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Startup Culture

Waterloo startup working to improve treatment of people with mental illness wins at pitch competition

Waterloo - HealthIM, a software company seeking to improve the treatment of people with mental illness in emergency situations, was among the big winners at the Velocity Fund Finals held yesterday at the University of Waterloo. Velocity is an entrepreneurship program at Waterloo, and the Velocity Garage is set to be the world's largest free business incubator, thanks to a new partnership with Google and Communitech, announced yesterday.

Founded by two Waterloo graduates from computer science and the psychology and business program, HealthIM synchronizes law enforcement and health care systems. Their software is based on the interRAI brief mental health screener.

The following three companies were also grand-prize winners of $25,000 and space at Velocity.

They are all members of the Velocity Science community.

• Acorn Cryotech preserves the cells of youthful people today as a resource to draw from for personalized medical therapy in the future. This provides a bank of youthful cells, for use in genetic therapies that reverse damage that occurs with age.

• Sweat Free Apparel is a high-tech company for apparel, producing under-garments that prevent sweat stains from reaching and ruining your clothes.

• Thalo is building a new display technology to increase the battery life and daylight visibility of mobile devices. Today's win gives them an additional $10,000 awarded to hardware or life sciences companies to help cover additional startup costs.

"We're essentially translating the officers' observations into clinical language for the health practitioners, giving hospital staff a glimpse of what happened at the scene of an incident," said Daniel MacKenzie, co-founder of HealthIM. "Today's win will help us to grow our team and bring this to as many police services as possible."

“The exciting startups that won today are a small sample of tomorrow's innovative companies created on the Waterloo campus," said Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity. "We look forward to guiding them to success within the expanded Velocity Garage, which will soon grow to five times its size and support up to 120 companies."

During the VFF event, an additional 10 teams of University of Waterloo students competed for three prizes of $5,000 and access to Velocity workspaces.

The winners of the Velocity $5K are:

• Most innovative: BioFlex Implant seeks to fix two major issues with current titanium intramedullary implants by using biodegradable polymers to create flexible intramedullary nails for pediatric orthopedic surgery.

• Best pitch: Finuvo is developing an automated painting station to enable hobbyists and designers to create visually stunning parts by applying a variety of colors and patterns to the surface.

• People's choice: Hash is an iPhone application that connects to your desktop device and web extensions in order to successfully authenticate several user accounts seamlessly using your fingerprint via touch ID.

The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition were Ameet Shah, partner, Golden Venture Partners; Dan Park, vice-president, Azure Capital Partners; Janet Bannister, general partner, Real Ventures; and Ted Livingston, founder and CEO, Kik.

The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Katherine Hague, vice-president community engagement & hackathons, PCH; Andrew Jackson, vice-president, client services, Accelerator Centre; and Steve McCartney, startup services, Communitech.

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