A company that uses artificial intelligence to help make water utilities safer and more efficient was among the grand-prize winners at the Velocity Fund Finals held today at the University of Waterloo. Velocity is a comprehensive entrepreneurship program at Waterloo.

EMAGIN, a Velocity Science company, plans to make cities adaptive and resilient to the challenges of urbanization, climate change and resource scarcity. The technology enables utilities to better adjust for emergency scenarios by using AI to learn about historical events and predict outcomes.

"Imagine a city that can detect a storm or drought before it happens and proactively prepares its water treatment and supply systems accordingly," said Thouheed Abdul Gaffoor, co-founder of EMAGIN, who graduated from civil engineering at Waterloo. "Velocity has been instrumental in supporting us and giving us the mentorship and connections to grow as a business,” said Mohamad Vedut, another co-founder and a graduate of software engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

The following three companies were the other grand-prize winners of $25,000 and space at Velocity.

  • Gamelynx uses cutting-edge web app technology to create games and interactive experiences that bring people together for face-to-face play. Gamelynx combines the fun and social interaction of party and board games, with the convenience and power of mobile web gaming.
  • Marlena Books creates therapeutic recreation products for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Specializing in hardcopy books that make reading enjoyable and dignifying, Marlena Books is expanding into the tech space with e-books and a recreation app for individuals with more advanced dementia.
  • Serenity Bioworks is developing novel medicine formulas to improve the long-term effectiveness and safety of anti-inflammatory medication. The company also won an extra $10,000 awarded to the top hardware or life sciences company.

grand-prize winners of the Velocity Fund Finals

During the competition, 10 companies pitched their businesses to a panel of judges representing the investment, startup and business communities. Judges considered innovation, market potential, market viability and overall pitch.

“I am pleased to announce that companies we have supported, many having won here at the Velocity Fund Finals, have collectively raised more than $500 million dollars in funding,” said Jay Shah, director of Velocity. “This is a clear signal that investors—people whose jobs are to identify promising businesses—are putting their money into companies born right here at the University of Waterloo.”

During the VFF event, an additional 10 teams of University of Waterloo students competed for three prizes of $5,000 and access to Velocity workspaces.

The winners of the Velocity $5K are:

  • Para is a cloud-based application that guides adults in creating a comprehensive estate and end-of-life plan. Users document their wishes and personal information in one place, eliminating paper files, and allowing them to share their information with people of their choosing.
  • Rugelach, Roswell and Rufus has created a novel EMS spine board to more accurately weigh children in paediatric emergencies, and provide information on drug dosage/voltage for resuscitation.
  • ShiftRide is a car sharing platform that allows people to rent a car from other people nearby.

The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition were Hongwei Liu, co-founder and CEO of Mappedin, Ted Livingston, CEO of Kik, John Murphy, co-founder and managing partner at Hyperplane Venture Capital, and Kathryn Wortsman, fund manager at MaRS Catalyst Fund. The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Alexander Danco, associate at Social Capital LP, Jane Klugman, president of Whitney & Company Realty Limited Brokerage, and Nicole LeBlanc, associate director at BDC Capital.

For more information on the Velocity Fund Finals, please visit www.velocityfundfinals.com.

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