestern Ontario by connecting them with services, support for healthtech product development and access to specialized research labs and clinical trial spaces as part of Velocity’s offerings and the University of Western Ontario’s medical programs and innovation partners.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within the Office of Indigenous Relations.