Startups in the fields of medical imaging, advanced manufacturing, construction, and travel were among the winners of the Velocity Fund Finals, which took place today at the Tannery Event Centre in downtown Kitchener.
The winners will receive, for the first time in the competition’s history, direct equity investments worth $50,000 each – a move announced in January that is aimed at benefiting both startups and investors.
ClearVoxel Imaging, a medical company that aims to help radiologists diagnose patients more quickly and accurately, was among the recipients of the grand prize. Their prototype, which uses eye-tracking and analytics, has been tested with 40 different radiologists. They have two hospitals currently signed up for pilot studies.
Co-founded by University of Waterloo Computer Engineering graduate Zamir Khan, along with Western University PhD graduate Yann Gagnon, ClearVoxel has been working out of the Velocity Garage startup incubator to bridge the innovation-to-adoption gap in medical imaging. The startup said the $50K investment will help them accelerate validation pilot studies in Canada and the U.S.
“We wanted to see the standard of care raised by the wider adoption of exciting image analysis technologies,” Gagnon said. “At first, we thought it was an IT problem. But radiologists insisted that current radiology workstations are overwhelmingly burdensome. One more click is one click too many when it comes to adopting new technologies.”
The winning teams.
During the competition, nine finalists pitched their businesses to a panel of judges representing the investment, startup and business communities. Judges considered innovation, market potential, market viability, traction and overall pitch.
The following three startups also won an investment and will continue to work at or be admitted to the Velocity Garage startup incubator:
- SiteVue is a software platform that allows construction managers to monitor their projects in real time. Most recently completed a case study with AECOM on the Highway 427 expansion construction project.
- Glove Systems cloud-based end-to-end solution for the fabrication industry and construction industry to reduce scheduling and cost risks.
- Tugolo generates authentic, unique and cultural travel experiences created and run by local providers. To date, the startup has helped 650 travelers book trips.
The new, AngelList-powered venture fund will invest in startups in industries ranging from software to biomedical. It will give investors a simple way to invest in a diversified portfolio of early-stage startups supported by Waterloo’s Velocity Garage startup incubator.
“For the first time in VFF’s seven-year history, we’ve made investments in today’s four winners---not grants. Due to the positive reception from investors, our micro-VC fund that makes these investments possible will be able to double support for the four winning startups to $50,000 each,” Velocity Director Jay Shah said.
“This increased size of the funds is exactly what the new investment model was intended to accomplish and it enables us to better match the size of the ambition, maturity, and quality of startups we are seeing emerging from University of Waterloo and the Region as a whole.”
An additional 10 high-caliber student teams competed for four prizes of $5,000. The winners of the Velocity $5K are:
- Animus. The team is looking to create portable eyeglasses that can integrate neuro-stimulation technology into the frame, allowing for the non-invasive stimulation of deep brain regions without affecting the surrounding structures.
- Forsa The company seeks to improve communications between contractors and their clients through mobile and web applications.
- Pulse Home. The team is developing a panelized construction technology package designed with Canadian Indigenous communities in mind.
- TagBull. The student startup is a mobile-first dataset labeling platform that aims to replace the need for hiring expensive and inaccurate contractors to label datasets.
“All 10 companies solved very different, but real, problems. That is one of the most important pieces to building a successful start-up: identifying those critical challenges that we face every day, but do not yet have a solution for,” said Mallory McKewen, founder of BridesMade and member of an esteemed panel of VFF judges.
Valuation of the 90 companies who have won the Velocity pitch competition.
Percentage of Canadian startups founded by UW graduates, far outpacing other institutions. The next highest university by representation lands at 10.6 percent, according to the Impact Centre at the U of T.
Jobs generated by over 300 companies launched with Velocity's help.