Companies at the University of Waterloo’s flagship entrepreneurial incubator have broken through a major funding milestone.

The total amount of funding raised by Velocity companies surpassed $2.4 billion in recent weeks, less than two years after the program announced it had reached the $1 billion mark over the previous decade.

The news comes at a busy time for Velocity and its founders. In June, the educational technology company ApplyBoard was valued at $4 billion after raising $375 million. And the retail-tech company Faire secured a round of financing that valued the company at $7 billion—nearly triple the firm’s valuation last October.

Together, the financing rounds marked a 40 per cent increase in total funding raised by alumni and residents of the University’s incubator since November 2019.

“We are proud of Velocity’s founders and employees and the incredible contributions the incubator has made to our regional and national tech ecosystems,” said Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University. “This is an exciting milestone for these companies as the University and our regional partners come together to support entrepreneurs by helping them grow talented and innovative companies, solving real-world problems and affecting global change.”

Over the past decade, Velocity has played a key role in the journeys of many influential companies in Canada’s tech ecosystem, including unicorn companies Faire, Kik and ApplyBoard, as well as other tech heavyweights like Embark, Bridgit, Vidyard and OpenPhone.

“We continue to see Velocity alumni scale companies that can reshape entire industries,” said Adrien Côté, executive director of Velocity. “We are focused on supporting the next generation of founders to build the next billion-dollar Canadian companies.”

Velocity is one of the most successful pre-seed and seed incubators in Canada and its current companies represent an important early indicator of which world-changing technologies will become commonplace in the near future. Recent growth in funding is moving towards the health, CleanTech and food and agriculture companies, Côté said.

“At Velocity, we are expanding programing that accelerates the ability for the de-risking of technologies, leading to a surge in a more diversified ecosystem of companies including those focused on ‘deep tech” in the areas of engineering innovations and scientific advances,” Côté said. “We are working to help founders validate the technologies and providing these companies with access to resources to turn deep technologies into products, speeding up their time to market.”   

In 2023, the University will launch the Innovation Arena, a 90,000-square-foot space in the heart of the Kitchener-Waterloo Innovation District, with Velocity at the core of the new facility. The Innovation Arena at the University’s Health Sciences Campus will connect researchers and emerging talent with community, business and health partners to advance innovation and technology solutions, and help drive Canada’s next wave of economic growth.

Velocity is still accepting applications from new start-ups for 2021. Companies selected will be invited to join the incubator, get access to their world-class lab space, mentors, and programs, and are eligible to receive $50,000 to $100,000 in investment from the Velocity Fund.

Read more about the $2.4-billion funding milestone on the Velocity blog.

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Waterloo News


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