The University of Waterloo’s flagship entrepreneurship program, Velocity, is launching a startup investment fund in March. The fund will connect early-stage startups to the capital they need to grow their business while offering investors a simple way to invest in a diversified portfolio of startups from Canada’s most productive incubator.

The new fund will replace the grant system used to sponsor the awards for the incubator’s tri-annual Velocity Fund Finals (VFF) pitch competition at Waterloo. The winning startups will receive a minimum investment of $25,000 through the fund.

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

Velocity’s 91 fund final winners are now worth more than $1 billion

“If you had asked me what my $1-million donation would bring to the Waterloo Region tech ecosystem seven years ago, helping create over a billion dollars in equity value probably wouldn’t have crossed my mind,” says Livingston. “Leveraging that success to raise a venture fund is a great way to build even more capacity to secure the capital early-stage entrepreneurs need near the beginning of their journeys.”

Over the past 10 years, Waterloo’s Velocity program has launched more than 300 companies and $850 million in investments. The new venture fund, will allow investors a simple way to invest in startups in sectors ranging from software to biomedical.

Waterloo has hosted 23 VFFs, with each competition awarding $100,000. Former winners include North (formerly Thalmic Labs), Embark Trucks, Mappedin, Reebee, ExVivo Labs, and Avro Life Science.

Check out some of the innovative startups currently in the Velocity Garage

Qidni Labs: Making an artificial kidney

EMAGIN: Using AI to help water utilities save money and water

EPOCH: Helping refugees and volunteers connect