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Waterloo-inspired student starts company to help other females in STEM

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Companies developing bionic arms that learn, a new type of water treatment system, a scalable biological manufacturing platform and a smart monitoring system for steam traps took home the top prizes at yesterday’s 23rd staging of the University of Waterloo’s Velocity Fund Finals (VFF).

Membio, which is developing the first truly scalable biological manufacturing platform, followed up on their Velocity $5K win in the Spring by pocketing one of the four $25,000 prizes.

The other three companies that emerged victorious in the VFF $25K competition were:

Brink Bionics - is developing bionic arms with machine learning that integrate with the human body and provides amputees with a more intuitive experience.

CataLight - is making safe drinking water accessible for all by developing a new kind of water treatment solution.

Pulse Industrial - is developing a smart monitoring system for steam traps to improve safety and reduce CO2 emissions.

Intelline, which designs and manufactures affordable and scalable cryocoolers, enabling the widespread commercial use of superconductor-based technologies, copped the top hardware company prize of $10,000.

From left: MembioIntelline, Brink Bionics, CataLight and Pulse Industrial pose with their cheques after winning the Velocity Fund Finals $25K competition and the top hardware company prize ($10K).  

All four winning VFF$25K startups took home an extra $5K in intellectual property services from local firm, PCK | Perry + Currier, and will receive mentorship and coaching from the Velocity Garage startup incubator.

FEM in STEM was one of four early-stage Waterloo student-run startup winners in the Velocity $5K competition.

Inspired by her experience in university, FEM in STEM’s founder, Mylene Tu, formed the company to encourage other females across Canada to develop careers in underrepresented industries.

“I grew up in an area in Ontario where I didn’t have the exposure to all these opportunities. But then coming to the University of Waterloo and going to Toronto for co-op I saw how many opportunities actually existed and every time I left these networking events or conferences I left feeling inspired,” said Tu, who is a first-year Management Engineering student at Waterloo.

“I created FEM in STEM as a way of bridging this gap, so girls across Ontario can apply, and if they get into the program they get access to biweekly modules that they can complete on their own, and we also follow up with them with mentorship.”

           FEM in STEM’s founder, Mylene Tu, poses with her cheque for $5K at the Velocity Fund Finals.

The other three early-stage Waterloo student-run startup winners of the VFF $5K were:

Material Futures Lab - uses bacteria to create natural, eco-friendly pigments for textile dyeing.

Oleotech - is using oleophilic properties of fiber from waste tires to remove hydrocarbons in stormwater runoff.

PriveHealth - a gamified cybersecurity training platform for healthcare professionals.

“We are really investing in what happens after this and putting effort into cultivating the business substance behind these pitches,” said Jay Shah, director of Velocity. “The pitch competition is one step along the journey, but we have to support the founders in building their businesses. So, that’s where things come in like the Velocity Garage Incubator, the Velocity Science Discovery space and other ways that we can add fuel to the fire.”

The judges for the VFF $25K competition were Caitlin MacGregor, CEO, Plum; Jillian Watson, associate at Golden Ventures; and Ted Hastlings, business advisor. The judges for the VFF $5K competition were Daniela Roeper, founder, Borealis Wind; Kimberly Yeung, principal at BDC Capital; and Ali Zahid, investor at Ramen Ventures

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.

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Media Contact:

Ryon Jones
University of Waterloo
519-888-4567 ext. 30031
www.uwaterloo.ca/news
@UWaterlooNews

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