Velocity expands startup space

File photo by Nick Lachance

File photo by Nick Lachance

The University of Waterloo’s Velocity program will soon be expanding to include yet another incubator for Kitchener-Waterloo technology startups.

Velocity, a program designed by UW to help bright, entrepreneurial students start their own technology company, will soon be expanding on Water Street in downtown Kitchener. The new space, dubbed The Foundry, will be able to hold as many as 30 startups when it opens later this summer. However, where The

Foundry differs from the Tannery’s Velocity Garage is it focuses purely on hardware technology.

“There’s a lot of discussion around the renaissance of hardware right now. People now have an opportunity to build next-generation functionality products with very little costs,” said Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity.

“In the past it was very expensive to build a prototype and meet with customers, and then you would spend up to millions of dollars to produce product. Now with Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you have the opportunity to presell product and then test.”

The Foundry, reserved for hardware companies, will have a different set up than the Velocity Garage. While the software-centric Garage focuses on providing a quiet workspace that encourages focus and collaboration between startups, The Foundry will provide both quiet desk space and workbench areas.

“Software companies are primarily focused on collaborative elements, and in the end of the day they need quiet concentration space,” said Kirkup. “Hardware companies make noise, so we need a space where the workbench area and processes areas are separated and organized.”

The Foundry will also offer startups much more space to work, as Velocity has hired in-house legal council, sales and marketing assistants, as well as on-staff engineers to encourage the hardware companies to create the best product possible.

“We try to help them as much as they can through the lifecycle of their business so that by the time they leave the program they can stand on their own two feet,” said Kirkup.

Currently, Velocity’s hardware companies have been working alongside their software-minded peers in the Garage. Those hardware companies that are already a part of Velocity will be moving to the new space at The Foundry later this summer.

Hardware startups eager to join the Velocity program and become a part of the Foundry are able to apply at any time.

Like the Garage, if there is not enough space for a startup to join The Foundry, they must wait until another company has graduated and vacated the building.

“We expect startups to have a complete team, some sort of prototype or proof of concepts, and sort of market for their product before they can enter the space,” said Kirkup.

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