The University of Waterloo is appointing Jay Shah, a former startup co-founder and Waterloo alumnus, as director of its flagship entrepreneurship program, Velocity – the largest free startup incubator in the World.
Shah joins Velocity from Google where the entrepreneur has worked since the tech-giant acquired the company he co-founded in 2012.
“Jay Shah has been in the startup trenches, and knows what it takes to build a successful company,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waterloo. “With his background at Waterloo, in a startup and at Google, Jay Shah is uniquely positioned to guide the next wave of world-changing entrepreneurs emerging from University of Waterloo.”
BufferBox, founded by Shah alongside Aditya Bali and Mike McCauley, began as a fourth year Engineering Capstone Design project to create lockers for parcel delivery. The company would go on to work out of the University’s Accelerator Centre, before moving in to the Velocity Garage, winning the Velocity Fund Finals and attending Y Combinator, before ultimately being acquired by Google.
Shah’s arrival comes amidst major growth for the Velocity program. In the last year Velocity has:
- expanded its facilities to become the largest free startup incubator in the world;
- opened an on-campus science lab to develop world-class science startups; and,
- created a bustling entrepreneurship discovery space for students, hosting workshops, startup coaching, and a makerspace.
The program also oversees a dorm for student entrepreneurs, and the Velocity Fund Finals, a pitch competition that awards $375,000 in grants every year to emerging startups.
“The calibre of talent at the University of Waterloo, specifically its professors and new graduates, is a competitive advantage for companies in Waterloo,” said Shah. “They are the product of incredible academic faculties, a culture of supporting risk-taking, and the best co-op experiential learning system in the world.”
Shah will commence in his role in September this year with a vision to spread innovation and entrepreneurship even further across campus.
“I want to ensure that all students have the opportunity to be exposed to the entrepreneurial spirit and mindset,” said Shah. “Even if students do not want to start a company, there is a lot of benefit in the fundamental principles, such as problem identification and solving, resourcefulness, tenacity, and persistence."
Velocity and the University are the heart of the Waterloo regional innovation ecosystem, providing the foundation for the region’s economic growth and job creation. Velocity-founded companies have raised in excess of $300 million in funding and created more than 800 jobs across 175 companies, since the program started in 2008, with 67% of those companies still building their business after 5 years.
“I am keen to work with stakeholders across our region for maximum output and benefit,” said Shah. “We are fortunate to have so many people and organizations that want to see entrepreneurial activities flourish, but with that comes a responsibility for all of us to make the most of the resources we have together.”
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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