Kitchener-Waterloo

Velocity incubator retools focus, giving priority to COVID-19 tech

Like manufacturers all over the country, the University of Waterloo's technology incubator, Velocity, is retooling its focus and giving priority to startups that focus on COVID-19 solutions. 

Application deadline is April 6

Adrien Côté says Velocity is particularly interested in hearing diagnosis, immunity testing or even treatment therapies for COVID-19. (University of Waterloo)

Like manufacturers all over the country, the University of Waterloo's technology incubator, Velocity, is retooling its focus and giving priority to startups that focus on COVID-19 solutions. 

"Over the last few weeks the business advisory team at Velocity had been speaking with current companies at Velocity with the question of, 'Should they pivot, should they look to develop a solution … with COVID-19?'" Adrien Côté, executive director of Velocity told CBC News. 

"So we thought: Why don't we open up the intake to Velocity to any company that's thinking about pivoting to COVID-19 and look to help founders make this journey as impactful as possible?"

He said Velocity is particularly interested in hearing about solutions for diagnosis, immunity testing or even treatment therapies — but the ideas have to be "near-term," said Côté, meaning doable in the coming months. 

Though tech incubators are known for mentorship and nurturing startups through the growth of their company, they can still move quickly when necessary — especially when bureaucratic red tape is swept away, Côté said.

He is encouraged by what he's seen from companies like InkSmith and Trusscore who were able to get through regulatory hurdles in record time and get their products in the hands of health workers who need them.

"They've been able to work through these processes really efficiently, to the credit of Health Canada," he said. 

Velocity has extended its spring intake, which was supposed to close last week, to April 6.

The approval process will happen quickly with the expectation that startups will be working by April 20.

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