Banner caption: Artist’s conceptual illustration of the planned Innovation Arena: Julia Nakanishi

The University of Waterloo’s new Innovation Arena has received a $1.5 million gift from local entrepreneur, angel investor and community leader Mike Stork.

The gift supports a $35-million capital project to 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 be the new home of Velocity, Waterloo’s signature entrepreneurship program.

“I’m very excited by this project,” Stork said. “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.”

Mike Stork

Photo: Mike Stork

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.

“Entrepreneurship is a big part of the University of Waterloo's culture 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.”

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. 

“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.”

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