The four founders of Vitameter hold a big cheque.

Founders of Vitameter, a startup from the University of Waterloo, with one of four grand prizes from the Velocity Fund Finals. (Photo credit: Matt Rae/Matt Rae Media)

Vitameter, a company that created a hand-held device that measures your vitamin levels to help ensure proper dosage, was the biggest winner at the Velocity Fund Finals held today at the University of Waterloo. Velocity is an entrepreneurship program at Waterloo.

The company's founders are current students in environment and business, nanotechnology engineering and electrical and computer engineering at Waterloo. Today's win gives them $25,000 plus the additional $10,000 awarded to one hardware or life-sciences company to help cover additional startup costs. They currently work in the Velocity Science space, and will move into the Velocity Foundry next month.

"Our product is essential for people at high-risk for vitamin deficiencies, such as people with anemia, those undergoing chemotherapy, pregnant women and the elderly," said James MacLean, co-founder of Vitameter. "This is a huge opportunity to get our device to market and to the people who need it."

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

Vitameter is one of two life-sciences companies to win the one of the prizes worth $25,000. For the first time, the other grand-prize winners all have female co-founders.

The following three companies were also grand-prize winners of $25,000 and space at the Velocity Garage and Velocity Foundry:

Fotofox: FotoFox is an online marketplace that connects customers with photographers for high-quality, professional photos. It curates a personalized list of photographers that best fits the client’s needs, budget, and style.

Pout: Pout is a place to show and tell, inspire, discover, and explore the beauty and fashion industry. The community targets beauty and fashion enthusiasts/professionals to share photos and videos that show their unique looks, process, and techniques.

Suncayr: Suncayr is developing UV-responsive marker ink that tells you exactly when to reapply sunscreen. This can be drawn directly on the skin before applying sunscreen, and when the sunscreen is no longer blocking UV rays, the ink changes colour. Suncayr is making sun safety personal, fun, and simple.

“I am always so impressed by the outstanding quality of the companies that make up the University of Waterloo’s vibrant startup community,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “Today’s competitors embody the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of this institution and our role as the intellectual engine of one of North America's richest innovation ecosystems. Sincere congratulations to all of the winners of these Velocity Fund Finals.”

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:

Best Pitch: CareChair – The first standalone system that can function both as a bed and a wheelchair.

Most Innovative: Kue – Developing a timed-release capsule that will open after a specific amount of time. This caffeine product gives consumers a burst of energy before they wake.

People's Choice: Node – A platform for beautifully designed, high-quality, custom-fit compression garments designed by users and artists for individuals with lymphedema.

"This pitch competition is really a microcosm of the startup industry in general," said Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity. "As this event has grown, more and more hardware and science startups have joined the software companies that pitch, and the Velocity Fund allows us to help all of the winners invest in their future through grants."

The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition were Ted Livingston of Kik Interactive, Shivon Zilis of Bloomberg Beta and Boris Wertz of Version One Ventures.

The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Wayne Chang of the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre at Waterloo, Katherine Hague, The Blueprint, PCH International and Professor Sanjeev Bedi of UWaterloo.

For more information on the Velocity Fund Finals, please visit the event website

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