Velocity Garage opens in downtown Kitchener

Photo by Luke Sarazin
Photo by Luke Sarazin

Velocity Garage, one of the largest startup accelerators in the world, recently hosted its grand opening in downtown Kitchener.

Attaining 37,000 square feet of space and with over 80 startups working in the garage, Velocity Garage is located at the Tannery building at 151 Charles St. W.

Many individuals from government, academia and the tech industry attended the opening, including Kitchener-Centre MPP, Daiene Vernile, a VIP guest who cut the ceremonial ribbon.

“There were hundreds of young people there for the start, so there was a wonderful environment and there was so much excitement. I was glad to take part in that,” she said.

Nancy Heide, associate director at Velocity, explained that Velocity is a non-academic entrepreneurship program that is a part of University of Waterloo.

The program includes five program branches, four of them located on the University of Waterloo campus while Velocity Garage is located in the Tannery Building in Downtown Kitchener.

The original Velocity program started in 2008. The different programs and spaces gives students the opportunity to get entrepreneurial support and mentorship through their various events, a science lab and an environment that is motivating and encouraging.

Velocity Garage provides unique incentives for its companies that are unlike any other university startup accelerator in Canada.

Students and recent graduates are able to work in the garage for free. Velocity also does not take equity or intellectual property from its startups.

“It’s a creative and supportive environment for young people who want to launch a tech based business. All you need is a good idea and you’re given work space and it’s all free. With that kind of support, it’s an excellent foundation for success,” said Vernile.

Heide also explained that the talent and knowledge that exists within the startup companies helps set them apart.

“Many of them have been through a rigorous program at the University of Waterloo, they’ve been through co-op systems and they have a lot of knowledge that they have gained from being in the industry that they can bring back to their business and share with other startups in the garage space,” she said.

Velocity Garage’s presence in downtown Kitchener has also had a positive effect on both the economy and the atmosphere.

“Many of our companies move into space in downtown Kitchener when they graduate and many of them are wanting to settle right here in downtown Kitchener. It’s really changed the environment to a very startup-tech feel,” said Heide.

Vernile said that the province 0is very supportive of on-campus startup programs, such as Velocity Garage.

The province has committed 27 million dollars in the past year, has seen over 1,200 new companies started in Ontario, which has created 2,370 jobs and generated 65 million dollars in sales.

“[This is] a proven success that we want to continue building on,” she said.

“The province supports these on campus startup programs because we know that it translates into well paying jobs and it’s pumping dollars into our economy.”

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