SOURCE: University of Waterloo

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May 13, 2014 12:44 ET

Hardware Startups Dominate Velocity's Latest Lineup

WATERLOO, ON--(Marketwired - May 13, 2014) - For the first time, hardware startups outnumber software companies joining the University of Waterloo's Velocity Garage startup incubation space this spring. Seven of the 10 startups entering the Velocity Garage are companies building physical products.

Velocity is experiencing increased demand to support startups focused on new technology hardware, not just those building next-generation apps and software. The shift will see the University expand Velocity with the opening of the Velocity Foundry later this year to support hardware, materials and life sciences startups.

"The costs of building a hardware startup have dropped significantly in recent years, putting us at the cusp of an entirely new era in business," said Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity. "Velocity is geared up for the boom in hardware, materials and life sciences startups with new programs, specialized workspaces and more funding through the upcoming Velocity Foundry."

The Velocity Foundry will provide extra space, tooling and specialized facilities that hardware startups need to build and test prototypes of their products, together with mentorship and programming to commercialize their businesses.

Velocity has also increased the funding available for hardware startups. Palette, a company that created a freeform hardware interface that can be built like Lego to control your favourite software, won the first-ever award for best hardware-based startup at most recent Velocity Fund Finals held in March.

In addition to Palette, the new startups that will call Velocity their headquarters include:

  • Boogaloo Bunks is building a product that provides comfort and privacy in shared sleeping quarters such as youth hostels. Founders Caleb Polley, Speech Communications, and Brendan Coady, Mechanical Engineering.
  • EyeCheck is an endeavour to provide low-cost vision care to millions of people currently underserved by care in their region. Using image processing techniques and basic imaging equipment, EyeCheck aims to deliver high quality vision assessments to provide glasses to those who need them most. The team currently has a working hardware and software prototype, and are aggressively testing in order to proceed to clinical trials within a year. Founders Ashutosh Syal and Daxal Desai, Systems Design Engineering.
  • HearthStats is a free web app that tracks wins and losses for gamers of the free-to-play digital strategy card game HearthStone - Heroes of Warcraft. HearthStats is currently available in multiple languages. Support for other popular web-based games coming soon. Founder Jeffrey Tong, Chemical Engineering.
  • MBLOK, by Kwelea, is a fit-in-your-pocket expandable memory block that connects via Bluetooth to all of your personal devices for centralized, offline access to personal content such as movies, pictures, videos, documents and more. It's a great way to easily and securely share files between your laptop, smartphone, tablet or smartwatch without extra wiring. It boasts a long battery life of up to 300 hours per charge, Bluetooth 4.0 transfer speed,128 bit transfer encryption, and 256 GB of storage. Watch for the MBLOK Kickstarter campaign starting later this month. Founder Anton Kabanov, Mechanical Engineering.
  • Medella Health is building a wearable technology solution that continuously and non-invasively monitors blood glucose levels and communicates the data with a mobile device so that patients can better manage their diabetes. Founders: Harry Gandhi, Biotechnology and Economics; Huayi Gao, Nanotechnology Engineering Ali Amin, Mechatronics Engineering, and Maarij Baig, Biochemistry.
  • PetroPredict is a well-integrity prediction engine for the oil and gas industry that enables subsurface engineers to identify low capital and high reward optimization opportunities in their fields.¬†PetroPredict's vision is to revolutionize the way the energy industry makes decisions to improve their profitability. Founders: Dominic Toselli, Mechanical Engineering, and Andrew Andrade, Mechatronics Engineering.
  • ShockLock, by Ansik Inc., is a safety jack that reinforces worn-out struts to hold up vehicle hoods and trunks. It's fail-safe, easy-to-use, and prevents a lot of headaches, particularly for mechanics and automobile enthusiasts. ShockLock is currently gearing up for a beta test launch with over 25 mechanic and auto service shops throughout the Toronto-Waterloo corridor. Founders: Yashin Shah, Speech Communication and Management Studies, and Shiva Bhardwaj, Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • TicketLabs Inc. is changing the way concert organizers and promoters sell tickets. With TicketLabs, event organizers can create branded mobile and web pages with powerful social features and checkout flows built in so that users can easily purchase tickets and invite their family and friends to do the same. Promoters can also sell directly to their social networks. Founders: Ian Roberts, Biochemistry and Business, and Patrick Hannigan, Computer Science and Business.

Winners of the Velocity Fund Finals are guaranteed workspace at Velocity. Others qualify through an ongoing application process, with interviews taking place at the beginning of every month.

Current Velocity companies are listed on the Velocity website in their respective categories, under Garage and Foundry.

About the University of Waterloo
In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit www.uwaterloo.ca.

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