Through gifts to buildings, donors create supportive environments where students and researchers can develop skills, ideas and technologies that translate into healthier lives and economic prosperity. Here, we highlight three of these recent capital projects.

Fill the Table
Waterloo Eye Institute
Innovation Arena

Students wearing masks sit at round dining tables
The expanded dining room at Conrad Grebel University College has created more space for communal dining — a mainstay of the Grebel student experience.

Space to build community: the Fill the Table campaign

The student experience extends beyond what happens in labs, libraries and lecture halls. At Conrad Grebel University College, communal dining — from community suppers to end-of-term banquets — is integral to student life. As Grebel’s population grew, those communal activities became harder to facilitate.

Now, thanks to more than 1,000 generous alumni, parents and friends of the College, there is room for everyone at the table. Through their gifts to the Fill the Table campaign, these donors have allowed the College to expand and enhance its kitchen and dining facilities.

Every aspect of the expansion — from the large, bright dining area with its barrier-free access, to the upgraded kitchen with its separate area to prepare food for those with special dietary needs — supports the College’s message of inclusion and welcome.

Because of these donors, Grebel’s students, staff, faculty and guests have a space to build community that will serve them well for years to come.

Artist’s rendering of the Waterloo Eye Institute’s interior
Artist’s rendering of the Waterloo Eye Institute’s interior. The facility includes a modernized eye and vision care clinic, surgical unit and expanded research facilities.

Space for discovery and healing: the Waterloo Eye Institute

As our local, national and global population increases and ages, so does the need for eye and vision care. At the same time, rates of devastating diseases with an eye-brain connection — such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and stroke — are also rising.

In response, the Canadian optometry profession, industry partners, foundations, friends, community members and the University of Waterloo have partnered to create the Waterloo Eye Institute. With their support, the Institute — based at the School of Optometry & Vision Science — is poised to become Canada’s leading eye and vision care centre of excellence.

The facility’s modernized clinic, surgical unit and expanded research facilities will allow Waterloo to meet the growing demand for specialty eye care and deliver world-class optometric education. As well as providing exceptional patient care both in-person and through expanded telehealth capacity, the Institute will leverage the expertise of researchers at the School and across campus to address the global vision crisis.

Through their gifts to the Waterloo Eye Institute, donors are “helping people see” in our community, across Canada and around the world.

Artist’s rendering of the Innovation Arena
Line drawing of the Innovation Arena

Space to generate prosperity: the Innovation Arena

For ten years, Velocity — Waterloo’s flagship entrepreneurship program — has helped aspiring entrepreneurs grow startups into companies that generate significant economic and social impact. To date, these companies have created more than 5,000 jobs and raised more than $2.4 billion USD in funding, making Velocity the most productive early-stage incubator in Canada by investment.

In 2023, thanks to support from community leader Mike Stork, the City of Kitchener, provincial funding and donors like you, Velocity will move to a new home on Waterloo’s Health Sciences Campus — the Innovation Arena. The Innovation Arena is an incredible addition to the vibrant Waterloo technology community and a key component of the new Southwestern Ontario Health Tech Innovation Cluster.

This $35-million capital project will transform a University-owned warehouse into a 90,000 square-foot facility housing product development labs dedicated to startups, manufacturing equipment and collaboration space. Here, founders will continue to receive the guidance, resources and funding they need to launch investable products from new technologies and start to scale into companies with global impact

With the Innovation Arena, Waterloo donors will create the conditions to connect researchers and emerging talent with community, business and health partners, all focused on driving Canada’s next wave of economic growth.