The University of Waterloo’s Velocity program is by far one of the most successful incubators in Canada, with an excellent batting average of startups receiving funding (almost $170 million in total funding), or heading to prestigious accelerators like Y Combinator (14 in all).
In this audio interview, Director Mike Kirkup explains how Velocity’s success is a product of a two-step process, which builds on-campus interest in entrepreneurship while simultaneously scaling to support that interest with off-campus programs and facilities. In addition to the ‘Garage’ workspace, Velocity added in 2014 dedicated space for hardware and life sciences companies. Velocity already expects to require even more space by the end of 2015.
Velocity’s concentric approach of layering startups of varying stages and verticals on top of each other creates network effects. As Kirkup explains, allowing young entrepreneurs to see a version of themselves six months in the future creates a community that leans on itself.
“If you ask any of our companies who graduate what they got out of the program, they don’t talk about me, they talk about the companies that sat beside them,” he said.
Disclosure: Mike Kirkup and I worked together for a time at BlackBerry. Much fun was had.