Entrepreneurship complements learning and research at Waterloo
From accelerators and incubators, to international research recognition, Feridun Hamdullahpur leads the way
From accelerators and incubators, to international research recognition, Feridun Hamdullahpur leads the wayBy Natalie Quinlan University Relations
The evolution of Waterloo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem over the last decade is one of the University’s most celebrated achievements.
During his time as President and Vice-Chancellor, Feridun Hamdullahpur has supported the expansion of six entrepreneurship programs on campus, including Waterloo and Stratford’s Accelerator Centre, the Centre for Peace Advancement, St. Paul’s University College Greenhouse, the Problem Lab and Waterloo’s flagship entrepreneurship program Velocity, which launched its campus focused program, Concept, in 2019.
Today, Waterloo is recognized as home to entrepreneurship education in Canada and one of the nation’s top universities for venture capital-backed enterprises. These results have produced a large share of Canada’s tech founders, with 19 per cent having received undergraduate education at Waterloo and 474 University of Waterloo entrepreneurs having raised $12.9B (Pitchbook 2020).
“The continued investment into Velocity and other entrepreneurship programs under President Hamdullahpur’s leadership has helped pave the way to well over one billion dollars invested capital into Velocity companies alone since 2010,” says Adrien Côté, executive director of Velocity. “This has been made possible by Feridun’s ongoing support toward both early-stage and early-scale companies, launch micro-VC funds and enable multiple expansions of the incubator including its new home, the Innovation Arena, on Waterloo’s Health Sciences Campus.”
Under Hamdullahpur’s tenure and encouragement to progress the University’s creator-owned IP policy, Waterloo has continued to attract top researchers at the graduate and faculty levels. Waterloo has also consistently remained Canada’s #1 research university (comprehensive category) during his 10 years at Waterloo (Research Infosource 2020).
This research, paired with the institution’s strong startup culture, has led to countless national and international ventures in the areas of astrophysics, sustainability, robotics, advanced manufacturing, health technologies, quantum science, artificial intelligence and aging research.
“Waterloo is internationally recognized for its ability to attract and retain world-renowned researchers,” says Charmaine Dean, vice-president Research and International. “Under Feridun's leadership, University researchers have been supported in the development of ground-breaking technologies, some that have gone on to win prestigious awards and earn international media coverage.”
At the heart of Hamdullahpur’s time at Waterloo has been the University’s emergence as a community that supports the ideas and inventions of students, who think big and take risks to challenge global industries, create new companies and thousands of jobs.
Take ApplyBoard — one of many ground-breaking Waterloo alumnus companies. Founded in 2015 by Martin Basiri (MASc '13) and brothers, ApplyBoard simplifies the study abroad search, application and acceptance process by connecting international students, recruitment partners and academic institutions on one platform. Today, the company has grown to more than 750+ team members with representatives in more than 20 countries. From celebrating their headquarters’ grand opening in downtown Kitchener, to joining their Canadian advisory board, Hamdullahpur has been a supportive hand behind the company.
"The encouragement and support we received from the University of Waterloo and President Hamdullahpur has been a powerful catalyst for ApplyBoard," says ApplyBoard Co-Founder and CEO, Martin Basiri. "Feridun's legacy of impact, not only on Canada's but the world's tech ecosystem, has been immense. We are certainly better off for his pioneering work in supporting entrepreneurs."
Thanks to Hamdullahpur, this past decade has been one of the most impactful for the University yet, positioning the University as an international leader in the area of game-changing entrepreneurship and award-winning research for years to come.