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Companies at the school have also created more than 7,500 jobs, according to a report commissioned by the university and prepared by Deloitte. Companies that hired Waterloo co-op students netted an additional $525 million in returns in the 2018–19 year. Velocity, the university’s early-stage incubator, helped companies create over 4,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in revenue between 2008 and 2018. (The Logic)

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Talking point: What this study doesn’t measure is almost as interesting as what it does. There’s lots in the 94-page report on money earned by companies affiliated with the university; for example, the Accelerator Centre brought in $1 billion in revenue since 2006 for the late-stage startups it works with. But there are no numbers here on money the university earned on its own intellectual property. In April, my colleague Catherine reported that the University of Waterloo generated $55,327 in 2017 by licensing research and development, after spending $205.7 million. Today’s report provides plenty of evidence for the success of its approach: lots of tech founders, lots of money going to companies and jobs created. One potential conflict brewing: the Ontario government tapped Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of Research in Motion (now BlackBerry), to lead a group to figure out how universities can make more money off their research.

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Richard Hughson is studying the connection between physical activity and insulin resistance on astronauts on the International Space Station. The testing will begin after a resupply ship carrying the research equipment reaches the station next week. (The Record)

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Talking point: Astronauts are quite sedentary, so space is a good environment to study just how strong the correlation is between inactivity and insulin resistance, which could provide insights into what Hughson called a diabetes epidemic on Earth. In February, my colleague Jessica reported on a forthcoming report from the Canadian Space Agency outlining how Canada is in a position to “lead the planet” on biomedical technology in space because of its AI talent and robust research institutions. While deep-space healthcare has the potential to make sure astronauts get appropriate care, it has implications for patients on Earth, too. Patients in northern communities could use virtual healthcare developed in space, for example, to access doctors and care remotely.

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The school turned out 18.6 per cent of all tech founders in Canada, according to a new report from the Impact Centre at the University of Toronto. U of T grads are the second biggest group of founders at 10.6 per cent. The report also found that 95 per cent of tech founders in Canada have at least an undergraduate degree, and nearly 75 per cent of them were educated here. Just 5.8 per cent are women. (Impact Centre)

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Talking point: The college dropouts who went on to found Apple, Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants have created a narrative that formal education isn’t necessary to launch a successful tech company. But the Impact Centre’s numbers highlight how infrequently that story plays out. In fact, 46 per cent of founders are PhDs. Women are woefully underrepresented, making up just 2.3 per cent of founders with STEM educations. That means although more women are graduating with STEM degrees—now 40 per cent of all STEM graduates in Canada—they still aren’t going on to start tech companies.

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The video-game startup closed the seed round in April with investment from Andreessen Horowitz, Golden Ventures and Andreessen’s Cultural Leadership Fund, as well as angel investors including co-founders of Twitch and YouTube. (BetaKit)

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Talking point: Odyssey will use the funding to develop mobile games they hope will rival League of Legends or World of Warcraft. The founding team told VentureBeat their move to Canada was predicated by the desire to be closer to family, and the federal government’s tax breaks for startups. Odyssey plans to set up a team of 10 people by the end of the year, likely at Communitech or near the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, with a goal of doubling their staff next year with talent from the region. “We settled on KW because it’s a tech hotspot for the Canadian ecosystem,” CEO Richard Henkel told gamesindustry.biz. “It’s a place that allows us to offer a pretty stable quality of life with a low cost of living for people within the games industry.”

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The Toronto ride-sharing network is paying $1 million in stock plus up to $2.5 million in conditional payments over the next two years. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The acquisition gives Facedrive access to HiRide’s over 20,000-person carpooling network, which targets the Kitchener-Waterloo university market. Both companies bill themselves as socially responsible. Facedrive, for example, offers electric vehicles and plants trees to offset its CO2. This is its second recent expansion: in 2019, it expanded to several Ontario communities.

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Three University of Waterloo students took home the $30,000 top prize at the World’s Challenge Challenge. The students will use the money to build a prototype that has an antimicrobial foam to protect against infections. Their initial target market is Uganda. (Waterloo Record)

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Talking point: This is a business-focused solution to a problem that charities have been trying to address for years. In emerging economies, stigma around menstruation keeps girls home from school. A lack of access to commercial pads and tampons also incentivizes home-grown alternatives such as cloth or newspaper, which—when not properly cleaned between uses—can lead to serious infections like tetanus. Investment in femtech reached US$400 million in 2018, up from US$23 million in 2008. The judges were impressed not only by the students’ product, but also their business plan, which centres on employing local women to make and distribute the pads locally, and to go into schools to teach girls how to properly use them, as well as seeking to destigmatize menstruation.

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The University of Waterloo (UW) is replacing its grant model with one that will let angel investors make direct equity investments in local early-stage companies. Its startup incubator, Velocity, is looking to raise more than $1 million for an investment fund under the new model, which it expects to launch in March. The fund is powered by AngelList’s Angel Funds platform, which launched in Canada in June 2018. (Financial Post)

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Talking point: Velocity has held pitch competitions three times a year since 2011, at which four winners each received a $25,000 grant—meaning the incubator has been paying out more than $300,000 per year. This new fund will replace those grants; winners will now be offered $50,000 as an equity investment. UW benefits from the change because its philanthropic capital can now be redirected to other areas, like incubator facility upgrades. But the risk for the university: Velocity will now be judged on the return-on-investment it can create for angel investors. Velocity director Jay Shah acknowledged this, saying, “We’re ready to keep building on the last decade of work to maximize success for startups turning into scale-ups and, by extension, we’re willing to be measured by a more explicit dollars-and-cents performance.”