University of Waterloo's flagship startup program brings pitch competition to Toronto

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The University of Waterloo’s flagship startup entrepreneurship program, Velocity, is bringing its pitch competition to Toronto.

The competition, which showcases 10 Canadian startups poised to advance the innovation economy, will be held on Sept. 19 at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon in the Toronto Reference Library. The startups will compete in front of a sold-out crowd for four investment opportunities worth $200,000 in total.

Jay Shah, the Director of Velocity, said the decision to bring the event to Toronto is a sign of the Velocity Fund Pitch Competition’s growth—collectively, the competition’s winning companies are now worth over $1-billion—but it also represents an expanded effort to attract the brightest minds in entrepreneurship and innovation from beyond the Waterloo Region.

“Bringing the competition to Toronto opens startups up to a greater pool of capital and talent — and presents investors with a curated slate of companies that have already been vetted by industry leaders,” Shah said.

Three times a year, startups can apply to compete for one of four $50,000 investments. The top applicants are invited to interview with a panel of Velocityleaders and alumni and the top 10 are invited to present their pitches at an exclusive, photo-op filled event.

The Toronto event is an important and exciting step forward in the program’s aim to strengthen the ties between the Waterloo and Toronto, Shah said. “This bolsters the Waterloo-Toronto corridor’s status as a leader in Canada and around the world in startup talent.”

Waterloo’s competition started in 2011 when Kik CEO and Velocity alumni Ted Livingston donated $1 million to the Velocity Fund to support emerging startups with early stage funding. It received an additional $1 million from investor Mike Stork. 

Velocity has hosted dozens of pitch competitions since then. Of the companies that won VFF funding, about 75 per cent are still active and have a combined value of over $1 billion. Former winners include North (formerly Thalmic Labs), Embark Trucks, Mappedin, Reebee, ExVivo Labs, Kira Talent, EMAGIN, Fiix and Avro Life Science.

In 2019, Velocity Fund transitioned from a grant program into a pre-seed investment fund.

For more on the 10 finalists, visit:

Sept. 19 — 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bram & Bluma Appel Salon 
@ Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge St.


Interested media are asked to RSVP to the contact information below.


No. 1

The University of Waterloo is the top-ranked post-secondary institution in Canada for venture capital-backed entrepreneurs. 408 entrepreneurs from the University have raised $7.4 billion in venture funding worldwide. (Pitchbook 2018)


Percentage of Canadian tech founders from the University of Waterloo, far outpacing other institutions. The next highest university by representation lands at 10.6 per cent, according to the Impact Centre at the U of T. 

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