University of Waterloo Receives $1.5 Million Donation for New Innovation Arena

Canada North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Mar 10, 2021

University of Waterloo

Entrepreneur and angel investor Mike Stork has donated $1.5 million to the University of Waterloo’s Innovation Arena.

According to Erudera.com, the donation adds to the total of $35 million for the project to restore the university’s warehouse in Downtown Kitchener’s Innovation District.

This warehouse, located in Victoria and Joseph streets, is a 90,000 square-foot facility that will serve as Velocity’s new home, Waterloo’s University’s signature program.

“Velocity is a key differentiator for the University of Waterloo, and it’s an important driver of entrepreneurship in our community,” investor Stork said, commenting on the contribution.

According to Stork, expanding the program will increase the influence on local founders and boost the Innovation District’s progress over the last decade.

The Innovation Arena will supply businesses with advanced product development labs, production equipment, and collective space for collaborations.

The facility will provide advanced technology startups, access to partners in health care sectors and organizations founded at the University of Waterloo’s Health Sciences Campus.

The new object will also serve as a regional connection to health innovation, explained a press release of the University Waterloo of Canada.

“Mike Stork’s visionary support of the program will enable Waterloo to rapidly support top innovators as they deliver technologies and services that will improve human life in Canada and around the world,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor.

Hamdullahpur also noted entrepreneurship’s importance to the University of Waterloo’s culture due to the Velocity program, a signature course for this university. 

The donation was complemented by the City of Kitchener, who contributed $8.5 million to the project as a part of their Make it Kitchener 2.0 Plan.

“The expansion in community play will enable us to respond to demand our programs while accelerating solutions in healthcare and other sectors. We’re grateful to have champions like Mike involved in this initiative,” said Adrien Côté, the newly elected Executive Director of Velocity.

When speaking of startups, the University of Waterloo’s Velocity program is well known. The incubator has helped launch about 300 companies that have received about $1 billion in investment. The course that encourages young entrepreneurs to open their startups is the first one of its kind in Canada.

The first university in the world to ever offer entrepreneurship as a program was the University of Michigan in 1927.

According to a 2019 study, the University of Waterloo’s Entrepreneurship programs contributed about $80 million annually to the region’s GDP, with over 100 Velocity students located in the Kitchener city.

The University and the City are currently searching for investments from the Federal and Provincial governments for this project.

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