Campus spotlight

Collaboration lays groundwork for new ventures.

Tina Wilton (BA ’17)

Campus Entrepreneurship Manager, Velocity

Tina Wilton presents at the 2023 Agetech Challenge finals.

Waterloo students want to understand and solve pressing socioeconomic issues, just as organizations in many sectors are aiming to do as well. Velocity’s innovation challenges offer a low-risk environment for idea exploration with an emphasis on the imperative to go beyond the classroom, lab, and library into the real world to put learning and research to the test.

These industry collaborations are a powerful way for students to rapidly gain insights and feedback to understand how to turn an idea into a promising startup.

An example of this is the recent Agetech Innovation Challenge sponsored by the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) and Baycrest Health Sciences. Students were tasked with developing innovative solutions to improve quality of life for the world’s aging population — and they delivered.

CABHI senior advisory panelist, Adele Ostfield, who served as advisor to challenge participants and a potential user of the solutions, said she was extremely impressed with the work the students accomplished in mere days. She said their creative ideas and solutions, even project names, were all inspiring. Ostfield was comforted to know that her future and that of other older adults lie in these students’ capable hands.

VeinGuard presents their solution at the 2023 Agetech Challenge finals.

Velocity’s Innovation Challenges run the gamut of problem spaces. From envisioning how emerging technologies might impact personal finance to addressing local and global imperatives for human health and environmental sustainability, participants dig deeper into global issues identified by industry partners. During these challenges they redefine their understanding through research, customer validation, solution ideation and testing. The promise and potential of ideas that emerge is impressive and many teams transform their projects into viable startups. Examples include:

  • PlantPal: ADAPT VeinGuard Embrace Turning the routine task of watering plants into an engaging method to detect early-stage dementia, using regular conversations to assess memory and cognitive function.
  • ADAPT: Building a robot to aid with physiotherapy.
  • VeinGuard: A blood flow monitoring device for hemodialysis patients.
  • Embrace: A software application that connects the community to defend against perinatal depression and other challenges.