Ten teams of students and researchers commercializing their novel technologies have received a boost of $15,000 each from Waterloo Ventures, administered by Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo) and Velocity’s Up Start program.  

The teams will access funding and business advisory support to facilitate commercialization of their products, which range from advancements in cancer screening and time saving software for emergency room nurses to increased efficiencies in construction and for electric vehicles. 

Up Start allows founders to work closely with advisors and receive practical guidance throughout the process of commercializing their research and early-stage ideas into commercial ventures that create positive societal impact.  

Boosting cancer screening using nanoscience  

CT MurphyCT Murphy (BASc ’23) founded CELLECT so that every woman may have easy access to cervical cancer and HPV screening.  

Cervical cancer caused by HPV is the fourth most common cancer in women globally, and yet some don’t get screened as Pap smears can be intimidating or inaccessible.  

“No one is fixing this problem — and I’m going to do something about that,” Murphy says.  

CELLECT’s technology can eliminate the need for Pap smears altogether by adding nanomaterials to menstrual products to diagnose HPV and cervical cancer using menstrual blood.  

Through their fourth-year nanotechnology engineering design project turned master’s thesis, Murphy and Brandon Klassen (BASc ’23) created a method to segregate components of menstrual blood, remove contaminants, and collect relevant biomarkers to diagnose HPV and cervical cancer.   

Validating the business and executing a plan is the path through which Murphy’s desire for equal access to cancer screening can become a reality. 

“I’m a scientist and an engineer but I want to solve these real-world issues,” they say. “Up Start will push me towards the path I need to succeed with this plan.”   

Murphy also secured the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN)-Velocity scholarship to advance their Master of Chemical Engineering research, with Chemical Engineering professor Marc Aucoin.  

They say adding the nanomaterial into menstrual products is just the start. 

“I'd like to engineer a new type of menstrual reciprocal, one that is optimal to collect samples for cancer testing,” Murphy says.  

Scaling access to safe milk across East Africa  

Another Up Start recipient is Safi, a non-profit company developing the world's first, small-scale pasteurization device for rural dairy farmers in East Africa. Beyond eliminating milk-borne disease pathogens, pasteurized milk is a more profitable commodity for rural farmers as milk collectives, which act as distributors, pay more for pasteurized milk.  

Martin Turuta, Miraal Kabir and Daria Margarit co-founded Safi during their undergrad in the Faculty of Mathematics.    

Winning the Velocity Pitch Competition in 2021 gave the trio the initial validation for their idea, which served as a springboard for pilots in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, where they established relationships with dairy farmers, governments and non-governmental organizations.   

Through Up Start funding and advisory support, the company expects to expand its focus and develop software to collect dairy data that governments can use to ensure milk safety.  

“We want to go even further with validation and user testing because pasteurization and the supply chain is complex,” Turuta says. “We’re planning a much bigger pilot and will use Up Start to maximize our success.” 

Safi team with African residents

Meet the other eight Up Start recipients    

  • Advanced Concepts Research Lab (ACR Lab): Electromagnetic technology and artificial intelligence to improve breast cancer screening.  

  • Magnative AI: Automated 3D design software to advance cooling systems in electric vehicles.  

  • Arbor Connect Inc.: Sensors and internet of things (IoT) technology to increase efficiency in construction.  

  • FuzzSlice: Cybersecurity solution to reduce false positives in computer system warnings.  

  • Compression Sleeve: Microfluidics-enabled compression sleeve for fast recovery from arm and leg swelling due to athletic exertion.  

  • MedInclude: Transcription of doctors’ medical information into plain language, helping patients better understand their medical information.  

  • PatientCompanion: Software application to improve and prioritize patient and nurse communication, relieving nurses’ fatigue. 

  • Quip Medical: Smart transcription platform that provides app recording, transcribing, and creating summarized physician-patient conversation content, to help reducei the burden of notetaking. 

Are you ready to commercialize your research into a real-world venture? Visit the Velocity website to learn how you can start your venture.