A biotechnology company that created a spray that helps farmers and growers protect crops from frost damage was among the big winners at the Velocity Fund Finals held today at the University of Waterloo. Velocity is a comprehensive entrepreneurship program at Waterloo.
Innovative Protein Technologies created Frost Armour, a spray-on-foam, after witnessing the effects of a devastating spring frost in 2012 that knocked out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop. Farmers would remove it after several days with another solution that converts it into a fertilizer.
"Frost damage not only affects farmers’ livelihoods, but also our food supply," said Erin Laidley, a Waterloo alumnus, who co-founded the company with Tom Keeling and Dan Krska, two alumni from the University of Guelph. "There are other spray-on solutions, but ours is non-toxic and has no negative environmental impact.”
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.
The following three companies were also grand-prize winners of $25,000 and space at Velocity. Three of the five top-prize-winning companies are based at Velocity Science.
- Altius Analytics Labs is a health-tech startup that helps occupational groups better manage musculoskeletal injuries.
- EPOCH is a skills and services marketplace that connects refugees and community members, using time as a means of exchange.
- VivaSpire is making lightweight wearable machines that purify oxygen from the air without the need for high pressure.
For the first time, the prize of $10,000 for best hardware or science company went to a team that was not among the grand-prize winners. Vena Medical is making navigating through arteries faster, easier and safer by providing physicians with a camera that sees through blood.
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:
- HALo works to provide manual wheelchair users with accessible solutions to motorize their wheelchairs.
- QuantWave provides faster, cheaper and simpler pathogen detection for drinking water and food suppliers.
- SheLeads is a story-based game that helps girls realize their unlimited leadership potential.
“Building a business is one of the boldest risks you can take, and yet our companies continue to demonstrate the vision, talent, and drive to think big and tackle challenging problems,” said Jay Shah, director of Velocity. “Today we are fortunate to benefit from an enormous wealth of experience from our judges who are leaders from the global investment, health and artificial-intelligence communities and entrepreneurs at heart. In helping Velocity award $125,000 in funding to these companies, we have taken a bet of our own in these founders, and said be bold, think big, and go out and change the world.”
The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition travelled from Palo Alto, San Francisco and Toronto. They were Seth Bannon, founding partner, Fifty Years; Dianne Carmichael, chief advisor of health tech, Council of Canadian Innovators; Eric Migicovsky, visiting partner, Y Combinator; Tomi Poutanen, co-CEO, Layer 6 AI.
The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Kane Hsieh, investor, Root Ventures; Tobiasz Dankiewicz, co-founder, Reebee; Karen Webb, principal, KWebb Solutions Inc.
For more information on the Velocity Fund Finals, please visit www.velocityfundfinals.com
About the University of Waterloo
University of Waterloo is Canada’s top innovation university. With more than 36,000 students we are home to the world's largest co-operative education system of its kind. Our unmatched entrepreneurial culture, combined with an intensive focus on research, powers one of the top innovation hubs in the world. Find out more at uwaterloo.ca.